A Scouting Report On Detroit Lions First Round Pick Frank Ragnow
Now that his introductory press conference has concluded, it’s time to take an in-depth look at the Lions’ first-round pick, Frank Ragnow.
Much like his predecessor both at Arkansas and in Detroit, Travis Swanson, Ragnow stands unusually tall for the center position. At 6’5”, 312 lbs., he possesses good weight and plus length, although his hands are somewhat undersized. But, unlike Swanson, Ragnow doesn’t have any issues with play strength or anchoring.
Ragnow Is Strong In The Run Game
A tone-setter at the point of attack, he fires out with good explosiveness and pad level as a drive blocker and routinely displaced interior linemen along the first level. He operated with ambidexterity in Bret Bielema’s pin-pull game, demonstrating good lateral quickness and fluidity in his skip pulls to quickly reach the insertion point and solid flexibility to corner into the second level. Those skills should translate well in Detroit, where Jim Bob Cooter favored an outside zone-heavy rushing attack. Ragnow’s play speed was on display in man, gap, and zone schemes alike, where he exhibited very good timing off combo blocks and into the second level. Tracking moving targets and contacting them with balance and power is another forte of his, and one that will be well-served in both Detroit’s rushing attack and screen game.
Pass Protection Is A Forte For Frank Ragnow
Speaking of the passing game, a well-circulated stat is that Ragnow never gave up a sack in his career as a Razorback. Although there were a couple of instances on film in which he ceded pressure, his pass protection is arguably the strongest suit of his game. Ragnow gets into his sets with good quickness and is a flat-backed striker who shoots his hands with optimal placement and no wasted motion. And even though his hands are relatively small, he’s able to latch onto defenders’ frames impressive grip strength. A good athletic profile allows him to mirror interior rushers highly effectively and he displays great balance and impressive recovery quickness when he loses leverage. Bull rushers have little success getting through him, as he drops anchor quickly and effectively due to good play strength and optimal bend throughout his body.
Nitpicking His Game
Ragnow should quickly become a fan favorite thanks to his tenacity and competitive fire. His 2017 tape – vs. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, and TCU – is littered with bodies. He looks for work as a pass protector and looks to dominate defenders in the run game. As a result, his opponents are on the ground a lot, but so is he.
This is the most popular criticism of his game, although his tumbles largely occur downfield as a result of long-striding when drive blocking. This is a minor issue, but one that he has the balance and athleticism to remedy. There’s very little to critique about his game outside of that, however. His pad level occasionally creeps up when he’s pulling, which limits his ability to take tight turns up the field. He’ll also need to improve the accuracy of his strikes as a drive blocker, where he has a tendency to set his hands wide and maul. And lastly, I’d like to see him process line games as well as he does blitzes. The pass protection reps he struggled the most on were when he was taken by surprise by a looping or slanting defender.
Although you could criticize the strategy behind the pick if you favored an edge rusher – and I personally did – Ragnow is a plug-and-play starter who needs minimal technical refinement to be an impact player. I expect him to start immediately at center for the Lions in 2018, and he should be in Pro Bowl conversations by his third year.