Frank Ragnow came into his own last year in just his second season with the Detroit Lions.
After playing mostly guard as a rookie first-round draft pick in 2018, Ragnow shifted over to his more natural center position last year and his game took off. He finished the year graded among the top six centers in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Ragnow played 996 snaps a year ago and gave up just two sacks with five total penalties in 15 games.
Entering his third season, Ragnow has put his mind and his time toward being even better in 2020. He took it upon himself this offseason to study some of the best to play the position, both retired and currently playing, to try and glean something he could apply to his own game.
"This offseason I really tried to emphasize watching other guys and then watching tape of other defenses," Ragnow said Thursday. "Just to kind of develop that confidence, because I believe I've got the ability and I just need to develop that confidence."
So did it work?
"I'm feeling confident," Ragnow said.
View photos from practice during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 20, 2020.
He watched tape of Falcons center Alex Mack, a six-time Pro Bowler. He studied the recently retired Travis Frederick, who earned five Pro Bowl nods with the Cowboys. He went into the archives a little bit to watch tape on retired Bills Pro Bowler Eric Wood. He also watched Jaguars center Brandon Lindor and Vikings center Garrett Bradbury. Ragnow said he watched Bradberry for what he does for the Vikings and their outside run scheme.
Ragnow picked these players to study because they're all around his size with similar athletic traits. They are players who have been, or are currently, top-tier players at the center position.
"Honestly, I try to watch all of them," Ragnow said. "All these guys around the league, they all do something, they've all got their niche. I'm just trying to absorb and take what I can from each one of those guys, so I can better myself."
Ragnow, along with left tackle Taylor Decker, have become the anchors for a Detroit Lions offensive line that's going through some transition heading into this season. They have a new right tackle in Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and currently, rookie third-round pick Jonah Jackson is getting a lot of the first-team right guard reps right next to Ragnow in training camp.
Being the guy in the middle, and the one who handles all the calls and adjustments, Ragnow plays an integral part in getting all the pieces upfront to tie together in Detroit.
He's taken on a leadership role in the offensive line room and hopes to build on last season and be even better entering year three.
"Each year the game slows down," Ragnow said. "Whether you're studying tape. Whether you're getting more reps. You develop that confidence. You develop that trust."