When the Detroit Lions drafted Frank Ragnow with the 20th overall pick this offseason, they did so with the expectation that he could play either center or guard for them.
Ragnow played a little more center than guard at Arkansas, but played both at a very high level. During Thursday’s open OTA practice in Allen Park, he played left guard with the first-team offense.
“I don’t really have a preference,” Ragnow said after practice of playing guard vs. center. “I just want to be out there helping the team. I’ve played a lot of positions in high school. I played a lot of positions in college. I just like playing football and wherever they put me, I’m going to be happy to be there.”
A high school offensive tackle in Minnesota, he was moved to center at Arkansas. A backup as a freshman in 2014, Ragnow started 13 games at right guard in 2015 and 18 at center in 2016-17 combined.
According to his Arkansas bio, Ragnow never allowed a sack throughout his entire college career, so he appears to be able to handle either spot equally well.
“Frank’s kind of been thrown in there with the rest of the group and trying to learn,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. “It’s kind of a whirlwind for (young players), you know, spinning a little bit as far as all the information. But, I think he’s done a great job.
“You know what’s good, when you see and go out in practice and you don’t particularly notice that there’s a guy that is a young player or not. He just kind of fits in with the group and fits in and plays, and you’re not really looking at it and saying, ‘That’s out of place’, like it looks like it’s out of place. I haven’t noticed that at all.”
Like the team’s previous two first-round picks before him – Taylor Decker and Jarrad Davis – Ragnow’s stepped right into a starting role, and is having to learn on the fly, which is no easy task for a rookie.
“He’s a young player, he’s a rookie, he’s got a lot to learn,” Quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “Both from our offense standpoint, but situationally and aspects of the NFL and how to just survive in this league. He’s got a good group of guys in that room to help him and bring him along.”
Ragnow is coming from the SEC, which most consider the best conference in college football, but still, after just three OTA practices, he already has a great respect for the work it takes to be good at the NFL level.
“It’s way different,” he said with a little grin. “I have a lot of respect for the NFL. It’s a whole different speed and these are a lot of talented guys out here all the way four deep. Everyone is really talented. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s been fun to work and kind of just learn every day.”
He said playing alongside a veteran-laden offensive line group that consists of Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow, T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner has helped speed along his development.
“I’m learning,” he said. “I’m learning from T.J. (Lang) and all the other guards. Just trying to get adjusted to this next level and trying to take it one day at a time.”