FAYETTEVILLE - On the 20th pick of the first round of Thursday night’s opening of the 3-day NFL draft in Dallas, Arkansas Razorbacks center Frank Ragnow was selected by the Detroit Lions.
Ironically, the Lions drafted Ragnow to replace former Razorback center Travis Swanson, the Lions center 2014 through 2017 since signed by the New York Jets.
Ragnow, who was spending Thursday night at his family’s home in Victoria, Minn., was graded college football’s top center by Pro Football Focus though, somehow courageously finishing the game he was injured, missed the last five games of his senior 2017 season with an ankle injury suffered during Arkansas’ loss to Auburn. The injury required surgery but Ragnow proved himself fit both at the NFL Combine and during Arkansas’ Pro Day attended by representatives of all the NFL teams
Ragnow, 6-5, 317, played both center and guard lettering four years for former Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema, the last two as the starting center and had graded outstanding even with the Hogs struggling through a 4-8 season
Upon Ragnow being drafted Thursday, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper said, “ He’s a heck of a football player. You think about this past year, injured on Oct. 21 but before that he was dominant. The Alabama game, the job he did there. He had a heck of a season going until that injury that he’s coming back from. You think of the size, the physicality of Ragnow. He is a guy who can be a heck of an anchor up front for you.”
The ESPN crew quoted Bielema who coached from 2006-2012 at Wisconsin before his 2013-2017 Arkansas tenure.
“Bret Bielema his former coach who recruited him and knows him very well said he’s had five offensive lineman go in the first round and that he’s the best offensive lineman that he’s had. That’s a strong statement from Bielema. He did well at the Combine, 4.98 in the 40, (standing) broad jump 9-7 and benched 225 27 times.”
Bielema often said that in addition to great size and length, that Ragnow has the athleticism to play tackle or even tight end in addition to the center and guard positions at which he excelled and certainly the intelligence as a repeated Academic honor roll student.