Ragnow eager to make his name known with Lions
Allen Park — When Roger Goodell announced offensive lineman Frank Ragnow as the Detroit Lions’ first-round pick Thursday night, there was a clear confusion among the hundreds of fans gathered for a draft party at the team’s practice facility.
Those in attendance exchanged quizzical glances and some shouts of, “Who?” could be heard over the relatively muted applause.
The reaction was understandable. Offensive linemen are background characters in the game of football, often noticed only when they’re performing poorly. You could rarely say that about Ragnow during his time at Arkansas. He was a tremendous pass protector, not allowing a single sack in 42 games.
Additionally, the Lions had done their best to keep their interest in Ragnow close to the vest. Even though the pick made plenty of sense — given Detroit’s need for another starting along the offensive line — he wasn’t one of the prospects who had been projected to his eventual destination.
So this is the get-to-know-you period between fans and first-round draft pick, and we’re quickly getting to know what Ragnow is about.
Off the field, he’s a soft-spoken family man. Ragnow's politeness turned comical when he responded to a congratulatory text from quarterback Matthew Stafford, by calling his new teammate “Mr. Stafford.”
Ragnew watched the first round surrounded by family. Leading up to the event, he joked about how his proud mother would regularly show where he was being projected in mocks.
He also has a hunting and fishing YouTube show with his brothers called “Grizzly Man Outdoors.”
Then there’s Ragnow’s father, Jon, who tragically passed away in 2016.
“My dad was my best friend,” Ragnow said. “I’m sure every kid says that, but my dad — he got Google alerts. So, if you guys were writing an article right now about me, he would get that Google alert and he’d be the first text to get it.
“He was my biggest fan, my biggest supporter, a great dad and my best friend. So, obviously this is tough and he’s meant the world to me. He’s the reason who I am today, him and my mom. I’m very grateful for the time on this earth that I had with him and I know that he’s watching down and he’s very proud of me.”
On the field, the 6-foot-5, 312-pounder plays with a mean streak that could quickly endear him to those Lions fans who didn’t know his name a day ago. He’s the type of player who takes pleasure in driving his blocking assignments into the ground.
"To be an offensive lineman you don’t get much of the glory," Ragnow said. "You don’t get much of anything else. You’ve got to love football. I love that part of the game. It’s just kind of been what drew me to the game. I’ve always been the bigger kid. I was the double-striper, when I was little I wasn’t able to touch the ball. So, that’s what you kind of really have to fall in love with and that’s what I’ve always been in love with.”
Ragnew finished his college career sidelined by an ankle injury, snapping a streak of 33 consecutive starts. When he suffered the injury, he said he worried about how it would impact his football future and wondered if he should have declared for the draft a year earlier.
But once he had the time to process the injury, and put the situation into perspective, he knew everything would be OK.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been through some things in my life, so I think that probably prepared me for it,” Ragnow said. “In the grand scheme of things, it was a little ankle surgery, a very minor ankle surgery. That’s nothing compared to losing your dad or other things I’ve dealt with, so that probably prepared me for it.”
After a smoother than expected rehab, Ragnow is ready to go. It’s unknown whether he will play guard or center with the Lions. He said he has no preference. He’s just eager to showcase why the Lions selected him.