Allen Park — Frank Ragnow’s eagerness was revealed through his repetition.
During a conference call with media members minutes after the offensive lineman was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions last month, Ragnow kept coming back to a similar theme as he answered questions.
“I’m just excited to get to work," he said.
Ragnow said some variation of the phrase five times during the brief call and again at his press conference the next day. The sentiments were echoed by the team’s other draft picks, including second-round running back Kerryon Johnson.
“I’m ready to come in and work,” Johnson said during his conference call. “That’s what I feel like this organization loves to do is work. That’s what everybody knows Detroit for, being a hardworking city, and I’m looking forward to stepping in that and doing the same.”
Well, young fellas, put on your hard hats, um, helmets, because it’s time for your first shift.
Starting Friday, Ragnow, Johnson and rest of the Lions’ rookie class will get their first taste of life in the NFL when the team holds its rookie minicamp. The three-day event will also serve as a welcome shift in focus for coach Matt Patricia, who a day earlier addressed a decades-old sexual assault allegation.
Media access for rookie minicamp has been dwindling for years, and for the first time, there will be no availability. The past two years, former coach Jim Caldwell held a press conference previewing the event and media was allowed to few a few minutes of individual drills.
Patricia’s Thursday press conference, where he provided a three-minute statement and answer several questions about his 1996 indictment that was eventually dismissed when the accuser declined to testify, is the only anticipated access provided by the team until veterans and rookies hit the field together during OTAs later this month.
The roster for this weekend’s rookie minicamp will consist of the team’s six draft picks, 16 undrafted free agents and another 20 or so tryout players.
Friday afternoon, the team confirmed five of its six draft picks had signed contracts, including Ragnow. Only safety Tracy Walker, the team’s third-round choice, remains unsigned.
The team also confirmed 16 undrafted signings: West Virginia linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, Central Michigan cornerback Amari Coleman, Texas cornerback Antwuan Davis, USC defensive tackle Josh Fatu, Southeast Missouri cornerback Mike Ford, Florida tight end DeAndre Goolsby, Nebraska cornerback Chris Jones, Cal Poly wide receiver Kyle Lewis, Southeast Missouri linebacker Chad Meredith, Virginia offensive lineman John Montelus, Appalachian State offensive lineman Beau Nunn, Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell, Bowling Green wide receiver Teo Redding, Minnesota punter Ryan Santoso, Missouri safety Anthony Sherrils and Arizona State defensive lineman JoJo Wicker.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, rookie contracts are based on a slotted scale. Holdouts have become extremely rare, with only first-round picks occasionally taking extra time as offset language — a team’s financial responsibility if a player is eventually cut and signed by another team — is negotiated.
Even if a rookie isn’t under contract prior to the start of rookie minicamp, they can sign a waiver allowing them to participate. General manager Bob Quinn has been able to sign all three of his first-round picks by mid-May.