I’m back !!!!!
After a lengthy hiatus I have been re-energized by my favorite event of the year – The NFL Draft !
I have some mixed feelings about this Draft for the Lions, but I will get into that, as well as my overall feelings about this franchise and the direction it is headed in a later post. On one hand, I think with the possible exception of one pick that I still need to do some research on, the Lions drafted good players, right around their appropriate value level, and in some cases got steals. I think they added some really good, safe pieces that will fortify the roster. My beef is based more so on the players they passed up, a couple of whom I predict we will strongly, strongly regret passing up. But that too, I will expound up another time.
Based on Bob Quinn’s post draft-interview and some clues from Matt Patricia about how the defensive scheme will look, I understand the direction the Lions are moving in … I just don’t understand why, based on recent history in the Super Bowl we would choose to construct our roster in that way. However, as I said , all of that is for a later post … Let’s dig into the here and the now – Frank Ragnow, C Arkansas:
Usually Draft Breakdown has a better mix of 2016 and 2017 film, but I’m guessing Frank’s injury played a role in the lack of options they had for this past season. If you check their site, they have 2 other films you can check out of Ragnow, but both are from 2016. I really wish they had the Alabama film, as that was film of him at guard, and scouts say that he absolutely mauled that front, which is a good test since most of Alabama’s defensive line is going to be in the NFL.
The first thing that stands out to me about Frank is how quickly he explodes out of his stance. He does so under control and with his hands ready to punch. That is a good thing … because the second thing that stood out to me was that when he does punch and gets a hold of you, that’s the end of you doing anything on that play. Frank has a ton of raw strength and power, and he has long arms so when he executes a play perfectly, it’s all she wrote. In addition to all of this , Frank moves like a much smaller man. His pulls from the C position were excellent in terms of his movement skills (more on his pulling later) and he was a really effective combo blocker, clobbering cats at the line of scrimmage and then peeling off to the second level.
His movement skills also translate in pass pro. His short set is excellent and his feet looked good and provided a wide base and anchor that could withstand the power interior DTs exerted. He was also good at scanning the line of scrimmage and identifying blitzers to pick-up. Of course, there are some aspects of playing C, that watching film you will never be able to pick up, like who makes/adjusts the line calls but my money is on it being him and not the QB. A C with a strong grasp on the mental side of the game is as invaluable to an offense as a Mike LB is to setting up the front seven. In any event, when he puts it all together, the strength , the explosion and the movement skills look like an All-Pro C and that is what I think his ceiling is. I also think he would be great as a G (wish I had the Bama film to confirm).
Where Frank struggled was mostly in technique things. And by struggle I mean Frank Ragnow in 2016 not in 2017 as I saw only glimpses of some of these same issues in the 2017 film. Several times in that 2016 film though, while Frank exploded out of his stance, he did so and immediately stood up. In doing so, he completely took himself out of the leverage battle. He also did a lot of catching instead of attacking and let players get their hands inside, a big no-no for offensive linemen. The crazy thing is that against most of the linemen Auburn had, Frank was so powerful and had such a good anchor, that even with bad leverage, he was fine. However, Montravius Adams (#1, 2017 3rd round pick of the Green Bay Packers) showed Frank what will happen if he stands up against NFL linemen a few times. IT WAS NOT PRETTY. Thankfully, even in that game, when his technique was good, he handled Adams pretty well. And like I said before, there were only rare occasions of that in the 2017 film I saw. Montravius is in the division too, so new and improved Frank can get some revenge !!!
Another slight issue is that Frank often pulled and could not identify someone to hit. Or he would pull so fast and move so quickly, he would make his block more difficult than it needed to be. This will easily be corrected with coaching and, is something that happened more in 2016 than it did in 2017. Frank was an NFL player in 2016, but the development he had between those seasons was big time, in terms of consistency of technique. That’s why I think at worst he will be a solid starter for us either at C or G next to Graham Glasgow. But I think that he will likely become a Pro-Bowl caliber G and solidify our OL for the forseeable future.
Some fans were upset with the selection of an interior OL with our first round pick. I was not in that group, because I knew just how good Frank is, I just had a preference for a couple of other players. Pro Football Focus is effusive in their praise for Frank and he’s broken their scale at how good he’s been the last two years by their grading. The monster contract that Andrew Norwell just pulled in free agency shows you how guards are becoming much more coveted in value in the NFL. No longer can they just be one-dimensional maulers. They need to be scheme diverse and capable pass protectors as well, as the caliber of DT’s evolves, and teams begin using defensive ends as interior rushers in their sub packages.
I personally would have preferred Isaiah Wynn over Frank as I think that Wynn is a little bit better at G and can also play LT if Decker gets hurt again, which is a truly valuable trait to have. Frank is an interior OL only (but a damn good one). Also, an even higher priority preference would have been to address our woeful pass rush in the first round as opposed to drafting an interior OL. One of the major strengths of this draft class was the interior offensive linemen. You could have gotten a starter in the 2nd or 3rd round of the Draft (not Frank or Wynn though). Meanwhile, Harold Landry, the best pure pass rusher in the draft (yes, even better than Bradley Chubb) was sitting there at pick #20. I think we will regret passing on him for years to come.
However, outside of moving up to get Quentin Nelson and my slight preference for Wynn, the Lions could not have done a better job of shoring up the interior offensive line than grabbing Frank at pick 20. Bengals fans were PISSED, because they thought they were getting him at 21. I don’t blame them.
Frank Ragnow, happy to have you !
Grade for Frank Ragnow pick: A-
Agree or disagree ? Hit my comments section !