NFL people come around on Frank Ragnow

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Arkansas center Frank Ragnow (72) blocks during a game against New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas center Frank Ragnow (72) blocks during a game against New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Fayetteville.

— The 2018 NFL Draft begins today in Arlington, Texas, and will be a life-changing event for Arkansas center Frank Ragnow and a chance to mark another thing off the sports bucket list of yours truly.

The fast-rising Ragnow (6-foot-5, 309 pounds), who turned down Alabama, home state Minnesota and many others to be a Razorback, is now being projected as a potential first-round selection in a draft that will be held inside the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium today through Saturday.

While I was lucky enough to score some free tickets and will be on hand for the three-day event as the unabashed Dallas Cowboys fan that I have been for 50 years, Ragnow will watch the festivities from his family’s home in Chanhassen, Minn.

The decision to watch the draft from the living room in his home is in part to honor his dad, Jon, who died from a heart attack on Oct. 1, 2016.

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Frank Ragnow, bottom, with his late father, Jon, and mother, Marty. + Enlarge

It is the same living room where Jon watched Frank’s college games that he was not able to attend.

Ragnow will be joined by his mom, Marty; his four siblings (Sarah, Katie, and twins Maddie and Jack); a total of about 50 friends and family; and about five television crews covering the NFL Draft.

While I interviewed Ragnow probably 100 times during his Razorback career, some of my best memories will be when he worked with us as an intern on the Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly radio show.

You got to see another side of Ragnow, and it solidified my opinion that he is just a really good dude who deserves all the success that is about to arrive.

Well-respected NFL writer Peter King of Sports Illustrated listed Ragnow, who could play either center or guard in the NFL, as his No. 27 pick to New Orleans in his Monday Morning Quarterback mock draft earlier this week.

“My surprise of the first round,” King wrote. “The Saints could use a center with some position versatility. Max Unger is 32. The Saints are in an interesting position. They for once have no crying need entering the draft and can afford to draft, say, a sixth offensive lineman who could start in 2019 or 2020 at guard or center.

“Ragnow has had time in the strong SEC at both center and guard, and the Saints think he’s the kind of brute-force player (with some athleticism) who could start for them for a few years.”

NFL Network’s Good Morning Football host Peter Schrager has Ragnow going No. 31 to New England, which now employs former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema as a consultant.

Bielema has been in Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s ear about Ragnow.

“I talk to (Bielema) almost every day,” Ragnow said on Sports Talk Tuesday. “He’s been incredible. He just talks to me about trying to be with the family and enjoy these moments because my life is going change forever.

“He sent me a long text the other day telling me how much he loves me and how he would be there for me no matter what. He tells me he has been in Coach Belichick’s ear as much as he can trying to help me out. He’s just being supportive and trying to help me out as much as possible. I am very thankful for him.”

Cincinnati Bengals radio commentator Dave Lapham predicts Ragnow will be selected by the Bengals at No. 21 in the first round. Lapham has correctly predicted the Bengals’ first-round selection four times in the last five years, with his only miss in that span coming in 2015 when the Houston Texas traded up to take Will Fuller a few slots ahead of Cincinnati.

Lapham believes the Bengals will be deciding between two centers — Ragnow and Billy Price from Ohio State — when they go on the clock in the first round.

“In my evaluation of tape I would go with Frank Ragnow just a bit above Billy Price,” Lapham said Tuesday during a podcast.

NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah, who has Ragnow as the 40th-best player in the draft, issued a mea culpa regarding the Arkansas star.

“There comes a time when you have to fall on the sword,” Jeremiah wrote Tuesday. “Doing more work on Frank Ragnow tonight. I’m too low on him. Better to admit it, correct it and move on.”

USA Today's Luke Easterling has Ragnow coming off the board Friday in the second round as the 46th overall pick by Cincinnati.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay don’t have Ragnow going until the third round with the 88th pick to Carolina.

Family is big to Ragnow, who has started a YouTube Channel and Instagram feed (@GrizzlyManOutdoors) with his brother, Jack. They would like to turn that into an adventure show once his NFL career is over. It would feature such things as pheasant hunting in southern Minnesota and fishing in Canada.

There’s no question about Ragnow’s work ethic. There’s also no question about his character. It’s all top-shelf. The team that lands him will be better on and off the field.

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