'I Belong Here:' Frank Ragnow Carrying Confidence Into Second Season With Lions

There were times last year he wasn't so sure of himself.

Will Burchfield
April 23, 2019 - 3:19 pm

© Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

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At this time a year ago, two days before the NFL Draft, Frank Ragnow's head was spinning. 

His final season at Arkansas, his rehab from an ankle injury, the senior bowl, the combine, that was all behind him. Rookie minicamp, OTAs, training camp, his first NFL season, that was all ahead of him. 

He wouldn't get a chance to decompress for several more months. 

"You kind of just go, go, go, go and you never get a second to step back and breathe," Ragnow said Tuesday. "I think this offseason I definitely got that opportunity to step back and realize that it was a great learning experience personally.

"Definitely not where I want to be, but to be able to reflect, catch your breath and realize how blessed and lucky you are, it’s been good for me personally." 

Detroit's first-round pick in 2018 had an up-and-down first season. At times he looked like a seasoned pro on the interior of the offensive line. At others he looked like the rookie who split time between center and guard in college. His confidence went through the same swings. 

"There were a few games where maybe the game got too big for me or I was like, 'Whew, that guy’s good," Ragnow said. "But you have to keep your confidence because you’re here for a reason, I was picked where I was for a reason, and I’m the football player I am today for a reason. Just have to be confident and know that I belong here."

'Here' as in the NFL, and 'here' as in left guard, the position the Lions drafted Ragnow to play. His development this season is crucial with T.J. Lang, his counterpart on the offensive line, having retired. As for his development this offseason, Ragnow has been focused on improving his balance.

"That might seem broad, but in pass protection a lot of it's just weight distribution and balance," he said. "That was one thing I was really trying to work on, my pad sets and making sure I’ve got the weight in the right steps."

For offseason training tips, Ragnow said he reached out to Lang and former Lions offensive lineman and fellow Arkansas product Travis Swanson. He also worked with his strength and conditioning coach at Arkansas, Ben Herbert, who's now in the same position at Michigan. 

"That’s like 30 minutes down the road from me," Ragnow said. "So I was able to kind of lean on him and figure out what he knew, and we developed a program that really fit me." 

A year removed from the most chaotic offseason of his career, Ragnow likes how this one is going. He's even had some time to break out his fishing rod on Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, reeling in a few huge walleye last month. The biggest, he said, was seven pounds. 

The Minnesota native is feeling more and more at home in Michigan, as he prepares to show the same at left guard.

"It’s been great. I've been able to develop a routine as a...Michigander," Ragnow said, not exactly nailing the pronunciation. "Michigan resident? Michigander?"

He got it the third time, laughed and went on. 

"Been able to figure out a morning workout routine, been able to discover some fishing spots and really get into a routine. Coach Patricia always taps on how you can be so much more successful when you find yourself a comfortable routine. I really feel like this year I'm not training for the combine, I'm not training to run (the 40-yard dash).

"I was able to better myself physically as a football player, and then enjoy some time to get my mind right on the water with my family." 

It was a deep breath a long time coming, and just what Ragnow needed as he heads into his second year in the NFL. 

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