Before you react… hear me out on this.
Yes, I know we just drafted Ryan Kelly last season. Yes, I know that he is a good C who started his entire rookie year. That is great.
But have you seen the rest of the interior OL?
Frank Ragnow, while on an underperforming Arkansas team, may be the best offensive lineman in the country. He holds that title for the SEC, as the best returning center, and one of PFF highest rated lineman overall. As Indiana residents, there is a great set of lineman in South Bend that we all know and love, but Ragnow plays in the best pro factory conference… and dominates.
You have heard me compare this years Colts to the Lions of 2012 and 2016… and it holds true again. With a high pick at center on the roster already, Lions GM Bob Quinn spent another high pick on Graham Glasgow. This lead to a training camp battle between GG and Tyler Swanson (ironically another Arkansas product). Swanson is currently playing the best football of his career, and Glasgow is a solid LG who can slide inside if an injury happens.
I want this replicated in Indy. Ragnow is of size with Kelly, 6-5 315, and has similar experiences playing a tough SEC West schedule. Both can, conceivably, play guard (Ragnow started at LG as a freshman) depending on the camp battle. This one pick could improve two positions on our OL.
Ragnow was only a three star prospect in high school, but was a huge target for Bret Bielema. He was offered by Wisconsin prior to the coaching change, and was heavily pursued by Florida State, with an offer from Ohio State as well. This whos who of programs is a telling example of the talent he displayed at TACKLE as a prep.
For the Colts, Ragnow would bring a run first mentality to the offensive line, and an intelligence in line adjustment calls from a pro-style college offense. Best known as an athletic run blocker, he has not allowed a sack in his career. He uses his hands effectively to gain inside control, and has amazing feet to mirror defenders.
He will need to work on his pad level in the NFL. At 6-5, he tends to get high if contact is not immediate, and can be susceptible to bull rushes due to that. This is a minor issue, and is entirely correctable with coaching.
Ragnow is currently my top center in the 2018 draft. This is slight homerism (I am an Arkansas alum), but I also see an fluid, intelligent, tough interior OL who will have no problem learning four positions and being effective in any slot on the OL (except LT). Frank may be the second interior lineman off the board, behind NDs Nelson, and will require a 15-40 pick to acquire. For someone who reminds me of Nick Mangold, who has the potential to keep Luck upright and give Mack open lanes, I am fine with using another early pick on this lineman.