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3 reasons why the Detroit Lions picked Frank Ragnow in the first round

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It was a surprising pick, but there’s plenty of justification for it.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions shocked many on Thursday night by picking a player that almost no one slotted to them in various mock drafts. With fan-favorite Harold Landry still on the board, the Lions went with Arkansas center Frank Ragnow.

Though interior offensive line was largely considered a huge need for Detroit, most fans slotted a top guard prospect or filled in the need in a later round in the draft.

While there is plenty of criticism to be made of this pick, for a moment let’s focus on the positive. Here are three reasons why the Lions likely made the pick.

He was the best player at a position of need

There’s no doubt about it, the Lions got the highest center on their draft board. Ragnow was the first center taken by any team in the draft, and the Lions got him. It’s not often that you get the top player at a position of need all the way at 20th overall, the Lions seized on that opportunity.

He didn’t give up a single sack in college

If you’re looking for someone to sell you on the pick, Pro Football Focus is in love with Ragnow’s performance at Arkansas. Here’s a sampling:

And take this passage from a PFF article entitled “Frank Ragnow – the forgotten superstar of the 2018 NFL Draft:”

“Centers surrender fewer pressures on the quarterback than any other position along the line, but it remains notable that Ragnow didn’t surrender a sack in his entire college career. Four seasons, spanning 2,603 snaps resulted in just 35 total pressures and no sacks. This past season he surrendered just one single hurry when playing center and two more at right guard for a total of three on the season before injury shut him down for the year.”

There’s something they didn’t like in Harold Landry

There is not a team in the NFL that knows Boston College edge defender Harold Landry better than Detroit. Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni coached Landry in college, and if he didn’t want Landry—especially when he could have filled one of Detroit’s bigger needs—there must be a legitimate reason for it.

And the Lions may not be alone in their thinking. Many believed Landry would be gone by the 20th overall pick, but he remains on the board after the entire first round.