Frank Ragnow missed a big chunk of last season, but the Lions’ center remains appropriately ranked among his peers.
Ravaged might be a big word, but the Detroit Lions offensive line was definitely impacted by injuries in 2021. One of the most significant, though Evan Brown filled in quite capably, was center Frank Ragnow. The 2020 Pro Bowler and former first-round pick missed 13 games with a toe injury.
Still somehow only 26 years old, and having just turned it on May 17, Ragnow is one of the best centers in the NFL heading toward his fifth season in the league. Still, based on the time he missed last season, it might be easy for him to be, essentially, “out of site, out of mind” for national analysts right now.
Well, Pro Football Focus hasn’t forgotten about the Lions’ center. Like, not at all.
Ben Linsey of PFF took to ranking the centers in the league, while also placing them in tiers.
Frank Ragnow remains in rightful place among his peers at center
Linsey had three centers in “Tier 1: Elite“. After Corey Linsley of the Los Angeles Chargers and Creed Humphrey of the Kansas City Chiefs, Ragnow came in at No. 3.
3. Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions
Ragnow has steadily improved his overall PFF grade every season he’s been in the NFL and was on pace for a career year in 2021 before a Week 4 toe injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
The fifth-year center out of Arkansas has been a steady performer in pass protection, but he really separates himself in the run game. Over the last three seasons, Ragnow grades out above the 90th percentile at the position in run-blocking grade in both gap and zone schemes.
Ragnow posted a 86.7 grade from PFF before being sidelined last season. That continued, as Linsey noted, a steady improvement in grade over the course of his career and over the last three seasons as the Lions’ center (74.9 grade in 2019, 80.3 grade in 2020).
Having all five projected starting lineman healthy together will go a long way toward determining what the Lions’ offense does in 2022. But it all starts with the man in the middle, who is among the absolute best at his position and unlikely to be pushed out of that elite class for a long time to come.