Detroit Lions missed a real opportunity to improve their defense

Bob Quinn, Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Bob Quinn, Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions made one of the most shocking selections on Day One of the 2018 NFL Draft by choosing Arkansas center Frank Ragnow 20th overall.

Throughout the offseason, names like Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry, Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans and Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan were mocked to the Detroit Lions with the 20th pick in the first round. And all three of these defenders were available when the Lions’ number was called.

But the Detroit brass had a secret agenda. And that was finding the missing piece of their offensive line puzzle.

Detroit made Arkansas center Frank Ragnow their latest first round selection Thursday night. A late riser in the draft process, Ragnow was rumored to be shooting up draft boards. Yet, some draft experts still had the former Razorback as a third-to-fourth round selection entering the annual selection event.

"“This is a stunner, the Lions taking center Frank Ragnow from Arkansas,” wrote Michael Rothstein for “It’ll solidify the team’s offensive line, but Detroit passed on a bunch of defensive options for it. Ragnow replaces Travis Swanson, another center from Arkansas. This is a weird one.”"

In a move very reminiscent of when the Dallas Cowboys overreached for Wisconsin center Travis Frederick back in 2013 with the 31st overall selection, the Lions seemed very comfortable landing their man regardless of the naysayers. Frederick is now a four-time Pro Bowler and considered one of the best players of that draft and at his position. Detroit is undoubtedly hoping for similar results.

Ragnow and Graham Glasgow will now slot in at either left guard or center for the Lions, completing the reconstruction of their offensive line. Detroit used their 2016 first round pick on left tackle Taylor Decker. And last offseason, the Lions spent significant monies signing free agents T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner to be their starters at right guard and right tackle respectively.

It’s hard to knock any team for investing heavily in the trenches. Theoretically, doing so along their offensive line should better protect quarterback Matthew Stafford while also improving their running game. But this is a positional group that struggled to build chemistry last year due to various injuries. Although, Lang was named to his second-straight Pro Bowl in 2017 despite the struggles.

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Obviously, shoring up their offensive line was a priority for the Detroit Lions. But they ignored an opportunity to improve their defense in order to do so. Perhaps new head coach Matt Patricia believes his defensive prowess trumps adding top-level talent with the players he already has in -house. It’s a gamble this young general manager and head coach duo seem comfortable taking.