Could one of the Lions' UDFA signings become Frank Ragnow's successor?

The Lions have to be thinking about a succession plan for Frank Ragnow, so could one of their incoming UDFAs become the guy?
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By the end of last season, Frank Ragnow's listing on the injury report might have required a breathe to get through (toe/ankle/knee/back). So after the NFC Championship Game loss to the 49ers, it wasn't surprising to hear the Lions' three-time Pro Bowl center plainly take accounting of all the ailments he dealt with. Light speculation about retirement followed, which he quickly squashed at NFL Honors.

But it's fair to say some years have been taken off Ragnow's career. Entering his seventh season and nearing 28 years old (May 17), he's probably not going to play until he's 35. It may become a year-to-year proposition to keep playing, though he is under contract for three more years.

In a big picture sense, the Lions have to be considering how they'll eventually replace Ragnow. Keeping one of the league's best offensive lines strong as some guys age out will be a priority, and a potential successor at guard came via the draft (Christian Mahogany).

Will a UDFA become Frank Ragnow's successor?

The Lions did not draft a center, or someone who could play center. They did sign three undrafted free agent centers though: Duke Clemens, Bryan Hudson and Kingsley Eguakun. Clemens and Eguakun got notable guaranteed money.

Clemens started 34 straight games at center to finish his career at UCLA, with a top-13 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus last year (81.8). He can also play guard, which may enhance his chances to make the roster.

Hudson defines "country strong", having grown up a farm in Kentucky and building his strength throwing hay bales. He has good length too (6-foot-4), to go with the grit Dan Campbell loves (he played with a Grade 2 PCL strain most of last season).

Eguakun got the aforementioned $245,000 in guaranteed money to sign with the Lions as a UDFA. If not for an ankle injury that cost him most of last season at Florida, he likely would have been drafted. He was a three-year starter for the Gators, and in naming an undrafted rookie to watch on each team The Athletic highlighted him.

"Injuries nagged 27-year-old All-Pro center Frank Ragnow again last season. Detroit didn’t address center in the draft, but it did add three UDFA centers, including Eguakun. A three-year starter at Florida who missed most of last season with an ankle injury, Eguakun was a powerful and explosive leader inside for the Gators. He’s a very capable run blocker and excellent communicator."

Without drafting a center, the Lions have added some interesting options to potentially succeed Ragnow. Time will tell if one of them sticks, on the active roster or the practice squad, but it's easy to give a little bit of an edge to Eguakun before rookie minicamp.


Detroit Lions 53-man roster projection after the 2024 NFL Draft. Detroit Lions 53-man roster projection after the 2024 NFL Draft. dark. Next