(Draft day has finally arrived, and in the hours leading up to the Panthers being on the clock at No. 24, Panthers.com writers Max Henson, Bryan Strickland and Bill Voth are each profiling a prospect Carolina could target with its first-round pick.)
A week ago, some in the mock draft universe speculated that the Panthers would do well to use their second-round selection on Arkansas center/guard Frank Ragnow.
Now that draft day is here, some speculate that Ragnow might not even be available when Carolina chooses in the first round. If he is, he's someone for the Panthers to ponder.
Many mockers have the Panthers picking a replacement for All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell with their first selection, but Will Hernandez is the most popular name. Hernandez has the potential to be a great guard in this league, but so does Ragnow. The reason I'm more interested in the latter is that Ragnow also has the makings of a great center. Carolina has always valued position flexibility in its offensive linemen, and that should be doubly true with Norwell off to Jacksonville and five-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil having said 2018 will be his final season.
As Voth wrote at the NFL Scouting Combine, hype around Ragnow was muted by a high ankle sprain that required surgery and cost him his final five college games. He wasn't ready to participate in workouts at the combine but was ready and able at Arkansas pro day a month later, where he showed off his unique combination of strength and athleticism that helped him give up zero sacks in college. Zip.
Ragnow is garnering plenty of attention at the end of the process. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com recently listed Ragnow as a first-round lock, and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com vaulted Ragnow up to 40th in his final top-50 prospects list after not including him at all in his previous three lists.
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound might not be as "sexy" a pick as a darting defensive back, and he might not be what some have in mind when they talk about adding weapons for Cam Newton (like tight end and fellow redhead Hayden Hurst). But aside from quarterback there's nothing more important to success in the NFL than keeping both sides of the line of scrimmage strong, and in that regard Ragnow fits the bill.
View photos of the offensive line in action during the 2017 season.