Reid Fragel Interview: Converted tight end 'home' at offensive tackle

Reid Fragel - Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Reid Fragel is an offensive tackle who has drawn some interest from the New York Giants leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft. Big Blue View's Ed Valentine had an opportunity to speak with him.

In a recent prospect profile of Reid Fragel, Jesse Bartolis wrote that the former Ohio State offensive tackle fits "to a T" the type of prospect the New York Giants like to draft in the middle rounds. On Wednesday, Fragel said that the Giants "seem to have some interest" in him.

"Obviously it's a great program and a team I'd like to be a part of," said Fragel, who met with Giants coaches during the scouting combine. "I know there's an opportunity there."

The 6-foot-8, 308-pound Fragel is a relative newcomer to the tackle position, having converted there for his senior season after having been a blocking tight end. With little use for a blocking tight end in the spread offense run by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, Fragel moved to an offensive line in need of help.

'The position itself just feels like home to me. I guess you could say I've always been a lineman at heart.' - Reid Fragel

Fragel pushed his weight from 280 pounds to nearly 300, then started all 12 Ohio State games at right tackle and earned all-Big 10 honorable mention honors. He said he knew from the start that the switch to tackle might create a path to the NFL for him.

"It (playing tackle) just kind of came naturally to me," Fragel said. "The run game definitely came natural and I had great coaches to help me in the pass pro[tection] game, so that eventually became comfortable.

"The position itself just feels like home to me. I guess you could say I've always been a lineman at heart."

Luke Zimmermann, editor of SB Nation's Ohio State web site, Land-Grant Holy Land, described Fragel's transformation from tight end to tackle and indicates Fragel has significant upside as an NFL tackle.

Fragel was a block first tight end for his first three seasons of eligibility at OSU but there was definitely still a lot of head scratching when Urban Meyer and his staff came in to town and almost immediately moved him to the offensive line. I don't think the expectations were very high that he'd be much more than a place holder on a line that had some real question marks, and certainly early on in the 2012 season he was a bit on the raw side. The good news is that even still, the structure of college football scheduling allowed for Fragel to learn on the fly against some physical lesser opposition, and the athleticism of quarterback Braxton Miller bought enough time for Fragel's baptism by fire to take without sending OSU's offensive star to the hospital in the early season situations where the opposing end or linebacker got past him.

Fortunately, by season's end, Fragel was one of two or three best linemen in what had become a rather strong core. Even against the likes of Wisconsin (15th in the country in total defense) and Michigan (13th nationally), there wasn't a whole lot of trepidation amongst Ohio State fans or the staff that Fragel wouldn't hold his own, which we went on to more than do. By the time everything was said and done, Meyer now talks about guys who don't necessarily show a lot in spring football but evolve into great college football players as "Reid Fragel's"; in not even four months of game action on the o-line, he basically became an archetype for the program.

I think the exciting thing about Fragel moving on to the next level is with additional high caliber line coaching, he can only get better. He might never be a Pro Bowl staple on the blindside or anything like that, but given his work ethic, character, and most of all skill set, I could see him having a Jon Jansen type career in the right situation.

Jansen had a 10-year NFL career as a right tackle, the first nine as a starter for the Washington Redskins.

Asked for his own player comparison, Fragel pointed to the similarities he has with Nate Solder of the New England Patriots. Solder converted from tight end to tackle during his time at the University of Colorado, was drafted 17th overall by the Patriots in 2011 and is now New England's starting left tackle.

"I think what you'll find, not just me but other guys that make the switch from tight end to tackle I think you'll find that we have the ability to recover, make up for mistakes in pass protection and what not by having quick feet," Fragel said. "I think playing tight end for three years helped me a lot. It definitely helped me out early on when I was definitely a little more raw at the pass protection footwork."

Fragel impressed at the Combine, answering questions about his strength by putting up 33 bench press reps of 225 pounds.

"I think I surprised some people at the Combine with my strength," Fragel said. "Moving from the tight end position I don't think they expected some of the strength that I showcased there."

It seems like it won't, however, be a surprise if Fragel has a successful NFL career. Could that career begin with the Giants? We will find out in less than three weeks.

[E-mail Ed at bigblueview@gmail.com | Follow Big Blue View on Twitter | 'Like' Big Blue View on Facebook.]

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