INDIANAPOLIS––Reid Fragel has never met T.J. Lang before, but being a fellow Detroit-area native, he's admired Lang from afar.
"Just watching him on TV," said Fragel at the NFL Combine, "and I've seen some of his comments online and stuff, pretty funny guy. Great player as well."
Perhaps Fragel is making reference to Lang's infamous tweet heard round the world in the aftermath of the loss to the Seattle Seahawks this past season when the NFL's replacement referees blew a call in the end zone to give the Seahawks a game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Fuck it NFL.. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 25, 2012
Lang's missive was reportedly the most retweeted tweet in history, which gained him some notoriety.
Like Lang, Fragel is looking to become another Detroit product looking to make it to the NFL as an offensive lineman. But Fragel hasn't always played in the trenches.
It wasn't until he was a senior this past season that he moved to tackle after being primarily a blocking tight end earlier in his college career.
Fragel wasn't used much as a receiver not exceeding any more than single-digits in receptions in either his sophomore and junior seasons. So when both Ohio State tackles departed after last season, the door was open to more playing time.
"It’s something a year ago that Coach (Urban) Meyer told me had the potential, to be here sitting with you here at the Combine," said Fragel. "So it was big sticking to the plan, as grueling as it was, as tough as it was, Coach Meyer got the best out of me. And I’m forever thankful for him and the staff for the heck of the job they did."
Being used as an in-line tight end, more of a blocker than a receiver, helped Fragel in the transition, but it was his pass protection that needed the most work.
By and large, things worked out for Fragel as he went on to start all 12 games at right tackle for the Buckeyes during his senior season. Now he's at the NFL Combine just a step away from playing professional football.
But he's not quite at the promised land just yet.
"He's an interesting guy, obviously, because of the move from tight end and teams that believe that he's got some upside to him," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock in a recent conference call. "So I think the commitment, he's willing to make to the weight room, the commitment he's willing to make to the overall work ethic of becoming a starting tackle in the league is determines how teams value him."
The tight end background seemingly hasn't prevented Fragel from gaining the strength required to be an offensive linemen. He put up 33 repetitions on the bench press at the Combine, which was fourth best among all linemen in Indianapolis and has started to put some of those reservations to rest.
Even though the Packers don't figure to grab a tackle in the first round of the Draft after spending their No. 1s on Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod in two of the past three years, that doesn't mean they might not add some depth later on.
Projected to be a mid-round pick, Fragel just might fit the bill.
"I’ve always liked the Packers," said Fragel. "I never had a favorite team in particular. But growing up watching them play the Lions every year, we had season tickets, I always enjoyed that game in particular."
Maybe if he gets selected by Green Bay, he'll finally be able to meet Lang and share a few of those laughs in person.
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