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NFL Draft focus: OT Reid Fragel could interest Bears

Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde right celebrates his touchdown against Illinois with teammate Reid Fragel during second quarter an

Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, right, celebrates his touchdown against Illinois with teammate Reid Fragel during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

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In his initial conversation with Ohio State head coach Urban, Buckeyes tight end Reid Fragel proactively offered to switch positions.

“We lost our tackles,” Fragel said, “and our team needed help there.

“It was my decision.”

The unselfish offer has paid off for Fragel.

A solid blocking tight end, Fragel gained about 25 pounds (up to 305) and asserted himself as Ohio State’s starting right tackle. Now, after impressive workouts, Fragel is rising on draft boards and intriguing teams with his athleticism and potential.

The Bears are among the teams that have expressed an interest.

Born in Glen Ellyn, Fragel moved to Michigan with his family when he was three years old, yet he often returned to Chicago because of his father’s work.

“It’s a city that I’ve always been drawn back to,” Fragel said, adding that his family has a place in New Buffalo, Michigan, about 70 minutes from Chicago.

A track athlete and basketball player in high school, Fragel impressed as a tackle last season and felt right at home.

“I’m a lineman at heart,” he said. “I had fun at tight end, but those catching days are over.”

Fragel said run blocking came natural, because of his tight end background, but that pass blocking was more of a challenge because of the footwork.

“Learning that was the biggest curve ball,” he said, “but the coaching staff did a great job.”

Despite limited playing experience, Fragel said he’s confident he can immediately contribute.

“Coach Meyer pushed us, and I learned that I‘m a very quick learner,” he said.

Some believe Fragel could go in the second or third round, but he isn’t fretting too much about when he’s selected.

“I try not to look at that stuff a whole lot. That’s stuff I can’t control,” he said. “You want that opportunity to achieve that dream you had as a kid.

“It doesn’t really matter to me.”

BEARS’ NEEDS ON OFFENSIVE LINE:

The Bears arguably upgraded its offensive line more in this one offseason than in the last several combined. They added young players, and they’ve added proven ones, most notably left tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson. They also re-signed Jonathan Scott and will take a look at veteran Eben Britton. But given the importance of the unit, the Bears will likely look for value in the draft and no round can be ruled out, including the top pick.

FIVE OF INTEREST:

OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama: Possible that he could be available when the Bears pick, and he’d be awfully tempting.

OT Menelik Watson, Florida State: Lots of upside, but he probably will need to be developed for at least one season.

OG Chance Warmack, Alabama: Could he slip to the Bears? And, more importantly, if he does, can the Bears pass on him?

C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin: Considered the top-ranked center, he’s expected to be picked in the second round.

OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina: Like Warmack, he’ll likely be gone by the Bears’ pick. But, like Warmack, he’d be tempting if he falls in their lap.

THE THREE BEST:

OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: He’s got the size, pedigree and the prerequisite athleticism, which makes him the likely No. 1 pick.

OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan: His draft stock has consistently improved, and he’s now viewed as a sure top-5 pick.

OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: A high school quarterback, he may actually be even hotter than Fisher, possessing all the physical tools and the potential to play right or left tackle.

THE THREE SLEEPERS:

OT Reid Fragel, Ohio State: Not projected as a first-round pick, but he has a lot of upside because of his raw athleticism and natural size.

C Barrett Jones, Alabama: He has started at four positions on the offensive line, for an SEC powerhouse – enough said.

OG Hugh Thornton, Illinois: He’s started at guard and tackle, but he’s probably more suited to playing inside at the pro level.



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