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Player Spotlight: Reggie Ragland

A detailed look at Reggie Ragland's fantasy prospects for 2016.

BAMA BACKER

There were very few defenders in the 2016 NFL Draft class as notable as Reggie Ragland. Winning a National Championship and being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year only added to the excitement and NFL expectations for the young Alabama player. Ragland could have entered the NFL Draft in 2015, but instead stayed in school so that he could keep a promise to his mother that he would graduate from college.

In his senior season, Ragland posted 60 solo tackles, 42 assists, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and seven passes defended. Ragland looks to add his name to other Alabama products who have lately become NFL stars, such as C.J. Mosley and Dont’a Hightower.

REVERING RAGLAND

At 6’1 and 247 pounds, he has the prototypical build for the position. Look up “thumper” in the dictionary and you might see a picture of Ragland beside the entry. Ragland loves to hit. He’s not afraid of contact, whether it be taking on blockers or nailing a ball carrier. He’s extremely instinctive and very rarely out of position. He seldom misses a tackle, a part of his game that he has worked diligently to improve. He displays proper form on his takedowns, driving and finishing with power from his lower body.

Say what you will about his offenses, but Rex Ryan knows how to build a defense. He will slot Ragland into the weakside inside linebacker role, a place that has historically found IDP success in Ryan’s defenses. Bart Scott and David Harris are two great examples of talented players who took off when placed into this designation in Ryan’s schemes. He will allow Ragland to play to his strengths and use his aggressive nature to stuff the run. Bills GM Doug Whaley has already announced that Ragland will start from day one.

RIPPING REGGIE

Criticisms of Ragland are few. The biggest ones are that he lacks desired play speed and that he is a liability in man coverage. Though he improved on his understanding of angles from 2014 to 2015, he could still stand to continue polishing this part of his game. Ragland has a tendency to want to always engage blockers head-on. He will have to learn to shed or evade them better at the NFL level so as not to miss his tackle opportunities.

POSITIVES

  • Ragland will start immediately at weak inside linebacker for the Bills.

  • He is a tone setter as a run stopper and will rack up tackles.

  • The stat crew in Buffalo is one of the more generous in the league with solo tackles.

NEGATIVES

  • Ragland is somewhat athletically limited and a liability in man coverage.

  • Ragland needs to get better at shedding and evading blocks.

  • He probably won’t be a three-down player right out of the gate.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Based on the NFL Draft position, we have to think the Bills believe he can eventually play a three-down role, even if he does not start out in that capacity. Ragland is typically going off the board in the late second or early third round of dynasty drafts with mixed rookie pools. This is a fair price to pay for his services in tackle-heavy formats.

2016 PROJECTIONS

JOHN NORTON'S PROJECTIONS

G

TKL

AST

SCK

FF

FR

PD

INT

TD

FPT

16

68

42

2

2

2

3

1

0

158.00

AARON RUDNICKI'S PROJECTIONS

G

TKL

AST

SCK

FF

FR

PD

INT

TD

FPT

16

66

36

2

2

1

3

0

0

147.50

OTHER VIEWPOINTS

Bart Scott spoke out about Ragland’s fit in this ESPN article by Mike Rodak:

“He’s more prepared for Rex’s defense than pretty much any other defensive player in the league, in football. It won’t take long for him to learn.”

Charlie Campbell of Walterfootball.com also has positive things to say about Ragland in his Scouting Report:

For the NFL, Ragland looks like a three-down starter and difference-maker. He is a very physical linebacker who is capable of taking on shedding blocks from offensive linemen. He has good instincts to read plays and takes good angles to get to ball-carriers. Ragland is excellent at producing good down-and-distance situations for his defense. For the Crimson Tide, he would routinely fire into the hole or to the perimeter to cut down a back before he managed good yardage. Not only does Ragland get in position to make the play, but he packs a punch when he gets there. He is a hard-hitter who puts ball-carriers into the turf with ferocity. Ragland showed some ability to blitz off the corner as well.  As a pro, Ragland is ready to play immediately and has the potential to become a Pro Bowler quickly in his NFL career. He also is known as a team leader with good character. He will be an asset in the locker room as a player to rally the team and is a winner.

Dan Lavoie’s Buffalorumblings.com column questioned Ragland’s coverage abilities:

...[Ragland] has his athletic limitations. He can run with some tight ends, but Charles Clay would be able to beat him down the seam. He's slow to flip his hips or change direction, so receivers who attack him across the middle and add a hitch or false step to their route can turn him around. In dime packages, he's not the best linebacker to keep out there on the field, unless you have a more creative role in mind.