The 2016 NFL Draft has defenders of all shapes and sizes. Every so often comes along a player could have played a few decades ago; that guy is former Bama backer Reggie Ragland. His physical, no-nonsense style will translate to the modern-day game as well. I reviewed his 2015 performances against Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M, Clemson, and his Senior Bowl game and practices to get a better understanding of the skill set this young backer will bring to the next level. This is what I saw:
LB-Reggie Ragland, Alabama 6′ 1″ 247 lbs.
Cons: Although the former Crimson Tide member varied where he lined up, this defender is an inside backer in the NFL. He is not a fluid athlete and possesses limited quickness and speed. Ragland, at times, has a bad habit of trying to take on multiple blockers and will get overpowered instead of taking a more direct angle. The backer is more of a true thumper at heart and will struggle if forced into man to man coverage. This is because he is clunky mirroring looser hipped play makers.
Pros: Despite some limitations, the backer is quite athletic with great balance. He sees the entire field well and is very instinctive with amazing football intelligence. Ragland steps up to take on blockers and can quickly disengage them with a strong, powerful punch, then flows to the ball carrier. The backer is very physical making anyone who carries the pigskin pay and is a great open field, wrap up tackler. The former Bama play maker rushes the pass well from the middle or the outside and can put his hand in the dirt if you need that of him. There were a few times he lined up against the slot, but he should be used in zone coverage only where he can concentrate on a spot. Ragland shows good instincts getting his arms up knocking the ball down while rushing the signal caller or dropping back into a zone.
Overall thoughts: If you liked the way former 49ers backer Chris Borland played, you will love having Ragland on your team. I expect regardless of which team drafts him, that the backer will become his team’s leading tackler. He offers a little upside in big-play leagues as well, but is safer in tackle-heavy formats.
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