Reggie Ragland Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Excellent run defender
Consistently produces good down-and-distance situations
A burst to close
Good open-field tackler
Hits with authority
Has the strength to take on and fight off blocks
Can blitz off the edge
Surprisingly athletic for a thick linebacker
Can cover tight ends in pass coverage
Does well in zone coverage
Can cover backs out of the flat
Gritty player; plays with an attitude
Experienced and successful against good college programs
Ready to play immediately
Lacks elite speed
Summary: Many expected teammates Trey DePriest and Denzel Devall to be the players who stepped up and replaced C.J. Mosley in 2014, but it was Ragland who took the role as the leader of the Crimson Tide's defense. He was a strong voice of leadership and backed it up by being a fabulous defender on the field. With his rock-steady play in the middle, Alabama's defense joined Derrick Henry in leading the team to a National Championship in 2015.
As Mosley's replacement in 2014, Ragland recorded 95 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, three passes broken up, one interception, one forced fumble and 1.5 sacks on the year. Immediately, he was one of the best linebackers in the SEC as a big, physical in-the-box defender.
Ragland considered entering the 2015 NFL Draft, but he wisely decided to return to school. He went from being a potential second-round pick to the first round as he was even better as a senior. For the season, he totaled 102 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, seven pass breakups, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The real test that NFL scouts wanted to see was if Ragland had the quickness, agility and athleticism to function in pass coverage. Ragland proved that he is a three-down starter as he performed well against good receiving tight ends from Ole Miss (Evan Engram) and Arkansas (Hunter Henry). It was very impressive how Ragland maintained close coverage running with them in man coverage. Aside from covering those tight ends, he made good open-field tackles and picked up receivers well in zone coverage. Ragland also did a nice job covering backs out of the backfield.
At the Senior Bowl, Ragland was heavier than expected, and it might make sense for him to trim down 10 pounds to help him in pass coverage in the NFL. Still, he moved well and showed the quickness and athleticism to cover the all-stars in pass coverage. Of course, he was tremendous in the run scrimmages. It was an excellent week for Ragland that cemented his first-round draft grade.
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.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com that while Ragland isn't a linebacker who will be a star at the NFL Scouting Combine, he is a pure football player and they feel he is worthy of going in the top 25.
Player Comparison: DeMeco Ryans The Eagles veteran linebacker is very similar to Ragland. Ryans is a physical, attacking linebacker who is a superb run defender. Ragland was the same type of player in college and should be in the NFL. Each of them was a star at Alabama, and in the NFL, I see Ragland being a linebacker of Ryan's caliber. They both are leaders who are true captains. Ragland and Ryans are the emotional heart and soul of their defenses. In the NFL, I think Ragland will be as good as, or better than, Ryans has been with Houston and Philadelphia.
NFL Matches: Chicago, Green Bay, Cincinnati, New York Giants, New York Jets Washington, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Kansas City and Denver
There are a lot of teams that could consider some inside linebacker help in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. In the NFC North, Ragland has a few potential homes. The Bears need to improve their defense, and Ragland would be an immediate upgrade over Shea McClellin. Ragland could reestablish the great linebacker tradition in Chicago.
If Ragland slides into the 20s, he could get consideration from the Vikings as a linebacker to pair with Eric Kendricks and replace aging veteran Chad Greenway. Ragland could start in the middle and push Kendricks to the Will (weakside) linebacker spot. For its part, Green Bay has been weak at inside linebacker for years. Ragland could be an immediate upgrade for the Packers.
In the NFC East, the Giants have needed to improve their linebackers for years. Ragland could be an immediate improvement for New York and would be a safe pick at 10th overall. The Redskins could use a young inside linebacker, and they want a physically imposing team. Ragland would fit that description and has the football character that the Redskins look for.
Miami could also consider linebacker help as many thought they would address it early in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they didn't. Ragland would be a bit high at eighth overall though. The Jets could use a replacement for Demario Davis and David Harris, who is aging; Ragland would make sense for New York.
In the AFC North, Cincinnati signed A.J. Hawk, but could use a long-term linebacker to replace him.
Derrick Johnson is aging in Kansas City. If Ragland slides into the 20s, the Chiefs could be a fit. As could Denver. The Broncos have Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan entering free agency. It could be hard to re-sign both. If one leaves, Denver could be a fit for Ragland, but the Broncos would probably have to trade up to get him, and that appears unlikely.