The heartbeat in the middle of these stout Alabama defenses over the past two seasons has been none other than Reggie Ragland. The senior linebacker went on to cap off a great career as he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He succeed former ‘Bama 1st round pick, C.J. Mosley in the middle of that defense and the unit didn’t miss a beat in the process while remaining one of the best in the nation. In two years as a starter, Ragland led the team in tackles both seasons with at least 90 each year. He’s a linebacker who does a little bit of everything.

Name: Reggie Ragland
College: Alabama
Size: 6’2”/252
Class: Senior
Projection: Mid-late 1st Round
Comparison: D’Qwell Jackson

Strengths

  • Explosiveness
  • Tackling
  • Hard hitter
  • Field speed
  • Motor/effort
  • Dropping back into coverage
  • Engages blockers with force/physicality
  • Leadership
  • Size

Weaknesses

  • Struggles against runs up the middle
  • Hesitant against the run at times
  • Upper body strength
  • Questionable instincts

I really like the game of Alabama’s Reggie Ragland. He’s your typical 3-4 run and chase style linebacker. He brings a strong, sturdy 6’2”-250 frame to the middle of the defense which is already intimidating. I love his leadership and poise in the middle of ‘Bama’s defense – serving as the leader of such a prestigious defense is no easy task.

Early on while scouting Ragland I noticed his complex utilization on ‘Bama’s defense. They line him up as the edge rusher at times. He possesses incredible quickness of the snap, but it ends there as he lacks a repertoire of pass rushing moves – understandable for an inside linebacker. They have him drop back into coverage a lot. Most rave about his run stuffing skills, I think his coverage skills are greatly underrated. Ragland shows good footwork when dropping back into coverage. He can even go man-to-man if you need him to – he did a solid job against Ole Miss’ Evan Engram, a 2nd round caliber prospect.

Now onto his run defense. Some scouts will say that’s his strong suit, and while he does a great job against the run at times, he has his fair share of struggles. On runs up the middle he seems hesitant to make a play and fails to engage blockers.  At times he looks confused in those situations which makes you question his instincts. You can’t afford to be 2 or 3 seconds late on a play in the NFL, that’s something scouts will have to play close attention to when analyzing him more descriptively. Ragland excels as a run and chase type linebacker and does a great job on outside runs.

Ragland has a lot going for him. He displays great field speed, meaning, I don’t expect him to put up stunning combine numbers, but he moves just fine on the football field. He is a solid tackler who can lay the wood. He’s a very explosive linebacker who plays with a lot of burst. He’s physical and engages blockers with force. Ragland has a quick motor and shows good effort on plays behind him, most of the time.

This is a guy who had a 1st round grade most of the season that seemed to slip towards the end – for whatever reason. Maybe because he’s not the big name, or because his film doesn’t jump out at you. Bottom-line, he deserves to go in the 1st round, without a doubt. He is a great football player who plays with heart and has good leadership skills, that alone is enough for a team to fall in love with. His size and physical tools will surely help his stock as well. He is a great fit as an ILB in a 3-4 scheme – the prototypical fit.

About The Author Jonathan Valencia

Jonathan has been investing his time in sports writing for the past decade. Breaking Football's lead writer covers anything from the NFL Draft to providing fantasy football insight. Born and raised in the Jersey Shore. Follow him on Twitter @JonValencia_WiB to talk anything football.