No one can deny that Reggie Ragland was a great middle linebacker in college. That being said, Ragland is the one of the most polarizing players when it comes to Dolphins draft talk. Half of Dolphins draft fans thinks he is too slow to play in today’s NFL while the other half thinks that his instincts and strength will translate over to the NFL, and can make up for his lack of athleticism.
So, should the Dolphins draft Ragland at 13th overall?
Discipline and instincts helped Ragland to become a Nagurski and Buckus award finalist in his senior season. Ragland is well coached which leads him to usually making the correct play. His instincts help him get to the sideline when the ball carrier goes east and west. Ragland also uses his instincts to shoot the correct gaps.
Ragland is a champion and knows what it takes to be a champion; there is something to be said for players who were a key contributor to their team winning a major championship.
So with all of these positives why is there so much hesitation about Ragland? My reason for hesitation with Ragland is all the questions I had after watching his film. The first question is what does the defense do with him on passing downs. Alabama either used him as a pass rusher, or they put him in shallow zones.
Let’s look into these two options, Ragland was not overly effective as a pass rusher, so are the Dolphins going to sub out an average to effective pass rusher for Ragland who shows little potential as an edge player? Now let’s examine the second option, Ragland being used in shallow zones.
This could work part of the time but if you cannot play man in the NFL you will be limited in snaps. Can the Dolphins afford to select a two-down linebacker with the 13th pick? Look, another question.
My next questions are is he fast enough, or in good enough shape to play all four quarters in all 16 games in the NFL? He was able to chase down running backs to the sidelines in college; will he be able to do that against Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, or Le’Veon Bell? Ragland also weighed in at the senior bowl at 260 pounds.
There is a belief that out of shape players have a tendency to get injured more often than healthy players. I also saw Ragland gassed by the 4th quarter in some games. Can he maintain his weight? You do not want all of these questions with your first pick in the draft.
This clip shows Ragland’s ability to see a blocker coming, he uses his hands correctly to shed the blocker quickly, and makes a wrap up tackle. This is Ragland’s bread and butter.
In my opinion, Ragland shows average to below average foot speed. This did not stop him from running down ball carriers to the sideline. Ragland is able to do this because he has amazing instincts and chooses the correct lane to chase down the running back; this is demonstrated on this play.
Ragland is incredible at trusting his eyes and reacting. On this play Ragland sees that the QB is trying to escape the pocket and make a run for the first down. As soon as Ragland makes the decision to pursue, he is on the QB.
On this play Ragland shows his ability to use his instincts to shoot the gap. He recognizes the play and fires into the backfield like a rocket. He doesn’t make a stop but he does cause the running back to stall and allows a teammate to make the stop around the line of scrimmage.
The questions begin.
What to do with him on passing downs?
Ragland’s lack of elite athleticism could be preyed upon in the passing game. Alabama most likely saw this and one way of remedying this was to put him in a shallow zone. This clip shows this in action. Ragland backpedals to a shallow zone, the receiver makes an uncontested catch.
Ragland is able to make the tackle, but the NFL will take this every time, and march down the field. Brady is praying to his dark lord that one of his AFC East opponents takes Ragland.
I am guessing Alabama wanted to find a way to keep Ragland on the field for third downs so they made him into an edge rusher on passing downs. He was not overly effective. I suppose he got pressure from time to time, and he has a good motor so he could chase QBs, but I do not see this happening in the NFL.
Ragland has the instincts to get to the sidelines in college, but does he have enough speed to get there in the NFL? This clip makes me wonder if he can adjust to the NFL speed. Ragland is a little late to get to the spot.
While I was watching Ragland’s tape I saw him getting kind of gassed in the National Championship game. This clip demonstrates him getting a lot slower in the beginning of the 4th quarter of the National Championship game.
This film review was done by Matthew Knowles. Follow him on Twitter: @blueflamespcl
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