There are a lot of teams thinking of taking linebacker Reggie Ragland out of Alabama in the first round. The most serious about him could be the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, but others, like the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings & Indianapolis Colts are also in the picture.
Ragland surprised many when he decided to stay for his senior year in college. But he wanted to complete his degree and keep working with the community. It paid off for him, not just winning a national championship (was also a small part of the 2012 team) but winning the SEC Defensive player of the year award while being a consensus All-American. He led the team in tackles while disrupting seven passes, getting 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss.
Ragland, an inside linebacker and an elite run stopper, needed two years before becoming a starter for the Crimson Tide. He rarely misses tackles (only three this season) and has greatly improved on finding angles to hit runners, improved the impact of his hit and is slowly adding a pass-rushing dimension to his game. Some scouts don’t think his play speed is good enough to make him consistently successful in the NFL, and it remains to be seen if he can thrive under a less than stellar defensive line, which enables him to run straight at the line without being worried of getting double teams or stuffed.
Still, without being perfect and looking a bit like an old school kind of run stopping linebacker, Ragland is going to be a first round pick, probably somewhere from 15 to 25. The Rams trading with the Tennessee Titans probably changes things in terms of their intentions for him, but it’s not like he doesn’t have plenty of demand elsewhere. With a good defensive line in front of him, he’ll probably feel very comfortable right away in the NFL.