Oakland Raiders: First round options after signing Donald Penn
By Austin Gayle
Though many Raiders fans could be in fear of drafting an Alabama linebacker after the Rolando McClain fallout, Reggie Ragland is a different story when it comes to run-stuffing linebackers coming out of Tuscaloosa.
Ragland is a downhill, physical run defender that excels at diagnosing the play when inside the box and putting himself into the right position to make a play on the ball carrier. He is highly regarded for his instincts, but he also knows what to do when het gets there, as he is a talented block shedder and a sure tackler that can lay a devastating blow when he gains some momentum.
In his two years as a starter with Alabama, Ragland accumulated 195 combined tackles (106 solo) and 17 tackles for loss, via CFBStats.com.
The knock on Ragland is that he doesn’t currently have NFL caliber coverage skills. He could continue to develop his faults in that area as he grows as an NFL player, but Ragland could struggle to be an every down player on defense if he can’t hold his own on passing downs.
With the NFL continuing to evolve into a pass-heavy league, some believe that there simply isn’t a place for a thumper-type linebacker like Ragland in the NFL, but this isn’t the case. In Oakland, Ragland would have a significantly positive impact as a top-tier run defender at the center of their defense, while second-year linebacker Ben Heeney could continue to develop his ability to defend the run behind Ragland and even replace him in sub-packages and passing downs.
Though Oakland had flashed their ability to control teams on the ground in 2015, adding a grinder like Ragland to anchor the middle of their defense should take their run defense to new heights.