In a league where linebackers have steadily become faster and more compact, Reggie Ragland is a throwback. At 6-1 and 259 pounds, the senior inside linebacker from Alabama was one of the more physically imposing players on his side of the ball in college last season. Now, he figures to be one of the top defensive players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.
In his first two seasons at Alabama, Ragland played primarily as a reserve, but after taking over at one of the two inside linebacker spots in Alabama's perennially dominant front seven, he took off. As a junior, he notched 93 tackles, including 10.5 for loss, and also recorded 1.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. As a senior, he finished with 102 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, seven deflected passes, and two forced fumbles, earning consensus All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors in the process.
With the Eagles moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and Kiko Alonso being traded to the Miami Dolphins, the Eagles could certainly look to add a linebacker with the eighth pick. Ragland's a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, and his run-stopping ability could translate well into the scheme of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, similar to the way in which tackling machine Stephen Tulloch found success for many seasons anchoring his defenses.
Scouting Report From NFL.com
Old-school, take¬-on middle linebacker who plays the game the way Nick Saban likes. Steps into hole and will swap paint with lead blockers in order to constrict his gap. Instinctive linebacker who trusts his eyes and goes. Showed greater understanding of angles and leverage this year. Won't over¬commit when flowing to ball carrier and almost always finds his run fits. Missed tackles fell from ten in 2014 to just three this season. Played with hand in ground as an edge rusher in some sub¬packages. Showed greater willingness to take chances downhill. Nasty hitter with above average play strength.
What He Said
"I know I can do it, I've done it this year and showed people I can do it. So it's really just getting out there and keep proving people wrong because I know a lot of people think I might not can do it. I want to show people I have good hips, fluid hips and I'm able to drop in coverage and attack people in space." - Ragland on being able to play in space