A Look at Reggie Ragland,
Acquired in a Trade with the Buffalo Bills
The Chiefs made two big trades last week for draft picks. I support both moves by Brett Veach. The Chiefs gave up a round 4 pick in 2019 for Ragland and a round 5 pick in 2018 for Cam Erving. The Chiefs essentially obtained two players who were, in their draft year, first round talents.
My focus is on Ragland but in making this observation please note: neither player was a fit for the team which selected them, either from the start or after 2016. Ragland fits the 34 Defense as an inside linebacker perfectly. He is a great compliment for DJ, and with Ramik Wilson developing a strong talent that could mirror the play of DJ, both players could be, and are probably looked to as the future ILB tandem. I like it.
Reggie Ragland came from the Bills who swapped in the 43 defense. Reggie was not a good fit for this and this is why the Bills moved him in this trade. At Cleveland, Erving was selected to be a guard whereas all of his experience was at LT. Moreover, think on it: He was moved inside to Guard, played a little tackle and then they moved him to center. Whatever was wrong, it wasn’t working and this put a high round pick to availability in a trade. In this latter case with Erving, think to on the black hole that Cleveland has been the past 3 seasons or more, with all the turmoil, poor draft choices, distractions, and Johnny football to boot.
Brett Veach made a trade for top talent in a draft in both cases, albeit, one with no NFL Time and the other with questionable history.
My focus in this piece is Ragland — who fell to the 41st player selected in the draft due to a medical issue, heart murmur, and then was cleared to play only to be taken out of 2016’s season with a preseason game ACL knee injury after a malpractice in a treatment so he had to get professionals from www.the-medical-negligence-experts.co.uk to resolve the issue. Ragland comes to the Chiefs as essentially… a top ranked rookie.
What Are the Critiques?
What were the critiques? PFF noted that Ragland looked to be a productive two-down linebacker at the least. Pundits, analysts indicate: he was competent for short drop zones but not suited to man-coverage. He could be a 3-down player with the right scheme. An advantage is his pass-rush versatility which is a proven talent. He is certainly the type of player who has the temperament for run thumping, hard hitting ILB.
On the other hand, Lance Zierlein noted that Ragland would be a tone-setting run stopping ILB. When I think about all the problems the Chiefs had in 2016, one of the biggest exposures was the inability to stop the run.
For this reason alone, I think Ragland is a perfect fit for the WILL and to play next to DJ. But I believe, after watching film, that there is a misread on what Ragland can do in pass coverage. He will be far better than Mauga with speed. Indeed, he has the speed to cover from the middle side to side and close against most RBs and certainly Tight Ends.
Let’s take another look at Charlie Goldman’s comments. He stated that Ragland would be durable, and hitter, and could play any linebacker in a 34 including outside. See my film review on this factor. He has versatility.
I will come back to the pass coverage topic below.
Ragland Fits the WILL
With Reggie’s size and speed he certainly fits the vision of a “WILL” linebacker. He is faster and more versatile that Josh Mauga by far. Goldman’s comments it well with this particular suggestion because Reggie is more versatile than that. He is capable of playing the short drops in a zone set and has the ability to be a pass rush mix and match player. If I view the overall Chiefs linebacker crew as oriented to “Speed”, and if that were the only factor that I need to address, Ragland would follow behind the “Speed” Talent. Keep in mind the Chiefs traded earlier, under Veach’s auspice, DJ Alexander for Kevin Pierre-Louis. I think you can see from this trade that Veach was looking for more “ummph” on the inside. DJA was a speedster and benefited Dave Toub quite handily on special teams. However, Alexander appears to have lost out to other players for snaps as an ILB, namely Ramik Wilson and a couple of others, such as Terrance Smith. The trade brought the possibility of a player who was more willing to hit the hole and stop the runner at the LoS. At least that is my read on the trade.
Charlie Goldman viewed Ragland as a perfect for KC before the draft. He observed DJ’s age and time left in the game, Lance Zierlein liked him for the same reason. PFF worried the pass coverage but expressed the view that he could or would be a 3 down ILB. That mirrors my view.
Re-orienting, If I go to the time frame of the draft, I was big on Jaylon Smith who was my choice you may recall but Dallas took him and was willing to accept Smith sitting out the first year on the IR/PUP all season. Ragland was on my list, but was not my first round choice. He was however, my option for round 2 but was taken in the 10 spot.
At the time, the Chiefs had Josh Mauga who was utilitarian/journeyman type ILB. He filled the run stopping defense role well. When he went out for the season long days after the draft, it gave Ragland even more weight to be a selection, but that is “Hindsight.”
Thus were the Chiefs facing a problem in the middle of their front 7 with Josh Mauga being out. That missing piece caused the Chiefs Defensive Coordinator no end of headaches in figuring out how to effectively stop the run game and that’s tough when your front 7 had a major piece missing which our young, talented and speedster ILBs weren’t able to overcome. At least this is my view and that was how Mauga fit. I am with taking a top talent who could start out of the gate. The Chiefs made a superb pick in Marcus Peters in 2015. Ragland would have been such in 2016 but it appears that the medical issue pressed Ragland down the Dorsey board and he was taken in the 2nd round at #10. As I viewed the draft, I wanted to get that OLB or ILB because this was an exposure area for the Chiefs(my nots say: DJ and Hali will soon retire, when the opportunity arises, the Chiefs need to take a top talent here. My goal was to give the Chiefs a top talent to start next to DJ. He should be a run stopping, WILL and Ragland fits this description to a “T.”
The Draft from 2016
Here is how the draft looks for linebackers to position in the 4th round, the Chiefs took Parker Ehinger.
- Round 1, Derron Lee, OLB – NYJ
- Round 2, Jaylon Smith, OLB – Cowboys
- Round 2, Myles Jack, OLB- Jaguars
- Round 2, Reggie Ragland, ILB – Bills (Pick 10, overall #41)
It isn’t until round 3 that another ILB is taken. Ragland was the first ILB picked in the draft despite the medical setback which the player got beyond after further evaluation.
Looking Back at 2014 and 2015
Because I wished to form my own opinion, I reviewed the tape of Reggie Ragland’s play in 3 games from 2014 and 5 games from 2015. I review tape to see the complete picture of a player… what type of play situation is being used and… how the player fits to that system. Next up, when you do such a review you are going to see all the warts that go along with the ‘old girl’s glow’ so to speak. Here is a summation that I think is appropriate:
Ragland performed well as an ILB for the Crimson Tide. He stopped the run as you would expect an ILB to do, he did stunts according to play-calling and did them well. In 2015, he put his hand in the dirt and rushed from the outside and sometimes took an inside stunt from that position. He took a standing stance as well from the outside so you saw in the collegiate games, especially in 2015 quite a bit of versatility.
In both years, Ragland performed the basic drops in a zone defense as you should expect an interior linebacker to do. I did not see errors in this coverage. In two games I felt he was slow to react to a receiver on the edge of his zone area but this was not a consistent factor. In all games, no matter where the ball was, Ragland pursued.
In man to man, in 2015, Ragland had 2 plays covering a Tight End off the line of scrimmage and a couple of games taking on a Running Back. In one case, Ragland did a text book coverage of a Tight End who appeared quick and had moves. The TE drove Ragland deep to about 10 to 12 yards, faked outside and then cut across in front of the QB. Ragland mirrored the Receiver and took away a potential pass play that I thought was designed to have that TE as the #1 target. Meanwhile coverage was good, the QB scrambled and was tackled for a loss. One game here he had an INT as well.
An Overall Summary
Ragland tackles well, squares his shoulders and takes out the opponents legs while driving through tackles and wrapping up. He performs short drops in a zone scheme well. His questioned speed appears to be a misread or over emphasized and in the cases where he manned up, he did the right type of coverage, even if his receiver made the catch, Ragland was there to make the tackle — in place, doing the right coverage and making the play.
My read on Ragland during those 8 games is that he is a playmaker, and I would grade him out higher than he was at draft time. I surely thought he was a round 1 talent.
My Read on the Deal Now
The Ragland trade has a high ceiling that he will, in my view, fulfill. Ragland has hands enough for interceptions and he has a nose for the ball. That bodes well for success in the NFL. Even if he becomes a Middle of the Road defender with not much to write Mom about, he will play well on the inside for the Chiefs 34. I am pretty confident it will be play well beyond that. I have grown even fonder of the pick after all this review and fully support Veach in making this trade.
Keep in mind that Sutton uses all sorts of packages and hybrids to stymie and counter the offense he is seeing. Ragland may never be a HoF or superstar ILB. But he certainly will be a tough customer in Kansas City’s middle defense and he will be a punishing defender against the run. My bet is Ragland in KC will prosper.
There is only one contingency: rehab from the knee injury.
David Bell – about to be in Avery
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