NFL

Alabama’s Reggie Ragland Looks To Be The Next Great Tide Linebacker In The NFL

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MOBILE, AL– The University of Alabama isn’t known as “Linebacker U,” but maybe it should be.

In the past five NFL Drafts, the Crimson Tide have had four linebackers selected in either the first or second round.

It looks as if it’s going to be five out of six, as Reggie Ragland is gearing up to be a high pick in just a few months.  Ragland will feature his skill set at this week’s Senior Bowl.

“It’s a prestigious game,” the former Alabama linebacker explained of why he decided to show his wears. “Coming here talking to you guys, I’m going to be able to help my brain a little more and also getting to play in this game with some of my brothers that I won’t probably get to play with in the league. I get a chance to play with some guys I’ve heard about over the years of playing college football.”

The biggest question for Ragland to answer is where he’s going to play on the next level, inside or outside.

“I want to play about 250 or 245,” Ragland said when asked about his playing weight. “I’m getting my weight down now training a little bit. I know I can play at this weight now, but I want to be faster on the field.”

Ragland looks like he will be able to succeed at the next level, but whether he’s able to play inside or outside will determine how high he gets drafted, and later how much money he’ll make.  If he can be a pass rusher and still be able to cover, he can make significantly more money in the NFL.

“I just want to show that I can cover and rush the passer,” he said when asked about what playing outside linebacker this week. “I want to show that I can do multiple things at the next level. I know I can play inside, but I want to be able to show that I can play outside too. If a guy goes down, I want to show I can go out there and play it too and not miss a beat.”

One of the easiest comparisons to make for Ragland is to former Penn State linebacker Navarro Bowman.  In the five seasons he’s been healthy, Bowman has earned four first-team All Pro selections (and a pair of Pro Bowls).  Both players are violent hitters that can make big plays to change football games.

Others compare Ragland to former Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has had a tremendous start to his career after being a first round pick by the Baltimore Ravens.  Mosley was a first-team All Rookie performer at linebacker in 2015 and even finished with second-team All Pro honors to go along with his Pro Bowl selection.  He is a little lighter than what Ragland figures to play at, as Mosley is just 235 pounds.

Ragland is intimately familiar with Mosley’s game, as he had to sit behind him and learn when he first got to Tuscaloosa.

“It was rough,” Ragland explained when he was asked about sitting for his first few years. “You play in middle school, high school and coaches are throwing you out there getting a chance, but Coach Saban taught me about being a man. I was going to wait my turn behind guys like C.J. Mosley, Nico Johnson and Trey DePriest and all those guys and it really made me a better football player and I had to become smarter as a player too. C.J. Mosley is one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with and if I had a question, I didn’t have to go to coaches because I could go straight to him and he broke it down to me the best way that I could understand it.”

With NFL scouts watching closely in 2015, Ragland took his game to the next level being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.  He attributes his ascent just as much to his work off the field as on.

“(I wanted to) Be a student of the game even more,” he explained. “Doing all the things as a kid growing up, you think about going to the College Football awards, being a finalist for the Butkus, Bednarik and Nagurski, but if it weren’t for my teammates pushing me and my coaches pushing me to be that leader on the field, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. They knew I was frustrated from not playing and knew once I got my opportunity, I was going to run with it.”

At this point, Ragland figures to fit somewhere in the middle of Round 1, and some teams that he would fit well with include the New York Giants (No. 10), Chicago Bears (No. 11), Philadelphia Eagles (No. 13), Atlanta Falcons (No. 17), Indianapolis Colts (No. 18) and New York Jets (No. 20).

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.