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Scouting report: Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland

Skarekrow takes a look at a familiar face in Reggie Ragland, former Bills LB who was traded to the Chiefs earlier this year

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When he was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, Reggie Ragland was considered a steal by many. An unfortunate injury robbed him of his rookie season and the chance to improve a faltering Ryan brothers defense.

With a host of new faces at One Bills Drive this offseason, Ragland was shipped to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fourth-round draft pick. Ragland never played a down for the Bills during the regular season. With the Bills making a visit to his new hometown this weekend, we take a look at this somewhat familiar face.

The Player

Ragland jumps off the screen in run support for several reasons. At about 250 pounds, he’s a good matchup against many running backs based on physics alone. Ragland shows good discipline in allowing a play to develop to take the right gap to bring down the ball carrier. Despite his size, he’s also quite adept at working through traffic to make the stop.

This isn’t to say Ragland isn’t without his flaws against the run. Hanging back to see the play develop can lead to him being a little later to the play than he would be by playing at a more instinctual level. Shiftier backs can also make him move in the wrong direction, taking him out of the play.

Ragland’s weakness is clearly in the passing game, as he lacks agility and speed to cover many receivers. His height of 6’2” allows him to disrupt passing lanes. Short-term coverage of slower receivers also shouldn’t be a major liability.

The Data

Ragland’s snap counts have fluctuated wildly from week to week. Ragland’s snaps were at the lowest against Oakland and Houston (11% and 15% respectively). Last week against the New York Giants was his all-time high, as he played 68% of defensive snaps. This was the only time that Ragland played more than half the game.

NFL: Buffalo Bills-Training Camp Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Ragland’s low snap counts have led to underwhelming stat lines. So far, he has recorded zero sacks and 20 tackles. He has failed to record a tackle in two games, and usually comes in at three or fewer. His productivity scales well with opportunity. Last week, he had 8 tackles against the Giants.

The Lowdown

Anyone following Reggie Ragland has likely seen some variation on these themes before. Chalk this up to a case where the experts had a solid read on a player. Ragland excels clogging up the middle and is an asset in limiting the ground damage. His less-than-stellar speed and agility means that opponents can successfully game plan against him using the sidelines and passing game.

Buffalo will need to take advantage of anything they can to earn the win against the Chiefs and keep their playoff hopes alive. If Ragland sees significant playing time, the Bills would be wise to let LeSean McCoy run in any direction but his. If Ragland is forced to cover Shady in the open field, however, McCoy’s elite elusiveness could cause problems for the lumbering linebacker. On “Ragland downs,” the Bills can create favorable matchups by isolating him with skill-players courtesy of his lack of speed.