With the No. 41 overall pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills have selected Reggie Ragland, a middle linebacker from Alabama.
The move came after the Bills traded up from No. 49 overall to secure the selection; they dealt one of their fourth-round picks this year, plus their 2017 fourth-round pick, to acquire the pick. We're not sure which of their two fourth-round picks this year that they sacrificed to snag Ragland.
How does the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year double as a polarizing, arguably less-than-exciting NFL Draft prospect? In Ragland’s case, it comes down to average metrics: he’s a 6’1", 247-pound inside linebacker with unremarkable athletic numbers (4.72-second 40-yard dash, 31.5-inch vertical jump, 9’8" broad jump). Add in the consensus evaluation that he's a better run defender than pass defender, and Ragland’s reputation has emerged as that of a linebacker bred for a bygone era of pro football.
Yet despite this, there’s a lot to like about Ragland, starting with the fact that he’s the third Alabama linebacker to garner consensus All-American status, following in the footsteps of the late Derrick Thomas, a Hall of Fame member, and former Bills great Cornelius Bennett. His average athleticism and short-area quickness is perceived as a negative, but he’s still comfortable in coverage, and he might have worthwhile developmental upside as a pass rusher. More to the point, he has leadership qualities, and has been described as a tone-setter.
Perhaps you’ve heard that Ragland is a "two-down thumper" at linebacker in the pre-draft process; the fact that the Bills just traded up for him would seem to indicate that they think otherwise. Time will tell how the team plans on fitting him into a linebacker rotation that also includes veterans Preston Brown and Zach Brown, but the odds are low that the Bills drafted Ragland to ride the pine.
2016 Bills draft picks