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Alabama NFL Draft Prospects

Possible NFL homes for LB Reggie Ragland, 2016 NFL Draft

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Former Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland is one of nine players that will represent the Crimson Tide in this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, which goes from Feb. 23-29.

He anchored the Tide’s defensive front in the last two seasons, with a national championship run occurring in 2015.

Ragland led the group in total tackles with 102, while adding 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, six quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.

He was a finalist for multiple awards, including Butkus, Chuck Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski national honors.

Ragland was awarded defensive player of the year, courtesy of the Southeastern Conference during its College Football Awards show. NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay has the Alabama standout going to the Chicago Bears with the 11th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.

In four seasons (2012-15), Ragland proved that he could be both instinctive and aggressive at linebacker for Alabama.

He excels at stopping the run, but has lateral quickness in coverage. He trained with outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi on how to be explosive on the edge and results came at the Senior Bowl. NFL scouts were impressed with Ragland’s technique, as he earned top linebacker honors during practices leading up to the game.

Numerous franchises are in need of an inside linebacker, yet yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine has listed five that are in prime position to take Ragland.

5. Atlanta Falcons

  • 2015 record: 8-8
  • Division: NFC South
  • First-round selection: No. 17 overall pick
  • Head coach: Dan Quinn

Summary: Atlanta was average in run defense and total defense in 2015, finishing at No. 14 and No. 16. It allowed 105 rushing yards per game with 20 touchdowns and 347.6 total yards per contest. Reggie Ragland captained a unit at Alabama that allowed 2.43 yards per carry and 75.7 yards per game last season, both numbers led the nation. The Crimson Tide allowed just 12 rushing touchdowns in the last two years.

Ragland’s knowledge of gap assignments and schemes guided Alabama to allowing 276.3 total yards of offense, which stood amongst the best nationally. Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn is defensive-oriented. He coached a group in Seattle that won two NFC Conference championships and a Super Bowl title during the 2013 season.

It has some pieces with Vic Beasley and Jonathan Babineaux, but adding Ragland would help it tremendously against the run, especially when facing Carolina, Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

4. Oakland Raiders 

  • 2015 record: 7-9
  • Division: AFC West
  • First-round selection: No. 14 overall pick
  • Head coach: Jack Del Rio

Summary: Raiders’ coach Jack Del Rio is rebuilding the culture at Oakland. It finished 7-9 in 2015 and looks to be even better next season; however, everything starts in the NFL Draft.

Oakland allowed 104.9 rushing yards per game and 12 touchdowns, resulting in a No. 13 ranking last season.

It stood 22nd in the NFL in total defense, surrendering 363.6 yards and 24.9 points.

Alabama allowed 16.7 points per game in the two seasons that Ragland started (2014-15), with a 15.1 mark surrendered last season. The Crimson Tide finished in the top five in scoring defense.

Malcolm Smith, Khalil Mack and Curtis Lofton make up a solid nucleus on defense, but adding Ragland would bring depth and a run stopping element that Oakland needs in the AFC West.

3. Chicago Bears 

  • 2015 record: 6-10
  • Division: NFC North
  • First-round selection: No. 11 overall pick
  • Head coach: John Fox

Summary: John Fox did not have the year he envisioned at Chicago in 2015, despite taking Carolina to the Super Bowl in 2003 and Denver to the NFL championship game in 2013.

A 6-10 campaign calls for an evaluation and for Fox, it will start on defense.

Defensive backs Kyle Fuller and Antrel Rolle are enforcers, yet the Bears have not had a staple at inside linebacker since Brian Urlacher. Chicago struggled against the run last season, giving up 120.9 yards a game and nine touchdowns (22nd in the NFL).

Its pass defense saved it overall as Chicago finished 14th in total defense, allowing 345.4 yards and 24.8 points per game.

The Bears need a big name to step in at linebacker and despite having its sights on an outside ‘backer,’ Ragland is a face that Fox can build the defense around. He chimes in with four sacks in two seasons as a starter, but forcing quarterbacks to make rushed decisions is a strong suit for him.

2. New York Giants 

  • 2015 record: 6-10
  • Division: NFC East
  • First-round selection: No. 10 overall pick
  • Head coach: Ben McAdoo

Summary: Tom Coughlin coached his final New York Giants squad in 2015 and to his displeasure, its defense was not as good in comparison to its Super Bowl years (2007, 2011).

Defensive back Landon Collins was one of few bright spots. New York selected him with the 33rd overall pick in last year’s draft and he led the team with 112 total tackles. The ex-Crimson Tide star was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team, courtesy of Pro Football Writers Association.

The Giants finished toward the bottom of the league against the run, allowing 121.4 yards per game last season. It was last in total defense (420.3 ypg) and second to last in scoring defense (27.6 ppg). New York will more than likely target a pass rusher, but honestly it just needs a leader on defense to pair with Collins. Ragland would bring a sense of stability at linebacker.

1. Green Bay Packers

  • 2015 record: 10-6
  • Division: NFC North
  • First-round selection: No. 27 overall pick
  • Head coach: Mike McCarthy

Summary: Clay Matthews is good, but Green Bay cannot expect him to play everywhere.

Inside linebacker is one of the Packers’ top needs heading into the draft. Its defense was not effective against the run, surrendering 119.1 yards and 13 touchdowns (21st in the NFL).

Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Chicago’s Matt Forte are two of the best running backs in the league. Both guys happen to be in the NFC North, a division that prides itself on a strong run game and defense. Reggie Ragland navigated a Crimson Tide squad that gave up an average of 89.1 rushing yards a game in the last two seasons combined (75.7 in 2015).

Having Matthews rush the quarterback on the edge and Ragland stop the run would really benefit Green Bay.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future

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