ESPN’s analyst, Todd McShay, recently published a new 2016 NFL mock draft.
With his latest rendition, he projects the Detroit Lions to grab Alabama linebacker, Reggie Ragland, with the No. 16 overall pick.
McShay justified the Lions selection with the following:
This is a tone-setting player in the middle of the defense, which is exactly what the Lions need. Ragland could fall because of positional value and team needs, but I could make an argument that he’s one of the 10 best pure football players in this year’s draft. He showed excellent power at the point of attack and has very good straight-line speed for his size.
Ragland measured up at 6-foot-1 and weighed in at a solid 259lbs while at the Senior Bowl. His strong play did not go unnoticed, as he was voted the weeks most outstanding linebacker by a committee of NFL scouts. He also demonstrated versatility during practice, as he occasionally lined up outside and spent time with the defensive ends.
While at Alabama this past season, he led the team with 102 total tackles, added 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a couple of forced fumbles. Those numbers were good enough for first team All-American honors on a national championship unit.
Ragland projects to be a MIKE backer in Detroit’s hybrid defense. Middle linebacker may not seem like a position of inadequacy at the moment, but the spot may be vacant at the time of the NFL Draft (April 28-30). With Stephen Tulloch a possible cap casualty and Tahir Whitehead hitting the free agent market, the Lions could have a need for a player with Ragland’s skill set.
There is one caveat to be aware of with Ragland. He was surrounded with NFL talent and had two future first-round defensive tackles playing in front of him. A linebacker’s job is much easier when he is protected by not only one, but two forces of nature in Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson, both of whom are also projected first-round draft picks.
Other than that small concern, Ragland looks every bit like a superstar at the next level.
Take a look at Ragland’s highlights below: