Bills trade up, grab LB Reggie Ragland in 2nd

Bills trade up, grab LB Reggie Ragland in 2nd
Posted at 9:00 PM, Apr 29, 2016

The Buffalo Bills could barely wait in the second round.

With a player that they coveted still on the board -- even dating back to the first round -- the Bills did whatever they had to do to move up the board. Buffalo sent two fourth-round picks, the 117th overall selection in 2016 and another fourth-round pick in 2017, to move up to the 41st overall selection.

And with that pick, the Bills acquired the linebacker they so desperately desired. With the 41st overall pick, Buffalo selected Alabama linebacker, and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Reggie Ragland.

Ragland played at several linebacker roles throughout his time with the Crimson Tide, but with the roster that the Bills have, the second-round pick will play the weakside inside linebacker role for Rex Ryan's 3-4 defense, according to General Manager Doug Whaley.

In his time at Alabama, Ragland had 220 total tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss and started for them in each of his final two seasons. He joins Preston Brown, Zach Brown, and Kevin Reddick as the only inside linebackers on the team's roster.

Joe B's Take

Let me start of by saying this... I think Reggie Ragland is an incredibly solid prospect, and I had him rated below only two other inside linebackers this year: UCLA's Myles Jack and Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith. Both those players had injury long-term injury concerns, which makes Ragland an intriguing addition.

Ragland is as solid a run defender as they come, with the ability to take on blocks and shed them to get to the ball carrier. He's got fantastic size for the position at 6-foot-1 and 259-pounds, and even offers a bit as a pass rusher off the edge and on blitzes from the middle of the field.

The Bills truly lacked a linebacker with an identity in Rex Ryan's defense during the 2015 season, which conceivably changes with the addition of Ragland. Preston Brown was a flop in his first year as the middle linebacker in the scheme, and Nigel Bradham -- despite his plus-athleticism -- really struggled in coverage during the season.

Ragland's best fit in Ryan's defense, in my opinion, would be at the spot Preston Brown held all last season, but that is not their initial plan for the defense in 2015. Ragland will play weakside linebacker and be in charge of some coverage responsibilities on third down. It's not an ideal fit for him right away, but it's not something he can't do at this point.

Brown played quite poorly down the stretch of last season and the coaching staff has publicly stated he needs to step up as a leader in his third season of starting. In a perfect world, Ragland would start at middle linebacker (since he is the superior fit in Rex Ryan's 3-4 as the middle linebacker), and they'd have a more athletic option to cover as the weakside inside linebacker as well. 

They're convinced Ragland can do it, so let's see it play out. I wouldn't rule out Zach Brown from the equation, either. The Bills are getting a good player that's a solid fit for a 3-4 defensive scheme, that much is for certain.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia