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Chiefs look to restart Ragland’s rough beginning

JAN 01 College Football Playoff Semifinal - Allstate Sugar Bowl
Scott Donaldson/Icon Sportswire

The Kansas City Chiefs made a preemptive trade to bolster their inside linebacker corps. Clearly, General Manager Brett Veach felt that the unit was lacking as they went through this preseason. The new Kansas City GM has now made two trades to bring reinforcements to that position group.

The Buffalo Bills selected Reggie Ragland 41st overall in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Prior to the draft, he had a number of first-round grades from noted NFL draft analysts. One week into training camp of 2016 in Buffalo, Ragland ruptured his ACL and was put on injured reserve. He did not play for the Buffalo Bills in the regular season.

A management and coaching change in Buffalo brought a new 4-3 scheme to the Bills defense. Ragland is not a fit for that scheme.

Rewards to Reap

Ragland brings an enormous amount of upside to Kansas City. In the 2016 NFL draft, national draft analysts praised Ragland’s second round selection as a high-value pick. He is the highest-drafted inside linebacker to be on the Chiefs roster other than Derrick Johnson during Andy Reid’s tenure.

For all intents and purposes, Reggie Ragland is still a rookie. Now, he returns to a 3-4 scheme that is very similar to what he played in college. Bob Sutton, Gary Gibbs and the defensive staff will have a chance to reboot Ragland’s development. There is a lot of high-quality potential for them to mold. He will slot in as strong-side Mike linebacker for the Chiefs.

Ragland has familiarity with a 3-4 defense, a history of success at the college level and an instinctual playing style. Impressive against the run and solid in zone coverage, Ragland was even able to rush from the edge with some success at the college level. Some analysts predicted Ragland could be a Pro Bowl level player in the NFL.

Weighing the risk

Unfortunately, Ragland’s NFL career was derailed shortly after it began. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury one week into training camp of 2016. He spent the 2016 season on injured reserve.

This preseason, Ragland has shown good signs of recovering his previous athleticism. Physically he appears able to contribute in the 2017 season. He will have to pass a physical in Kansas City but all indications are that he should be able to do so. Admittedly, any lingering side effects from the injury will slow his progress in Sutton’s defense.

Additionally, there could be concern about Ragland’s focus and desire following a tumultuous first year in the league. Ragland suffered the injury and saw both the coaching staff and General Manager who drafted him fired all within his first year in the NFL. Ragland saw his position fall this preseason to the third string on the depth chart in Buffalo. At times he noticeably lacked effort late in games while playing with the reserves. He looked uncomfortable in the Bills 4-3 base defense but particularly so when asked to play in the nickel defense.

The stress of Ragland’s rookie season may take time to recover from. As a result, a fresh start on a team that runs his natural scheme may be just what the doctor ordered.


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A University of Kansas grad, Ryan is an Exercise Physiologist and NSCA-certified Strength & Conditioning Coach and data analyst. Ryan founded Rogue Analytics Consulting and developed the Athletic Matrix TM. His focus is player evaluation, roster building, and team management. Ryan has lived in every city in the old AFC West, including Seattle. Follow @RyanTracyNFL for more Chiefs and NFL coverage.

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