Reggie Ragland was the Buffalo Bills 2nd round draft pick in 2016.
With his selection, Rex Ryan believed he found the X-factor at Middle Linebacker for his defense. Unfortunately for all parties involved, Ragland tore his ACL before the 1st preseason game ever kicked off.
While it’s hard to have predicted what could have happened, there’s no doubt that Ragland was on the fast track to being the starting MLB last season. One of the key issues for the defense was communication, and constant misunderstanding of personnel and play-calling.
A key role to the starting MLB role is that of being the play-caller and the coach on the field. Could Ragland have performed better than Preston Brown last year? We will never know.
What I do know, is that the communication issues ran extremely deep last year. So deep that even Ragland as a rookie probably couldn’t have been the solution to all of the Ryan defense problems. Preston Brown was in his 3rd year and performed well for the majority of the season. As good as Ragland? That’s a hypothetical that will never be answered.
Fast forward to the present time, and Reggie Ragland has been cleared for full participation in practice. He is getting his reps in with the 2nd team at MLB behind Preston Brown. Ragland from all indications coming out of the draft, should be a better MLB than Preston Brown.
Yet Ragland is coming off a serious injury, and may not be at his best this season due to a year of rehab. We are expecting Ragland to somehow surpass Brown this season on the depth chart. Brown is a good NFL starter, and for the Bills, it may be best to ease Ragland in since he is still getting back in football shape.
If Ragland manages to beat out Brown in training camp, the defense will be upgraded. Yet still, coming off an injury, we still may not see the real Reggie Ragland until 2018. With Brown as a solid starter, the immediate impact of Ragland starting is mitigated greatly.
This post is looking for the biggest impact, and because Preston Brown is solid, Ragland starting isn’t the biggest difference that can get the Bills the playoffs. Let’s try somebody on the offensive side of the ball.