One of the best players on a nearly unstoppable defense in 2015, Alabama's Reggie Ragland believes he's got what it takes to translate to the NFL with ease.
Reggie Ragland will likely be a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but by all accounts the University of Alabama linebacker reminds many of the way middle linebackers from previous decades play.
The 6-foot-1, 247 pounder isn't afraid to lay a hit. He's also more than happy to go toe-to-toe with any blockers that try to get in the way of his path.
According to his NFL.com draft profile, Ragland is an instinctive linebacker who "steps in to swap paint with lead blockers in order to constrict his gap."
But while most accounts project him as a potentially elite rush stopper, Ragland is confident in his ability to step back and cover the field in passing situations.
"I know I can do it," Ragland said at February's NFL Combine. "I've done it this year and showed people I can do it. So it's really just getting out there and keep proving people wrong, because I know a lot of people think I might not [be able to] do it. I want to show people I have good hips, fluid hips and I'm able to drop in coverage and attack people in space."
Ragland – like the entire Alabama defense – was excellent during the 2015 season, as he totaled 102 total tackles (60 solo) along with seven passes defensed, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two fumbles forced and an interception.
He also earned unanimous All-American honors.
"I think we did, we stopped a lot of teams, a lot of good running backs," Ragland said, responding to a question about the Crimson Tide instilling fear in opposing offenses. "That last game we got kind of gassed against Clemson and Deshaun Watson is heck of a player probably the best player I played against this year. He really showed me a lot everything that was advertised about him was right. … For the most part we got the job done."
Check out images of linebacker Reggie Ragland during his collegiate career at Alabama.
As he prepares for the NFL, Ragland is not only sharpening his fundamentals, he's also preparing his body physically for a more taxing schedule.
He dropped 12 pounds since the start of the year.
"I wanted to drop it and get it down so I changed my diet, I still worked out the same, I had a low carb diet and it really helped me shave down the pounds," Ragland said. "I was eating a lot of chicken and fish, no fried foods, I didn't eat out. My food was cooked and prepared for me, a lot of fiber."
Ragland will join an NFL defense eager to earn starting duties quickly. If he does, he could also be the vocal leader, too, at just 22 years old.
"They see me as a Mike and making the calls," Ragland said of what NFL teams have told him. "A lot of teams like me playing off the edge, but they'd love to see me being a true Mike and making all the calls."