The Jacksonville Jaguars need defenders, but they shouldn't just draft any who present themselves. As we have written about DeForest Buckner and Vernon Hargreaves, this post is not designed to argue against Reggie Ragland the draft prospect but more so intended to argue against how Reggie Ragland would fit with the Jaguars, in a scenario that he somehow ended up with the team after draft night.
The Jaguars seem to have a clear interest in Ragland. This is made clear by them bringing him in for a private visit and by their comments about him when they coached him at the Senior Bowl. They have a need at inside linebacker because Paul Posluszny will not be with the team much longer, so it makes sense that they are looking at possible replacements who play a similar style to him, but that point of view may be misguided.
Need new blood at linebacker
When I say that the Jaguars need an upgrade over Posluszny for the future, I do not simply mean any inside linebacker who is taken with a high pick. A certain type of linebacker should be considered and a certain type of linebacker should be avoided. Ragland is the latter.
Ragland plays very similarly to Posluszny . He makes his mark on the field by stopping the inside runs through physicality against blocks and superb instincts. He is your classic thumper, throwback linebacker. This will give him a place in the league.
But Ragland also struggles in a lot of the same areas that Posluszny has with the Jaguars. Areas that, while he has clear strengths, still make it difficult to argue that his impact on the team is a net positive.
Ragland has a little more range than Posluszny, which makes sense since he is so much younger and is entering the prime of his career. But he shares similar struggles in coverage and with below average agility. If he isn't coming straight downhill or at an angle, he struggles.
In coverage, he typically made little impact at Alabama, though he is still more sufficient than Posluszny in that area. With that said, the entire reason Alabama played him as a pass rushing linebacker on so many third downs is not because they thought he was a good pass rusher (he is not) but because they needed a way to keep him on the field while not having him in coverage in the middle of the field.
At the end of the day, Ragland is a good NFL prospect. But the biggest issues the Jaguars have had at inside linebacker the last three years are an inability to cover and an inability to make plays in space.
Ragland could step into Posluszny's shoes nicely and perform well in all of the areas he currently does. Being younger, he would probably be even better. But he would also not make the defense better in the areas they need to be made better, so his overall impact on the team, like Posluszny's, could be hard to argue as a net positive.
Ragland is a good player. But the Jaguars need something more than just a good player if they want to have an answer at inside linebacker for life after Posluszny.