MOBILE, Ala. – With 24 players from the Southeastern Conference at the Senior Bowl this week (Georgia linebacker Jake Ganus was a late addition over the weekend), no conference is better represented. There are no shortage of storylines, either.
One of the biggest buzzworthy notes from the SEC as teams prepare for the week’s first practice sessions on Tuesday comes from Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, who announced he was going to move from his normal inside position to play outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl.
For what many believe to be a potential first-round pick and the best inside linebacker available in the NFL draft, this was a huge announcement.
“I just want to show that I can cover and rush the passer,” said Ragland on Monday as the Senior Bowl opened its festivities. “I want to show that I can do multiple things at the next level. I know I can play inside, but I want to be able to show that I can play outside too. If a guy goes down, I want to show I can go out there and play it too and not miss a beat.”
Proving he can be an asset as he drops in coverage could go a long way toward getting Ragland on the field for three downs at the next level instead of just being a first- and second-down option. Ragland said he hasn’t talked with any outside linebackers about making the switch but has been very observant.
“I’ve seen and watched them and I know it takes a lot,” said Ragland. “You got to be able to jump in the flats and cover those guys so I’ve observed a lot.”
Dropping into coverage is only half the battle as Ragland attempts to show some outside linebacker prowess this week. He’s also going to have to beat some of the best offensive tackles in the nation and show he can go around the edge, or through the obstacles, to get after the quarterback.
Ragland’s be-everywhere 102 tackles last season show he has the motor to affect ball carriers … he was a Consensus All-American to boot. But with 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2015, he also had some level of success in the opposing backfield. He’s got a week’s worth of practices and a game on Saturday to give NFL teams an idea of how quickly Ragland can grow.
More from the 2016 Senior Bowl:
- 4 SEC players with the most to lose at Senior Bowl
- 4 SEC players with the most to prove at Senior Bowl
- Alabama LB Reggie Ragland on RB Kenyan Drake: ‘He made me look funny out there’