Seeking additional depth and competition at linebacker, the New York Giants added four-year veteran Reggie Ragland via free agency this offseason.
Will that move pay dividends? Let’s take a closer look at Ragland as we continue player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
Contract: One-year, $1.1275 million | Guaranteed: $137,500 | 2021 cap hit: $987,500
Career to date
Coming out of Alabama after the 2015 season, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein pegged Ragland as a future Pro Bowler.
Thumping inside linebacker with throwback size and tonesetting mentality. Ragland is a confident and capable early starter in league who has the temperament to become one of the premier run-stopping inside linebackers in the pro game. Ragland has some coverage and speed limitations, but his instincts and overall awareness should be able to mask those issues.
The Buffalo Bills traded up in Round 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft to select Ragland with the 41st overall pick. Unfortunately, Ragland tore an ACL early in training camp and missed the entire season.
A new coaching staff came to Buffalo in 2017, and Ragland obviously was not in the plans for head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. He never played a down for Buffalo, getting traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before the end of training camp.
Ragland played three seasons with the Chiefs, starting 32 of 42 games. He was really a situational player for the Chiefs, though, playing a career-high 582 snaps (49 percent) in 2019.
Ragland signed with the Detroit Lions last season. He started just six of 16 games, but did play 562 snaps (50 percent).
What has always trailed Ragland is his reputation as a run-defending linebacker who was a liability in coverage. He has given up 62 completions in 80 targets (77.5 percent) and has a career passer rating against of 100.6. Last year in Detroit, Ragland had career-worsts in coverage grade (35.7) and passer rating against of 119.2.
SB Nation’s Lions website, Pride of Detroit, figured Ragland would move on after 2020:
He was a capable pass rusher, providing 21 pressures. And for the first half of the season, he was playing as Detroit’s best linebacker. In Week 11, he posted a 90.3 PFF grade and made their Team of the Week. But down the stretch, he struggled mightily. In the final six games, he didn’t grade out better than 53.6 in any single game. Teams really took advantage of Ragland—and every other Lions linebacker—in coverage.
Ragland can ply all of the linebacker positions in the Giants’ 3-4 defense. In 2020, he played 237 snaps at outside linebacker and 305 inside for Detroit. In 2019, Steve Spagnuolo used him for 126 snaps outside and 174 inside.
In New York, he figures to be primarily an inside linebacker. He could compete with Tae Crowder for a starting spot next to Blake Martinez, but likely ends up as a backup and potential situational player.
Perhaps the Giants might find ways to use him as a run-stopper in short-yardage situations. If he is on the field in obvious passing situations there is a good chance he will be rushing the passer. In 2019, Ragland’s 10.0 pass rush productivity score was 13th among 42 linebackers, per PFF. Last season, he had a 7.2 pass rush productivity score, 25th among 50 qualifying linebackers.
It’s noteworthy that Giants linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer was Director of Player Development at Alabama in 2012 when Ragland was a freshman. So, there is history with the player.