The Detroit Lions agreed to add a pair of free-agent linebackers on Friday. Can Reggie Ragland finally reach his potential in the Motor City?
Early on, the Detroit Lions have been looking to revamp three specific areas along their roster this offseason. Those positional units being offensive line, interior defensive line, and linebacker.
The Lions opted to move on from the entire right side of their offensive line, releasing their starting right tackle, Rick Wagner, two weeks ago and allowing guard Graham Glasgow to leave via free agency. The latter landing a monster four-year, $44 million deal with the Denver Broncos. In response, the Lions signed free agent offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year contract worth a reported $50 million.
In a similar fashion, Detroit elected to move on from defensive tackle Damon Harrison and allowed former second-rounder A’Shawn Robinson to find a new home in free agency, reportedly agreeing to a two-year, $17 million contract to join the Los Angeles Rams. In response, the Lions decided to add free agent defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Nick Williams recently.
But perhaps the most surprising overhaul has come at linebacker. The combination of Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, Jarrad Davis, and 2019 second-rounder Jahlani Tavai seemed to be a solid one. Yet, the Lions shockingly chose to part ways with Kennard, a player who recorded 14.0 sacks over his two seasons in Motown and replace him with former New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins in free agency.
On Friday, the shakeup in Detroit’s linebacker corps continued with the report that the Lions have agreed to sign two linebackers in free agency. The most notable addition being former second-round selection, Reggie Ragland.
A highly-touted prospect out of Alabama in 2016, Ragland was considered to be one of the top linebackers in his draft class landing a first-round projection from NFL.com. Here’s their original assessment of the talented defender.
"“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.”"
Unfortunately, a knee injury would sideline the 41st overall selection his entire rookie year. And the Buffalo Bills would end up trading Ragland to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fourth-round selection right before the start of his second NFL season.
Ragland has started a total of 32 games for the Chiefs over the past three seasons, even getting the starting nod in Kansas City’s 31-20 Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year. He recorded two combined tackles in the win.
Just 26-years old, Ragland figures to add some quality depth to the Lions’ linebacker corps as a traditional middle linebacker who excels at stopping the run but struggles in coverage. Last season, he recorded 23 tackles in 14 games for the Chiefs. Now, the question becomes whether Ragland can actually reach his potential in Detroit or not.
The other reported signing by the Detroit Lions was free-agent linebacker, Elijah Lee. As a member of the 49ers last season, the 2017 seventh-rounder was primarily a special teams contributor for San Francisco last season racking up 179 special team snaps. In 2018, Lee started five games for the Niners and recorded a total of 65 tackles and a sack.