Dolphins and Ragland fit

Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland (19) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland (19) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2016 NFL draft is a little over three months away; for the Miami Dolphins, theses three months feel like an eternity.

Once again, for the eighth straight season, the Miami Dolphins did not receive an invitation to attend NFL’s hottest party: the playoffs. Instead, they are left planted on their couches, watching the festivities play out on their flat-screen TV’s. These next three months can’t pass soon enough.

Unfortunately, there’s no one reason as to why the Dolphins were not invited to this year’s end of season festivities. The undeniable truth is that the Dolphins have many problems throughout their team and organization. The reasons for their lack of success and this past season’s 6-10 record are manifold.

With the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper—arguably the most notable and knowledgeable draft “expert”—has the Miami Dolphins selecting defensive end Shaq Lawson from Clemson. Lawson, a 6’3 270 pound defensive standout at Clemson, is an attractive option for a Dolphins defense that finished at the bottom of the league, statistically, in almost every category this season.

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Equally effective against the pass and the run, Lawson attracts attention from teams looking to add an immediate-impact player on the defensive side of the ball. According to CBS Sports, Lawson is ranked the second highest defensive end in this upcoming draft, behind only Ohio State’s Joey Bosa.

On the Dolphins draft board, they’ve ranked guard, defensive end, and linebacker as their top positions of need. With this, Mel Kiper’s decision for the Miami Dolphins to select Shaq Lawson eighth overall would certainly fulfill their desire of getting one of the country’s top defensive ends, and a game-changing one at that.

Often, I like to play make-believe and pretend I’m the owner of the Miami Dolphins. As the guy in charge, my duty is to build the best, most productive team possible. And when daydreaming of taking owner Stephen Ross’s position, I’m confident in my ability to make the right choice.

Last year, playing my usual game of make-believe, I chose Todd Gurley as my top choice for the Dolphins. I thought Gurley would have been a huge help to Ryan Tannehill and an offense who struggled in the red zone. And you can see how Todd Gurley panned out for the Rams: 1,106 yards, 10 td’s, and an average of 4.8 yards per carry.

And now that the Dolphins season is over and I’ve had time to look over the roster, I believe this team must draft the BPA at a position of need. With that, with the eight overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, I would take Reggie Ragland, LB from the University of Alabama.

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  • Ragland, a 6’2 258 pound All-American at linebacker, led the Crimson Tide in tackles with 102 his senior season. Ragland possesses the size, instincts, and open-field tackling ability to be an immediate contributor behind Ndamukong Suh.

    After his junior season at Alabama—one in which he was second on the team in tackles, behind only C.J. Mosely—he was assigned a second round draft grade. Ragland made the decision to bet on himself and drive up his draft stock and returned for his senior season at Alabama. With this decision, Ragland improved in many facets of his game, on and off the field.

    “I decided to stay and in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to stay because I wanted to become a smarter player before I went to the NFL. That league is a grown man’s league,” per Michael Casagrande,

     The Dolphins need an impactful player on the defensive side of the football. With one of the worst set of linebackers in the NFL, Ragland would be an upgrade over the Dolphins linebackers who routinely missed assignments, tackles, and had trouble shredding off blocks this past season. In truth, the linebacker position was arguably the weakest unit on a Dolphins defense who finished 28th against the run.

    Ragland has the pedigree to succeed at the next level; he was selected as the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year and was named ALL-SEC First Team by both the Associated Press and his SEC coaching peers. He comes from a program that prides itself on being physical and dominant on defense; he also had the opportunity to play behind the great collegiate linebacker C.J. Mosley, who latter became runner-up as the NFL defensive rookie of the year this season.

    The Dolphins have been trying to get more physical for years—they brought in Ndamukong Suh to fix this, but to no avail. Ragland is old school and is exactly the right fit behind Suh. Ragland has the ability to bail his defensive line out with a jarring hit, or reward them with a tackle for loss after clogging the hole.

    If my instincts are right and the Dolphins decide to grab Ragland in the first round in late April, I’ll be one happy man. He’s a proven commodity and can be great behind a good defensive line. If Miami decides to go a different direction, however, I’ll have to come back on here and give you the old, “I told you so.”

    Let’s hope for the former.