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2016 NFL mock draft: Buffalo Bills grab linebacker Reggie Ragland

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In the SB Nation NFL writers mock, the Bills get an instant-impact player in the first round.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tight up against the salary cap this offseason, the Buffalo Bills made few big impact deals in free agency. Instead, the Bills will turn to the NFL Draft to fill critical roster needs. At first blush, it appears the big need is filling the five-technique spot on the defensive line. But given that the strength of this year's draft is along the defensive line, the Bills could wait to fill the position.

That's the tactic Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings, who addresses a different hole on the team's defense.

19. Bills: Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama

Galliford: The Bills need linebacker help rather badly; Rex Ryan uses two on an every-down basis, and the one from last year that they have left on the roster, Preston Brown, has been the subject of fairly stern criticism from Ryan this offseason.

Ragland is a polarizing evaluation when it comes to projecting him into the Bills’ defense. His limited man-coverage ability is a genuine concern, as Ryan asked his linebackers to cover backs out of the flat on a routine basis in 2015. But limited man-coverage ability does not necessarily make him a two-down player, either, given that Ragland may have some untapped potential as a situational edge rusher.

What put Ragland over the top for us in picking him? Descriptive words like "leader" and "tone-setter"; his ability against the run; his pro-readiness. This is a quality prospect capable of starting -- and playing a lot -- as a rookie. Most importantly, he projects as a potential playcaller, on-field organizer and tone-setter for a defense that is sorely lacking in those departments. Ragland is the type of throwback 'backer that Ryan has had success with, and that the Bills desperately need.

Analysis: Although a defensive lineman like Sheldon Rankins would be a nice fit, it's hard to argue against the best pure inside linebacker in this year's draft. Pay no mind to Ragland's just decent workout numbers or the fact that he was playing outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl a couple months ago. He's a true thumper of an inside linebacker, and would be exactly the type of leader Brian describes.

Dan's Top 5 players remaining

  • 11. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
  • 14. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
  • 15. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
  • 17. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
  • 19. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

Bills picks

  • 1-19: Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama
  • 2-49: (coming April 18)

We have another AFC East team coming up at noon ET with the New York Jets and a pick from Gang Green Nation.

Complete draft results:

1. Tennessee Titans - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss (Link)
2. Cleveland Browns - Jared Goff, QB, Cal (Link)
3. San Diego Chargers - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State (Link)
4. Dallas Cowboys - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (Link)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Link)
6. Baltimore Ravens - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Link)
7. San Francisco 49ers - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (Link)
8. Philadelphia Eagles - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (Link)
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky (Link)
10. New York Giants - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (Link)
11. Chicago Bears - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (Link)
12. New Orleans Saints - A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (Link)
13. Miami Dolphins - Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (Link)
14. Oakland Raiders - Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (Link)
15. Los Angeles Rams - Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson (Link)
16. Detroit Lions - Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (Link)
17. Atlanta Falcons - Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (Link)
18. Indianapolis Colts - Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (Link)