Alabama LB Reggie Ragland, 6-foot-2, 252 pounds (#19, Senior)
Some of you may already know this about me, but I'm a huge Reggie Ragland fan. A few concerns I had leading into the 2015 season was whether Ragland could prove himself as a three-down linebacker and prosper in coverage, as well as if Alabama would continue to waste his talent by occasionally lining him up as a 4-3 end in a three-point stance.
Those concerns have since been eradicated and I think Ragland may be the most complete player in this draft. In fact, I have him ranked as my No. 4 overall prospect in this year's class and I'm tempted to move him up even higher. It's extremely difficult to find any blemishes on Ragland's resume. He's a very good athlete with great sideline-to-sideline speed and has a knack for being around the ball carrier.
The Detroit Lions need to get younger and faster at the linebacker position and I believe Ragland would be a perfect fit to replace Stephen Tulloch at the MIKE. Ragland has been praised as the unquestioned leader of Alabama's defense and should make a nice transition into the NFL. Imagine pairing the Lions' new and improved secondary with a linebacking unit of DeAndre Levy, Reggie Ragland and Tahir Whitehead. Good luck trying to throw the ball at those guys.
If you thought the featured page picture was cool, here is the play in Vine form:
Bowl game: Goodyear Cotton Bowl (CFB semi-final) vs. Michigan State - December 31st - 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Indiana RB Jordan Howard, 6-foot-1, 230 pounds (#1, Junior)
I know what some of y'all are thinking. "We have enough running backs!!1!" Releasing Joique Bell saves $2.5 million in cap room and I believe that his best days are behind him, and while Zach Zenner was a nice surprise last year, he doesn't exactly fit the 'Joique Bell' role. His balance is decent, but not great, and he seldom keeps his legs moving upon contact.
There's a decent chance that Jordan Howard will stay in school for another year, however, I cannot help but think of how perfect he would fit in place of Joique Bell in the Lions' backfield. Howard runs with no remorse and takes great pleasure in lowering his helmet to layeth the smacketh down. Seriously, he looks like a drunkard stumbling around the field, but no one can bring the guy down, just ask Michigan fans (sorry, not sorry). All jokes aside, Howard is a powerful back that has outstanding balance and runs with a low center of gravity. Should he declare, it's likely that Howard will be drafted in the 4th-6th round range and I would be ecstatic to see a backfield consisting of Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and Howard.
Bowl game: New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Duke - December 26th - 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Ohio State OT Taylor Decker, 6-foot-7, 315 pounds (#68, Senior)
Buckeyes OT Taylor Decker is a solid LT prospect and I have him just barely behind Ronnie Stanley as my No. 3 OT right now. However, Laremy Tunsil and Decker are much better fits for the Lions compared to Stanley as they are better suited to play in a power-blocking scheme rather than a zone-blocking scheme. Of course, that's assuming that the Lions abandon their new zone concepts (they absolutely should) and revert back to their power game full-time. Guys like Laken Tomlinson and Larry Warford are not very fleet of foot and are better off just knocking the guy in front of them on their ass.
Decker has great feet and moves very well for his size, but his tall frame also provides issues with leverage. His heavy hands allow him to control his opponents at the point of attack and generate push in the run game, as well as set his anchor and stuff them in pass protection. Decker imposes his strength on rushers and manages to sustain his blocks for a long period of time, often driving them into the ground and out of the play.
If you ask me, it's a safe bet to assume Decker will be selected in the first round and while it normally takes rookie OTs time to acclimate into the NFL, Decker would immediately be the most talented OT on the Lions' roster, not including any future offseason acquisitions, of course.
Bowl game: Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl vs. Notre Dame - January 1st - 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Florida DE Jonathan Bullard, 6-foot-3, 283 pounds (#90, Senior)
Bullard is a diverse edge-rushing prospect that has lined up practically everywhere for the Gators. He will draw attention from 4-3 and 3-4 teams alike, and if the Lions are interested, he'd be a perfect fit as a closed-end opposite of Ziggy Ansah. That's right, I believe that Bullard's floor is what Jason Jones is right now.
Here is an excerpt from CBS Sports' Dane Brugler and/or Rob Rang on Bullard, which does a nice job of highlighting Bullard's strengths:
Bullard is appropriately named as his game is about bullish power. He flashes an explosive burst off the ball. He does a nice job of getting his arms into passing lanes to distract quarterbacks.
Bullard's value lies in his ability to hold up at the point of attack in the running game. Exhibiting impressive lower-body strength, Bullard anchors well and has the length to set the edge and keep containment responsibilities. He doesn't possess Dexter Fowler's nimble change of direction or explosive closing speed, but locates the ball quickly and shows good strength to latch on and drag down ballcarriers in his vicinity.
I could see Bullard going anywhere from the 15th to the 60th overall pick, so the Lions are very much in play for him.
Bowl game: Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl vs. Michigan - January 1st - 1:00 p.m. ET on ABC
Other prospects to watch
OT Jason Spriggs (Indiana) - You have to be a nice athlete if you want to survive in Indiana's offense as an offensive tackle and that's exactly what Spriggs is. He's a work in progress, but has all the makings to be a left tackle in the NFL one day.
OT Le'Raven Clark (Texas Tech) - Big, burly offensive tackle that may be a better fit at guard in the NFL. I think he can play RT as well, and would add some nice competition at OT for the Lions.
DT Sheldon Rankins (Louisville) - Rankins isn't much of a household name quite yet, but he will be. Pro Football Focus has incessantly commended Rankins' efforts all season as he is one of their top graded DTs in the class, as well as one of the best run stuffers in the country.
DE Carl Nassib (Penn State) - Another name on that PFF list is Carl Nassib. I've highlighted Nassib's teammate, and fellow D-lineman, Anthony Zettel, but I have not focused on Nassib yet. Nassib is actually a much better prospect than Zettel and also fills a need for the Lions. He has been an absolute terror in the trenches this year, racking up the most sacks (16) and forced fumbles (6) in the country.
WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) - Megatron isn't getting any younger, Corey Fuller is Corey Fuller and Golden Tate does most of his magic out of the slot. Whether you like it or not, the Lions should certainly invest in a young outside receiver one of these years. Drafting one in the first round may not be your favorite choice, but I wouldn't completely rule it out with new management rolling in.
SS Jeremy Cash (Duke) - Cash underwent wrist surgery and will miss Saturday's bowl game, but watch his tape vs. Georgia Tech and you'll see what everyone is buzzing about.