Coming off an 8-8 season with a mixed bag of surprises and disappointments, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan is looking for more consistency on his team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Those prospects took a hit on Wednesday, however, when the Bills announced rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland will undergo surgery later this week to repair a torn ACL. He is expected to be placed on the Injured Reserve list according to multiple reports.
A second round pick out of Alabama, Ragland was expected to immediately fill in at the starting middle linebacker spot on defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s defense, a position the Bills desperately need help with heading into the 2016 season. Last season, the Bills finished 28th in overall defense and 30th in rush defense according to Football Outsiders’ Defensive Efficiency Rankings. Ragland was an integral piece in retooling the Bills’ 3-4 scheme.
With Ragland out, the Bills will rush to fill a suddenly glaring hole on their defense. According to NFL Network’s Connor Orr, the Bills will look to Brandon Spikes and David Hawthorne, a pair of veterans the team signed earlier this week.
The Ragland injury news is the latest edition in a series of hits the Bills’ draft class has taken this offseason. Earlier this year, first round pick Shaq Lawson underwent shoulder surgery that will sideline him for the first few weeks of the regular season. The Clemson prospect is slated to return between weeks 6 and 8 of the Bills’ 2016 campaign according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson just walked by on way to lunch. They look perfectly healthy. Too bad they aren't.
— Sal Maiorana (@salmaiorana) August 10, 2016
One of the highest rated linebackers in the 2016 Draft, Ragland’s injury symbolizes a detrimental loss for the Buffalo Bills. With their first two draft picks sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Ryan Brothers face an uphill battle in their attempt to ameliorate a lackluster defensive unit.