Raiders Like Heeney, but Still May Use Top Pick on Linebacker

Alabama All-American Reggie Ragland, a "thumper" at inside linebacker, could be Raiders' target with 14th overall pick

Young Raiders middle linebacker Ben Heeney was involved in a scary accident this week, but was able to walk away unhurt from a head-on collison Easter-morning caused by slick, slushy roads.

Heeney, who was at home in Kansas, was on his way to church when the accident occurred. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

“I have no doubt in my mind that God was watching over my family this morning,” wrote Heeney on his Instagram account that carried a photo of his mangled truck.

Heeney was one of the Raiders’ good-news stories as a rookie in 2015, a fifth-round pick from Kansas who moved into the starting lineup late in the season, played in 15 games and supplanted veteran Curtis Lofton who was recently released.

For now, Heeney is penciled in as the starter again in 2016. The Raiders coaches love the way Heeney competes and flies to the ball.

But some draft analysts are predicting the Raiders could upgrade the position by using their first-round pick in the draft, the 14th overall, on Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland. Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout has the Raiders selecting Ragland in his latest mock draft, as does Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated. Other analysts have projected Ragland as a Raiders pick in previous mock drafts.

Ragland is 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds and was a force as an inside linebacker on the Crimson Tide’s 3-4 defense. He was an All-America selection who had 97 tackles, including 6½ for loss, broke up six passes and was the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He’s been described as an “old-school middle linebacker.”

Wrote Brugler: “Oakland addressed cornerback (with Sean Smith) and pass rusher (with Bruce Irvin) in free agency, but is still in need of a thumping middle linebacker, which makes Ragland an ideal fit.”

Burke sees the same thing, saying the Raiders need a “thumper” in the middle of their linebacking unit.

“Ragland has produced up and down workouts from the Senior Bowl through Alabama’s pro day, but his game-day skill working inside is undeniable.”

Contact Us