Detroit Lions: What is next for Jarrad Davis after signing Reggie Ragland?

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

Oddly enough, just days after the Detroit Lions squashed rumors that they were fielding offers on middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, they’ve signed Reggie Ragland.

Detroit Lions General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn has been very busy this offseason during the free agency period.  After last season it was apparent Quinn needed to overhaul the entire Lions defense after an abysmal performance all of last season.

In 2017 the Detroit Lions selected middle linebacker Jarrad Davis with the 21st overall pick in the first round.  Davis has yet to live up to his draft stock.  Last season he looked utterly lost at times in head coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme.

Davis is not the prototypical Patricia-type middle linebacker.  In Patricia’s scheme, he’d prefer to have his middle linebacker to be a big-bodied tackler who is willing to meet a running back in a hole.  Patricia’s middle linebackers don’t have to be necessarily the most athletic players, just need to welcome contact in between the tackles.

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Newly signed Reggie Ragland is a bit lighter than Dont’a Hightower in New England but significantly larger than Davis.

Ragland was initially drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2016, with the 41st overall pick in the second round.  Ragland didn’t make his first appearance in the NFL until 2017 with the Chiefs.  Ragland missed the entire 2016 season due to a torn ACL.  The Bills traded Reggie to Kansas City before the ’17 season in exchange for a fourth-round pick.  Yes, a fourth-round choice after using a second-rounder for his services the previous year.

Last year with the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs, Ragland played in 14 regular season games making seven starts.  According to Pro Football Focus, Ragland provided K.C. with an overall grade of 67.7.  It’s a respectable mark and notably better than Davis’ 40.4.

One thing that continues to stand out while watching tape on Davis is the amount of his missed tackles.  Missed tackles will drive any coach crazy, and how many times does a missed tackle end with a big play for the offense?  It seems like a lot more often than not.

Davis does thrive when his number is called upon to rush the passer.  I wonder if the Detroit Lions decide to keep Davis perhaps they use him as more of an edge rusher?  I think his athletic abilities and size could make for a capable edge rusher opposite Jamie Collins.  I was excited with the thought of having Devon Kennard and Collins across from each other next season, but with Davis at 6’1, 238 pounds, he could be dynamic off the edge.

Ragland amassed 28 tackles and 2 sacks last season.  He was excellent against the run recording a 70.4 grade defending the run last season.

I’m not sold on Christian Jones; I feel he’d be better suited as a backup linebacker and special teamer at this point.  The same can be said for Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

The Lions also recently added linebacker Elijah Lee who also played against Kansas City last year with the 49ers in the Super Bowl.  He’s more of a coverage, third-down linebacker that will primarily appear on special teams. It appears the Lions are trying to add some much-needed winning pedigree to the franchise.  In addition to all the former Patriots, adding a couple of recent players who competed for a championship should play well in a locker room that’s been somewhat unraveled.

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It’s a crowded room, with Jones receiving a contract extension last season it seems Davis may be the odd man out, but in my mind, it should be Jones, if someone needs to be traded or released.