Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid recalls having former Alabama standout Reggie Ragland high on their draft board two years ago, only for the Buffalo Bills to trade up and grab the linebacker early in the second round.
Reid will get a chance to see whether his instincts were right after all.
Ragland reported to the Chiefs for the first time Tuesday, one day after the Bills shipped him to Kansas City for a fourth-round pick. He was not on the field and will almost certainly skip the Chiefs' preseason finale this Thursday, but that doesn't mean Ragland will not factor into the mix later this season.
"Reggie was obviously a great player at Alabama," Reid said. "He got hurt last year, things were on the up and up for him (this year) – all the people we talked to, very positive reports. ... We look forward to bringing him on board, seeing how things work out for him."
Ragland was competing for a starting job last season when the unanimous All-American torn the ACL in his left knee in training camp. The season quickly spiraled for the Bills and coach Rex Ryan was fired late in the season, and with him the four-linebacker defense that he employed was sent out the window.
New Bills coach Sean McDermott brought in a three-linebacker system this season, and that combined with a slow return from his knee injury had made Ragland's place on the roster rather tenuous.
So, the Bills dealt him to a team where he should be a better fit.
The 23-year-old linebacker, who at 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds fits better in a 4-3 defense, could provide an upgrade over Ramik Wilson and Justin March-Lillard alongside stalwart Derrick Johnson. And down the road, he could ultimately replace the 35-year-old Johnson, who is coming back this season from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
"We're just going to see where he is," Reid said after the Chiefs' final training camp practice Tuesday. "I'm not sure he's all the way back, although he's played some (preseason) games. Let's let him get caught up."
The decision to trade a 2019 draft pick was one of the first significant roster decisions made by new general manager Brett Veach, who took over for the fired John Dorsey this past offseason. More significant decisions are coming this weekend, when the Chiefs join other NFL teams in trimming their rosters to 53 players.
In other news, Reid confirmed that the Chiefs' starters will sit out Thursday night's game against Tennessee and that first-round draft pick Patrick Mahomes II will start at quarterback along with the rest of the backups.
Reserve quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Joel Stave will split the second half.
Even though it's a relatively meaningless preseason game, the Chiefs hope that Mahomes gets some experience at trotting onto the field as the starter. He could be called upon to do the same thing in the regular season if Alex Smith gets hurt, and many expect the starting job to be his next season.
"He has come a long way. That is a credit to him because he cares," Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said.
"He is very coachable. We give him things that he can try and test out. We don't say, 'This is the way you have to do it' – try it out and see if you like it. There are some things he has taken away and is growing with."
Johnson and fellow linebacker Justin Houston, who has dealt with a series of knee issues the past couple of seasons, were given the day off Tuesday. So was kicker Cairo Santos, who has been dealing with a groin injury but had a heavy kicking day earlier this week and could try field goals against the Titans.
Sam Ficken, who has kicked during the first three preseason games, will continue to handle kickoffs.