Jaguars make ‘easy decision’ by drafting FSU’s Jalen Ramsey
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars believe they got the best defensive player in college football.
And one of the most versatile.
The Jaguars selected former Florida State star cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, adding another piece to the team’s defensive makeover.
Picking in the top 10 for the ninth consecutive year, the Jaguars wasted little time selecting the 6-foot-1, 209-pound defender who was a three-year starter for the Seminoles and also ran track.
General manager Dave Caldwell called Ramsey just after the team’s 10-minute clock started and said, “You don’t have to travel very far for your pro career.”
“We didn’t think he would get to us,” Caldwell said, noting that the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles trading up to take quarterbacks made it possible. “He’s got some rare athleticism, speed combined with size and range. He’s a very good competitor and he fits our style of play. It was an easy decision.”
Ramsey started all 41 games in three years in college, finishing with 180 tackles, 23 passes defended, five sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles. He played cornerback and safety at FSU, but the Jags will use him at cornerback to start.
He joins Davon House, Aaron Colvin, Prince Amukamara and Dwayne Gratz in the defensive backfield. Colvin is suspended for the first four games of the regular season, opening a spot for Ramsey to play right away.
“We went from a good group to a really good group,” Caldwell said.
Ramsey said he fits perfectly in Jacksonville’s press-coverage scheme.
“I’m super relieved,” he said. “I have enjoyed the whole process. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it, but at this point I’m ready to get in Jacksonville and play ball really.”
Ramsey’s lack of picks at FSU had some questioning his play-making ability. But the Jags have no concerns.
“When you watch him play, he wasn’t being challenged when you watched him game-in and game-out,” Caldwell said. “He does a great job of covering, and teams didn’t go at him a lot. For the most part, he covered his man. Interceptions are very sporadic. Sometimes guys with big interception numbers are a victim of circumstance, whether it’s a tipped ball or pass rush. He just wasn’t in that area, and they didn’t challenge him that much.
“My feeling is he’s going to be an even better pro than he was a college player.”
Ramsey is the latest addition to Jacksonville’s defensive rebuild. The team spent more than $214 million on six defensive starters in free agency the past two years, most recently signing defensive tackle Malik Jackson, free safety Tashaun Gipson and Amukamara.
The team also added defensive end Jared Odrick, cornerback Davon House and linebacker Dan Skuta in free agency in 2015.
Throw in last year’s first-round draft pick, pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. who missed his entire rookie season following a knee injury, and the Jaguars expect to have at least four new defensive starters in 2016.
Ramsey could be a fifth. At the very least, he should provide more competition and some much-needed depth on that side of the ball.
“He’s special with all his athleticism and all the traits that he has,” coach Gus Bradley said. “He’s so rare in his athleticism and traits that he has. Again, I think we looked at it as best player available, and at that point, that’s who it was. So, applaud Dave and all of us for sticking to that plan. Like I said, when he was there for us, it was a no-brainer.”
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