The Jacksonville Jaguars finally select a safety in the 2015 NFL Draft, bringing in James Sample in the fourth round after trading back a spot with the New York Jets. The Louisville product is more of a box safety and is expected to come in and compete initially but will likely be a special teams player at first.
Honestly, I thought the Jaguars would go after the other ball-hawking Louisville defensive back, Gerod Holliman but tackling must have been a concern for the Jaguars. Sample comes in with better tackling and a stronger presence at safety. His one year starting at Louisville after some time bouncing around Washington and junior college, led to 90 tackles, four interceptions, and eight passes defensed.
What I’m seeing here is the Jaguars taking a chance on a raw prospect. Sample was ranked the ninth overall safety coming out of high school but hasn’t really had a chance to show off his skills in college. Managing to get on the field for 13 games with Louisvile was big for Sample and it helped show the world that he has potential.
Overall, I think this pick is a strong development pick by the Jaguars. It’s obvious that there is a need at safety and tackling concerns are very real back there with Josh Evans working as a starter in 2014 and primary depth in 2015. James Sample will be an instant upgrade there.
James Sample is said to have good play speed and he is a physical defensive back, exactly what Gus Bradley wants. At 6’2″ he is a prototypical size for a Bradley defensive back and he’ll make his presence felt with solid tackling and a ranginess that helps him get to the play quickly. We’ll have to see when Sample is able to come in and start for the Jaguars or if he will forever be depth at the position.
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