Jalen Ramsey has been making headlines through his first four games as a starting cornerback in the NFL and he deserves every single one.
Starting with his taunt at Aaron Rodgers, it became pretty clear that Jalen Ramsey had the necessary bravado to be a starting cornerback in the NFL. He is confident in his abilities and he is willing to take on even the best in the business.
Through four games, Ramsey is backing up his talk by stifling opposing receivers. As a result, he’s been making headlines like “Meet the NFL’s next shutdown corner” and “How one play shows Jalen Ramsey’s potential” – but the scary part is that he can back it up.
In The Ringer’s shutdown corner piece by Danny Kelly, he highlights just how good Ramsey has been, noting he allowed just three catches for 25 yards in Week 2, and shutting down Steve Smith Sr. of the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3 with only one catch for nine yards. (Pro Football Focus credited him with just 14 yards four passes allowed) Kelly also says, “Jalen Ramsey’s Richard Sherman impersonation has been near-perfect.”
It’s tough not to agree with him. From the brash talk to limiting opposing receivers, Ramsey does look like the second coming of the league’s (arguably) best shutdown cornerback.
The play goes beyond just coverage, though. Ramsey has made plenty of plays in run defense and, according to Jacksonville Jaguars’ Tony Khan before Week 5, he has the most tackles (17) without a miss in the NFL. That’s great news for a team that desperately needs players to finish plays.
It is the play of a shutdown corner like Ramsey that helps the Jaguars elevate the defense into being a top-10 unit in a number of categories. Heading into Week 6, the Jags are seventh overall, seventh against the pass, 14th against the run, and fourth in opposing drives ending in a score. That’s a massive improvement after three seasons that were historically bad for the franchise.
Getting top tier play out of Ramsey has been a pleasant surprise and has undoubtedly bolstered the defense, but can he keep it up? There are 14 more games in the season and Ramsey’s durability was under scrutiny with an injury before the season.
While injuries can’t be adequately predicted, the (admittedly small) sample size of his game suggests that he won’t be slowing down. While offensive rookies get easier to predict as they amass more game tape, NFL teams will likely continue to struggle against Ramsey as he works on beating each receiver in front of him individually.
Everything we’ve known about Ramsey to this point suggests he is everything he was advertised to be. Working hard to rebound from injury, working receivers each and every down, bringing some swagger back to the defense. It’s the kind of production that doesn’t just magically appear and disappear.
If I was a betting man, my money would be on Ramsey outshining Richard Sherman by year’s end.