By investing heavily on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, the Jacksonville Jaguars are giving Jalen Ramsey a pathway to stardom.
When the Dallas Cowboys made a bold move by selecting running back Ezekiel Elliot with the 4th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, the big benefactors were the Jacksonville Jaguars. By opting for a “win-now” mentality given quarterback Tony Romo‘s closing window, the Cowboys let arguably the most talented player in the draft drop to the Jaguars.
While it ended up working out (at least for one year) for the Cowboys, it’s still amazing that Jalen Rasmey was available for the Jaguars with the fifth pick – it’s a fun piece of trivia that will be called upon many a times in the coming years as Jared Goff and Carson Wentz attempt to justify their lofty draft positions.
Like Elliot did for the Cowboys, Ramsey immediately cemented himself as a difference maker in a short span. Ramsey stepped in as the Jaguars’ number one cornerback and started covering opposing X-receivers right away. He performed quite well and by most accounts has already established himself as a rising star.
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That start could elevate Ramsey’s status from star to red supergiant in the matter of an offseason thanks to the moves made by the Jacksonville front office over the last few weeks. Adam Schein over at NFL.com listed Ramsey as one of the big winners from free agency because of the additions:
"3) Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville JaguarsThe fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft had a strong and reliable rookie season. Now, with Year 1 under his belt, there’s an expectation of greatness in Year 2. Christmas came early for Ramsey in the hiring of coach Doug Marrone and EVP Tom Coughlin. Then, in free agency, the Jags signed defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye, two more moves that I loved. Campbell will provide a boost to the pass rush in addition to toughness and leadership. Bouye will make plays and take the heat off Ramsey. Watch Ramsey become a star in 2017."
Ramsey was already dominant in terms of covering receivers in 2016 – the only area he was really lacking in was turnovers. He managed to make a few game changing plays towards the end of the year, but it’s hard to capitalize on bad throws when opposing quarterbacks have all the time in the world to scan the field and make decisions. The Jaguars should have a much improved front seven and that should lead to more opportunities for everyone in the secondary.