Jalen Ramsey a sleeper candidate for Defensive Player of the Year
After a rookie season that proved he can be a shutdown corner, Jalen Ramsey has the potential to win defensive player of the year as early as now.
As the Jacksonville Jaguars prepare for the regular season (including an up-and-down shared practice week with the New England Patriots in preparation of the first preseason game), they must do so without the services of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
While in general teams want to have all of their players available for training camp, the Jaguars probably aren’t too worried about Ramsey needing reps. Starting immediately after being taken 5th overall in last year’s draft, Ramsey came in and covered number one wide receivers with startling efficiency. It’s more important for him to spend time recovering from his core surgery to make sure he’s ready for the regular season than to get reps in the offseason.
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If he’s healthy, Ramsey could cement himself as the best defensive back in the league.
The writers over at Bleacher Report voted on all of the awards for the 2017 season and Sean Tomlinson highlighted some of the dark-horse candidates who received votes. Jalen Ramsey was mentioned in the discussion for defensive player of the year.
"Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (three votes)Prior to the 2016 draft, there was some question about the best position fit and usage for Jalen Ramsey. He had the size and hard-hitting instincts to be a safety and could also slide in nicely as a press corner.He has the tools to become a hybrid multidimensional defender who can both thump and swat. For now, he’s been deployed primarily as an outside cornerback. Following some brief adjustments as a rookie, Ramsey showed he can seal off half the field against the opposition’s top receiver.He has the size (6’2″, 208 lbs) to match up against the fast-moving tanks that populate wide receiver depth charts. Ramsey showed he knows how to use that bulk too, recording 14 passes defensed as a rookie and two interceptions. He developed rapidly and shined toward the end of his first season, posting a passer rating in coverage of 45.8 over Jacksonville’s final six games, per Pro Football Focus.“When I analyzed Ramsey’s college tape, I saw a true game-changer at outside corner, slot corner and safety,” Doug Farrar noted. “In time, he could be the next Charles Woodson—a transformative defensive player at multiple positions.“For the 2017 season, I think he’ll have to be content with being one of the best outside cornerbacks in the league. As his experience matches his athleticism, Ramsey will be able to consistently shut down the best receivers in the game.”With A.J. Bouye now alongside Ramsey, the Jaguars have one of the best young cornerback duos in the NFL."
Ramsey has more than enough athleticism and instinctual awareness to be the best defensive back in football, but he needs to do what he did in the final few weeks of 2016 on a consistent basis to win defensive player of the year; he needs to cause turnovers and make gamechanging plays.
The one knock on Ramsey coming out of college was his ball skills and that appeared to be a legitimate criticism early in his rookie season. He made a few plays at the end of the year, but Ramsey needs to turn some of his passes defensed into interceptions to garner enough attention for an award like DPOY.