Since 2000, there have been four defensive backs who have been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. Could Jalen Ramsey add his name to that list? If so, it would be the second year in a row that a member of the Jaguars won such distinction.
Calais Campbell was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) in 2017.
The thought isn’t out of the realm of possibility as Ramsey enters his third season in the NFL and is already regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the league and was ranked 17th on the NFL Top 100. Being ranked behind wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans might be motivation enough for the former Florida State All-American and former first-round pick in 2016 to prove he is even better than his 2017 showing.
There are other reasons to consider Ramsey for the top NFL honor. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com recently ranked Ramsey, Campbell and linebacker Telvin Smith as the best defensive trio in the league. Brooks added A.J. Bouye could replace his secondary teammate on this list, but for the purpose of this story, let’s keep No. 20 right where he is.
"“Ramsey has quickly emerged as the gold standard in cornerback play today. A world-class athlete with an old-school football mentality, he suffocates WR1s on the perimeter,” Brooks wrote."
At 23 years old, Ramsey is just beginning his NFL career. When he spoke to the media upon his return to the team for minicamp, he said there is still work to be done on his part to become a better player and help the Jaguars reach their goal of playing in the Super Bowl.
"“I can do a lot (to get better). I can always improve. I have not had a perfect game yet since I’ve been in the NFL,” Ramsey said. “That is always the goal – having a perfect game and being as successful as I can be however it is. [We] have a lot of good receivers on the schedule this year. I am going to have really tough tasks throughout the weeks, so it is just being prepared as best as I can.”"
The greatest respect an NFL quarterback can show someone of Ramsey’s caliber is to throw away from him. While he is given the assignment of covering top receivers on a weekly basis, he knows the other side of the field is covered just as tightly with Bouye doing what he does best. He thinks this defense will get better and will prove it is one of the best in the league once again.
"“We can only go up from what we did last year. That is the goal. Everybody — to an extent — everybody, individually, has to grind and do their job – but when it all comes together, collectively, I believe that we will be in good shape,” he explained."
Ramsey is back in Tennessee, training with his father and getting ready for training camp to start. He will continue to work on preparing for the regular season and then shift his focus toward specific receivers. That’s when it gets a bit more exciting. When Ramsey “masters” what he feels is needed to be ready for the 2018 season, there is no telling how good this season will be in.
It might be one where the local fans are chanting “MVP” on the team’s way to Atlanta in February.