JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sticking to the plan and a little luck put the best player in front of the Jaguars in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Getting Jalen Ramsey with the 5th pick seemed like a pipe dream when the Jaguars did their own mock drafts. A scenario where Ramsey was still on the board was very remote.
“We are very happy and we didn’t think that when this all started picking at five, early on before the quarterback swaps, that he [Jalen Ramsey] would get to us,” General Manager Dave Caldwell said after making the selection.
Caldwell thought Ramsey was the best player in the draft. “You know once the quarterback thing started happening we had three defensive players we liked better and he was obviously at the top of the list.”
In fact, the Jaguars were so sure of Ramsey they didn’t even talk about it in their draft room.
Before the Cowboy’s finished saying “Ezekiel Elliott” Caldwell was dialing Ramsey’s number.
“Right after Dallas’ pick went in, no more than a minute later my phone started ringing,” Ramsey said in Chicago. “ I saw 904 immediately. I picked up the phone so quick, I didn’t even let it get through the first ring.”
As anxious and excited that Ramsey was there, the FSU cornerback was equally anxious to join the Jaguars. He knew it the first time he came to Jacksonville.
“Kind of immediately,” he explained when asked when he knew he’d like to be a Jaguar. “They talked about it on my visit there, ‘if you’re still on the board, we’re going to get you.’”
There have been comparisons across the spectrum with other defensive backs, but Ramsey says he’s pleased to settle in a corner and be the player the Jaguars need.
“I’ve always said that I was a corner who could play those other positions and I’m glad that he (Head Coach Gus Bradley) agrees with me. Being a press corner, I feel like I fit in their (Jaguars) system perfectly.”
When Bradley came to the podium at the stadium he could hardly contain his excitement. When asked what set Ramsey apart, the Jaguars head coach ticked off just about everything you could want in a corner.
“Well, just his rare athleticism, speed, combined with size and range. He is a very good competitor and he fits our style of play. It was an easy decision.”
Potential draft picks are dissected to the point where you can talk yourself out of taking a player but the Jaguars looked at what some analysts considered negatives about Ramsey and saw it differently.
“When you watch him play and you watch, I just partially feel like he was not being challenged when you watch him game in and game out,” Bradley explained. “He does a great job of covering and teams did not go at him a lot, and for the most part he covered his man.”
Not only is Ramsey a need pick for the Jaguars, he passes the “eye test” for Bradley as well.
"Obviously I think you know our style; we're looking for guys that have some length out there. Tremendous athlete, 4.4 (40-yard dash) speed, 40-inch vertical, his arm length that we're talking about, his ability, his instincts. Overall, just a fantastic player that we feel very fortunate that he fell to us."
And when it came to actually make the pick, Bradley said they didn’t hesitate.
“I think we looked at it as best player available and at that point, that's who it was, so I applaud Dave (Caldwell) and all of us for sticking to that plan, and like I said, when he was there for us, it was a no-brainer."