The Jacksonville Jaguars picked Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey with their number five pick in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft.
Ramsey is expected to bolster a Jaguars defense that ranked No. 31 in the NFL in points allowed in 2015, and also ranked No. 31 in third-down defense. Jacksonville spent six of their seven draft picks on defensive players; the only exception was Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen in the sixth round.
“Obviously I think you know our style; we’re looking for guys that have some length out there,” Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley said of Ramsey. “(He’s a) 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.”
Ramsey started all 13 games at cornerback for FSU while also returning kickoffs. He finished the season with 52 tackles, four tackle for a loss, one sack, one fumble recovery and a team-high 10 pass break-ups.
Ramsey’s 36-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against Boston College was the Seminoles' lone defensive touchdown of the season and helped seal FSU’s first road win of the season.
“I’m going to do the best I can for the organization,” Ramsey said following his selection. “I’m going to come in, I’m going to work hard, I’m going to try and do everything they ask of me as best as I can and give them all the effort in the world that I have in my body.”
Ramsey led the FSU defense to a top-10 finish in total defense, a top-15 finish in pass efficiency defense, and top-25 finish in passing yards allowed. He finished his career with 180 tackles (119 solo), 15.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 23 pass break-ups to go along with three interceptions.
Ramsey started all 41 games in his three years at FSU but decided to forego his final year of eligibility in 2016 and declare for the NFL Draft. In track and field last season, Ramsey won the ACC long jump title at the outdoor and indoor championship.
“That’s one of the things that we looked at, was guys that could get us the ball, had the ability to get turnovers on defense, so I think he brings that trait, without a doubt,” said Bradley, adding that there was still work to be done in the draft. “But when you have a guy like that who can cover as well as he does, that’s a great start.”
Ramsey became the fourth consecutive underclassmen selected by Jaguars’ general manager David Caldwell, joining defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (Florida) in 2015, quarterback Blake Bortles (Central Florida) in 2014 and tackle Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) in 2013.
Ramsey is the 21st player from a Florida school to be chosen by Jacksonville, as well as sixth-ever Seminoles player to be drafted by the Jaguars.
“Well, I think we’ll fit him in at corner at first and then obviously we will, with Aaron’s (Colvin) four-game suspension, he will play inside too so we will let him compete there at some point in time and see where that goes,” Caldwell said. “But we feel good with the cornerback situation for us where we have a really good safety with both cornerbacks, with the addition of Prince [Amukamara] [Devon] House, Coleman and him and D-Mack we went from a good group to a very good group.”
Other picks in the draft included UCLA linebacker Myles Jack (second) and Maryland defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (third) on Friday. They also added Notre Dame defensive tackle Sheldon Day (fourth round), Montana defensive end Tyrone Holmes (sixth) and Central Arkansas defensive end Jonathan Woodard (seventh) on the final day.