We already know Jalen Ramsey has the physical ability to play in this league, as many analysts had the No. 5 overall pick in April’s draft as the best available defender.
An imposing combination of length and athleticism, Ramsey is the prototype of what NFL defensive coordinators want outside the numbers in today’s NFL game.
That said, there is more to playing cornerback in this league than physical gifts. Just about everyone who lines up at the position in the NFL is a superlative athlete, and many have the size and reach to interrupt the passing lanes, but few turn into Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis in his prime.
And there is a reason a term like “Revis Island” was coined.
Although left tackles may disagree, no one is more on their own in the ultimate team game than an outside corner, and the eye obviously gravitates toward the football. When an opposing quarterback decides to take aim at a particular cornerback, it can get ugly in an environment that has shifted dramatically toward offensive football.
That’s why so many defensive coaches in this league talk about swagger and mental toughness when it comes to corners. Shrinking violets need not apply at a position where it’s almost a forgone conclusion that you are going to get beat, it’s about getting beat less than your peers.
A lot of young defensive backs would take the awkward-kid-in-little-league approach to dealing with Aaron Rodgers if the world’s best quarterback was on the schedule for their first game. Stay quiet and hope the ball goes someplace else.
That’s not Ramsey’s style, however, and the former Florida State star flashed the moxie he has for the position this week by inviting Rodgers, to come at him on Sunday.
Some might say Ramsey is too young and dumb to be alarmed, especially with Jordy Nelson, and the imposing back-shoulder fade back in play for Rodgers and the Packers this season.
But, Ramsey isn’t all that interested in what others believe he should be concerned with and didn’t flinch by daring the best quarterback he will see in his entire rookie season to test him immediately.
“I’ve been preparing like I would prepare for anyone else,” Ramsey said. “We’ll see on Sunday. Like I said, they’re a really good team. We know that. Everybody knows that so hopefully it’ll be a good game and we can go out there and do well.”
Hindsight will ultimately reveal if Ramsey’s braggadocio turns into one of the first chapters of an All-Pro legacy or empty lip service.
Either way, you can certainly check off the confidence box when it comes to Jalen Ramsey.
“Jalen is a good player for us and has done some good things from what we have seen thus far,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “He just needs to carry it over into the regular season, a heightened environment. He is a good football player. Jalen will stand up to the competition.”
—John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SBNation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.