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Jalen Ramsey Scouting Report: The Prototype

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I love talking about harmonious relationship between athleticism, technique, and attitude defining what a football player is and can be in the NFL. Often there is an imbalance in some way, holes to be filled in technique or areas where there is athletic ability to be desired. However, every year there is a player who defines a perfect marriage between athletic ability and a honed understanding of the game.

Jalen Ramsey is that prototype.

The 6-1, 205 pound defensive back spent a majority of his career at Florida State playing safety, but after the Seminoles lost PJ Williams and Ronald Darby to the 2015 draft, Ramsey was moved to corner out of necessity this season. Ramsey has incredible movement skills and size that would make a transition to corner make a lot of sense, but that positional change really neutered his on field impact.

See, as a sophomore safety, Jalen Ramsey was one of the most dominant defenders in the country. His instincts put his eyes on the play before the ball got there and his incredible athletic ability brought the rest of his body there in time to shut down the play. Ramsey is a top tier track athlete and that explosive skill set he takes to the track is incredibly evident on the football field. Obviously, his athletic skills would be nothing without his sixth sense on the football field. Ramsey attacks every play with the same ferocity, be it a run or a pass, and his presence as a tackler often left receivers alligator armed over the middle. The way he plays the run, he looks better diagnosing and coming downhill than a lot of college linebackers. At safety, Ramsey is allowed to move all over the place. He is a defensive weapon. On top of that, his athletic ability over the top of a defense allows corners to play more aggressively because they know they can take chances with the help they get from Ramsey. Just as a great quarterback can elevate the play of his receivers, Ramsey does the same thing at safety for his cornerbacks.

If Ramsey were to play cornerback in the NFL, not only would that increase the learning curve he would experience getting to the NFL, but it really mitigates the impact he can have on every game. Playing corner is very reactionary. Cornerbacks are asked to play to prevent plays on every down and they are confined to operating in a much smaller portion of the field on every down. On the contrary, playing safety like Ramsey does is not about preventing plays, it is about creating them. Ramsey is not a reactionary player, he attacks and he disrupts all aspects of offense when he is playing at the safety position.

At safety, where Ramsey gets into trouble is he often does not know his own speed. He has a tendency to over run plays, even if he correctly diagnoses them. Bad angles can take him out of a play initially, allowing yardage, but luckily he does a good job recovering and making a preventative play on second effort. Other than that, there are very few holes in the game that Ramsey plays at safety. He can cover over the top, drop down into the slot and defend the run astoundingly well. It would be a serious miscarriage of football ability to put him at cornerback in the NFL.

NFL Comparison:If a team insists on keeping Ramsey at cornerback, which they might after he jumps out of the roof at the combine and measures in above six foot with long arms, he has a similar career projection as Byron Jones. Both are incredibly good athletes who are very cerebral football players as well. However, neither will have an immediate grasp on playing corner in the NFL. If Ramsey is smartly moved back to playing safety, he could be a transcendent type of player. Closer to the line of scrimmage, his impact would not be dissimilar to Troy Polamalu and over the top, he has Ed Reed type of range (though his ball skills are not on that level).

Ramsey is an instant impact defensive player and the Eagles would be a better team if they drafted him. With Malcolm Jenkins only having one year left on his contract after 2015 and Wlater Thurmond being a free agent, adding a safety makes sense. Of course, the Eagles have a long list of needs that have to be addressed, so it will be seen if Ramsey is even a consideration on draft day. However, Jalen Ramsey is absolutely the type of player a team should spend a top five pick on and not think twice about it.