Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey could be best AFC South rookie

Jalen Ramsey was an absolute stud for the Jacksonville Jaguars throughout 2016, quickly becoming one of the best rookies in the division and the NFL.

Measuring rookie players against one another – especially at different positions – is often a difficult and fruitless task. There will always be inherent preferences for one or the other and the performances don’t translate well across teams or across positions.

That didn’t stop the guys over at ESPN, though. The AFC South writers came out split between cornerback Jalen Ramsey of the Jacksonville Jaguars and right tackle Jack Conklin of the Tennessee Titans. Both players were exceptional, but Conklin came away the more decorated (first-team All-Pro). This may make Ramsey and Conklin tying 2-2 among those writers even more impressive.

Ramsey’s leadership and ability to take on the best wide receivers of any opponent were standout reasons why Michael DiRocco and Sarah Barshop supported him as the division’s best rookie. It’s hard not to argue with those reasons, especially as Ramsey performed at a high level and demanded a winning mentality from his teammates. That is something that has been missing on the Jaguars for a long time.

This isn’t to diminish Conklin in any way. He was also tremendous at his position. It’s more important – at least for this Jags site – to highlight that the Jacksonville Jaguars actually have a stalwart player worth bragging about. After mediocre returns on most of his drafts, general manager Dave Caldwell finally hit it out of the park with Ramsey, clearly bringing in one of the best young players in the NFL.

Ramsey finished 2016 as the 23rd best cornerback per Pro Football Focus’ rankings. For a rookie, that is downright stellar. (Conklin, to his credit, was ranked fifth among offensive tackles)

As the Jaguars (and the team’s fans) look to the future, it’s players like Ramsey that make it a little brighter. It has been a bleak ride over the last few seasons, but the Jags have some better talent on the field now. Players like Ramsey are capable of leading the team forward into the new Tom Coughlin-Doug Marrone era.

Ramsey is the best rookie in our book.

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