By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Ramsey is one of the most interesting prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft. If you listen to the media and you talk to NFL teams, you hear a wide variety of opinions regarding him. Some teams feel Ramsey is a safety in the NFL, others think he is a corner; some media rate him as a high first-rounder, while some teams have given him a second-round grade. The debate about Ramsey’s position and value could extend into the early years of his NFL career.
As a freshman in 2013, Ramsey played both corner and safety for Florida State’s National Championship team. He recorded 49 tackles and an interception that season. As a sophomore, Ramsey was tremendous as a safety for the Seminoles. While a lot of Florida State’s highly touted defensive prospects were protecting their NFL hopes, Ramsey was all over the field and made a ton of clutch tackles. He totaled 79 stops, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 12 passes broken up, two interceptions and two forced fumbles on the year. Ramsey was a play-making safety who was an asset in pass coverage on interior receivers along with making tackles in the run game or in the open field on receivers. Overall, Ramsey was the Seminoles’ best defensive player, and that included future 2015 second-day draft picks like Ronald Darby, Eddie Goldman, Mario Edwards Jr. and P.J. Williams.
As a junior, Ramsey was moved to cornerback and had a quality season, but he wasn’t the play-maker as at safety. Ramsey had some issues in pass coverage in some games, but overall was solid and dependable. For his final collegiate season, he recorded 50 tackles with 10 passes broken up and no interceptions.
Ramsey went on to turn in an excellent combine. He ran fast with a time of 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash, plus also recorded two superb jumps with 41.5 inches in the vertical and 11-3 in the broad. Ramsey was tied for the best vertical and led all of the defensive backs in the broad jump. In the interview room, Ramsey drew rave reviews as teams throughout the league love his personal make-up.
Sources with multiple playoff teams have said they have given Ramsey a second-round grade. Multiple teams picking early in Round 1 said they have Ramsey in the top 10 of their board. The sources who rate him as a high first-rounder say he is a smart kid and an alpha dog from a team of alpha personalities. They like his strength, physical play, solid ball skills, and how he competes and tracks the ball well, but say he has bad hands. They think he can be special as a corner or free safety.
The teams that have a second-round grade have a similar view of Ramsey. Those general managers and scouts have told me that Ramsey is a press-man corner for playing the Seattle Seahawks’ style of cornerback and could be a Richard Sherman-type defender. Their teams play off man, zone and press man, and they feel Ramsey struggles to play anything but press man. He is good against a big receiver as he has the size and strength to battle them. However, smaller fast route-runners get separation from him and get vertical against him downfield. As one top scout said, “Ramsey will do well against a big, physical receiver like Brandon Marshall, but T.Y. Hilton would tear him up.”
The sources that love Ramsey said that while big corners struggle with small shifty players, Ramsey can reroute them easily at the line of scrimmage and cover them up with size and length downfield. They compared Ramsey to Rod Woodson, Charles Woodson, Richard Sherman and Xavier Rhodes.
Thus, there is a big divide about Ramsey among teams. In the safety role. he would be a good defender to tackle in the ground game, covers tight ends, blitz quarterbacks, help tackle receivers in the middle of the field, and make plays with his instincts. Some teams could think of using Ramsey in both roles and move him around week-by-week depending on who they were matching up against.
Ramsey looks like a lock as a top-five pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Richard Sherman/Charles Woodson. As a cornerback, Ramsey is a big press-man corner similar to Sherman. As a safety, Ramsey is a rangy play-maker who can cover tight ends and be a play-maker in the middle of the field. I don’t think Ramsey will be as good as Sherman or Woodson, but his style of play is similar to those two star defensive backs. In speaking with former teammate Jameis Winston at the end of Winston’s rookie year, he compared Ramsey to both of those defenders in those roles.
NFL Matches: Tennessee, San Diego, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Chicago, New Orleans and Oakland
Sources with the Titans told WalterFootball.com in mid March that Ramsey was the favorite at the time for the No. 1-overall pick. Tennessee loves him on and off the field. The Titans said that Laremy Tunsil and Joey Bosa were still in the running and it wasn’t a done deal, but Ramsey was the favorite entering the late March pro days and pre-draft visits.
If the Titans don’t take Ramsey, it makes a lot of sense for him to go two picks later. San Diego lost Eric Weddle in free agency, and Ramsey would be a great replacement for the Chargers.
If he slides out of the top three, Ramsey could easily find an in-state home. The Jaguars’ secondary was scorched throughout 2015. They upgraded their safeties and cornerbacks this offseason, but Ramsey could play the press-man technique that Richard Sherman did for Gus Bradley in Seattle. At either position, Ramsey would be an upgrade for Jacksonville.
The Bucs badly need to upgrade their secondary. They have to improve their corners and safety as new addition Brent Grimes is just a stop-gap contributor. Ramsey would make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay and from speaking with sources, the Buccaneers will take him if he gets to their pick.
Chicago, New Orleans and Oakland would all have to have Ramsey slide in the top 10 and trade in front of Tampa Bay in order to land Ramsey. The Bears are also in the position of needing an upgrade at corner and safety. The Saints, meanwhile, allowed a ridiculous amount of touchdown passes last season and could use cornerback help.
The Raiders have to replace Charles Woodson and need cornerback upgrades. Ramsey would be a perfect replacement for Woodson.
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