How high could Jalen Ramsey go in the draft?

When Jalen Ramsey announced his intent to forego his final year of eligibility and turn pro, scouts and fans around the country figured he would be a top pick in the NFL Draft. Ramsey showcased his versatility while at Florida State, playing cornerback, safety and nickel-back during his three years as a starter and is widely projected to be the first defensive back taken come April.

But how high can Ramsey realistically go in the draft?

In the 2016 draft, there are five prospects that scouts and analysts, for the most part, agree are the elite, blue chip talent. They are as followed:

  • Laremy Tunsil, offensive tackle, Ole Miss
  • Joey Bosa, defensive end, Ohio State
  • Myles Jack, linebacker, UCLA
  • Jared Goff, quarterback, California
  • Jalen Ramsey, defensive back, Florida State

It is likely that these five prospects will make up the first five picks of the draft in some order. To figure out where Ramsey could land, let’s break this down.

The Tennessee Titans hold the first overall pick after finishing 2-14 last season. Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota was impressive at times, but his season was ended prematurely due to a sprained MCL. Their offensive line needs help, especially since the Titans invested the No. 2 overall pick last year on Mariota, so it is likely that the Titans will select Laremy Tunsil with the first overall pick. It isn’t a “sexy” pick, but Tunsil is perhaps the best offensive tackle prospect since Tyron Smith.

While there have been several mock drafts published that have Jalen Ramsey as the first overall pick, it is unlikely that this will happen come April. For starters, the only three positions that have been selected first overall since 1997 have been quarterback, offensive tackle and pass rusher. Since the Titans already have their quarterback in Mariota, this leaves Tunsil and Joey Bosa as the two options and Tunsil fills a bigger need for the Titans. Secondly, the last time a defensive back was selected first overall in the draft was in 1956 with Gary Click from Colorado A&M who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers. So while Jalen Ramsey might be the best overall player to some teams, the likelihood of a first overall selection for him is very low.

The Cleveland Browns will pick second in the draft and it is a fair bet that they would take a quarterback. The Johnny Manziel drama is well known and the Browns have already made it known that they will move on from him. As such, the Browns will likely select Jared Goff from California to be their quarterback. Jalen Ramsey might be high on the Browns’ board, but quarterback is the most important position on the field.

The San Diego Chargers at No. 3 overall is where we can start to realistically project where Ramsey will land. The Chargers have several needs to fill, including wide receiver, linebacker and pass rusher. However, an interesting situation has emerged from San Diego concerning their strained relationship with star safety Eric Weddle, a nine-year NFL veteran who has spent his entire career with the Chargers. If the Chargers do not resign Weddle, who is a free agent and has already made it known that he would like to play elsewhere, they will be in the market for a safety to replace him. As such, Ramsey could be the pick at No. 3 if the Chargers determine that safety is a bigger need than linebacker (Myles Jack) or pass rusher (Joey Bosa). If the Chargers select Ramsey at No. 3, he would be the highest drafted defensive back since Shawn Springs of Ohio State went third overall to the Seahawks in 1997.

The Dallas Cowboys hold the fourth overall pick and they have a wide variety of needs to fill, including quarterback, linebacker, pass rusher and defensive back. The popular option here is quarterback, since Tony Romo is turning 36 and is coming off of another injury. If Jared Goff is off the board here, Carson Wentz of North Dakota State is an interesting name that has emerged in recent weeks, especially since the Cowboys coached him at the Senior Bowl. However, the Cowboys also have major holes to fill at linebacker and in the secondary as well.

If the top three picks hypothetically go in some order of Tunsil-Goff-Bosa and the Cowboys determine that defense is a bigger need than quarterback, they would be choosing between Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey here. As such, Jalen Ramsey could certainly be the selection here and it is more likely that Ramsey will be taken at No. 4 overall rather than in the top three. If the Cowboys select Ramsey at No. 4, he would be the highest drafted defensive back since future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson of Michigan went fourth overall to the Raiders in 1998.

Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars hold the fifth overall pick in the draft. If Ramsey is not selected in the first four picks, it is likely that the Jaguars will select him here. In fact, many scouts and analysts believe fifth overall to the Jaguars is Ramsey’s absolute floor. He fills a big need in Jacksonville and would give Gus Bradley an enforcer in the secondary that they have lacked for so long. Since 2000, the highest a defensive back has gone in the draft has been fifth overall. Some notable names selected at No. 5 have been Patrick Peterson of LSU to the Cardinals, Eric Berry of Tennessee to the Chiefs, and Sean Taylor of Miami to the Redskins.

So while analysts and writers may proclaim Jalen Ramsey to be the best overall player in the draft, the likelihood of him being selected first overall is very low. More likely options for Ramsey would be the Chargers at No. 3, the Cowboys at No. 4 and the Jaguars at No. 5. If Jalen Ramsey is drafted in the Top-5, he would join Terrell Buckley and Deion Sanders as Florida State defensive backs drafted in the Top-5 of the NFL Draft.

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