Back Story: Jalen Ramsey

(C) Agnes Lopez Photography 2014

by Joash Brunet // photo by Agnes Lopez

When it came time for the Jacksonville Jaguars to select a player with the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, General Manger Dave Caldwell made what he called “an easy decision.” To the surprise of Caldwell, and most Jags fans, Jalen Ramsey, someone many analysts considered to be the best defensive player in the draft, fell right into the Jags’ lap. A dominant presence in Florida State’s defensive backfield, Ramsey is an electrifying blend of world-class athlete and hard-nose competitor. In May, we caught up with the Nashville-area native as he took part in rookie orientation.

• Ramsey is expected to be one of the foundational pieces of a Jags defense that could improve mightily this season. Ramsey says he is ready to live up to fans’ high expectations. “I always want to be the greatest. God gave me some athletic gifts, and I don’t want to waste them. I want to use them to their full potential and help this team get better.”

• Ramsey is known for his killer instincts and alpha dog mentality on the football field, but he wants people to know that off the gridiron, he is a different guy. “I am a cool, easygoing, family-oriented person. I think some people are a bit shy about speaking with me because they think my football personality is going to carry over. There is a switch I flip when I get on the field.”

• In person, he exudes a quiet confidence that is punctuated with an engaging smile. But during games he is known as a fiery competitor who is not afraid to do a little trash-talking with receivers. “There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance on the field. I consider myself confident, and that confidence comes from preparation.”

• The 21-year-old says football occupies most of his time. So what does he do during his downtime? “A lot of video games,” he says laughing. “I usually play NBA2k and Madden. Other than that, just spending a lot of time with family.”

• Ramsey is still getting a feel for Jacksonville but says, “Some of my teammates from Florida State were from around this area and gave me a taste of what to expect.” As for where he’ll live? “I don’t know yet. I’ve heard the beaches are nice, but some of my teammates and coaches have told me I should check out the Southside. Oh yeah, I did have someone else tell me the ‘Westside is the best side.’”