Sunday, April 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jaguars draft FSU's Jalen Ramsey (w/video)

With quarterbacks expected to go with the top two picks, the Jaguars zeroed in on three other players to target with their No. 5 overall pick.

They didn't expect Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey to be there.

But when four picks ticked away on Thursday and Ramsey remained, Jacksonville quickly snatched the former Seminoles star to join a roster teeming with state ties.

"Man, I am so happy, I am so happy, I am so blessed," Ramsey said. "All the 'Nole Nation, you all just come to Jacksonville now."

Fans should be getting used to that drive along Interstate 10. Ramsey joins former FSU receiver Rashad Greene and linebacker Telvin Smith with the Jaguars, along with former Florida/Lakewood High star Dante Fowler, last year's No. 3 overall pick.

Ramsey was the first of four in-state defensive backs chosen in the first round. Florida had two players from the same secondary go in the top 20 for the first time in program history: Former Wharton High cornerback Vernon Hargreaves went to the Bucs at No. 11, and the Falcons picked safety Keanu Neal six picks later. The last time the Gators had two players chosen in the top 17 was 2001.

Neal, a hard-hitting Bushnell native, is the younger brother of Clint Hart, a former Tampa Bay Storm safety who spent seven years in the NFL.

"The kid can do anything," Hargreaves said of Neal. "I already know he knows how things go and how he needs to think and how he needs to get ready."

The Steelers drafted lanky Miami cornerback Artie Burns at No. 25, giving the Hurricanes first-round picks in back-to-back years. Burns led the ACC with six interceptions last season.

But the biggest name was Ramsey — FSU's seventh first-round pick in the past four drafts and its seventh top-five pick in the modern era.

Sports Illustrated and Yahoo were among the outlets that viewed Ramsey as the best player in the draft and worthy of being the first defensive back chosen in the top five since Patrick Peterson in 2011. The Titans were evaluating him heavily as the potential No. 1 overall pick before they traded the pick to the Rams.

Ramsey has the size (6 feet 1, 205 pounds) to be a cornerback or safety and the skill set to fit either, which is crucial as the NFL's passing game evolves. The Tennessee native's numbers at the NFL scouting combine were among the best ever at his position, and he was a long jump and sprinter on FSU's track team. The Jaguars plan to use at cornerback and as an occasional nickelback.

Jacksonville wasn't concerned with his only knock — three interceptions in three seasons.

"He wasn't being challenged when you watch him game in and game out," general manager David Caldwell said. "He does a great job of covering, and teams didn't go at him a lot."

Ramsey, the first 'Nole to start as a true freshman at cornerback since Deion Sanders, started every game at FSU, helping it win the 2013 national championship. The consensus All-American had five career sacks, three forced fumbles and 15 tackles for a loss.

"I'm extremely proud of Jalen and very excited for him and his family," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He earned every bit of this with his work ethic and his passion for the game. He will be a tremendous player for the Jacksonville Jaguars and I'm looking forward to watching him on Sundays for years to come."

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected].

Comments
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Published: 04/21/18
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Published: 04/21/18
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Published: 04/19/18