More than any other position in football, the cornerback is a man on an island. As the NFL has evolved into a pass-happy league, defensive backs have become arguably the most important players on the field. Of all the players available in the 2016 NFL Draft, there is no defensive back better than former Florida State player Jalen Ramsey.
After months of hype and speculation, we spoke to Jalen just a few hours before the biggest night of his life.
As a projected top five pick in tonight’s NFL Draft, what has been the biggest factor in you making it to this point?
Being an elite football player and a potential top draft pick you have to play with confidence on the field. I think people mistake confidence as arrogance and cockiness. You have to believe that you’re the best. That the best team should pick you and want you on their team. It’s a mindset you have to have and it can rub people the wrong way sometimes and they perceive that as arrogance. But at the end of the day we know who we are as people, we know the support system we have around us, and we remain humble.
You’ve played in the biggest venues, in the biggest games, in front of thousands of people that wanted you to fail. How do you disconnect and not hear or pay attention to what that guy a few feet away in the stands is yelling at you?
At the end of the day, you kind of keep in your head, the people screaming at you are fans for a reason. They’re in the bleachers and we’re out on the field doing what we do. We know what we need to do and sometimes we make mistakes just like anybody else. We know what those mistakes are before any fan has to tell us what they are. We just focus on what we have to do on a play by play basis.
You have the ability and size to play cornerback or safety when most defensive backs specialize in one or the other. Is that because of your mindset? Or, because of the physical abilities you were born with or developed over time?
I think a lot of it is definitely God-given. But at the same time, I’ve worked extremely hard for what I’ve achieved and what I have coming my way. I think it’s definitely a mixture of both.
Is the process leading up to the NFL Draft overrated or overblown?
It’s not overrated — it’s what we’ve dreamed of since we were little kids. It’s exciting; realizing that it’s all coming together and being so close to your dreams. It’s something you don’t really thing about while it’s going on. When you’re in high school, you dream about it but you don’t really think about it in the short term. And you don’t really think about the entire journey while it’s happening until it comes right up on you. Right after I declared, I realized it was a big transition point in my life — it was time to do something different.
What’s the biggest thing fans don’t realize about the process?
The Combine experience. All everybody sees is the 40-yard dash and the vertical jump, the broad jump, and some field drills but it is way more than that. The on-fleid stuff is really the last part of it. At that time we are just worn out. That’s the biggest misconception people have.
Last week, Jalen Ramsey hosted Speedman’s Combine in NYC. Hosted by Coach Speedman, this combine showed how to perform in the moments that matter around the NFL Draft – everything from how to hug the commissioner, how to interact with fans, and how to talk with the media. You can learn more about Coach Speedman and how he’s helping prepare people for moments that matter by visiting Speed Stick’s YouTube page.