Daily Focus: How Ramsey injury affects Jaguars' CB depth
Editor’s note: Every weekday in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Jalen Ramsey injury: It was just a year ago that Jacksonville lost top-five draft pick Dante Fowler to an ACL injury on the first day of rookie mini-camp, so you can imagine the scare the Jaguars got when Jalen Ramsey, the fifth-overall selection in the 2016 draft, went down on Thursday.
The Jaguars have said that it’s a small meniscus tear for Ramsey and that, all going well with a second opinion next week, he should be ready to return around the time training camp begins. The fact that he should be back well before the seasons starts is good news, but if this was to become a longer-term injury, how are the Jaguars set it cornerback?
Expected to start at outside cornerback, the injury wouldn’t impact Davon House, who is currently slated to start opposite him, but it would mean that Prince Amukamara or Aaron Colvin would have to step up. Colvin played 1,100 snaps for the Jaguars last season, allowing an average of 1.09 yards per coverage snap, tied for 27th-best in that regard among all cornerbacks. Amukamara allowed 1.04, tied for 15th. Both are solid cornerbacks, ranking 44th and 32nd in overall grade among their positional peers, respectively, so while they might not be the impact player that the Jaguars expect Ramsey to be, Jacksonville doesn’t need to rush out and sign a replacement, even if Ramsey’s injury turns out to be more serious.
Bengals see Tyler Boyd as slot receiver: Jim Owczarski reports that the Bengals have been using second-round wide receiver Tyler Boyd out of the slot so far in rookie mini-camp. Boyd is an interesting player because he didn’t jump off the film athletically, but was incredibly productive in college, grading as our 12th-best receiver in the nation in 2015, and seventh-best in 2014.
Boyd played out of the slot on 223 of his 589 snaps in 2015, reeling in 41 passes for 389 yards, a touchdown, and a yards per route run average of 2.46, the 10th-best mark in this draft class. That suggests that he’s perfectly capable of playing in that role for the Bengals, and in his PFF draft profile, we highlighted how diverse he was as a route-runner, with at least one reception on 13 different route types in 2015.
The Bengals lost two of their top slot options this offseason, with Marvin Jones taking his 10 receptions for 77 yards as an inside receiver to Detroit, while Mohamed Sanu, who ran 354 routes from the slot last year, signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Neither were overly productive from the slot for the Bengals last year, though, with Jones averaging 1.05 yards per route run from the slot, and Sanu coming in at 1.03, ranking 108th and 112th among the 173 wide receivers to run any routes from the slot. If Boyd can match his production from college—helped by his savvy route-running—there’s a good chance that he could actually give Cincinnati something it lacked from the slot last year.
Bears, Willie Young discussing extension: With Pernell McPhee signing as a free agent last offseason, and Leonard Floyd arriving with the ninth-overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, you’d be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Willie Young’s roster spot was in jeopardy. That being said, it’s not surprising that the Bears are reportedly discussing a contract extension when you look at his play on the field.
Young arrived in Chicago in 2014 after impressing for the Detroit Lions as a pass-rusher the season before, racking up four sacks, eight hits, and 48 hurries. Despite a 10-sack season in his first year as a Bear, he wasn’t as productive as a pass-rusher, with just 37 total pressures. A lot of people expected him to struggle with the Bears moving to a 3-4 defense last year, but Young flourished, finishing the year as the 24th-ranked edge defender in terms of overall PFF grade, impressing both against the run and as a pass-rusher. Racking up seven sacks, seven hits, and 33 hurries, he recorded a pass-rushing productivity of 12.2, eighth among outside linebackers.
Willie Young career cumulative grades
More importantly, having the trio of Young, Pernell McPhee, and Leonard Floyd allows the Bears to become a bit more creative defensively. McPhee played just five snaps as an interior defender last year, but often dropped down as an interior pass-rusher in Baltimore, playing 159 snaps there in 2014. In fact, if you go back to his rookie year in 2011, McPhee lead all defensive tackles with a pass-rushing productivity of 9.2, with six sacks, six hits, and 20 hurries from 278 pass-rushing snaps lined up inside.
There are no guarantees, but giving the Bears the ability to have all three of those players on the field at the same time in nickel situations could pay off big time.