Jalen Ramsey is no longer just an elite corner. He’s the NFL’s best defensive back.

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Jalen Ramsey joined the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 with a reputation as being one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks after a successful start to his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But since he’s been with the Rams, his role has evolved, and so too has his title.

Ramsey is no longer just an elite cornerback. He’s become the NFL’s best defensive back – and it’s getting harder to argue against that claim.

Throughout the offseason, Ramsey teased that his versatility and true skills would be on display this season with Raheem Morris stepping in as the defensive coordinator. Ramsey was budding with excitement and confidence in his new role, moving around the defense more than he ever has.

“I love it. This is one of the first times in my career I’m truly, truly about to be able to show the world who I really am in all different aspects of the game, so I’m super excited,” Ramsey said in August. “He’s taught me so much about the game, about the offense and concepts and how they think on that side, too, so I’m super excited. I’ve still got a lot of growing to do, honestly. But I’m excited. I’m about to unleash this year. I’m ready. It’s going to unfold perfectly.”

Ramsey was foreshadowing what was to come in the first two weeks of the season. He’s put his skill set on display for everyone to see, proving why he’s one of the best defenders in football – right there with Aaron Donald.

Let’s start with his coverage ability.

In the season opener against the Bears, he allowed five catches on seven targets for only 35 yards with one pass breakup on a key fourth-down play. Andy Dalton’s passer rating when targeting Ramsey was 82.4.

Ramsey didn’t get as many chances on Sunday against the Colts, but he was even better in coverage. He allowed just one catch for 7 yards on four targets, intercepting Jacob Eason late in the fourth quarter to help seal the win for the Rams.

His passer rating allowed in coverage: 0.0, and that’s not a typo. He made it look easy in Indianapolis, staying with whichever receiver he was tasked with covering. Michael Pittman Jr. didn’t have a catch on Ramsey, nor did Jack Doyle. Each was targeted once against Ramsey. Zach Pascal was the only one to haul in a pass against him, catching one of his two targets.

Through two weeks, Ramsey has the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted at only 25.6 – an incredible 14.6 points lower than any other defender.

Ramsey’s best attribute might be his versatility. He’s made good on his word to play all over the defense, moving around a ton in the first two weeks of the season.

Here’s a distribution of where Ramsey has lined up in his 135 snaps played so far this year, according to Pro Football Focus.

  • Slot corner: 74 (54.8%)

  • Wide corner: 37 (27.4%)

  • Box: 14 (10.4%)

  • D-line: 7 (5.2%)

  • Free safety: 3 (2.2%)

Categorizing a player with that versatility as a cornerback isn’t doing him justice. Last season, Ramsey played only 173 snaps in the slot, which was 15.9% of his overall playing time. And in 2019, just 80 of his 780 snaps were in the slot.

He’s always had the ability to play inside, but the Jaguars didn’t use him much in that role. The Rams are, which allows Ramsey to be closer to the action where he can make plays against the pass and in the running game.

Against the Bears, he had nine total tackles, a team-high seven solo stops and two tackles for a loss, which was also the most on the team – a team that has Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd up front. Yet, it was Ramsey who was making play after play in the backfield.

Whether teams are running to his side of the field or throwing screens in his direction, he’s going to stick his nose in there and make a big play, either by blowing up a blocker and making the stop himself or by setting the edge so the ball carrier can’t get outside.

Here’s an example of the former from Week 1.

He doesn’t like to consider himself a cornerback anymore, preferring the title of being a defensive back, and for good reason.

“I feel like I’m just a defensive back so I can play anywhere on the field, and that’s just part of my game. That’s part of where my impact comes from, is being physical and not just covering guys,” he said last week.

It’s hard to find a fair comparison for the player that Ramsey has become. Sean McVay couldn’t do it when he was asked to recently, throwing out names such as Ronde Barber and Antoine Winfield. He also equated Ramsey’s versatility on defense to that of Alvin Kamara, George Kittle and Darren Waller on offense.

McVay’s point is that any time a team faces the Rams, they have to account for Ramsey and know where he is – similar to how defense always have to know where Kamara, Kittle and Waller are.

You could say the Rams are lucky to have Ramsey, but there was no luck involved in acquiring him. They were the ones to go out and get the All-Pro corner when things went south in Jacksonville.

They identified him as a shutdown cornerback and paid what it took to add him to a defense that also features Donald. It’s a move that should go down as one of the best in franchise history, knowing how rare it is to have a future first-ballot Hall of Fame pass rusher on the same defense as a likely future Hall of Fame corner.

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