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A trade for Jalen Ramsey can turn a contender into a Super Bowl favorite

Now in his fourth year in the NFL, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been everything we expected him to be. He's graded above 70.0 in each of his three full seasons in the league — with one of those seasons surpassing the 90.0 mark — and he's one of only three players at the position who has allowed a sub-80.0 passer rating in each year since 2016.

He is, without doubt, one of the best cornerbacks in the game.

The highlight of Ramsey's career so far came in 2017, a season that saw a historically great Jaguars defense carry a disintegrating Blake Bortles all the way to the AFC Championship Game. That year, the side ranked first in the NFL in team defense grade (92.0) but only 15th in team offense grade (73.1), with their team passing grade (66.4) ringing at an underwhelming 24th.

While the side performed admirably against both the run (90.1 run-defense grade, 6th) and in the pass-rush (81.6 pass-rush grade, 3rd) that year, the making of that defense was in their ability to shut down opposing pass-catchers in coverage. The 2017 Jaguars earned a team coverage grade of 94.5 that year that didn't just rank first among the NFL's 32 defenses, but is the third-highest team coverage grade of the last 13 years. Among the 417 single-season defenses that we've graded since 2006, the 2017 Jaguars also ranked tied for fifth in expected points added per play (-0.21) and fourth in allowed successful-play percentage (39.1%).

At the forefront of that monumental effort was Jalen Ramsey, who led his team in both overall grade (91.3) and coverage grade (91.6), with the latter mark being the second-best mark among cornerbacks. Targeted 106 times on the year including playoffs, he allowed just 57 receptions for 755 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions, forcing 23 incompletions and allowing a passer rating of only 66.4 — 15th among the 125 qualifying players at the position.

But as great as that defense was, it wasn't quite able to carry Bortles to a win over the New England Patriots in that AFC Championship Game. And unfortunately for Ramsey and the Jaguars, it's been all downhill from there.

After the conclusion of the 2017 season, Jacksonville opted to sign Bortles to a contract extension for 2018. To the surprise of nobody, the former third overall pick then fell to his fifth straight sub-70.0 overall grade before being benched in favor of Cody Kessler down the stretch, and given the year-to-year instability of defensive play, the once-unconquerable defense was unable able to pick up the pieces in the same way they had the year before. The Jags fell to a 5-11 record in 2018, signed Nick Foles to a huge contract for 2019, predictably lost Nick Foles after just 11 snaps, will now start sixth-round rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew for the foreseeable future and have stumbled out of the gate to an 0-2 start, taking their record to just 5-13 in their 18 games.

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