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View from the O-Zone: No ceiling for Marshall


JACKSONVILLE – This story isn't a first-person quotes thing.

That's not what you get with Nick Marshall, the quarterback-turned-cornerback who has steadily turned into one of the biggest – and best – stories of Jaguars 2015 Training Camp.

In this story, you won't get a lot of Marshall giddily talking about Marshall.

You won't get any "Look-at-Me" stuff.

Shoot, you won't even get much of Marshall breaking down what has enabled him to make a very difficult transition look in some ways sort of easy. Here's what you get:

You get a story of a young guy who's quickly looking comfortable at cornerback, and a guy with the ability to make plays. You get a guy who looks like he may be special. Eventually.

"I really like him, now," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said last week. "I think he's got a chance."

We lead with that quote because it echoes what a lot of people around the Jaguars are saying about Marshall – that while its obviously early, he's very much a guy with a chance. We also lead with it because although Marshall is cordial with the media, he's very much not into bragging on himself when it comes to his very real progress during training camp.

He's very confident, and it's apparent he believes he can play in the NFL.

But as he sees it, he is in the middle of a process – to him, a very important process, one that could mark the beginning of a long career – and that's how he's treating it.

"You have to have confidence playing this position," Marshall said. "If you have no confidence, you have no chance playing the position. Once you play the position and get comfortable, then you have more confidence. That's what I'm building right now."

How Marshall arrived in that position at all – and that he has a real chance to make the roster, and maybe a lot more – is a story you may already know.

He began his collegiate career as a cornerback at Georgia. While he liked the position, he liked quarterback more. After transferring to Garden City (Kansas) Community College, he transferred to Auburn, where he played quarterback the past two seasons and led the Tigers to an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game following the 2013 season.

That's well-documented, as was his decision to approach Jaguars coaches on the Monday of Senior Bowl week about moving from quarterback to cornerback. He made the switch and was impressive enough that the Jaguars nearly selected him late in the draft.

Since signing as an undrafted free agent, he has played a lot more like a drafted guy than an undrafted one, and all indications point to him having a chance to make the team.

Marshall ran with the second unit in Saturday's scrimmage at EverBank Field. He looked comfortable, and made plays on the ball. The comfort level was fairly remarkable considering the Jaguars' offseason program and a week of training camp was his first real work at the position since 2011.

And make no mistake:

The Jaguars' coaches are impressed with that comfort. Coaches being coaches, when they speak about Marshall they speak first about what he must do to improve. Bradley on Tuesday talked about Marshall's need to be more consistent, noting too that Marshall has shown a remarkable ability to respond to adversity.

"He bounces back quick, and he will come back and try something again the next time," Bradley said.

Defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker on Monday said Marshall is still very much in the development stages, and that there are nuances he must learn in game situations.

"Can you adjust in a game using football IQ to go along with all of your intangibles?" Walker said. "I think that's where we are right now. He hasn't played DB in a long time and now he's in the NFL. Can he take everything and put it together in a game situation? That's the development part."

But the skill? The ball instincts? The ability to break on the ball?

Are those things there?

"No question," Walker said. "There's no ceiling for him at this stage. It's about us helping him and him helping himself reach that ceiling."

That's the vibe from a lot of people around the Jaguars about Marshall. Cautious excitement. You can't build an entire roster on the first day of the draft and high-priced free agency. You must have late-round finds and undrafted-rookie finds, too. The Jaguars seem to have a few in Telvin Smith, Aaron Colvin and Allen Hurns. All joined the team last year.

Marshall has the feel of this year's model.

That doesn't mean he'll start at corner this year. It may not even mean he'll play much defense. But it's clear the Jaguars are trying to find a role for Marshall, and it's clear they believe he might have a future.

Not that he'll say much about it, "Look-at-Me" or otherwise.

But being modest doesn't mean he lacks confidence. And it doesn't mean the guy who might be the best story of Jaguars 2015 Training Camp can't make the roster – and maybe do a whole lot more.

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