JACKSONVILLE – David Caldwell got the guy he wanted.
He had to wait four selections to do it, and that was after waiting through the pre-draft speculation, rumors and misinformation that made the lo-o-o-o-o-ong months leading to the 2016 NFL Draft somehow seem longer than usual. Finally, Thursday arrived.
And then things actually got pretty easy.
After an unexpected event or two, Caldwell – in his fourth offseason as the Jaguars' general manager – officially made the call. It was a rare combination: the right call, the popular call and the simple call. And around 8:45 p.m., NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stepped to a podium at Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, and said, "With the No. 5 selection in the 2016 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars select …"
Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Florida State University.
With the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jaguars selected Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey.
And then there were smiles. Everywhere. In Chicago. In the draft room at EverBank Field. In the stands at the draft party at the 'Bank – and those smiles were actually out-and-out cheers. The most notable smile? Caldwell's, because it was the smile of a man whose wait was over and who got the guy he wanted.
"It was an easy decision," Caldwell said.
Caldwell explained just why this was the right guy in a little more depth.
"Jalen was just a really good fit for us at this point in time," Caldwell said. "When you look at different risk factors, which we do with every player, he probably had the least amount."
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley agreed, calling Ramsey "overall, just a fantastic player that we feel very fortunate that he fell to us."
Yes, this pick made sense – and felt right; it would have been hard for it to be otherwise at No. 5. On some level, the offensive-tackle rumors around Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss and Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame made sense because of talent; Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner made sense for the same reason. Talent, immediate need and fit made Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa make sense, and the talent that is UCLA linebacker Myles Jack made him oh-so enticing, too.
All of those names circled around the Jaguars for weeks; they were the obsession of Jaguars media, Jaguars fans, Jaguars anything. And once again, we re-learned a funny thing about pre-draft speculation.
All those mock drafts? All of those sources who knew so much?
Well, did you see how it all blew up pretty much the first opportunity it had to blow up? Just about no one had Bosa going to the San Diego Chargers at No. 3, and when he did, most everyone's mock drafts suddenly seemed like so much ancient history.
That's the fun of the pre-draft lead-up and the reality of draft night.
It also made the chance Ramsey could fall to the Jaguars a very enticing reality.
That was a scenario Caldwell said Thursday he didn't think could happen in January. But then the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles traded to Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, to get in position to take quarterbacks – then suddenly there was a slightly better chance Ramsey could fall.
Bosa's selection Thursday increased the odds and when the Dallas Cowboys defied the conventional thinking of many to select Ezekiel Elliott – a running back from Ohio State …
Well, after the decision didn't take long.
Caldwell said he never saw Ramsey have a bad game in college. He spoke of speed, of athleticism, of range – all of the things you want in an elite defensive back. This is an athletically gifted player who fit and who was special and you just sort of overall got a feeling that what seemed too good to be true actually had come true.
"We didn't think he would get to us," Caldwell said, adding that Ramsey was "up there" athletically with the best defensive backs he has scouted. "We had three defensive players we liked there. He was obviously at the top of the list. …
"We had three players, and we thought maybe two would be gone. He was one we thought would be gone."
Yes, on this night, Caldwell and the Jaguars got what they wanted. On this night, the breaks fell their way and what they wanted to happen actually happened.
We won't know for a while – maybe months, maybe longer – just how right this fit was. We may not know for that long if it was a good selection at all. Such is the percentage nature of the NFL Draft.
But on this night, this felt simple. It felt popular.
And judging by the smiles inside EverBank, it sure felt right – and it felt like that l-o-o-o-o-o-ong wait was really, really worth it this time around.