Maybe the winning ways of the Alabama football program are rubbing off on the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the selection of safety Ronnie Harrison, there are now five Crimson Tide players on Jacksonville’s current roster. Harrison, a bit of a surprise pick with the 93rd overall selection. Many predicted a player with Harrison’s pedigree and ability would be long gone before Jacksonville had a chance to grab another top-flight defensive back.
Ronnie Harrison may not have been a “need player” for a Jaguars’ team with the second-best defense in the NFL last season, but he was the highest player on the team’s board when they made their selection. Remember, this was a draft for the future and finding depth for the 2018 season. As general manager Dave Caldwell explained after the pick, Harrison was too good to pass up.
“We took a safety out of Alabama, Ronnie Harrison. Big size, enforcer type of guy. Big hitter. Good on special teams,” Caldwell told the media inside TIAA Bank Field. “We feel like he can come in, and he is going to go into the most competitive room we have there in the defensive back room with our two veteran DBs and our two veteran corners. It should be a good fit for him in there. He is going to have to bring his ‘A’ game every day to hang with those guys.”
Per AL.com’s Mark Inabinett, “[Ronnie] Harrison also joined a roster that already included four Alabama alumni, including his “big buddy” Cam Robinson, who was Jacksonville’s second-round draft pick last year and became the Jaguars’ starting left offensive tackle.
“Jacksonville also has defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, long snapper Carson Tinker and running back T.J. Yeldon from the Crimson Tide.”
While Tinker was injured and lost for the better part of the 2018 season, Robinson showed promise as a rookie tackle, and Dareus was a solid addition when the Jaguars acquired him from the Buffalo Bills. Yeldon proved to be a solid backup to Leonard Fournette and may have been one of the reasons the team released Chris Ivory.
Caldwell said the team assessed its needs and determined Harrison was the best “value” on the board. He also said the versatility he brings to the secondary was hard to pass up. Being that versatile is something teams in the NFL wants more so than a decade ago.
“With the amount of injuries that it seems like that have happened recently and trying to have 46 guys on game day,” Caldwell explained.
“The more versatile guys you have, especially in the secondary, is going to help you because you can’t always get a lot of guys dressed back there. For a guy like him, if he can play both, if he can be both a free [safety] and a strong [safety] that is going to help us.”
To say someone like Harrison was available so late in the third round was a surprise. There were teams picking ahead of the Jaguars with specific needs still to be filled. Also, there are some teams that have their eye on one key player. Every draft board is different.
“We have guys where we target them, and when we said this is where we would like to get our first and second round pick from and it so happened that we got our first, second and third round picks from that range.”