On the dominant side of the ball historically for this franchise, the Jaguars see their biggest weakness at the cornerback position. That doesn't mean that the team hasn't had a few studs locking down opposing receivers over the years. The first two players on this list, however, are leagues above any other player to grace the position. This one was particularly tough to decide. Do you reward longevity and sustained performance over time, or do you look at just raw talent and ability? This position group gave me the biggest headache, but what it really boiled down to was who had a better, lasting, positive impact on the franchise. So, without further ado:
Rashean Mathis: This decision was ultimately made based on longevity and sustained performance over time. Rashean Mathis is the ultimate home town fairy tale. He was born and raised in Jacksonville and was a standout athlete at Englewood High School. After a pretty serious injury in high school, Mathis didn't stray too far from home, attending Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona, Florida. He continued to be an absolute game-changer. He currently holds the FCS record for interceptions in a career with 31, and in a single season with 14. The Jaguars selected him in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, and never looked back. Initially a free safety, Mathis took over at cornerback in Week 6 of his rookie year due to injury and never left. Quickly becoming one of the best players on defense, Mathis became a top corner in the NFL for a time, with a three year stretch from 2004-2006 that saw him intercept 18 passes. After he signed a five-year extension prior to the 2005 season, he, unfortunately, did begin to see regression, which can mostly be attributed to issues staying healthy. He still holds franchise records for career interceptions (30), interception return yards (512), defensive touchdowns (3), and passes defended (99).
Jalen Ramsey: Although his time ended as ugly as it possibly could have, you could make the argument that Jalen Ramsey is the greatest cornerback in Jaguars' history based off of his talent alone, but the less than amicable split during his final year with the team left a sour taste in the mouth of many fans. I would be lying if I said that Ramsey was not one of the best, if not the best lockdown, one-on-one coverage man in the NFL during his time in Jacksonville. He immediately became the face of this franchise and a defense that had an undeniable swagger. Energy the franchise had not seen in almost ten years was reignited. "We're going to the Super Bowl, and we were gonna' win that b****!" The rest is history. The front office fumbled one of the greatest players the franchise had ever seen, alienated many other players in the process, and traded the star corner before his rookie contract was even finished. Even in his short stint of only 51 games, Ramsey is three pass breakups away from the franchise record, ranking second behind only Rashean Mathis.
Aaron Beasley: The final defensive back on this list may surprise a few people, and it was a tough decision, but slightly edging out Fernando Bryant for the final spot on my list is Aaron Beasley. Drafted in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft, from West Virginia, Beasley took two years before he was fully entrenched in the starting corner position. What separates him from Fernando Bryant is not only total production but the production that he made as a role player that carried into his days as a starter. In his first three years, pass breakups were not an officially recorded NFL stat. Even still, Beasley only falls six breakups shy of Bryant's number. Tackles are comparable as well, but the real kicker is Beasley's ability to give the ball back to his offense. Beasley has 15 interceptions to his name during his tenure with the Jags, and Bryant can be found a good way down the list with 5. Beasley's best season came in 1999, where he picked off opposing quarterbacks six times and amassed 200 interception yards and 2 touchdowns, en route to an AFC Championship game appearance.
The Jaguars have always had solid number twos on the outside. From Derek Cox and AJ Bouye, to even Dwayne Gratz for a time. All assisted truly elite corners during their times as a Jaguar. Aaron Colvin was also a pleasant surprise here in Jacksonville. During the magical run of 2017, he was known as a physical coverage man who could shut things down in the slot. It helps when you have two lockdown corners on the outside and a relentless pass rush that doesn't allow opposing quarterbacks to scan the field. Regardless, the only true, honorable mentions that had a chance at cracking this list are Fernando Bryant and AJ Bouye. Bryant was much closer. Let's hope the new man on the outside, CJ Henderson, can become that next star for the Jags.
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