Rookie James Sample, walked a winding road in his college career. That road led him to Jacksonville. Many draft pundits believed that Sample would be a strong safety. One who predominately plays in the box. This might lead some Jaguar fans to question the Jaguars selecting him, as the Jaguars already have a young strong safety in John Cyprien.
BY JORDAN DE LUGO
At first look Sample, does very much look like a strong safety. His massive upper body rivals that of his counter part, Cyprien. Despite the massive upper body and playing a lot of strong safety in college, the Jaguars drafted Sample to be a free safety. Even Sample was a bit confused about the fact that he would play free safety in Jacksonville. He said in an interview that he was “surprised” that he was drafted to play free safety. That was prior to Sample learning that the Jaguars free safety plays in the box and in downfield in pass coverage.
After Rookie Mini Camps Coach Bradley had this to say of his rookie safety:
“Sample is a guy I really noticed today, as a guy that picked things up really quick, and (showed) some of the movement skills we’re looking for.“
The key phrase here is “movement skills”. It is plain to see that Sample has the physicality to make tackles and play in the box. The major question was whether or not he could play in pass coverage downfield. These “movement skills” are why Gus and Dave felt that they could use Sample in their defense.
Bradley said of the free safety position in the Jaguars defense:
“is very similar to the strong safety position in our defense.”
“He (Sample) has that range that we are looking for as well.”
Coach Bradley seems very confident is Sample’s ability to fit in to his system. I think Sample has the potential to start, but possibly not right away. He should be able to contribute on special teams immediately, and push for the starting job through out the season. I think for most of the season there will be a lot of rotating at the free safety spot, but I wouldn't be surprised if Sample wins the job by the end of the season. He and Sergio Brown should both get a lot of play at that position. Sample’s tackling ability is evident and he has shown the ability to play the ball in the air, intercepting 4 passes in 2014. Fans should be excited about watching the young safety develop.
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