The Jacksonville Jaguars made a bit of a surprising pick in the 2015 NFL Draft in the fourth round, grabbing Louisville safety James Sample. It wasn't a shock that the Jaguars picked a safety in the draft, but most seemed to view sample as a box safety and that would mean he was kind of redundant with current Jaguars starting safety Johnathan Cyprien.
The Jaguars noted that Sample would be competing for the free safety position however, which surprised Sample.
"When I found out I was going to be competing for the free safety job that was kind of shocking, but I am ready for the task," Sample told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
That's not because Sample doesn't think he can do the job, though.
"Yeah, because that’s the way I played," Sample told reporters when asked if he was shocked because most teams viewed him as a strong safety in the draft. "At Louisville, we had the traditional free safety and strong safety role. A lot of people knocked me for not covering receivers and stuff and it wasn’t my job."
The Jaguars feel like Sample has shown enough in coverage to be able to play that role, however.
Jaguars fourth round draft pick James Sample was graded by @PFF as the best coverage safety in the NCAA last season. Go Jags!— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) May 2, 2015
The team also likes that Sample is similar to Cyprien in that they can now disguise coverages and formations better, with both being able to switch back and forth between playing deep and in the box. While Sample is probably a bit better playing centerfield than Cyprien, it's a position Cyprien has played previously in college.
The free safety battle between Sergio Brown and James Sample in training camp and the preseason will be an interesting one to pay attention to.