The latest installment of our 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars draft class Q&A series features Jalen Myrick, a speedy cornerback out of Minnesota.
Myrick, who was the first rookie in the draft class to sign his contract with Jacksonville, ran a blistering 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February — second only to wide receiver John Ross.
I talked to Tom, also known as Gopher Nation, who is the founder and one of the managers at The Daily Gopher, which is SB Nation’s Minnesota Golden Gophers website. We know he is fast as they come, but what else does Myrick bring to the Jaguars?
Let’s find out below!
1. We know Myrick is fast with his 4.28-second 40-yard dash speed, but what other traits does he possess that the Jacksonville fans should know about?
Speed is clearly his best asset and that translated well to returning kicks where he was one of the best kick returners in the Big Ten (averaged 24.5 yards per return in his career). Physically, he has quick feet and hands that allow him to play with receivers initially and his speed helps him to make up ground if necessary. According to his NFL.com draft profile, he allowed just 39 percent of balls thrown his way to be completed over the last two seasons, he can definitely cover receivers.
Check out Myrick’s 100-yard kickoff return against Northwestern in 2014 (courtesy of Big Ten Network).
2. Myrick is a bit undersized at 5-foot-10-inches, so do you see him playing inside as a nickel cornerback or does he also have the ability to play on the outside against bigger receivers despite his size?
Simply put, I don't see him playing outside as his size and skill set is well-suited for slot coverage. He played primarily outside over his Gopher career, but when he gets to playing on Sundays, he's likely best suited on the inside.
3. Myrick was projected by many outlets to be selected around the fourth or fifth round. He fell to the seventh round. Do you think he slid a bit due to the depth of the position in this draft, or for another reason? Where did you project him to get drafted at?
Possibly, it is due to being a deep draft at corner, but as much as anything else it is probably his size. If he were an inch taller, that probably would have bumped him up a couple of rounds. His speed is elite and he has coverage skills as well, but his 5-foot-10-inch stature, and his relatively mediocre tackling skills, knocked him down a bit. I expected that he would likely be a sixth-round pick, or possibly even a fifth-rounder. But he played in a stacked defensive backfield for his sophomore and junior seasons, so there were a lot of snaps and exposure given to Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray in 2014 and 2015 (both played quite a bit as rookies last year for Cleveland and Kansas City, respectively).
4. Following up the previous question, can you talk about the potential value Myrick provides as a seventh-round selection, and what you think his chances are of making the final 53-man roster?
I do think that he is a great get for a seventh-round pick. Speed is a big deal at that level, his quick hands and feet help him to stay with guys and get his hands on balls. Can he make the squad? It's tough for a seventh-round pick to make the club and make an impact, but if he can make a mark as a slot cover guy and can add some versatility as a return man, then it is quite possible. Tackling and doing a better job of reading the routes rather than just reacting is where he'll need to improve.
5. What are the things Myrick does best and what are the things he'll need to improve on to compete in the NFL?
Myrick really does a great job of being on top of receivers. He's in their back pocket and has good hands to make catches difficult for the receivers. He has good coverage skills that compliment his speed rather than having poor habits due to just relying upon his much-talked-about speed, if that makes sense. Covering receivers, particularly those under 6-feet tall, is what he does best. That is a bit general or broad, but the bottom line is he really is technically-sound and talented. Additionally, better play-recognition and run support is where he'll need to improve to be a factor for the Jags.
Below, watch Myrick’s pick-six vs. Purdue in 2015 (also courtesy of the Big Ten Network).
Myrick’s ability to play coverage in the slot, his unprecedented speed and his ability to potentially make an impact returning kicks, should bode well for Myrick’s chances to make Jacksonville’s final 53-man roster. Especially given the current depth, or lack thereof, at the position.
If you’ve missed any of the previous articles on our rookie Q&A series, here is a recap: