TAMPA – A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey have yet to take their first meaningful snaps as a cornerback combo for the Jaguars, yet already they’re being touted as the best corner duo in the league.
They are at least by former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
Taylor, who helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls during a 12-year career spent solely in Pittsburgh, now serves as an analyst for NFL.com and he recently put together his annual list projecting the league’s top cornerback tandems.
The Broncos duo of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. topped Taylor’s list a year ago, and they could still prove to be the two best corners in the league, Taylor wrote. But Taylor believes the tandem of Bouye and Ramsey will wind up being the most effective.
Taylor notes that down the stretch of his rookie season last year, when he was often covering the opponent’s top receiver, Ramsey “balled out’’ and recorded 13 pass breakups and two interceptions in the last five games after recording just one pass defense in the first 11.
And now that Ramsey has adjusted to the pace of the NFL game, Taylor says he expects more of the same in Year 2. He also expects the Jaguars to get more of what the Texans got a year ago from Bouye during what was clearly a breakout season for the fourth-year corner.
Bouye only intercepted two passes while breaking up 16 a year ago, but opposing quarterbacks produced a miserable 60.6 passer rating when working against him, according to Taylor, who believes Bouye will have an even better season during his first year with the Jaguars.
“I’m not saying he’s going to lead the league in interceptions – mainly because the Jags play man coverage,’’ Taylor wrote. “But Bouye will have plenty of opportunities to come down with the ball if and when they do play zone.’’
The Jaguars obviously feel the same way. That’s why they made one of the biggest splashes of all early on in free agency when they signed Bouye to a five-year, $67.5 million contract.
The idea was to further bolster what was already a rather solid secondary, one that tied for eighth in the league in interceptions (16) and seventh in passer rating (79.5) last year.
It’s obvious Taylor believes they’ve achieved that objective, and more.