SI: ‘He’s Just an Ultimate Competitor’: What Sold the Jaguars on Josiah Scott

May 2, 2020
Posted in News
May 2, 2020 Seth Karlin

The Jacksonville Jaguars knew they needed to address the cornerback position in a variety of ways during the 2020 NFL Draft. They also knew just the kind of players they were looking for.

Physical. Athletic. Intelligent. Hard-working. The Jaguars were on a mission to reshape their secondary with an injection of youth during last week’s draft, and they accomplished this venture in a number of ways.

First, the Jaguars selected Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson with the No. 9 overall selection, making him the second cornerback selected. Henderson will sit atop the Jaguars’ depth chart and eventually likely shadow No. 1 receivers, but the Jaguars’ work wasn’t done.

With their first of four selections in the fourth round, the Jaguars drafted Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott with the No. 137 overall selection. Scott is a far cry from the hulking presence Henderson is since he stands at only 5-foot-9, but he carries himself like a player who doesn’t care at all for the size of his opponent.

So, what drew the Jaguars to the undersized but athletic and feisty cornerback?

“Excellent toughness, physical, plays bigger than his size,” general manager Dave Caldwell said after the Jaguars drafted Scott. “Feel like that he’s a natural fit inside, but also feel like he can also take some reps outside. So his makeup, his leadership skills, his football intelligence.”

Scott, who declared early, was an honorable mention All-Big Ten player in 2020 It was a bit of a surprising pick since he doesn’t meet any of the Jaguars’ physical thresholds for the position, but the Jaguars are clearly big fans of his tenacious style of play and opted to ignore the measurables.

“Really was one of the players where – to be quite frank – because he came out early that I wasn’t real familiar with early on in the process, like last summer. But as they started watching, watch the tape, you fall in love with him relatively easily,” Caldwell said.

“Excellent toughness, physical, plays bigger than his size,” general manager Dave Caldwell said after the Jaguars drafted Scott. “Feel like that he’s a natural fit inside, but also feel like he can also take some reps outside. So his makeup, his leadership skills, his football intelligence.”

Scott, who declared early, was an honorable mention All-Big Ten player in 2020 It was a bit of a surprising pick since he doesn’t meet any of the Jaguars’ physical thresholds for the position, but the Jaguars are clearly big fans of his tenacious style of play and opted to ignore the measurables.

“Really was one of the players where – to be quite frank – because he came out early that I wasn’t real familiar with early on in the process, like last summer. But as they started watching, watch the tape, you fall in love with him relatively easily,” Caldwell said.

While you won’t find too many 5-foot-9 cornerbacks in the NFL, there is always an exception to the rule. Players can compensate with smarts, speed, and physicality, and the Jaguars envision Scott being one of those types of players as he finds a place on special teams and eventually in the nickel defense.

“He’s really athletic. He’s got really good quickness and speed. He ran well at the combine, so that kind of verified what we saw on the film,” Jaguars Director of College Scouting Mark Ellenz said. “Productive, he’s really tough. He’s not the biggest kid, but he’s tough. We see him competing for a nickel role and then competing on special teams.”

“Yes, he’s not the tallest kid, but I think he compensates with athleticism, his speed, his toughness, he’s productive and smart.”

In 2019, Scott recorded three interceptions, six pass deflections, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. In three seasons at Michigan State, Scott recorded 95 tackles, six interceptions, 22 pass deflections, and two tackles for loss.

Scott was known as one of the leaders for a program that built its name on developing tough-minded football players, and this clearly left an impression in his new head coach’s eyes. Doug Marrone wanted tough, team-first players in this year’s draft, and the Jaguars think they got just that with Scott.

“So I think like I told him when I spoke to him on the phone, I said, ‘I like taking you guys from Michigan State, they’re tough guys you know’, I said, ‘but the only problem is your position coach is a Ohio State guy.’ I’m fired up to see that,” Marrone said.

For Marrone, he is able to see past Scott’s size and see what he can bring to the defense. He will join Henderson as the youngest cornerbacks atop the depth chart, joining veterans Tre Herndon and D.J. Hayden, as the four will help navigate a new-look Jaguars’ secondary.

“He’s just an ultimate competitor, really tough, plays a lot bigger, I mean I think that was a key thing when you watch it,” Marrone said. “Obviously, people will say ‘hey listen, this guy who goes inside.’ Inside because they’re looking at, you know, his height, but this guy shows the physicality to be able to play on the outside and do a good job, and then obviously the toughness you know equals special teams.”

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