Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin are the choices for AFC South rookie of the year as voted on by the four reporters covering the division for ESPN.com.
Sarah Barshop, Texans reporter: While the Jaguars had a down year, Ramsey proved he is going to be a force in the NFL for years to come. The No. 5 overall pick looked like a shutdown cornerback at times this season while going up against receivers such as DeAndre Hopkins and T.Y. Hilton. If Jacksonville is able to take a step forward at some point in the next few seasons, its defense will be led by Ramsey.
Michael DiRocco, Jaguars reporter: It didn't take the Jaguars coaching staff very long to figure out what to do with Ramsey: stick him on the opponent's best receiver and let him go. Ramsey had that assignment nearly every week and responded with 65 tackles, a team-high 14 pass breakups, and two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. He matched up one-on-one with Hilton, Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery, Jordy Nelson, Amari Cooper and Sammy Watkins and more than held his own. His fourth-down pass breakup against Jeffery sealed one of the Jaguars' three victories, and in his second game against Houston he broke up a pair of passes to Hopkins in the end zone. He also knocked another one away on a third down. He's on his way to becoming one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL.
Paul Kuharsky, Titans reporter: The Titans traded out of the No. 1 pick with the Rams, but they traded back up to No. 8 to get GM Jon Robinson's target: right tackle Jack Conklin. He was a key piece of the Titans' resurgent offensive line. He's the All-Pro right tackle and a Pro Bowl alternate. Pro Football Focus said he gave up only four combined sacks/hits in 16 games and rated him as the best right tackle in the NFL. ESPN's John Clayton also named Conklin to his All-Pro Team.
Mike Wells, Colts reporter: Conklin stepped in and immediately made an impact at right tackle. His success didn't go unnoticed because he picked up 27.5 of the 50 votes at that position. That's impressive for a rookie. Conklin played a significant role in helping the Titans rush for 136.7 yards a game, which was third in the NFL, and give up only 28 sacks, which was the seventh fewest allowed last season. Protecting the edge on the right side of the line of scrimmage is something the Titans will not have to worry about for years to come.