The New Orleans Saints drafted Wisconsin Safety Natrell Jamerson in the 5th Round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The high school teammate of CB P.J. Williams, Jamerson originally started his college career as a Wide Receiver before shifting to defense.
Jake Kocorowski of SB Nation’s page for Wisconsin, Bucky’s 5th Quarter, took some quick time to answer a few questions for Saints to get to know one of their late-round 2018 draft picks.
Todd McShaw labeled Natrell Jamerson a “steal” in the 5th Round. Were you surprised to still see him on the board at 164th overall?
I wasn’t surprised he was still around in the fifth round, as I thought he’d be a mid-Day 3 pick. I thought he’d be off the board by at least the end of the sixth, with B5Q’s Owen Riese predicting him around that area as well. Jamerson landing in New Orleans appears to be a great spot to continue to develop as a defensive back on a team that could once again contend (and go far) in the playoffs.
The Saints believe Jamerson to be best-suited as a CB at least initially, but he has experience at WR early in his college career. Are the Saints making the right choice sticking Jamerson in the secondary?
Jamerson should stick in the secondary in some form of a safety/cornerback role. He was a wide receiver for only one season, but after Paul Chryst came back to Wisconsin he moved to defense. He has obvious coverage skills but was also a sure-handed tackler for his senior season (sans one missed tackle in the Big Ten Championship game on a bubble screen that ended up leading to a huge touchdown in the first half).
He showed signs of a solid third cornerback back in nickel packages in 2016 before an injury sidelined him for a significant portion of the season. As a safety last year, he played extremely well with 51 tackles, 10 pass break-ups and two interceptions--including a pick-six against Northwestern in late September.
Honestly, I think he’s only scratched the surface of what he can do on the defensive side of the football.
What would you say is the strongest part of Jamerson’s game?
Right now, in potentially contributing for the Saints early on, I really believe his ability on special teams stand out. He excelled in that third phase of the game, and I distinctly remember punt coverage as a gunner if I’m not mistaken, and that will pay dividends for him at the next level. That 4.4-second speed also showed up in 2015 with a kickoff return for a touchdown against Maryland during conference play.
Defensively, I think it’s his versatility in being used in the secondary itself. He can tackle and cover with his speed and physicality. Though I see him as a safety, how they utilize him as a corner as you mentioned earlier should be something to watch (and I know Badgers fans will definitely keep tabs as now both Jamerson and former teammate Ryan Ramczyk are down in New Orleans).
Where could he look most to improve?
Jamerson has really only scratched the surface of his potential on defense. He was selfless moving around in the four years he was in Madison, so once the Saints find him a position where he locks in, I think he has a chance to flourish even more.
Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator, Jim Leonhard, played 10 years in the NFL and moved Jamerson to safety for the 2017 season. He believes Jamerson’s best football is ahead of him, as he told us at the end of spring football a couple of weeks ago:
“I heard lot of conversations whether he’s a corner or a safety, a lot of people on both sides of the fence would start him one or the other,” Leonhard said on April 19. “I think as a safety, he has more value at that level because it’s a pass-oriented game. It is physicality, it is coverage ability. From the safety position, it is extremely valuable up there. College football is more of a run game, so a little bit different deal, so I think if he’s playing safety, his best football is ahead.
“Even at corner, he’s really. really new to defense. He played as a sophomore at corner, was hurt most of his junior year, and then moved to safety, so it’s not like he’s ever really been able to just focus, ‘This is who I am, this is how I get better.’ So in my opinion, it’s a no-brainer, the talent that he has. It’s just getting him that experience and figuring out who’s he going to be, what’s his role going to be at that level.”
What type of career do you project Jamerson to have in the NFL? Is he an eventual starting CB? Maybe WR? Or just a career Special Teamer?
I believe Jamerson has the opportunity to be a contributor on defense and in the secondary once he settles in and finds whatever role the Saints’ coaching staff wants him to fill. I don’t think he’ll move back over to offense, but I think the most immediate impact he makes is on special teams on a few units (maybe I’m too optimistic, but I think “career” special teamer could translate to Pro Bowl-esque special teamer). Once he gets used to the scheme, I expect continued progression from the Ocala, Fla., native that we saw here in Madison.
Thank-you so much for your time and insight, Jake!
Saints fans, make sure you check out Jake and the rest of the hard-working guys’ work over at Bucky’s 5th Quarter. You can also follow their work on Twitter @B5Q. You can follow Jake on Twitter @JakeKokoB5Q. As always, you always follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.
What do you think about the Saints 5th Round pick? Maybe with Jamerson’s 4.4 speed on special teams, we’ll see more of Taysom Hill at QB as his speed won’t be needed as a gunner. Tell us in the comments your thoughts on Jamerson. Send me presents.