JACKSONVILLE – The work is pretty much done.
And while Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said he won’t spend time “mocking” the 2014 NFL Draft, exactly, he and the rest of the team’s scouting and personnel department have done the pre-draft preparation and laid out the scenarios.
The ’14 NFL Draft is upon us, at last. And Caldwell’s fine with that. Absolutely.
“We were almost ready two weeks ago, and we’re very ready now,” Caldwell said on Jaguars.com LIVE!, which streams live on jaguars.com Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m.
The Jaguars, who finished 4-12 last season, hold 11 selections in the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held Thursday through Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Jaguars hold the No. 3 overall selection in Round 1, with the Houston Texans at No. 1 overall and the St. Louis Rams at No. 2.
With less than 36 hours remaining before the draft, pre-draft speculation and rumors ruled the day on the Internet and Twitter Wednesday, with speculation about whether the Houston Texans will take South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack.
There also was continued speculation about the Texans trading down, and similar speculation about St. Louis trading down or possibly staying at the selection and taking Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
While similar rumors surround the Jaguars at No. 3, Caldwell told NFL Network earlier in the day he had shared his specific scenarios only with Head Coach Gus Bradley, and that he would discuss them with Owner Shad Khan Wednesday night.
Caldwell said ranking and grading players is essentially finished as of Wednesday afternoon.
“Now, it’s pretty much set,” he said. “If you do anything now you’re just going to screw yourself up. You always think you can do more, do more. If I do anything now it’s really going through some college free agents and trying to go through some of those guys I haven’t seen.”
Caldwell also on Wednesday discussed the team’s draft room on draft day, saying he likes a “bit of action” going on in the room on what at times is “a long, boring day” leading to the 8 p.m. start. When it comes time to select, he said there typically and ideally isn’t much discussion or debate.
“We have a pretty good idea,” he said. “When you’re picking in the Top 5, you don’t have too many scenarios to think about. Where it gets tricky is when you’re picking later in the draft and you have four or five people you’re going to target. Then, when they start coming off (the board), you start thinking about, ‘Are you going to trade up? Are you going to trade back?’
“In this year’s draft, you should be able to find five players you really kind of like. So, we’re in a good spot.”
Caldwell on Wednesday said he doesn’t spend time mapping out detailed “mock draft” scenarios, instead preferring to trust the knowledge, experience and preparation of the team’s personnel department.
“We trust our personnel department to identify team needs and go that route,” Caldwell said. “Then, we just look at with the team needs where specific players will fall. We will go through our list of picks and say, ‘We’ll take this guy, this guy or this guy, but we don’t mock 32 teams.’”
Caldwell said in addition to the 11 selections the team likely will sign nine-to-12 collegiate free agents. But while acquiring 23 players – more than a quarter of the roster – is a critical task for the organization’s future, it’s a task for which the personnel department has spent the past year preparing.
“If I’m not calm, then that’s probably a problem,” he said. “There are a lot of things we can control. The only thing we can control is making the pick when it’s our time.”
He added of the process, “It pretty much runs itself. We go through the process and if we treat the process right and the preparation, then on draft day the players are going to come off and it’s going to be evident who you’re going to take. It really does run itself.
“We have a great support staff. Those guys have done a great job of taking a lot off my plate in terms of the organization. We’ve had a lot of discussion on every player on that draft board. I think we know them pretty well.”