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'15 NFL Draft: Where Fowler wanted to be


JACKSONVILLE – This is what Dante Fowler Jr. wanted.

But while he predicted this outcome a few weeks back – while he told anyone who would listen he thought he would be headed to the Jaguars – his good feeling Thursday wasn't just about a prediction. It's a deeper thing than that.

He liked the situation. He liked the fit.

He liked the head coach.

And basically, Fowler – an edge rusher from the University of Florida who the Jaguars on Thursday night made the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft – just figured this was the best situation possible.

"You're right about that," he said. "Let's go."

Fowler said he liked the idea of the Jaguars drafting him in part, too, because of his relationship with former Jaguars running back and Pride of the Jaguars member Fred Taylor. He and Taylor's son, Kelvin, were teammates at Florida the past two seasons and close friends.

"He's like a little brother," Fowler said of the younger Taylor.

He said Fred Taylor has taken a mentoring role with him.

"I grew up watching him, and I know a lot of great guys with the Jaguars," said Fowler, who played at St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood High School. "Just being able to stay home … it doesn't get better than that."

Fowler said despite his pre-draft thoughts on the Jaguars taking him, which he said several times at his Pro Day on April 7, he wouldn't have been surprised had he not gone No 3. Fowler was one of several players who were considered a possibility for the Jaguars at No. 3, including Southern California defensive end/tackle Leonard Williams and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Fowler also was one of several edge/Leo pass rushers considered potential Top 10 selections, a group that included Vic Beasley of Clemson, Alvin Dupree of Kentucky, Shane Ray of Missouri and Randy Gregory of Nebraska.

"There are a lot of good players in that group, and a lot of good players in this draft," he said.

Those were two of the subjects Fowler addressed in a conference call with local media, but the first topic had nothing to do with football.

Fowler, speaking to local reporters about an hour after his selection, first addressed his clothing at the draft. That outfit – a white suit with red trim and gold shoes with flashy, dazzling spikes – was a huge topic of conversation on ESPN and NFL Network coverage of the draft.

It was a topic in Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's press conference after the selection, too.

"I don't want to take their individuality away," Bradley said, smiling and adding that the outfit likely will be discussed with a message that the Jaguars are more about team than individual.

Defensive line coach Todd Wash hinted that the subject of the suit might come up among Fowler's new teammates on the Jaguars' defensive line.

"It will be interesting when he walks into our room," Wash said.

Jaguars veteran defensive end and free-agent signee Jared Odrick tweeted Thursday: "Def gonna have a conversation with our guy Fowler about that suit. Welcome to the Dline room!"

Fowler laughed when asked about the outfit.

"It's something unique, something different," he said. "I'm a guy who wants to do different things and show different things."

When speaking publicly before the draft, Fowler showed significant knowledge of the Jaguars' scheme, and said he believed he would be a good fit for the team's Leo position, a position that emphasizes pass-rushing ability and penetration in the opposing backfield. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and Bradley each said Thursday Fowler will play the Leo position.

Fowler said again he liked the fit of the Leo.

"The defense fits me," Fowler said. "Coach Gus is going to do the right things and put me in the right position to make plays."

With the third pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars have selected Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr.

Fowler, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection as a junior this past season and a second-team All-SEC selection in 2013, led Florida this past season with 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks while registering 17 quarterback hurries. He was the team and defensive Most Valuable Player this past season and also served as a captain.

He started 25 games for Florida, registering 34 tackles for loss.

Bradley, Caldwell and Wash each spoke highly of Fowler's motor, with Wash saying Fowler played harder and more consistently than any edge rusher in the draft.

"There are a lot of things I do well," Fowler said. "Motor is one of the things I do pretty well. I'm a polished defensive end and I'm very versatile. That's what guys will really like about me. I'm a jack-of-all trades and can play more than one spot."

Wash, Caldwell and Bradley each said that while Fowler is an ideal Leo, he can play all three downs. That means he's more than just a pass rusher.

"I'm a complete player," Fowler said, then added of the pre-draft process that included a strikingly correct prediction, "This is a long process, and now that it's over with, I'm happy that it's over with."

"I'm just ready to get going," he said.

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