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'15 Pre-draft luncheon: Difference-maker wanted


JACKSONVILLE – A trade is intriguing – and hardly out of the question.

That has been true for General Manager David Caldwell each of the last two years with the Jaguars' first draft selection, and it's true this year as well.

Still, with five days remaining before the 2015 NFL Draft, Caldwell said Friday the team likes three-to-five players as possibilities for the No. 3 overall selection – and that he favors selecting one difference-maker over two solid players.

That doesn't make a trade at No. 3 impossible.

It does mean a team must offer a significant package to make one happen.

"The price would have to be substantial," Caldwell said Friday at the Jaguars' 2015 pre-draft luncheon at EverBank Field, adding, "I think it depends on compensation. It depends on how far you have to trade back."

Caldwell added, "It's important for us to get a difference-making player."

Of the three-to-five players the team covets, Caldwell said there's a possibility one or two could still be available "relatively late" if the team traded back for more selections.

"Now, we're talking through scenarios," Caldwell said. "Say if we did go to (to Nos.) five, fifteen or thirty-five … what are we going to come out with? It's great to say you're going to come out with these extra picks, but who are you going to get with those three extra picks? You have to make sure it's worth it. Two ones in this year's draft might not be as good as two ones in next year's draft or two ones in last year's draft."

Caldwell and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley each spoke at the luncheon, discussing topics leading to the draft, which will be held in Chicago, Illinois, next Thursday-Saturday.

"We've had those discussions," Bradley said of a possible trade. "You have to be open-minded to all the possibilities, but usually in those first five picks you would hope you can get a difference-maker for whatever position he plays, a guy you feel strongly could play for your organization for many years to come.

"So, it's going to have to be pretty intriguing for us to move out of a position like that."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the No. 1 selection in the draft and the Tennessee Titans hold the No. 2 selection, with Tampa Bay most often linked to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and the Titans' direction considered more of a mystery.

The presence of two potential franchise quarterbacks, Winston and Marcus Mariota of Oregon, has made the possibility of a trade at the top of the draft a prominent topic among analysts. There is speculation that a team wanting Mariota could trade with the Titans or the Jaguars, with Southern California defensive end/tackle Leonard Williams also considered by many likely to be selected in the Top 3 selections.

The Jaguars hold seven selections in the draft, including No. 3 overall. They have been linked to several top prospects at No. 3, with mock drafts projecting Florida edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr., Williams, Clemson edge rusher Vic Beasley, West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper as possibilities.

Caldwell said he has yet to field calls about a possible trade at No. 3, though he noted that it's still relatively early in the process. He had said several weeks ago he believed the chances of a trade were greater than in his first two drafts. He said on Friday he wasn't as sure.

"I don't know, to be honest with you," Caldwell said. "Like I said, I haven't gotten any calls to date, so we'll see."

Caldwell also addressed the status of wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL since November 2013. Caldwell had said shortly after the season he hoped to have clarification from the league about Blackmon's status before the draft. As of Friday, Blackmon's status remained unchanged.

Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley meet with the media during a luncheon ahead of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Caldwell said on Friday he wasn't disappointed to have not heard from the league regarding Blackmon, and reiterated what he has said multiple times since Blackmon was suspended – that the Jaguars would welcome him back, but that they are not planning or making roster moves based on his status.

"Our process hasn't changed," he said. "Plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys.  Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not, we weren't planning on it, we're just going to go."

Caldwell also added that because of privacy issues and the rules governing the league's substance-abuse policy, the team would not know if Blackmon had applied to the league for reinstatement.

Caldwell also on Friday discussed:

*The possibility of an edge rusher at No. 3.While the Jaguars have been strongly associated with edge rushers/defensive ends, Caldwell said the Jaguars wouldn't bypass an elite-level long-term player just to take a pass rusher. "We're not going to bypass a guy if he's going to be eight-to-ten-year, really good player, Pro Bowl-type for a guy that's just going to be a defensive end and get us four sacks a year," he said….

*The depth of the running back class. Caldwell said a team can find a good, productive running back in this draft as late as the fourth or fifth round. He said he could see a run on running backs begin in the third round.

*The team's pursuit of free-agent wide receiver Greg Jennings. While the veteran wide receiver visited the Jaguars, Caldwell said the team did not offer him a contract. Jennings signed with Miami this week. Caldwell said the team was hesitant to sign Jennings before the draft because he would have played a slot-receiver role and doesn't play special teams. "We would have preferred to wait until after the draft to see if we could get a receiver in the draft," he said.

*The wide receivers in this draft class.Caldwell called the '15 draft "one of the best receiving drafts I've seen in a long time. Last year was excellent, but this year is maybe equally as good." He said he anticipates a "run" on receivers in the first and second rounds.



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