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Coughlin, Reiprish offer draft preview


It could be as intriguing as entertaining trade offers to move down and acquire an extra choice, or it could be as simple as selecting the offensive or defensive lineman expected to be the Jaguars' choice with the ninth pick of this Saturday's draft.

Everybody knows the names: Bryant McKinnie, Mike Williams, Ryan Sims, Albert Haynesworth, John Henderson, Wendell Bryant. Most draftniks expect one of those six players will be the Jaguars' man.

But what if Joey Harrington or Roy Williams is available, or one of the cornerbacks, Quentin Jammer or Phillip Buchanon? In a draft with a wild-card quarterback such as Harrington, chances are something unpredictable may happen that will upset the predicted order of the top 10 players.

For example, in 1987 the Cardinals shocked everyone by making quarterback Kelly Stouffer the sixth pick. All of a sudden, teams that thought they had no chance at Rod Woodson or Shane Conlan began to reconsider their fate.

No player will upset a draft more quickly than a quarterback. Harrington could do that this Saturday, especially if he makes it past the Detroit Lions at the third spot.

What if Harrington makes it all the way down to the Jaguars' pick? Would coach Tom Coughlin expect to receive trade offers?

"You're not going to move down too far. I'm always open. I'm hearing about Oakland and New Orleans," Coughlin said.

A trade-down scenario would be a sexy move for a team with needs at almost every position. What the Jaguars need more than anything are extra picks.

If that doesn't occur, the Jaguars are likely to be faced with a decision on what lineman to select. They'd love for McKinnie to be available; he'd be the easy pick, a left offensive tackle on a team that doesn't have one. McKinnie would also serve as a believable best player available. But the smart money says McKinnie will be gone.

Mike Williams of Texas would be a candidate, but he's a right tackle only and there are concerns about the state of a knee injury that was discovered at the Indianapolis scouting combine. Williams may also be gone.

Then come the defensive linemen: Sims, Haynesworth, Henderson, Bryant. Sims would be the easiest choice of the four. He's productive, coachable and motivated. Everything about his past is a go.

"He's the guy who's getting the most publicity, and rightfully so," Jaguars Director of Player Personnel Rick Reiprish said of Sims. "The nice thing about that guy is he's always on the field."

There are major concerns about the state of Henderson's back, and Bryant may be caught between end and tackle and is said to lack intensity. Haynesworth is the player who is being linked to the Jaguars' pick by most draftnik publications.

Haynesworth is clearly the most physically and athletically gifted of the defensive tackle crop, but there are criticisms he's immature, unreliable and not a hard-worker. His talent is undeniable, but so is the risk associated with picking him.

"He's young," Coughlin said in addressing the rap on Haynesworth. "He has great upside."

Isn't that what a coach wants most; a player who will only get better?

"You can't be impatient because you need a player. He has to be allowed to develop. Regardless of how great your need is, that process is going to take place," Coughlin said.

Today was a day for the usual predraft rhetoric, as Coughlin and Reiprish met with reporters for the final time prior to this weekend's annual college player lottery. The two fielded questions about every player mentioned above, but carefully avoided any hard answers.

What about Roy Williams, Coughlin was asked again of the Oklahoma safety, who may be the player in this draft who offers the greatest guarantee of success? Would the Jaguars pick Williams, even though the team has very little need for a safety?

"You want the need to match up with the best available player," Coughlin said.

Coughlin explained that he and his staff will have a list of five names from which they will choose in each round except the fifth, when the Jaguars will have no choice.

Reiprish talked of this draft being a "hair above average" in available talent, and Coughlin agreed the premium on "big guys" does put pressure on the Jaguars to draft "big guys" early, "but it's got to be the right player," he said.

The Jaguars' draft braintrust made every effort to disguise who their choice might be on Saturday. It's a scene being played out in every NFL city.

"Today there's disagreement because everybody likes something about somebody else," Reiprish said of day-long meetings in the Jaguars' draft room. "I don't think there's a consensus to say this is the one guy we want.

"Everybody thinks we're taking an offensive lineman or defensive lineman, and they don't know we're taking a kicker first," Reiprish added.

It was a time for kidding. He was kidding, wasn't he?

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