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Coughlin says Jaguars are ascending


They are mostly names that are unknown to the average fan, but that's the case with most draft classes. Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin attested to the quality of his nine-man draft class, however, claiming all of his picks to be "football players; they are workers and they are self-starters."

With that statement, Coughlin attempted to lift his team from the depths of its offseason despair to a state of heightened expectation.

"I see optimism. I see an arrow that goes up. The down part is over. I see an ascending team," he told reporters following the conclusion of this weekend's NFL draft.

Coughlin's assessment is born of an offseason that has seen the Jaguars take major steps toward salary cap repair and roster reconstruction. The most major roster efforts began this weekend with the selection of Tennessee defensive tackle John Henderson with the ninth pick of the draft.

"I'm looking forward to this week and evaluating them," Coughlin said of his draft picks, who will arrive in Jacksonville late this week for the start of next weekend's mini-camp.

The most optimistic of Jaguars fans will look at this year's draft class and see Henderson stepping in next to last year's first-round pick, defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, to provide a one-two punch on the interior that will stop the opposition's rushing attack and pressure the passer.

Extreme optimism would have second-round offensive left tackle Mike Pearson settle into Tony Boselli's former job, which would allow last year's second-round pick, Maurice Williams, to further his development at right offensive tackle. Pearson might also allow Brad Meester to move to his natural position of center, which would create an opening at left guard veteran Zach Wiegert would easily satisfy. Presto! Consider the offensive line fixed.

But it's not that easy. Until all of this becomes reality, Henderson, Pearson and their draft mates are nothing more than prospects.

When asked to critique his own draft efforts, Coughlin said: "It's a little bit like surgery. Have you ever talked to a doctor who didn't have a good one?"

Coughlin appeared to be satisfied with his selections. He claimed all of his second-day picks to have been best-available-athlete selections. "Since we had so many needs, the idea was it would be better to take the best available player," he said.

"They have to make an impact," Coughlin added of his drafted players.

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