Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Del Rio, Harris pleased



Head coach Jack Del Rio and personnel boss James "Shack" Harris surveyed the landscape of their first draft in this new era of Jaguars football and nodded satisfaction.

"We're happy with the work we did leading up to this weekend and the work we did the last two days; very productive," Del Rio said.

"We feel good. We accomplished a lot of goals we had going into the draft," Harris added.

The primary goal was to stock the Jaguars roster with as much new talent as possible. Of course, it will probably require a couple of years of observation before it can be determined if Del Rio and Harris were successful in their primary goal, but one obvious fact of their effort is that they put value above need.

We know that because the Jaguars used none of their nine picks on a wide receiver, which was considered to be a position of immediate need. Nor did the team draft a linebacker, another area of need.

Del Rio and Harris committed themselves to their value board, and it wasn't until the second pick of the second day of the draft that they began selecting according to their needs. And they surrendered to that philosophy only after Harris determined there was very little grade difference among what was left on the board.

"The second-day group addressed need. They'll compete on special teams and for roster spots," Harris said.

Oregon tight end George Wrighster led off the second day. He is a distinct value pick who may also serve a pressing need, if, in fact, the Jaguars release Kyle Brady in a salary-cap move.

Fourth-round running back LaBrandon Toefield of LSU began the need drafting. It is hoped he will become Fred Taylor's backup.

The Jaguars traded their fifth-round pick to Chicago for two sixth-rounders, then drafted Rice defensive end Brandon Green, Georgia Southern safety David Young and Howard offensive tackle Marques Ogden in the sixth round. Green addresses the need for depth and future development at defensive end, Young is a special teams choice and Ogden is a big body on a depleted offensive line.

Seventh-round pick Malaefou MacKenzie of USC is more of a value pick than a need choice, since the Jaguars signed fullback Marc Edwards in free agency. MacKenzie's upside made him too good to pass up.

Of course, the three first-day picks are the heart and soul of this draft and will define its success or failure. It began with the selection of quarterback Byron Leftwich with the seventh pick of the draft. He immediately becomes the team's future under center and the key player in the team's new era.

Second-round pick Rashean Mathis of Bethune-Cookman is the kind of speedy play-maker Del Rio wanted to make the building block of his defense, and Hawaii guard Vince Manuwai is considered a value "steal" in the third round, in addition to addressing a vacancy at left guard.

"We would've liked to have gotten a wide receiver. Maybe we'll look and see what happens in free agency," Harris said.

"My only focus was to acquire as many players as possible to make our team better," Del Rio said.

The Jaguars draft class got high marks from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who singled out the Jaguars' first-day haul. Criticism came from ESPN's Ron Jaworski, the former Eagles quarterback, who featured a video presentation that claimed Leftwich's pass release is slow and will require work.

"I thought it was a great point for TV," Del Rio said of Jaworski's analysis. "What you saw was a guy playing catch; no rush on him. I know a lot of great quarterbacks who pat the ball." Del Rio was referring to Leftwich's penchant for unnecessarily patting the ball with his left hand before releasing a pass.

Jaworski also questioned the Jaguars' decision to spend significantly in free agency in an apparent win-now philosophy, only to take a build-for-the-future stance with the selection of Leftwich.

"I don't agree with that thought. We're going to make this team as strong as we can and go forward," Del Rio said.

They will begin the forward process next weekend, when rookies and veterans are to report for the start of a mandatory, three-day mini-camp.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content