Long-time jaguars.com draft contributor and current sportsillustrated.com draft analyst Tony Pauline sees the Jaguars picking Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher with the eighth overall selection in this year's draft.
"I'm going to say they take Michael Oher. They don't want to get locked out of a good tackle. I don't think they can chance it with Andre Smith. Oher played well at the Senior Bowl. His position drills were solid at the combine. He's a good story; solid person, solid character," Pauline said in an interview with jaguars.com on Thursday.
Oher is an amazing story. He was homeless on the streets of Memphis before being taken in by a life-changing couple who helped Oher deal with a major learning disability. Oher will graduate from Ole Miss and be an early pick in this year's NFL draft, which will cap one of the true feel-good stories in draft history.
Pauline was asked to handicap the Jaguars' first-round candidates and he went right away to offensive tackle.
"I think they're going to have the opportunity to get a good offensive tackle but the offensive tackles at eight will have some risk attached to them," Pauline said.
Here's what Pauline had to say about other candidates.
"Michael Crabtree is a very good receiver but he's not a dynamic, field-stretching presence, as Calvin Johnson was," Pauline said of Crabtree, the Texas Tech wide receiver.
It was revealed at the scouting combine in February that Crabtree will undergo foot surgery that will require the installation of a screw. Crabtree did not run at the combine and will not do so before the draft.
"I think it's going to hurt him in the sense that scouts do want to get times. He's a junior so he never went through junior timing day. They don't even have that to fall back on with Crabtree. He's never been known to be a field-stretcher. It's going to hurt him but I don't think it's a death blow," Pauline said.
Some draftniks believe Crabtree could fall to the Jaguars at pick eight, but Pauline doesn't see Crabtree getting past the Bengals at pick six.
Pauline considers running back Knowshon Moreno a candidate for the Jaguars' pick, despite Moreno having run poorly at the combine.
"He's going to have another day to run. He is what he is. He's a good interior runner who blocks and catches the ball. He was never a run-to-daylight type of back," Pauline said of Moreno.
"Absolutely not" a reach at eight, Pauline added. "You have to watch him on film. You don't give him the ball to beat defenders on the flanks. He's not that type of back."
Moreno's teammate at Georgia, quarterback Matt Stafford, may be the prospect of greatest intrigue for the Jaguars. Could Stafford last until the Jaguars' pick?
"If he gets past the first two picks, it would be a definite possibility," Pauline said.
"A lot depends on how his pro day goes. He missed a major opportunity not throwing at the combine. If he had thrown lights out at the combine, he could say that's it and wait it out until the draft," Pauline said of Stafford. "The kid has a lot to like about his game. He's got a big arm and a gunslinger mentality. They question whether he's a passionate football player."
Another running back, Ohio State's Chris Wells, is worth mentioning. Wells didn't post a fast time at the combine but that's not a big deal for a power back, which he most definitely is.
"He's more limited than Moreno. He's strictly an interior ball carrier. Moreno plays significantly faster and quicker than Wells. The concern about Wells is he had a big-time concussion in the bowl game. I think he's good but I think he's limited with what you can do with him," said Pauline, who ranks his backs in this order: Moreno, Wells, LeSean McCoy of Pitt and Donald Brown of UConn.
"Very mediocre at the top; no single dominant prospect," Pauline said of the top part of this year's draft class. "Last year you had Jake Long at the top and that was considered weak at the top and there's no one of that ilk in this year's draft. Teams are going to pick safely instead of going for an impact player.
"A safe pick this year would be Aaron Curry, but he's not even 6-2. He's a good football player but he's not really an impact player," Pauline added.