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First round or later? Deep crop of defensive linemen


A defensive linemen could be the Jaguars' first-round draft choice on Saturday, April 21, and four prospects would seem to fit in the area in which the Jaguars are scheduled to select, 13th.

The top-ranked defensive tackles, Gerard Warren of Florida and Richard Seymour of Georgia, and the number one defensive end, Justin Smith of Missouri, will almost certainly be gone when the Jaguars pick, but an impressive cast of defensive "big guys" may remain.

Defensive tackles Marcus Stroud of Georgia and Shaun Rogers of Texas, and defensive ends Andre Carter of California and Jamal Reynolds of Florida State, will begin falling as the Jaguars prepare to select.

Stroud, 6-6, 317, is the kind of mass a defense needs to stop the run in the AFC Central, the NFL's true big-back division. Stroud is said to be naturally strong and offers the potential to get bigger. He is thought to have awesome upside and has been compared to Miami's Daryl Gardener.

Rogers, 6-4, 320, needs to control his weight. When he does, he is explosive; when he doesn't, he tires and is inconsistent. He would certainly benefit from Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin's stern regimen.

Carter, 6-4, 250, is a classic pass-rusher and may be a tough fit for the Jaguars, who already have pass-rusher Tony Brackens at the other end and may need a more conventional hold-the-point end on the left side.

Reynolds, 6-3, 267, is also a true pass-rusher with a sudden burst off the ball, but he is not as adept at stopping the run and is a true pass-rush specialist who doesn't figure to be an every-downs player.

Should the Jaguars decide to delay their choice of a defensive linemen until the second round, they may be looking at a cast of defensive tackles that would include Miami's Damione Lewis, Texas' Casey Hampton, Maryland's Kris Jenkins and Stanford's Willie Howard, and defensive ends Aaron Schobel of TCU, Kyle Vanden Bosch of Nebraska and Cedric Scott of Southern Mississippi.

Lewis lacks great size, but he's quick off the ball and into the gaps. He has the ability to hold the point and rush the passer, and could improve on both of those qualities by adding strength.

Hampton is short and massive; more of a nose tackle type. He's tough, plays hard and is a leader. He is a run-stuffer with very little pass-rush potential, but that may be perfect for the Jaguars' need to be stronger against the run.

Jenkins, 6-5, 318, is big and athletic, but needs technique work and greater motivation.

Howard, 6-3, 290, is smart, durable and can play tackle or end. He had a disappointing senior year, the result of being in less-than-ideal condition.

Schobel is small but fast; another defensive end who is a pass-rusher only.

Vanden Bosch has great intangibles. He's a coach's player, but may not have the physical tools to be better than what the Jaguars already have.

The defensive line crop is deep enough to offer some potential plums in the later rounds. Ohio State's Ryan Pickett, USC's Ennis Davis, Kansas State's Mario Fatafehi, Alabama's Kenny Smith and Mississippi State's Willie Blade are tackles with upside.

Florida State's David Warren, Iowa State's Reggie Hayward, Ole Miss' Derrick Burgess, Oregon State's DeLawrence Grant and Illinois' Fred Wakefield are ends of note.

The defensive line crop does not end there. This is a rare collection of "big guys," and it figures to produce the most selections of any position in the draft.

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