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Harris personnel boss


Ozzie Newsome applauded the Jaguars' decision.

"It's well-deserved for him to be getting this opportunity," Newsome told this morning of the Jaguars' decision to make James Harris the team's new vice president of player personnel.

Harris leaves Baltimore, where he was the Ravens' director of pro personnel since 1997. Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of football operations, says Harris' departure is "going to present some problems for us because we're going to have to fill the void. Some people here are going to have to fill some big shoes."

In Jacksonville, Harris re-joins head coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The three had worked together in Baltimore.

"He was very thorough about the job. He went down there thinking he could be a good fit, because of Jack and Mike," Newsome said. "He's had to study Jacksonville for the last six years. He knows that football team," Newsome added of Harris.

The former Rams starting quarterback becomes the final piece in owner Wayne Weaver's new three-pronged operating structure: salary cap, personnel and coaching. As the Jaguars' top personnel man, Harris will be the team's lead figure in draft-day decisions.

"He's a great personnel man. He's well-versed in every aspect of personnel. He's been involved in everything. He would look at the top (college) players and he would have to give them an evaluation and a grade. He was involved with us on the (day-before-the-draft) strategy session about who we would take and why," Newsome said of Harris.

As the Ravens' pro personnel director, Harris rose to prominence on the strength of acquisitions such as Michael McCrary, Shannon Sharpe, Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Trent Dilfer and Rod Woodson. Newsome said Harris also excelled in the second tier of free agency, signing quality role-players and special-teamers.

"He has a good understanding of what the team needs and how to bring it all together," Newsome said.

Newsome has final-say power on all personnel matters in Baltimore, but "there are always enough players we all agree on and those are the ones we take," Newsome said.

Harris will probably use that same approach in Jacksonville, where Weaver is withholding final-say power and promoting the concept of decision-by-committee.

The Jaguars have taken on a decided Ravens flavor with their personnel decisions of the last week. And Harris is the choice because Ravens Director of College Scouting Phil Savage was unable to reach a contractual agreement with Weaver last Saturday.

"Jack has great presence. He's always demonstrated great leadership abilities. He knows what makes the players tick. He can be a general and a soldier," Newsome said of Del Rio, who coached Ravens linebackers from 1999-2001.

"What Mike is going to be able to do is allow Jack to interact with (offense and special teams), because Mike knows Jack very well and what he wants to do (on defense)," Newsome added of Smith.

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