James Harris remains committed to drafting the best available player; even if he's a wide receiver.
"We feel our roster is at a point that we can take the best available player. That's what we're going to do. We're going to take the best available player. If a wide receiver is so much better than the next guy, we'll take a wide receiver," Harris told reporters at a Tuesday media luncheon to preview this weekend's draft.
The Jaguars have selected receivers in the first round of each of the last three drafts. In 2004, they made wide receiver Reggie Williams the ninth pick of the draft. In '05, the Jags picked wide receiver Matt Jones with the 21st overall selection. Last year, tight end Marcedes Lewis was picked at number 28.
Safety and defensive end are widely considered to be the Jaguars' positions of greatest need heading into this weekend's draft, and Florida safety Reggie Nelson is the player most linked to the Jaguars' first-round pick.
"We like him as a player," said Gene Smith, the Jaguars' director of college scouting. "Playing on a national championship team and being a guy who finds the football; we like the players here and he's one of them."
Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson would also be a good fit for the Jaguars, who are nursing an injury and a contract dispute at defensive end. Anderson, however, is expected to be off the board by the time the Jaguars pick.
Veteran defensive end Reggie Hayward will be making a comeback from a torn Achilles and restricted free agent defensive end Bobby McCray has yet to sign the Jaguars' tender offer.
"Reggie is rehabbing and doing well. We expect to hold him out of mini-camp and early OTA's. We're targeting training camp," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "Bobby is a player we put a first-round tender on. He'd like to get to the market but he's restricted. We've protected our interests. He's not inclined to sign and that's his choice."
Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis would be attractive to the Jaguars if he were available. He could effect the move of Brian Williams from cornerback to safety. Revis, however, is also expected not to be available.
Neither Harris nor Smith nor Del Rio was willing to provide much insight into which players the Jaguars might be favoring. Chicken was an appropriate entrée at Tuesday's luncheon.
"In each of the last four years, we've strengthened our roster. Our approach this year is very similar. We feel like the football team is built on very strong ground," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars are considered to be a team with a strong roster but a somewhat unsettled situation at quarterback. Del Rio has reinstated Byron Leftwich as the team's starting quarterback, but Leftwich is in the final year of his contract. He was the team's first-round pick in 2003. The Jaguars have not drafted a quarterback since then.
"We wouldn't rule out drafting a quarterback," Harris said. "We wouldn't rule out drafting any position."
Who are the quarterbacks that would be available to the Jaguars on the first day of the draft? Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn will likely be long gone when the Jags pick. The next tier of quarterback prospects is thought to be headed by Stanford's Trent Edwards, Houston's Kevin Kolb and Michigan State's Drew Stanton. It would not be unreasonable to expect the Jaguars to go for a quarterback on day one.
"We didn't go into the draft last year thinking we'd take a back in the second round. Maurice (Jones-Drew) was too good of a player to pass up," Del Rio said.
Harris told reporters the Jaguars' player evaluation process is: 1.) "How he plays on tape." 2.) "From there it's about the guy's makeup." 3.) Workouts.
The Jaguars signed right offensive tackle Tony Pashos in free agency, causing Harris to be asked if the Jaguars will attempt to trade six-year starting right tackle Mo Williams this weekend.
"We'll be on the phone listening to other teams. We're in the process of doing that right now. This is also when we find out what teams' needs are, so we know what teams to call," Harris said.
"When the draft starts, we have our decisions made on the value of the player," Del Rio said. "Early in our time here, we were able to take guys and know they would start right away. That number is going down."
Del Rio added that five players will be held out of mini-camp practices due to injuries: Hayward (Achilles), Marcus Stroud (ankle), Dee Webb (shoulder), George Wrighster (shoulder) and Donovin Darius (leg).