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Hutchinson makes perfect sense


Listening to coaches, scouts and draftniks, Miami linebacker Dan Morgan would seem to be the hottest player on the board. Beginning with Cleveland in the third slot of the draft, every team seems to be professing a desire to draft Morgan, a guy the draftnik publications claim to be more warrior than athlete.

"Excellent but not great prospect," Joel Buchsbaum writes of Morgan. "May not have a lot of room to improve because he has done so much to maximize his ability already."

So what gives? Is Morgan really worthy of a top-five selection? Or is all of this just smokescreen stuff coaches use to draw another team into trading up?

Listening to Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, you would think he might be one of those who would be willing to trade up for Morgan. Coughlin gushes at the mere mention of Morgan's name.

However, the Jaguars are in no position to trade away a pick to move up for one player. This team needs players, not just one player. Yes, Morgan would solve a need, but the Jaguars have several needs. If drafting Morgan means trading up, then the Jaguars would do well to put that thought out of their mind.

The Jaguars figure to be presented with the safest of options, when they take their turn with the 13th pick of the draft. Michigan guard Steve Hutchinson may be the safest pick on the board.

That doesn't excite you? You don't like making a safe pick? How about Tony Boselli? He was a safe pick. Did that work out?

If there is anything this team needs right now, it is sure-bet draft choices. Hutchinson is as close as you can get to "guaranteed."

Some would say the 13th pick is too high for a guard. They may be right, but if Hutchinson becomes a long-term fixture at the position, the Jaguars will never regret the selection.

"I like everything about him; toughness, athletic ability," Coughlin said of Hutchinson.

Almost no one can find anything bad to say about Hutchinson, except that he's a guard. The worst thing Buchsbaum can offer about Hutchinson is that "he lacks the feet to be a left tackle on the next level." That's good, because the Jaguars already have a left tackle.

Buchsbaum even says he believes Hutchinson could play center or right tackle. How's that for versatility? A safe pick? What's wrong with safe?

As "hot" a prospect as Morgan is, he wouldn't seem to be as "safe" a pick as Hutchinson, a massive man with the disposition of a defensive lineman. Plug him in at right guard and call the position "fixed."

"We're probably a couple of lineman away from where we want to be," Jaguars Director of Player Personnel Rick Reiprish said.

Applying that comment to logical deduction, it would follow that if the Jaguars don't draft a lineman in the first round, they will still be two linemen away from where they want to be. Why not fix half of the problem immediately, especially when the player available would seem to carry a draft grade worthy of the 13th selection? Yes, Hutchinson is expected to be available when the Jaguars make their pick.

"If they're that good, I don't think there's anything wrong with taking (guards) that early," Reiprish said.

The Saints selected Chris Naeole with the 10th pick of the 1997 draft, marking the first time since 1983 that a guard had been drafted in the top 10. In '83, Chris Hinton was the fourth pick of the draft and Bruce Matthews was the ninth. Any regret there?

In 1973, the Patriots made John Hannah the fourth pick of that draft. Any regret there?

Coughlin is the all-time "draft for need" guy. Where is the Jaguars' need any stronger than it is on their offensive line?

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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