We're three days away from the Jaguars possibly making a third consecutive top 10 draft pick. Put yourself in General Manager Gene Smith's "shoes." What are you feeling as the hour approaches? What are your thoughts on the apparent candidates from which you will select? Let's take a look at them.
- Jason Pierre-Paul—The South Florida defensive end is the boom/bust, risk/reward prospect of this draft. Some say he has Lawrence Taylor-type talent. Others say the divide between his talent and his skill can't be bridged. We're talking about a big man that runs 4.6 and has the body control of a gymnast. If ever a guy looked the part of a pass-rusher, Pierre-Paul does. Now, here are the negatives. He's a one-year player who, frankly, wasn't all that productive last season. He lacks moves and technique. He knows how to beat his man but doesn't know how to finish on the quarterback. If you take him, you must accept the fact he's likely not to be the difference-making pass-rusher that is the Jaguars' greatest immediate need. If you pick him, you do so with 2012 in mind, because it'll probably take until then for Pierre-Paul to be the force his talent would demand.
- Brian Bulaga—Should he be available, he might be the top-rated player on the Jaguars' board. Bulaga is a player of distinct value. He can play inside or out, left or right. Your problem, of course, is that you drafted a left tackle with the eighth overall pick last season, and then followed that by drafting a right tackle in round two. Bulaga whipped Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan in the Orange Bowl, which provides a solid point of reference against quality competition. He's another hard-working grunt out of the Kirk Ferentz school of offensive line play, which means you get a player that's coachable on the field and trustworthy off it. He's not going to sell tickets, but he's a big-guy pick that represents little if no risk.
- C.J. Spiller—Some are comparing him to Chris Johnson. That might be a little over the top but Spiller would have major impact potential as a kick-returner and home run complement to Maurice Jones-Drew. He's instant offense and Jaguars fans love offense. The only negative is that it's not the Jaguars offense but the team's defense that needs addressing. If you're truly committed to drafting the best available player, this might be your guy.
- Derrick Morgan—Solid, accomplished, every-downs defensive end, but is he a premier pass-rusher or is he another Derrick Harvey? Getting Morgan onto the field might be a problem.
- Joe Haden—A blue-chip, can't-fail cornerback with ready-to-go coverage skills. Forget about that Jaguars-don't-need-another-cornerback stuff. Every team needs another cornerback. The only knock on Haden is that he doesn't have elite speed and might be more of a short-side corner than a Darrelle Revis cover-you-all-over-the-field guy. When the Jaguars go on the clock, Haden would figure to be one of the two or three most prominently-mentioned names in the Jaguars war room.
- Rolando McClain—The Alabama middle linebacker is big, physical, smart and everything you could want off the field. He loves contact and he's usually the one that initiates it. The Jaguars have need for him. He would allow Daryl Smith to move back to his natural strong side position. You could argue that McClain would make the Jaguars better at two positions. Some would argue that McClain is a straight-legged player that doesn't sink his hips and can't play outside the numbers. It's your call.
- Dan Williams—Did you like Terrance Knighton last season? Well, here's your chance to pick him again. Williams is the same squat, play-with-leverage defensive tackle Knighton was coming out of Temple. Some will say Williams wasn't much of a factor at Tennessee, but he sure was a force in the Senior Bowl. You have distinct need on your defensive line. Not too long ago, the Jaguars defense was built around two young defensive tackles. Here's a chance to do it again.
- Jimmy Clausen—You want him to be available when it's your turn to pick because he's your best shot at coaxing a trade and getting back a second-round pick, which you traded in the Derek Cox move last year. So what if he's available and nobody wants to trade with you? Do you pick Clausen? Or do you wait until next year, when the quarterback crop might be the deepest in draft history? Clausen is big, strong-armed, accurate, mobile and tough. So why didn't he win at Notre Dame? Those who watched Notre Dame the past few years will tell you it wasn't Clausen's fault, it was the defense's. He's tempting. If he's available, this will be your toughest decision.
So, who's your pick?