INDIANAPOLIS – The Jaguars will have numbers in early May. That much is certain.
David Caldwell wouldn't mind a few more.
Caldwell, the Jaguars' General Manager, on Thursday said while the team has 10 selections in the 2014 NFL Draft, he would be open to trading from the No. 3 overall position to garner more selections in what many consider one of the most-talented, deepest drafts in recent memory.
The Jaguars have their allotted selections in Rounds 1-7, with an extra fifth-round selection from trading wide receiver Mike Thomas to the Detroit Lions in 2012 and an extra fourth- and fifth-round selection from trading left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens this past October.
"We have 10 picks already and when we did the Eugene Monroe trade, we felt it would be a deep draft," Caldwell said Thursday while speaking to the media at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. "We feel really good about having an extra four and an extra five."
"It would be beneficial to us if we trade down."
Caldwell, in his second Combine as the Jaguars' General Manager, spoke from a podium for a little more than 10 minutes Thursday, then spoke to a small crowd of reporters for 10 minutes more before doing one-on-one interviews with Sirius/XM Radio, Fox Sports 1 and CBS Sports, among other outlets.
While speaking, he said the team's thoughts about the draft absolutely have been confirmed – and that not only is the '14 draft class deep, but very talented.
"It is good," Caldwell said. "The whole first round is a really good first-round this year, and really, the draft throughout is one of the better ones I've had."
The draft's talent level is a major theme this week, with NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock saying, "From my perspective, this is the deepest and best draft class I've seen in probably ten years."
"That's been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts I've talked to throughout the league," Mayock said. "I had one GM (general manager) tell me the other day that having a Top 20 pick this year is very similar to having a Top 10 pick last year.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert called the class the "deepest draft I've ever seen," saying that the addition of a record 98 underclassmen deepened an already talented class.
"Even during the fall our scouts were talking that the senior class was a pretty good class," Colbert said. "You don't know what the junior class will be, so you anticipate and try to predict what that will be until you know for sure. The juniors added into it make it a very talented group."
Caldwell, while emphasizing that the team has not decided what direction it will go if it remains at No. 3, said the Jaguars will meet this week with the players generally projected to be the draft's top three quarterbacks – Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Blake Bortles of Central Florida.
The team met with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr at the Senior Bowl in January when the Jaguars' coaching staff coached the South team. Caldwell said previously that the team will use its allotted 60 combine interviews on players who did not participate in the Senior Bowl.
Caldwell said what he looks for in a discussion with a rookie quarterback is the same he looks for from a conversation with any rookie.
"For us, a true sign of somebody who is a real competitor is somebody who can identify his weaknesses and talk openly about them," Caldwell said. "That says a lot because that means they're willing to work on those weaknesses."
Caldwell on Thursday also:
*Addressed the status of wide receiver Justin Blackmon, reiterating that the team would like Blackmon to return if and when he is reinstated by the NFL. He has been suspended indefinitely since Week 9 of the 2013 season. "If he can get things right and he's right, we'd welcome him back," Caldwell said. There is no timetable on Blackmon's return, and Caldwell said the team's contact with Blackmon is limited. "That's really up to the NFLPA and the league office," he said. "There are certain rules we have to abide by in terms of our contact with him." Caldwell added, "If he comes back it's a luxury for us and we have to have a contingency plan. We're going to go business as usual and if he comes back, that's a bonus. If not, we'll be all right."…
*Said the Jaguars will treat quarterback Blaine Gabbert this offseason like any other player, saying, "We're going to bring him in and have him compete and develop until we think it's not in his best interests or until he gets beat out." Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, did not play in the second half of the 2013 season despite being healthy. Gabbert, who has a year remaining on his rookie contract, said after the season he wants to return to the Jaguars and Caldwell has said repeatedly since the end of the season the team would like Gabbert to compete for a position….
*Praised wide receiver Ace Sanders, who caught 61 passes for 484 yards as a rookie. "We feel like he can take a step up and be our answer as a slot receiver and a punt returner," he said.
*Also lauded safety Johnathan Cyprien, the team's second-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. Caldwell said Cyprien played well as a rookie, and was better in pass defense than anticipated.
*Discussed Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who is expected to be the first openly homosexual player drafted into the NFL. "He's highly competitive," Caldwell said of Sam's performance at the Senior Bowl, adding, "As far as the later announcement, that's not really an issue for us. We're not worried about that at all. We're very protective of our culture and there's no reason he wouldn't fit into our culture and what we're building there."