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Jack Del Rio on Byron Leftwich


"As you saw, we acquired a very talented player today with the first pick, a player who was extremely productive in his college career. He's been about 65% completion percentage. He's just been a tremendous player. He threw for almost 12,000 yards and about 85 touchdowns to about 28 interceptions, and that percentage is off the charts. We like his leadership skills. The things that really stand out about this player for us is that he's tough. He's an accurate thrower. He has great leadership and he's a real competitor. We're excited to have added him to our team today. We're one pick into a seven-round draft and we have a lot of work to do ahead of us."

(what does this pick mean for the future of Mark Brunell?) "Mark Brunell is under contract. We like Mark and we like David Garrard. We like our quarterbacks. We feel like we have there good quarterbacks and obviously we're in an envious situation. Most teams are lucky to have one or two (good quarterbacks). We have three guys that can really play and we're excited to have them all."

(did you think about moving up or back?) "We talked about going up. We talked about going back. The bottom line is we talked all along about not being able to pass a player of great value that was left on that board. When the time ran out on the Vikings, he was standing out and we put his name in right away and got him up there."

(did you have Leftwich rated higher than other players?) "He was the last guy of the elite players on our board and we were happy to go and get him."

(did you feel a sense of urgency towards the end of the Vikings' time on the clock?) "We were excited. We knew when the opportunity came up that we'd be ready to jump on the guy. There was no question in our mind who our guy was. It wasn't going to be 'Oh, we're on the clock; let's start talking about it.' We spent a lot of time leading up to the draft and had a good idea of where we'd like to get certain guys and what value we placed on them. We were very fortunate to have it go our way today."

(on the trade with Minnesota and Baltimore, but Baltimore not turning their card in on time) "I'm not sure about all those kinds of details. I just know that we had an opportunity to get our card in and got it in."

(were you concerned that Baltimore was going to jump ahead of you?) "That was a discussion. Obviously, we're friendly with people in Baltimore and there was a discussion that they could be trying to jump us at some point. In the end, we were able to get the guy we wanted and they weren't able to complete it."

(on two general managers saying that Leftwich is a better quarterback than Carson Palmer) "There are a lot of people that feel that way. I know Cincinnati didn't feel that way or they would have signed him. People are ranked all over the board. We got a guy that we like. The whole idea is to collect players and add players to your roster that you think can be a better football team."

(was Leftwich the highest-rated quarterback on your board?) "Yes, he was."

(on Terrell Suggs still being on the board) "We had that discussion prior to today. So we knew what order we wanted guys to come off."

(what's your plan for Leftwich? Are you going to groom him like Steve McNair?) "Right now our plan is to bring him to town and welcome him to Jacksonville, let him meet some of these good people and begin the process of grooming a winner."

(will you groom him like Steve McNair was or will he compete for the starting job right away?) "I think right now to sit here today and give you a timetable would be irresponsible on my part. We're going to evaluate the player. Bring him in, let him compete with guys, see where things fall. The best players are going to play. The best backups are going to back up, and so on. That'll all work itself out."

(with a need on the defensive side, are you content to stay where you are with your next pick or do you want to move up?) "I can tell you we are exploring all options. We're not afraid to go up. We're not afraid to go back. We know where we have certain players slotted and we're going to work it accordingly. It could go either way or we could stay right where we are. But we have a plan and we're going to stick to it. We have a lot of needs and we have a lot of people left on the board to go look at. We'll continue working through that the next two days."

(how exciting was this first draft pick as head coach of the Jaguars and with James Harris? Was it what you thought it would be?) "We're just getting started. We have a lot of work to do. That was probably as quick first 10-12 picks we've been through the first hour and 20 minutes that I've ever seen. It was a pretty exciting time there. We have to settle in. We have two full days of work ahead of us to try to build this roster."

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