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Jags beginning to target prospects


The hard work is done. The long board-room meetings are complete. The value board is all but set in stone. With 16 days remaining until draft day, the Jaguars' evaluation process is beginning to target prospects for the team to select.

"The value line for me, I'm looking at it all year. The intensity of our work last week was on the value line. Targeted isn't a bad word. Yeah, we're starting to target who we like," Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said.

This will be Smith's first draft as the final voice in who the Jaguars select. In the final days leading up to the draft, Smith will begin spending more time alone with his thoughts than he will with other men and their thoughts. After all, it's Smith's call. As coach Jack Del Rio said, "Gene has the conn."

"You try to find the areas within the rounds where the strength areas area, so if you can move in the draft and gain strength, that's the objective. You want to feel you're getting value. Sometimes it matches up to need and sometimes it doesn't but the college draft is all about value," Smith said of what's happening inside the Jaguars' draft room in these final days leading up to April 25.

"It's a narrowing-down process. We're continuing to gather medical information, character information, and as we build our value line you get into areas in individual rounds that you want to make sure you have the proper rank regardless of position. Your value line is regardless of position," he added.

They are two words with which Smith seems to have an obsession: "value line." He is adamant about acquiring value. Smith has made one trade to acquire an extra pick, acquired two more picks in compensatory awards, and admits to wanting to add even more selections.

"We'd like to acquire more. I think it's good on the back end. That's where scouts earn their value," Smith said of the late-round talent in this draft.

All of the hype heading into the draft, however, is for the top 10 pick the Jaguars have for the second consecutive year. With the eighth pick of the draft, the Jaguars would like to do something dramatic that would kick-start the team's rebuilding process.

"We feel good to be in the eighth spot in the draft. There are a number of players we have affection for," Smith said.

Some of those players, however, would fit better with a pick later in the first round, which most draftniks believe is what Smith covets most. In a perfect world, one of the top two quarterbacks, Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez, would be available when the Jaguars go on the clock and that would cause the phone to ring with a trade offer.

Denver calling? Hey, they would seem to need a quarterback after trading Jay Cutler to Chicago.

"It potentially puts another team in play for a quarterback," Smith said when asked what the Cutler trade means to this year's draft.

Might one of those quarterbacks make it down to pick eight?

"There's a possibility. There's always a level of unknown because you have humans involved in the draft process," Smith said.

The draftniks have a difference of opinions. Some have Stafford and Sanchez both gone in top four picks, some have Sanchez lasting until pick 12 and others have the Jaguars picking Sanchez at eight. Who knows?

"After we get the guy ranked based on his ability and he's medically takeable and character-wise he's takeable, yeah, we're targeting. As I said, we're narrowing down. We had the coaches and scouts meeting last week. In the end, I'm gonna make a decision," Smith said.

"We're not cramming for a final. We work through the year chapter by chapter. Pressure is being unprepared. I have a strong staff. The objective is to thrive, not survive, by making rational decisions before draft day instead of making irrational ones when you are on the clock," he added.

What will that decision be? It's a question that Smith couldn't entirely answer at this time, but he's getting down to a few names. The narrowing-down process is in its final days. The rookie GM is beginning to target his first pick.

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