(April 20)—Some believe the Jaguars may only be a wide receiver away from becoming a playoff contender, but coach Jack Del Rio and personnel director James "Shack" Harris said they will resist that train of thought and the temptation that accompanies it.
"When you're sitting at a high number," Del Rio said, referring to the Jaguars' spot at the ninth pick of this Saturday's NFL draft, "we will stick to (our board). At number nine, we're going to select on best available player."
Del Rio, Harris and Jaguars Director of College Scouting Gene Smith met with reporters at noon today, in a draft preview that, per tradition, offered little in the way of specific information. Harris did confirm, however, that Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald "is one of the guys we're considering."
That brought a chuckle because Fitzgerald has long been identified as that one player who could put the Jaguars over the top. Of course, getting high enough to select Fitzgerald would probably carry with it a price the Jaguars don't want to pay.
"Our approach is to continue to build the team and make it as strong as we can, and not look at it as though in this draft we can add this guy," Del Rio said, dismissing the "one player" philosophy. Del Rio's remarks would indicate the Jaguars believe they have multiple needs.
At this time last year, Harris told reporters the Jaguars would draft according to the "best available player" philosophy, then maintained that's what the Jaguars did in selecting Byron Leftwich, Rashean Mathis and Vince Manuwai on the first day of the draft. Today, Harris said the team remains firmly committed to BAP.
"Once you line your board up, it doesn't matter what happens," Harris said, referring to the player rankings the Jaguars will finalize by the end of this week. "If one player leaves, we go to the next guy."
Del Rio said he doesn't expect his team to be drafting in the top 10 next year, which makes it imperative to select the best available player at least one more time. There should be at least nine quality players in this draft.
"We don't plan on being in the top 10, hopefully, for a while. But we are there now and whatever we do it's going to be with the intent to build this football team," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars' choice may have been clouded today by rumors USC's Kenechi Udeze has a shoulder injury that will require surgery. Udeze was viewed as a player who would've addressed a desperate need at defensive end, while satisfying the BAP philosophy of drafting.
"We'll look into any and all rumors leading up to our selection on Saturday. We have people working around the clock accumulating any and all information we can," Del Rio said of the Udeze rumors.
Harris said he would not reveal the Jaguars' medical report on Udeze, then added: "We have not made our final decision medically."
Rumors continue to swirl about the possibility of the Jaguars trading safety Donovin Darius. One such rumor has the Jaguars getting two fourth-round picks from the Lions for Darius. "Not to my knowledge," Harris said when asked if the Jaguars had discussed that trade with the Lions.
But neither Harris nor Del Rio denied the possibility Darius will be dealt. In fact, comments made today seemed to suggest a trade is likely.
"We've had talks with teams about Donovin," Harris said.
"I think it's in our best interests to look out for the good of the organization. We will continue to make decisions based on our opportunity to strengthen the team. We're open to talking and listening," Del Rio said.
Harris said the Jaguars will "consider a kicker, probably in the sixth round," which would seem to eliminate Iowa's Nate Kaeding from contention. It's thought Kaeding could be selected as early as the third round. Sixth-round kicking prospects include Penn State kickoff specialist David Kimball and Louisiana Tech field-goal and kickoff man Josh Scobee.
The Jaguars will conduct their mock draft tomorrow.