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Jags roster just got stronger


Minutes after he had made his final pick of the 2007 draft, James Harris stood back and surveyed his work.

"We think we addressed several needs. We feel we added depth and competition. We added some speed at wide receiver and we got a play-making safety," Harris told reporters.

It is, to say the least, a most interesting collection of football talent that Harris, coach Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars personnel department assembled. What's so interesting about it? Here's what.

  • In third-round pick Mike Walker and seventh-rounder John Broussard, the Jaguars drafted two players who immediately become the fastest wide receivers on the team. Walker ran a 4.35 at the scouting combine and Harris said Broussard had run a 4.34 for the Jaguars.
  • If speed was the theme – when isn't it the theme? – the Jaguars also added a couple of linebackers who can run. Seventh-rounder Chad Nkang offers the potential to be a special teams demon, while second-rounder Justin Durant is right in the Jaguars' mold of small, speedy, versatile linebackers.
  • Fourth-round defensive end/linebacker Brian Smith is a risk/reward pick that offers a lot more reward than risk. Smith was on his way to the Big 12 all-time sacks record last season when he broke his hip. He actually played on it for three games until it was diagnosed. The Jaguars expect him to make a full recovery by training camp. They thought he might've been the best pure pass-rusher in the draft.
  • First-round draft choice Reggie Nelson addresses an immediate need at safety and fifth-rounder Josh Gattis offers long-term depth and competition at the position. Can you say set for a long time at safety?
  • Fourth-rounder Adam Podlesh should erase the punting problem.
  • Fifth-rounder Uche Nwaneri and seventh-rounder Andrew Carnahan are offensive linemen for the future.
  • Fifth-round defensive tackle Derek Landri has a motor that just won't quit

Everything about this draft has a good taste to it. So why did Harris leave his post-draft press conference with a bad taste in his mouth?

The answer to that question is easy: For the second consecutive day, the media badgered Harris about having passed on quarterback Brady Quinn.

"He was bypassed because we felt Reggie (Nelson) was the best choice for us at that time," Harris said.

"We like the three quarterbacks we have. We have a new coaching staff (passing game). We're looking forward to seeing how that goes," Harris added.

Harris wouldn't have endured any such media badgering this weekend had Quinn simply been drafted as high as expected. If only Miami had taken Quinn at number nine.

"We were surprised to see him fall that far," Harris said, referring to the fact Quinn wasn't selected until Cleveland traded into the 22nd spot, after the Jaguars had passed on Quinn twice, at 17 and 21.

The Quinn thing is high-profile; everybody wants to talk about it. He is, after all, a quarterback.

What shouldn't go unnoticed, however, is that the Jaguars further strengthened an already strong roster. Del Rio agrees.

"We definitely made our roster stronger, faster. The one area we absolutely had to address was safety," he said.

What about wide receiver, where the Jaguars have now selected six players in the last four drafts?

"I like our guys," Del Rio said of his veteran wide receivers, which includes Dennis Northcutt, who was added in free agency this year. "We just added to our guys. We'll give them a chance to see where they fit."

Watching how all of this fits is going to be, well, very interesting.

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