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Jags will address DL need


The Jaguars head into this weekend's draft with what most consider a glaring need on their defensive line, and coach Jack Del Rio promised in a draft preview luncheon earlier this week to address that need.

When and how? Those are the big questions. Will the Jaguars address the need for a defensive lineman, specifically for a pass-rushing defensive end, in the first round of the draft or after? Will they trade up to do it or will they trade away a pick or picks to acquire a veteran? The Jaguars, of course, have long been rumored to be interested in trading for Miami defensive end Jason Taylor.

Taylor's is one of two hot-button names for Jaguars fans. The other one belongs to Clemson's Phillip Merling (pictured above right), an every-downs defensive end who is recuperating from sports-hernia surgery that could cause Merling to slide to the Jaguars, or at least close enough for the Jaguars to consider trading up to draft.

Merling worked out for scouts on Thursday and is said to have done well enough to secure a spot in the first round. Washington attended the workout and the Redskins have the 21st overall pick. The Jaguars are at 26.

The Jaguars have the ammunition to move up higher in the first round. The Jaguars have two third-round picks and three fifth-round selections.

So who are thought to be the Jaguars' other first-round candidates?

Let's stick with the need for a pass-rusher.

Auburn's Quentin Groves has top pass-rush talent but he's seen by most as a 3-4 rush-linebacker and may not be big enough to be anything more than a pass-rush specialist in the Jaguars' 4-3 scheme.

USC's Lawrence Jackson has every-downs ability and is considered to be a late-first round prospect. The Jaguars might be able to trade down and get Jackson.

Miami's Calais Campbell (pictured above left) went into last season with the potential to be the first pick of this draft, but Campbell had an off year and then bad combine and pro-day workouts and his stock has dropped significantly. Will the Jaguars go for the potential?

An offensive tackle would interest coach Jack Del Rio and personnel directors Shack Harris and Gene Smith. Vanderbilt left tackle Chris Williams fits at or a little earlier than where the Jaguars draft. Kansas' Anthony Collins is a tackle who might make the move to guard.

Drafting a cornerback isn't out of the question, even though the Jaguars spent big money in free agency to sign Drayton Florence. This year's cornerback crop is very strong and should a premier defender such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State be available, he would likely be too good to pass up.

How about a safety in the first round for the second consecutive year? The Jaguars have need at safety and Miami's Kenny Phillips is thought to fit just about where the Jaguars are scheduled to pick.

Linebacker? The Jags are set at linebacker this season, but a young "lion" such as Tennessee's Jerod Mayo or Oklahoma's Curtis Lofton shouldn't be dismissed.

Wide receiver? There are a couple, Devin Thomas of Michigan State and DeSean Jackson of California, who fit where the Jaguars are slotted, but Del Rio all but scolded a writer on Tuesday for asking if the Jaguars would draft a wide receiver in the first round.

Running back is a position at which the Jaguars have quality and depth, but Fred Taylor also has some age on him and the Jaguars are thought to "love" Arkansas running back Felix Jones. He might be available and shouldn't be dismissed.

The quarterback crop is said to lack a franchise prospect, but the class does have depth and the Jaguars could have interest. They're not expected to have first-round interest but what if one of the top prospects went on a Brady Quinn-like slide?

The draft begins at three p.m. and will include only two rounds on the first day. Rounds 3-7 will be conducted on Sunday. will offer complete coverage, beginning with Senior Editor Vic Ketchman's draft-day blog.

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