With two selections in the first round and 11 choices overall, the Jacksonville Jaguars head into their fourth college draft with plenty of options when the 63rd NFL draft takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19. The Jaguars have the ninth and 25th selections in the first round of the draft, the first time they have had two first-round picks since their inaugural draft in 1995.
The two-day selection process will begin at 12:00 noon on Saturday, April 18, with the first three rounds being completed that day. The remaining four rounds will begin at 11:00 a.m. Sunday, April 19.
"The basic thinking I have going into this draft is that with picks at No. 9, 25, 56 and 85, there are going to be four very solid football players for the Jaguars at the conclusion of the first day," said Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin. "We have some positions of need that we've identified, and we're very much aware of the fact there are some outstanding football players in the areas where we will be picking. There's a never-ending battle between the value of a player and need. The draft has been driven by need in the last few years, and I don't see that changing."
On talk that the Jaguars might trade up in the draft, Coughlin said, "It's always a possibility, but the price has been very high up to this point. You have to be absolutely sure what you want to accomplish because it's going to be very costly to go up. On the other hand, trading down to get additional picks might be the thing to do, too. It all depends on what the value is."
In addition to the two first-round picks, the Jaguars have nine other choices. They will alternate with the Pittsburgh Steelers - with whom they tied with 11-5 records in 1997 - in each round.
The NFL draft will be held at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The entire draft will be televised nationally on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN will carry the the proceedings from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, at which time ESPN2 will take over the broadcast until the end of the day's drafting. ESPN will resume broadcasting at 11:00 a.m. Sunday until 1:00 p.m. ESPN2 will then broadcast the rest of the draft until its conclusion.
Each of the NFL's 30 teams will have a 15-minute time limit to make its selections in the first round, 10 minutes in the second round and five minutes in Rounds 3-7. Last year, the first round took 5 hours and 13 minutes, the second round lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes and the third round took 1 hour and 55 minutes.
A total of 229 players will be selected by the 30 teams, including 210 regular selections and 19 compensatory picks. The compensatory selections were awarded to 14 teams which suffered a net loss of certain quality unrestricted free agents last year. All of the compensatory picks fall in Rounds 3-7.
In addition to the cable television broadcasts, WBWL (600 AM) will broadcast live from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday, featuring Jaguars radio broadcasters Brian Sexton and Matt Robinson, as well as Jaguars Inside Report senior editor Vic Ketchman and WOKV/WBWL sports director Bill Riley, WBWL's Cole Pepper and several draft analysts.
WTLV 12 will also televise a live draft special on Sunday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Jennifer Kumik and WTLV sports director Dan Hicken will host from inside the Jaguars' lockerroom, with Matt Robinson and Brian Sexton contributing and a live interview with head coach Tom Coughlin.
The draft will also be covered live through the Internet on the World Wide Web at http://nfl.com. and at http://ESPNET.Sportszone.com. The sites will be live on draft weekend with audio feeds from ESPN Radio and player press conferences, chats with top picks and analysis from former Dallas Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt.
In conjunction with the draft, the Jaguars are hosting the fourth annual Budweiser "Draft Day Fan Fest" at 12:00 noon Saturday at the south end of ALLTEL Stadium. Admission for an afternoon of food, fun and festivities is free.
Jaguars fans will be able to watch ESPN draft coverage on large screen TVs and listen to a live radio broadcast on WBWL, in addition to participating in games and entertainment that will be available. Fans will be able to meet and greet Jaguars players, be introduced to the 1998 Roar cheerleaders and Jaxson de Ville.
Additionally, the Jaguars Select-Your-Seat campaign is on for the 1998-2000 seasons. Fans can walk around the stadium, check out the views and make their selections. There are still great seats available and for one day only fans can buy game-day parking with their season seats.
The ninth player drafted each of the last 10 years was:
JAGUARS 1998 ROSTER SUMMARY
(as of April 13) * * *
CB Dave Thomas (Dallas '93)
Round 12 ( 1 ): WR Keenan McCardell (Washington '91)