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Jaguars stayed with their board

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The formula is simple and time-honored: Get the big guys early and get the little guys late.

"That's kind of the way it worked out," Gene Smith said of his first draft as general manager of the Jaguars. "Staying with the board, we ended up getting value. We feel good about the receivers we got."

It's a draft that saw the Jaguars select hulking offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton with the team's first two picks, then select defensive tackle Terrance Knighton with the Jaguars' first pick of the second day. Three picks produced nearly 950 pounds of football beef.

Then Smith shifted gears, selecting a cornerback, three wide receivers, a tight end and a running back with the Jaguars' final six picks. The first of those final six picks caused a flurry of questions from the media.

Between the end of day one and the start of day two, Smith led a decision to make an aggressive trade. The Jaguars had targeted a player and drafting him required making a move that would cost them their second-round pick in 2010.

A bold move? What else would you call trading your seventh-round pick this year and your second-rounder next year to acquire a third-round pick to use on a cornerback from William and Mary?

His name is Derek Cox and the Jaguars are clearly in "love" with him. He's everything they want in a football player: tough, instinctive, fast, athletic, big, strong and smart. He's a player of undeniable character. He plays a premium position. He could put this draft class over the top.

"I watched every game tape in which he played and I think he is really, really good," Terry McDonough, the Jaguars' director of player personnel, said of Cox. "When you put Derek Cox's tape on, you go whoa!"

Your obvious question is why hadn't you heard of him? The obvious reason is because he played at William and Mary. After all, how many of their games did you see last fall? Have you ever seen one of their games?

Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the current Super Bowl champions, played at William and Mary. So why weren't Tomlin's Steelers interested in drafting Cox?

"I think they were," McDonough said.

Lest you think Cox was an unknown, be advised that the Redskins, Bengals, Falcons, Rams, Steelers, Patriots and Colts all expressed interest in Cox. The Jaguars brought Cox to Jacksonville for a pre-draft visit.

The Jaguars' expectations for Cox are as they should be for a player in whom the team invested a second-round, which is what the Jaguars did.

"You do not give next year's two if you don't think that guy will be a starter. We said we believe our eyes. If he's not a starter at some time over the next two years, we made a mistake," McDonough said.

It is with that boldness that Smith put his stamp on this draft class. He did more than sit and pick what fell to him. At one point, he stood up and got what he wanted.

"We got the pick a year early," he said, referring to the second-rounder he used on Cox. "I'm very happy. I keep getting questions on Cox and Knighton. I would just let them come in and compete. Usually corners of this size go in the first two rounds. I feel good about that one."

At draft's end, the Jaguars were all smiles. They knew they had done their homework. They knew they got value.

"Gene Smith stayed true to his commitment to bringing the right kind of guys into Jacksonville, and we have a fine draft class to show for it. I'm very pleased with the way the weekend went," Del Rio said.

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