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Last chance at LT


(April 23)—At one point a few weeks ago, Khalif Barnes was considered the favorite to be selected by the Jaguars in the first round of the draft. Is it an omen that Barnes was available to the Jaguars in the second round?

Maybe the Jaguars are about to begin a run of good luck. They went into this draft with a distinct need for insurance at left tackle, and with the selection of Barnes with the 52nd overall pick of the draft, the Jaguars got what most would consider to have been the last left tackle remaining.

"In terms of what we're looking for and having confidence that he can come in and play, I think that's probably correct," Jaguars personnel director James Harris said.

This was considered to be a bad draft for tackles; a three-tackle draft, most draftniks said. Jammal Brown and Alex Barron went in the first round, while Barnes inexplicably slipped deep into the second.

At 6-5, 305, Barnes is a former defensive tackle whose move to left offensive tackle didn't blossom fully until last season. As a junior, Barnes got touched up by the Jaguars' Jorge Cordova in a five-sack effort by last year's third-round pick. As a senior, however, Barnes was the anchor on Washington's offensive line until a broken wrist caused him to miss the season's final six games.

Maybe the injury dropped Barnes' stock. Maybe teams needing a tackle didn't have enough information on Barnes to make him a first-round pick.

"We're not really worried about why, we're just glad he did (fall)," coach Jack Del Rio said. "Maybe we'll get a guy who comes in with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder."

Barnes was outstanding at the Senior Bowl, where he dominated blocking drills. He ran a 4.97 40 at the scouting combine, which, it was thought, would cause his stock to climb even more, but it didn't.

"Very aggressive, athletic left tackle; he's got some technical work to do, but that should come fast," Del Rio said.

The Jaguars believe Barnes is technically and athletically good enough to provide the insurance the team needs at left tackle, where incumbent Mike Pearson is recovering from knee reconstruction. We're talking about quarterback Byron Leftwich's blindside. This is not a minor detail.

"He is a top left tackle type guy. There are limited guys in the draft who can play left tackle. He was the highest-rated guy on our board. We had him graded considerably higher than where we picked him," Harris said.

The Jaguars had interest in linebacker Odell Thurman and offensive lineman Marcus Johnson, but they were both selected right before the Jaguars were to pick in the second round. Barnes became an easy choice.

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