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Nelson was the best fit


The Jaguars passed twice on Brady Quinn, reeled in a couple of extra picks from the Denver Broncos to move back four spots, and still came away with the player most draftniks had predicted the Jaguars would pick.

Sounds great, huh? Yeah, except coach Jack Del Rio and personnel boss James Harris found themselves fielding questions they never thought they'd have to face.

Why didn't you draft Quinn, they were asked?

"In the end, we thought it was better for us to take the deal we did … to get another first-day player to help us," Harris said of a trade with the Broncos that sent the Jaguars' third and sixth-round picks and moved the Jaguars down four spots from 17 to 21.

So why didn't you draft Quinn at 21, they were asked?

"We just took the best player per our discussions. We felt that player was Reggie Nelson," Harris added.

The Jaguars selected Nelson to bolster a secondary that lost starting free safety Deon Grant in free agency this past winter. Nelson is a player the Jaguars had targeted from the start of the evaluation process and consensus of opinion was that the Jaguars' first-round pick would come down to Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis or Nelson, the Florida Gator.

Revis, however, was selected at pick 14, after the Jets traded up just ahead of the Steelers for the purpose of picking Revis.

"He was obviously a player we had a lot of affection for," Del Rio said of Revis.

With Revis gone, Nelson was the easy pick, right? No way. Quinn, who was expected to be a top-five pick, was in free-fall and all of a sudden the Jaguars were in a quarterback controversy they never expected.

"We always consider everybody. He was there and staring us in the face," Del Rio said of Quinn, the Notre Dame quarterback. "We didn't feel it was a fit for us and we didn't do it, so here we are."

Nelson, of course, is a perfect fit for the Jaguars, who have need at free safety. Del Rio referred to Nelson as a "free safety in the mold of Rashean Mathis and Ed Reed. He's got speed to close and make plays.

"We had good grades on Brady. We think he's a good football player. We thought it was a much better fit with Reggie," Del Rio added.

Byron Leftwich was reinstated as the Jaguars' starting quarterback on Feb. 22 and Harris was asked if passing on Quinn sends a message that Leftwich is "The Man" and if that might help persuade Leftwich to do a long-term deal.

"We didn't go into it trying to sell ourselves to Byron Leftwich," Harris said. "We like our quarterbacks. We evaluate the league, we evaluate our quarterbacks and that's the option we choose. That's the best option for us. We're making the best decision we can make … for the roster."

Cleveland traded with Dallas right after the Jaguars picked Nelson. The Browns gave the Cowboys this year's second-round pick and next year's first-round pick and then selected Quinn, who's from Ohio.

Del Rio said Cleveland had called the Jaguars twice to attempt to make a trade. Harris declined to make the deal because it would've moved the Jaguars' first selection in the draft into the second round.

"We're excited about a play-making free safety from right down the road. We feel like he's a guy with special range; speed, athleticism and sideline-to-sideline range," Del Rio said of Nelson.

"My emotions are going crazy right now. Add another Gator to the list," Nelson told reporters.

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