The big winner this weekend is Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich who, with the addition of first-round pick Marcedes Lewis to the Jaguars lineup, now has a full complement of young weapons in the Jaguars passing attack.
"I think we'll be together for a long time. We're headed in the right direction. We all want to be great. Hopefully, this year we'll be great," Leftwich said of himself and the other three first-round picks of the Jack Del Rio/James Harris era of Jaguars football.
Leftwich was the era's first draft choice; the seventh player selected in the 2003 NFL draft. A year later, wide receiver Reggie Williams was the Jaguars' first-round pick. Last year, wide receiver Matt Jones was added. Saturday, the Jags picked Lewis, considered to be the second-best tight end in the draft.
No aspect of this team has gotten more attention than its passing game has. It is littered with first-round picks and expectations are understandably high. Leftwich has his own high expectations.
"We have playmakers and I think it's going to begin to show this year," Leftwich said. "My vision is to be one of the top five offenses in this league. I believe we have the players to do that. To have that extra year under this system, that, in itself, is going to make us a whole lot better football team."
Lewis, as expected of any team's first-round pick, is the key player in this draft class. At 6-6, he has the ability to become a tall threat over the middle and down the seam. He's a touchdown-maker, having caught 10 touchdown passes at UCLA last season. Coach Jack Del Rio expects Lewis' presence in the middle of the field to open up the field for his wide receivers on the outside.
"I think what we have is a guy who, as long as he was at UCLA, you heard about him making plays. For me, I'm just happy to have a guy that big who can move and catch every pass you throw to him. Any time you look at the great offenses in the NFL, they have some guy like that. Now we have a guy like that to help us win football games," Leftwich said. "I was real happy about the pick. Any time you add a guy like that, as a quarterback, you're happy."
Second-round pick Maurice Drew, a running back of smallish stature but tall production, is expected to give the Jaguars offense an element of explosiveness. Drew scored a touchdown every 11 ½ times he touched the football last season at UCLA.
"He's been compared to Reggie Bush a lot. Every time you see him play you see him do great things on the football field," Leftwich said.
"They've been doing what it takes to get players for us in here. Now it's up to us to step up," the Jaguars quarterback added.
Beginning in round three, the Jaguars clearly shifted gears from offense to defense. The selection of linebacker Clint Ingram in round three was the first of four consecutive selections on the defensive side of the ball. The emphasis was clearly on speed. Fifth-round pick Brent Hawkins is considered to be the Jaguars' most intriguing pick. Hawkins is a pass-rush specialist who will be groomed to play linebacker.
"As he is learning linebacker, we think he'll be able to contribute on special teams right away," coach Jack Del Rio said of Hawkins.
"We feel very solid about the weekend we had," Del Rio added of the Jaguars' draft class.