Ten days out, Gene Smith still likes the idea.
Just how real the possibility is remains to be seen, but Smith – who is entering his fourth season as the Jaguars' general manager – said on Monday afternoon the Jaguars remain very open to the idea of trading the No. 7 overall selection in the April 26-28 NFL Draft.
"I think it's a good option," Smith said Monday during a luncheon at EverBank Field with Head Coach Mike Mularkey and Director of Player Personnel Terry McDonough to discuss the draft.
"As a scout, you're kind of selfish. You put all this work in. You'd like to have additional picks. Any time you could do that relative to a trade, I think that would be a good option."
Smith several weeks ago mentioned that the Jaguars would be open to the idea of a trade, and cited potential interest in Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill as a reason other teams could want to move up into the Top 10.
McDonough, who handles draft-day trades, said teams typically call around the league to gauge potential interest. He said he has received more inquiries about the seventh selection than usual.
"We've already received more phone calls this year than any other year," McDonough said. "There is some jockeying in and around our pick regarding what's going to happen. People never tell you who it is, but you get a feeling there's a certain player or two people are clamoring to get up to take."
Said Smith, "Normally, the quarterback position is one that people will trade up for. We did it a year ago (moving up to select Blaine Gabbert at No. 10 overall)."
Smith said this year's draft is a good one in which to trade back and add later-round selections because of the depth in the class, and that there are players in Rounds 2-5 who could help the team.
"I'm not going to move for the sake of moving," he said. "I'm not about being cute. I'm more about executing the plan going in."
It has been speculated that there are essentially six players superior to the rest of the first round: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Southern Cal offensive tackle Mat Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Because of that, some believe that the Jaguars holding the No. 7 selection could be forced to select a non-elite player.
Smith said that's not a belief he shares.
"We draft off our draft board and not the mock draft boards," he said. "With all the work we do, we don't know for certain what will happen in front of us. There is a level of unknown. Just when you think you do (know), you don't. There's a human element involved in the draft process."
Asked the Jaguars' greatest need, he said, "talent."
"It will always be talent," he said, adding of the No. 7 selection, "Typically, when you're picking where we're picking, you'd like to have a guy as a rookie who can come in here and start."
Smith said while trading down certainly is possible, he isn't worried about what will happen if that doesn't take place. He said whereas last season the Jaguars filled a need and got value by trading up for Gabbert that, he believes the Jaguars "are set at No. 7" if they can't trade.
"This year, going in, I'm saying a very consistent message that whoever the best player on our draft board is we're set at 7 – we have a player to pick," he said. "If we move, we stay with the draft board and select the best player."
The Jaguars historically under Smith have taken a best-available-player approach, meaning they draft for value and not for a specific need. He said once the draft begins there's not much debate, and that decisions don't get made when the team is on the clock – that at that point, the Jaguars' scouting and pre-draft preparation dictates the direction.
That's something Smith said Monday he doesn't plan to change.
"It's a very consistent approach and a very stable approach," he said. "It's a comfort knowing going in that you have a rational order in place to select from."
Also around the Jaguars:
*Mularkey said the following players will not participate in the on-field portion of the team's off-season program: defensive end John Chick, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, defensive end Aaron Kampman, cornerback Rashean Mathis, cornerback Ashton Youboty, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, cornerback T.J. Heath and safety Darcel McBath. Right tackle Eben Britton, tight end Zach Miller and tight end Colin Cloherty will be limited. The Jaguars begin on-field work Tuesday at EverBank field with a three-day voluntary camp that Mularkey is calling a Veteran Orientation.
*Knighton, who sustained an eye injury in an off-field injury on April 8 and underwent surgery later that day, likely will miss the next three months of the off-season program, Mularkey said. "The hope is Terrance has a complete recovery, but there's a level of uncertainty at this point," Smith said.
*Smith said he expects owner Shad Khan to be present at the facility and in the "war room" during the draft. He said he expects Khan, himself, McDonough and Mularkey to be among those at the "main table" in the room. "He's been very active in everything we've done since he's been the owner, but he also trust the people in place in terms of what the role is," Smith said of Khan. "He's allowing the people he hired to do their job."
*While Smith said he believes the Jaguars have done a good job in the draft during his three years as general manager, he said Monday, "Certainly, it needs validation on the field by winning." Smith said he constantly self-evaluates the team's approach in the draft. "I always try to make good better," he said. "We talk to the staff about that. We can clearly do some things better and I feel confident we will. We need validation on the field. I can sit here and tell you everything about the draft and talk through everything we've been successful at, but it's defined by how we do on the field."
*Smith said defensive tackle and offensive tackle may be the deepest positions in draft, with defensive tackle probably the strongest.