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Time to make the pick


All of the months of throwing the sexy names around have come to this: None of them are available. What a waste of time!

That will most likely be the situation when the Jaguars "step up to the plate" Saturday. Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams, Kellen Winslow will all be gone. Even DeAngelo Hall, the player who excited nobody a month ago but who would now be an easy pick by Jaguars fans, will probably be gone, too.

Trade up for one of those guys? Come on, we've already been through that. Trading up carries a price too stiff for a team that is not one player away.

No, when it comes time for the Jaguars to pick, the sexy names will be gone and it'll be this team's challenge to discipline itself to trust its board and an offseason's worth of information gathering.

What will the decision be?

OK, in keeping with this column's draft-week tradition, it's time to make the pick.

In the past couple of months, this column has gone the gauntlet of candidates. It's acknowledged the Jaguars' burning desire for Fitzgerald, and all but openly hoped Fitzgerald would run bad at his pro day, but he didn't. This column offered Hall as an extraordinary athlete, a cornerback some might think the Jaguars' concentration on the position in free agency might eliminate from consideration, but shouldn't because Hall would represent the best available player at the ninth pick of the draft. But he'll be gone, too. This column described defensive end Kenechi Udeze as a perfect fit for the Jaguars, and allowed that defensive tackle Tommie Harris could make the move to left end and also provide the Jaguars with the third tackle they so desperately need.


All right, let's set the table. Fitzgerald, Williams, Winslow and Hall are gone. So is Sean Taylor, for you safety lovers. Robert Gallery went right away and we've resisted all trade-up possibilities because we don't like having our pocket picked.

So, as we "go on the clock," the popular names available to us are Udeze, Harris, Shawn Andrews and Will Smith. We've got 15 minutes to make the pick, so let's talk this over.

By the way, keep the phones open. We're expecting, hoping, to get a call from Tom Donahoe in Buffalo.

Andrews was going to be this column's pick. This column loves to get the big guys. This column believes the Jaguars are going to be division title contenders next season and that this will be the team's last year in the top 10 for awhile, so getting the big guys will start becoming very difficult next spring. Everything this column believes to be true says draft Andrews, but we're not going to do that because this is a player with a weight problem. He ballooned to 400 pounds in January, and even though that was rightfully blamed on medication, we have been sufficiently frightened. We don't want to see our first-round pick on Dr. Phil.

Harris is attractive, but there are rumors Harris' stock is falling because of an arthritic shoulder, and do we really want to spend the ninth pick of the draft on a player making a position switch?

By the way, has Donahoe called? He wants Ben Roethlisberger and he knows he won't get him at 13. The Bills have to get ahead of Pittsburgh, who might take Roethlisberger at 11.

Smith is certainly worthy of consideration. He would address a distinct need at defensive end. He has Dwight Freeney speed. Smith was a play-maker at Ohio State, with 20 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last season. But our board says he doesn't fit at nine. Frankly, he's not the highest-rated player on our board.

And the phone is not going to ring because the Bills don't have to trade up to nine to get ahead of the Steelers. Houston will get the call. Donahoe and Dom Capers are friends. They'll make the deal, Buffalo will draft Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh will get Phillip Rivers, the quarterback they really wanted anyhow.

Yeah, everybody's getting just who they want. So, who do we really want?

Udeze's the guy. He's been the guy all along. You can't allow an entire offseason of scouting to be dismissed by rumors that may have been started by teams attempting to get Udeze to fall to them.

He's the highest-rated player on the board. He addresses a desperate need. Udeze is a player Jack Del Rio can feature; a centerpiece player for the Jaguars' defenses of the future.

Udeze is the guy. Make the pick.

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