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Underwood flashes in 'underwear'


Tiquan Underwood in his underwear was overwhelming. On Friday, he'll put on a cap and gown.

The Jaguars' seventh-round draft choice was a star performer in Thursday's OTA practice. He displayed his athletic ability in catching a pass in the end zone and getting his feet down in bounds, and he flashed his speed in splitting defenders to catch a pass over the middle that he carried to the end zone.

"You can't tell in the trenches until you put on the pads," coach Jack Del Rio said when asked to evaluate his defensive linemen.

Wide receivers, however, have always been the headliners in spring drills, and the Jaguars' young receivers have been standouts so far this spring.

"We love when a guy flashes early, but he needs to sustain it. He's done a nice job of getting people's attention," Del Rio said of Underwood. "He can really run."

Underwood is one of the fastest players on the team and it was his speed that caused the Jaguars to draft him with the team's final pick of the draft. A couple of prospects were higher on the Jaguars' board but the team was skeptical of its ability to sign Underwood as an undrafted player, since the Jaguars had already selected two wide receivers earlier in the draft.

"Knowing they did draft a few receivers, I would've gone to the place that was the best fit. I don't know where that would've been but I'm happy to be with the Jaguars," Underwood said.

This is a high time in Underwood's young life. He's off to a fast start in his professional football career and, on Friday, he'll march in graduation ceremonies at Rutgers University, from which he will receive a degree in sociology.

"All the receivers we drafted, and Nate Hughes, have had a nice start. It's a deep group competing for spots. I think the wide receiver position will be competitive," Del Rio said.

It's the best news of spring drills. Wide receiver has long been a position of disappointment for the Jaguars and any hope of improvement the Jaguars offense has this season would seem to be pinned to the development of young receivers.

Fourth-round pick Mike Thomas has displayed quickness and fifth-rounder Jarett Dillard was singled out by Del Rio on Monday, the first day of OTAs.

"He's a guy, because of his strength, that will show up in pads," Del Rio said of Thomas, a short but powerfully built receiver who possesses strong run-after-the-catch ability.

Dillard gets high marks for his polished route-running.

"He's got a real knack. I think the more you watch him, the more you like him. He's a sharp kid. He's got really good hands and he has a really good feel for coverage and where he belongs and how to sit down," Del Rio said of Dillard. "He's not a burner but he's a football player. He understands how to find a weakness in the defense and catch the ball. We think he'll be a good fit for us."

Anybody who can catch the ball would be a good fit for the Jaguars, a team that has spent a lot of high picks and money on wide receivers who. After spending first-round picks on Reggie Williams and Matt Jones and $10 million on Jerry Porter, each with disappointing results, the Jaguars may have hit the jackpot with a bunch of second-day picks.

Underwood was a star pass-catcher at Rutgers in his junior season, but his stats sagged as a senior and that caused his draft stock to fall.

"I just wasn't producing. We got off to a slow start. Kenny Britt had a great season and I had to take a back seat," Underwood said.

He took a back seat to no one on Thursday, as the Jaguars capped their first week of OTAs, all of which was spent in rain. They'll take next week off and then return for nine more OTA practices from June 1-18.

"I warned the guys that Memorial Day weekend is a time guys can find themselves doing the wrong thing. We'll continually drive the point home," Del Rio said of an emphasis on good behavior.

Getting a diploma, for example, is a good thing.

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