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View From the O-Zone: "As satisfied as we've been…"

Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell during pregame warm-ups before an NFL game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 in London. (Rick Wilson via AP)
Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell during pregame warm-ups before an NFL game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 in London. (Rick Wilson via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – Say this for the Jaguars: They stuck to the plan and stayed patient.

As in … really, really patient.

General Manager David Caldwell in recent weeks called the Jaguars' 12 selections in the 2020 NFL Draft "ammo" for moving up or down. He opted instead to keep that ammo – with the result being the largest draft class in franchise history and a class Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone liked.

It's also one that could form the team's foundation for the future.

"We feel really good about the players we got," Caldwell said Saturday night after the Jaguars selected eight players on the final day of the '20 draft. "There's always a point where you wish you could do more; you're never going to come out of a draft completely satisfied.

"But this is about as satisfied as we've been – with that many picks."

Marrone absolutely agreed – and in addition to being amazed that the first so-called "virtual" draft came off "without a glitch" under unprecedented circumstances, he said he absolutely felt better about the Jaguars on Saturday night than he did Thursday afternoon.

"Now, they have to go out and win it and earn it," he said. "Do I feel we have competition and players who can potentially be good players and the foundation of the organization? Absolutely.

"I feel like we've done a very good job of putting that in place. Now, they have to go out and perform like we think they can perform."

Here's how the Jaguars' draft looked late Saturday night:

*Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson, Round 1 (No. 9 overall).

*Louisiana State defensive end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, Round 1 (No. 20 overall).

*Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., Round 2 (No. 42 overall).

*Ohio State defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, Round 3 (No. 73 overall).

*St. John's offensive lineman Ben Bartch, Round 4 (No. 116 overall).

*Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott, Round 4 (No. 137 overall).

*Miami linebacker Shaq Quarterman, Round 4 (No. 140 overall).

*Auburn safety Daniel Thomas, Round 5 (No. 157 overall).

*Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson, Round 5 (No. 165 overall).

*Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton, Round 6 (No. 189 overall).

*Georgia Tech tight end Tyler Davis, Round 6 (No. 206 overall).

*Memphis defensive back/return specialist Chris Claybrooks, Round 7 (No. 223 overall).

That's a long list. Really long. And it's exactly the number of selections the Jaguars had when the draft began Thursday. Caldwell, despite entering the draft with more selections than ever in franchise history, did not execute a trade.

No trades? No problem, as Caldwell saw it. He said Friday the plan entering the draft was to stay patient and not waste selections trading up in what he believed was a deep draft, and he stuck to the plan through a hectic Saturday.

"We didn't acquire picks to get less players," Caldwell said. "We acquired picks to get more players. There were so many players that we liked."

There were so many players that we liked…

Circle that quote and remember it – because above anything else, that may be the defining characteristic of this class. Yes, there is talent. Yes, the team believes it improved a defense that struggled last season. The Jaguars believe Henderson will be a playmaking cornerback immediately and believe the same about Chaisson at rush end.

The belief is that Shenault will give the receiving corps a unique, physical element it hasn't had in recent memory, and that Hamilton can help shore up an interior run defense that struggled too often last season.

But as much as anything, what defined the class was character and makeup.

One-by-one as the players in this class spoke over the weekend – and as team officials spoke about them – a picture formed of a group of players that truly loves football, and that wants to improve, and that puts the game above all else.

All teams say that about all players. With this class, the trait shone through enough that Marrone discussed it extensively near the end of the draft wrap-up videoconference.

"I look at it this way," Marrone said when asked if a class of such players could have positive influence on building a culture. "I think people are going to look at these guys and look at their character. I really take a step back and think to myself, 'Why are we knocking people of good character? Why would anyone knock a guy because of his morals or the way he presents himself or anything of that nature?'

"People say, 'Well, look at these guys. You got these high-character guys, but you didn't get the talent.' I disagree totally with that. I'm excited about a bunch of young guys who have done things the right way and done everything they could to do things the right way.

"That's something we should be celebrating. That's something we should be proud of."

The Jaguars darned sure celebrated it Saturday, and they darned sure liked the '20 draft class. They may have been celebrating the team's future foundation.

That, after all, was the plan all along.

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