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Youth will be served in 2001


The current Jaguars roster, which boasts only 48 players, almost guarantees that the 2001 edition of the Jaguars will be the youngest since the team's inaugural season.

This is a great year to be a rookie. Every member of the Jaguars' 2001 draft class would seem to be a lock to make the final roster, and the prospects for undrafted rookie free agents would also seem to be very promising, and that will be a major recruiting chip for the Jaguars. The opportunity the Jaguars will offer undrafted rookie free agents should attract the team's best-ever class.

Those are the positives of the salary-cap dilemma in which the Jaguars find themselves. We know the negatives. Now, we'll watch the Jaguars rebuild their roster with young players who will offer hope for the future.

Unfortunately, the Jaguars do not have a full complement of draft choices, at this point in time. They lost a fourth-round pick to Kansas City, with whom they traded last summer for guard Brenden Stai. The Jaguars will also be without their sixth-round selection, which they dealt to Tampa Bay two years ago for defensive end Regan Upshaw. The Stai deal was originally for a fifth-round pick, but it became a fourth-round choice when Stai was a starter in more than half the games last season.

The Jaguars expect a compensatory pick or two for having lost James Stewart, Rich Tylski and Ben Coleman in free agency last winter. However, it may only be a sixth or seventh-round compensatory pick, since the team also signed Hardy Nickerson. The formula for awarding compensatory picks is somewhat mysterious.

Then there's the possibility the Jaguars may trade linebacker Kevin Hardy, with whom contract negotiations have become adversarial. If the Jaguars were to recover a first-day-of-the-draft pick for Hardy, that and what they receive in the way of compensatory picks would re-store the team's draft to the fullness its roster demands.

The April 21-22 draft is a little over a month away. It will be the Jaguars' most critical draft since 1995 because it must yield a major haul of players.

This draft will be about more than a player of need here and a patch there. This draft will be about roster re-stocking. This draft will be about the future of this franchise.

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