Notes out of Jaguars pre-draft press conference
A couple notes out of the Jaguars' press conference today with GM Gene Smith, coach Jack Del Rio and director of player personnel Terry McDonough. Thanks to the PR staff for sharing transcripts.
Reduced pressure: The team's three free agent signings from the outside, most recently receiver Torry Holt on Monday, has eased the pressures of the draft.
"I think one of the things that we had hoped to be able to do is to be able to acquire a guy like Tra Thomas who's a consummate professional [who] we know can play and start in this league and has for a long time," Del Rio said. "Torry Holt, the same thing, consummate professional, can come in and play for us right now; a Sean Considine. So all three of these guys fit that where you're not just totally void at the position and now you can really let the draft come to you. And I think that's so important.
"In each of those three cases those are positions that had we not been able to fill them prior to the draft, we would have been feeling some pressure and that can cause you to make bad decisions. So I feel good about the fact that we were able to address those things knowing that long term, yeah, we still have a desire to add players at those positions, but I think it doesn't force you into this feeling like you've got to do it early or anything like that. We'll be able to let the best player available come off the board."
Juggling 20 or 30: McDonough thinks there is very little consensus in how teams are stacking players through the first round.
"Not consensus, but I think a lot of teams probably have Aaron Curry as their top player," he said. "After that there are 20 or 30 players that you can juggle in any order. In past years it has been six, seven or eight players where everyone says, 'These are surefire guys.' In this draft there just might be a couple."
He views the second tier of players as very deep, and specifically mentioned depth at receiver and offensive linemen, two positions of need for the Jaguars even with Thomas and Holt in the fold.
"We look at the 20th pick and the 40th pick and there are a lot of similarities between those players," he said.
Asked how many top eight players there are in this draft, McDonough said: "One draft I don't know what year it was  -- the year Shawn Andrews, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow, DeAngelo Hall, Roy Williams -- that draft, those were the guys. Everybody knew. Everybody knew those seven guys were going to go there. This draft, you don't have that. That is why there is so much speculation in the top 10. I think there is going to be some offensive tackles picked because of need up there. There's going to be some quarterbacks picked because of need up there. There isn't a defined, 'OK, these are the seven guys.'"
Quarterback in play: According to Smith, it's possible the Jaguars could take a quarterback at No. 8 if that's where their best-player-available draft strategy leads them. But if it happened that way it wouldn't be an indictment of David Garrard, it would be a stockpiling of talent.
"You're trying to get the best available player and if that's who it is, if it is a quarterback, it's obvious that you're going to have some financial ramifications," Smith said. "That position is paid differently than other positions, especially that high in the draft. But you have a good young player that we feel will be an eventual starter in this league. And we feel very good about David; it would make us very strong at that position. But again, quarterbacks have good trade value and I think that's the key that you have to understand."
The Jaguars could probably get more from a trade partner if the team looking to get to No. 8 is doing so for a quarterback, Smith said.
That sure seems to be an ideal scenario of the Jags.
Versatile Raji: Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji is in the mold of Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton, a true 3-4 nose tackle, Smith said. But he also said Raji could fit into any team and system.
Final prep: Smith and his staff will conduct a mock draft Wednesday and look to cover as many scenarios that could unfold in the seven picks ahead of them.