AFC South: John Henderson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The upcoming NFL draft will be the 20th in Jacksonville Jaguars history, not counting the expansion draft.

To commemorate that milestone, I'm looking back at each draft and giving you the best and worst selections in each round. Today is the first round.

These rankings are based on what the player did with the Jaguars. If they failed to produce with the Jaguars but had success somewhere else -- whether they left as free agents, were cut and caught on somewhere else, or traded -- that's a negative.

I'm expecting some disagreement, which is fine. Your feedback is welcome (click the email link at the bottom), and I'm going to post some of the best comments (read: those without profanity) on April 16.

Here we go ...

Round 1: Best pick

[+] EnlargeTony Boselli
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsTony Boselli made five pro Bowls during his seven-season NFL career.
The first pick the Jaguars ever made still remains their best.

Tom Coughlin selected offensive tackle Tony Boselli with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1995 draft and Boselli became one of the cornerstones of the franchise's surprising early success. He went on to make five Pro Bowls and was voted to the All-Pro team three times in his seven-year career with the Jaguars.

Boselli started 12 games as a rookie and all 16 in his second season. By his third season, he was regarded as one of the best tackles in the game. That soon changed into him being regarded as the best tackle in the game. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury cut short a career that could have ended with Boselli being the first Jaguars player inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Honorable mention

RB Fred Taylor (1998) holds Jaguars career records in rushing yards (11,271) and attempts (2,428) and single-game records in yards (234) and attempts (37). He is currently 15th on the NFL's all-time rushing list.

LB Kevin Hardy (1996) ranks fourth on the Jaguars' all-time sack list (28.5) and fourth in team history with 789 tackles. He had 10.5 sacks and was voted to the All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl in 1999.

DT John Henderson (2002) is third on the Jaguars' all-time sack list (29), which is a significant achievement for a defensive tackle. He also ranks fifth in team history in tackles (563) and is a two-time Pro Bowler.

Round 1: Worst pick

The Jaguars took receiver R. Jay Soward with the 29th overall pick in 2000. It turned out to be the biggest bust in team history.

Soward eventually admitted that he battled alcohol issues throughout his career and smoked marijuana regularly while he was at USC. That's why his NFL career ended with just 14 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown, three carries for 28 yards, and 18 punt and kickoff returns.

Soward struggled just getting to practices and meetings on time. Coughlin sent limos to pick Soward up to make sure he made it on time. He was suspended multiple times for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Honorable mention

DE Derrick Harvey (2008) never came close to living up to the hype of being the eighth overall pick. He was an elite pass-rusher at Florida but managed just eight sacks in his three seasons with the Jaguars.

QB Blaine Gabbert (2011) was 5-22 as a starter and threw 22 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions in 28 career games. The No. 10 overall pick also couldn't stay healthy. He missed games because of injuries to his shoulder, forearm (the final six games of the 2012 season), thumb, hamstring, and a cut on his hand. He failed to finish six of his last 10 starts (including preseason) because of those injuries.

WR Justin Blackmon (2012) has already violated the league's substance abuse policy three times in his first two seasons and is currently suspended indefinitely.

While NFL fans look at the Jacksonville Jaguars and the upcoming draft and think quarterback, signal-caller isn’t actually the long-standing issue the team might have the easiest time solving with the No. 2 pick.

Sure, the Jaguars need a quarterback. But this draft doesn’t include anything near the sure-thing types that headlined last year’s draft, when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were the top two picks.

Some analysts read a lot into the attention the team has paid West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. I suspect it was a matter of doing its due diligence.

If I’m the Jaguars, I wait a year and hope that in 2014 there is more of a sure thing quarterback to chase, and that I’ve put together a better team for him to join.

And to be a better team, they need to address their pass rush.

The Jaguars have not had a player record double-digit sacks since 2006. That’s right, Jacksonville has played a half-dozen seasons without a player getting 10 sacks. In fact, since Bobby McCray notched 10 sacks in 2006, the highest total anyone’s had is eight, by Jeremy Mincey in 2011.

Jaguars sack leaders since 2006:
Enter Dion Jordan of Oregon. In the above video, Todd McShay tabs Jordan as the best edge pass-rusher in the draft. He’s got a great combination of size and athleticism and seems like the kind of guy who can help transform a defensive front.

Sports Science worked with Jordan and found he’s got 3.8 percent body fat, spins faster than Dwight Freeney and has the potential of DeMarcus Ware. This video will get you excited about the guy.

I’m guessing the odds of regretting passing on a player like Jordan for a quarterback are higher than the odds of regretting passing on Smith for a pass-rusher.

There are other spots in the mix, of course, like offensive tackle.

But a little over two weeks before the draft, the guy who has me most intrigued when I think of the Jaguars and the No. 2 spot is Jordan.
If the NFL assures players that the big money that’s gone to first-round picks in the past will be redistributed to veterans, I don’t see where the players can object.

AP reported details of the league’s pitch for reducing rookie salaries.

For context, here’s a look at the money the Jacksonville Jaguars have paid first-round picks since 2000 -- $111,380,562 in guaranteed money before playing an NFL snap, an average of $10,125,506 per player.

Nelson, Jones, Williams and Soward were outright busts and Harvey could be off the roster by opening day. The Jaguars have suffered and will suffer depth-chart consequences for those picks. But they also shelled out nearly $26 million to those five guys.

Personnel failures are one thing, the financial penalty is something else and the only element involved in all of this that would object to a system change is members of the rookie pool who aren’t actually very good.

Five-year deals for first-rounders negotiated in this context, with less total money, seems sensible. Nothing would change for draft picks outside of the first round.

The change could help fix what’s broken in the draft.

As Eagles president Joe Banner told AP:
"The whole concept of the draft and ordering of the picks is to maintain competitive balance in the league. Now teams get top picks who have become so expensive and there's the risk you can miss, and it makes the ability to trade in and out of those spots almost impossible. It can become a disadvantage to be in one of the top spots."

But agent Ben Dogra makes a good counterargument.

"Five years and reduced pay is basically restricting players," said Dogra, whose clients include Patrick Willis and Sam Bradford. "Roughly 68 percent of the NFL is comprised of players with five years or less of NFL experience.

"Even players from essentially picks 11 to 32 in the first round are good financial deals for the teams. If a player becomes a starter or an integral part of the team under the current system, the NFL teams have the player under a rookie deal that is favorable to the team."

The league’s done well to get this issue out front. It’s time to tinker with it, get it right and count it as one element of the deal that's done.

RTC: Six factors in Titans' plunge

December, 13, 2010
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Players hold the key to Gary Kubiak’s future, says Richard Justice.

The Texans hope their December success can get them on track for a big finish, says Dale Robertson.

John McClain’s game breakdown.

Indianapolis Colts

Sunday’s Jaguars-Colts game has giant implications, says Mike Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars rebounded to bounce the Raiders, says Vito Stellino.

David Garrard matched Mark Brunell’s team record for touchdown passes in a season, says Tania Ganguli.

John Henderson wasn’t a big factor for Oakland, says Garry Smits.

Rashad Jennings joined the party in the backfield, says Ganguli.

The Jaguars showed the confidence and mettle of a champ, says Gene Frenette.

Ganguli and Frenette review the game. (Video.)

Kirk Morrison is thrilled about being part of a playoff race, says Ganguli.

Darren McFadden ran wild in a loss, says Smits.

Special teams were a big factor, says Jeff Elliott.

Tennessee Titans

Six factors that have gone into the Titans' plunge, from John Glennon.

Bud Adams said he’s not happy but he’s not ready to make decisions, says Jim Wyatt.

RTC: Does Denver covet Kubiak?

December, 10, 2010
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Ray Lewis remains the Ravens’ beacon, says Jeffrey Martin.

John McClain says Denver might covet Gary Kubiak. Considering the Texans’ season, it doesn’t seem like high aspirations.

Richard Justice wonders what Bob McNair thinks about.

Indianapolis Colts

On this night, Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning, says Bob Kravitz.

Manning and Pierre Garcon answered the Titans’ rally, says Phil Richards.

Garcon’s resurgence continues, says Phillip B. Wilson.

The Colts forced the issue and ran 32 times, say Mike Chappell.

Manning was at the facility watching tape on Sunday, the first time he’s ever done that, says Pete Prisco.

Manning broke out of his funk, says Thomas George.

The NFL is not about dominant victories and this was just fine, says John Oehser.

Garcon has been great lately, says Nate Dunlevy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

John Henderson is coming back to Jacksonville and talking tough, says Tania Ganguli.

Joe Cullen likes his defensive line rotation, says Vito Stellino.

Ganguli and Stellino dress up in red and talk Raiders-Jaguars. (Video.)

An extension pushed the blackout deadline to today.

Tennessee Titans

It’s more misery, not late-season magic, for the Titans, says Jim Wyatt.

Just how far can the Titans sink, asks David Climer.

The defense couldn’t make a final stand, says John Glennon.

The Titans got Manning back on track, says Joe Biddle.

Jeff Fisher on Vince Young and the future. (Video.)

A return to the basics meant a productive night for Chris Johnson, says Jerome Boettcher.
Jacksonville likes to be, and wants to be, a big, physical defense.

To rebuild into that, General Manager Gene Smith has spent three prime picks in his first two drafts on defensive tackles. And Terrance Knighton, loving known as Pot Roast, and Tyson Alualu, are starting to give this group an identity. (Rookie D'Anthony Smith landed on IR in camp.)





They could turn into a combo that can match what John Henderson and Marcus Stroud once were.

“I don’t see many backs getting a whole lot of open holes up the middle,” David Garrard said. “They do a great job of plugging things up. They are two big guys, so it is really hard to move them and then they have a high motor too. For as big as they are and the motor they have, they make it tough for anybody to run right up the middle on them.”

Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said if the Jaguars aim is to send Chris Johnson to the edge, they’ll be happy to go there. Tennessee is looking for big things from Johnson, who had 26 carries for 111 yards in Tennessee’s 30-3 blowout win at Jacksonville on Monday Night Football back on Oct. 18, but got a big chunk of that with a late 35-yard touchdown.

Tennessee right guard Jake Scott played against the Henderson-Stroud duo.

“It’s a little difference, I think,” Scott said. “Knighton is a pretty big, stout guy but [Alualu] is a little more athletic than Stroud or Henderson, the kid’s got some quickness to him and I think he’s probably going to develop into a pretty good player.

“In the past that’s what they’ve built their defense around – being able to take away the inside run with just two guys. I think that’s what they are trying to get back to. If they can do that it takes a lot of pressure of the rest of the defense.”

Jeff Fisher said the Titans liked both players when they were coming out of college -- Knighton out of Temple in 2009 and Alualu out of Cal last spring.

While coach Jack Del Rio is pleased with their progress, he’s wary as he should be of premature comparisons to his old tandem.

“Like when we got here in ’03, those guys didn’t have that type of recognition, nor did they have that type of reputation,” he said. “I think you earn that. I would just say our two young tackles, they’re young and they’re both talented, but they’ve got a ways to go before you can talk about them like that, in my opinion. You’ve got to earn that on the field and Stroud and Henderson put together a number of years together being disruptive.”

“Then we kind of knew what we had, but a lot of work went into them developing and us being able to utilize them and so right now I’d say there is promise and we like both of our tackles, but they’ve got a ways to go before you put them in the same sentence as that.”
Let’s call Jaguars-at-Bills the “Cleaning House Bowl.”

Since Gene Smith took over as Jacksonville’s GM in 2009, the team has gotten rid of a slew of high draft picks made before he assumed power: Quentin Groves, Reggie Nelson, Clint Ingram, Matt Jones, Khalif Barnes, Reggie Williams and John Henderson.

Since Chan Gailey took over as coach of Buffalo on New Year’s Day, his team's overhaul has been smaller, but the Bills parted ways with three high-ranking players at premium positions -- releasing veteran pass rusher Aaron Schobel and quarterback Trent Edwards and trading running back Marshawn Lynch.

If it wasn’t working, you’ve got to tear it down in order to build it back up.

The Jaguars are certainly ahead of the Bills in that process, something they need to show in the form of a positive result Sunday in New York.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When last I saw Terrance Knighton, I was discussing with other reporters how ginormous he was at OTAs in early May. The guy affectionately known as Pot Roast wasn’t going to let extra pounds throw him off track, was he?

He’s working at it, but still has some pounds to shed. And so he’s not been with the first team as much as you’d expect for a guy who made an impressive NFL debut last year, when he was especially good at stuffing the run.

“Coach [Joe] Cullen is working that group hard and rewarding guys that are doing things exactly the way we want it, and I’m sure [Knighton] will continue to fight his way and be where we need him when it’s all said and done,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “Right now he’s just rotating in and that should continue to develop and as far as I am concerned he’s just here working like everybody else.”

Gene Frenette touches on Knighton's being lethargic in early practices here.

Knighton admits he was a bit distracted this offseason after a successful debut. He moved his mom, cousin and two brothers to a Jacksonville-area home and enjoyed too much steak and potatoes while addressing non-football matters.

Monday night he said he was at 346, within two or three pounds of getting into the rotation with the ones. He started the 2009 season in the 335 range. But this offseason he ballooned, big time. I have to say he still looks to be around 346.

“Just hanging out, eating things you’re not supposed to, eating grandma’s cooking every day,” he said. “But I’m back in it… There was a correlation. It was my first time handling a lot of things, with a lot of people depending on me. Now that’s out of the way. I’m focusing on football. I’m used to it now. My priorities were a little messed up but I’m on the right track now.”

Knighton is a likeable guy who rings sincere and I can’t imagine he’d let his weight get in the way now, knowing he can be an effective player so long as he stays within in the parameters the team has set.

With John Henderson gone and four rookie defensive linemen in the draft class, he said he’s a now a middle man who can be a tone-setter and a resource.

Knighton said ultimately he and first-round pick Tyson Alualu, who’s expected to join the team today, should line up side-by-side as the starting defensive tackles when the lineups are set after camp.

“The D-line wants to be seen as a whole group, try to get 40-plus sacks,” he said. “We have to emerge as a group.”

John Henderson jumps to Raiders

June, 11, 2010
No one sorts through the league recycle bin or provides more second chances than the Oakland Raiders. Defensive tackle John Henderson, released by the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly after they drafted Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick in the draft, is Oakland's newest reclamation project, Adam Schefter reports.

If he stays fit and dedicated Henderson can still play the run, though I am not sure how much of a pass-rushing force he will be anymore. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. told AFC West blogger Bill Williamson he likes the move.

The Jaguars have five new defensive linemen who figure to get significant playing time -- in veteran Aaron Kampman and the first four picks of their draft: Alualu, D'Anthony Smith, Larry Hart and Austen Lane.

Rather than installing new guys around Henderson, they decided to move on with new personnel and a new position coach, Joe Cullen. They are intent on improving a pass rush that produced one of the all-time worst sacks seasons in history with just 12 14.

Hopefully for Gene Smith and Jack Del Rio, the 2010 defense builds an identity, as the team has lacked one on that side of the ball since Henderson and Marcus Stroud ranked among the toughest DT pairings in the league.
RTC = Reading the coverage. That's been the title of our daily wrap-up of stories from around the division from the beginning. But periodically, because of headline space constraints, we'll abbreviate.

Houston Texans

Jerome Solomon considers where Rick Smith fits in the pantheon of Houston’s GMs.

Texans records that need to change, from Alan Burge.

Ten questions with Shelley Smith (here) and with Trindon Holliday (here) from the team website.

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning’s new teammate, Jacques McClendon, has to shift from fan to blocker, says Michael Marot.

The Colts are insistent that there is no shift in offensive philosophy underway and generally seem to hate the concept of shifting, says Stampede Blue. Are we supposed to think bigger linemen they've added are a mere coincidence?

Considering the order of the wide receivers with Mike Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

When teams struggle, it’s usually because they lack talent, not because they quit, says Vic Ketchman.

Gene Smith’s been great, says Collin Streetman, but he objects to the Clint Ingram and John Henderson moves.

Tennessee Titans

Vince Young is raising money to help with flood relief, says Jim Wyatt.

Former Titan Samari Rolle is helping out new Titan Myron Rolle, a longtime friend but not a relative, writes Jim Wyatt.

Who’s been the Titans' best third-round pick, Andrew Strickert asks.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesJoe Cullen is back in the NFL, bringing energy and high-decibel levels as a member of the defensive coaching staff.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The volume’s been turned up to 11 over at the defensive line area of the Jaguars’ practice.

Joe Cullen prowls and hollers, prods and hoorays as he pushes a revamped group that’s expected to revitalize Jacksonville’s defense.

Last year’s 14 sacks were the fifth-worst total in the league since it started keeping sack stats in 1982. Enter Cullen, a once successful coach in Detroit who made national headlines for passing through a drive-through naked, a stunt that ultimately landed him out of the league.

Now he’s been given a second chance as well as the first four picks of the Jaguars’ draft and a veteran rusher in free-agent addition Aaron Kampman.

The Jaguars didn’t do much behind that line. Veteran linebacker Kirk Morrison, acquired in a trade with Oakland, is the only real notable addition. A better pass rush, they say repeatedly, will do much to cure other ills like those at safety.

As Cullen had each lineman weave through four tackling dummies at minicamp practices that wrap up Monday, clubbing and ripping each one before turning left and flattening a fake quarterback, he left little unsaid.

“It’s time to get double-digit sacks around here Harv,” he bellowed to end Derrick Harvey, the team’s top draft pick in 2008. “Not four sacks. That’s what you were brought here to do: Rush.”

He urged “tempo, tempo” and his assistant, Ben Albert reminded the troops: “We’ve got to reclaim the line of scrimmage.”

“I think this is a great group they’ve given me to work with,” Cullen said. “…It all starts up front. Basically the organization and the team is depending on us to lead the team, to lead the troops.”

Two veteran linemen, newcomer Kampman and Reggie Hayward who came here in 2005, both love Cullen so far.

“I love his passion,” said Kampman, the former Green Bay star. “The position is so much about relentlessness, tenacity and obviously those are some of his strong characteristics as a coach. He knows a lot about rushing the quarterback. He’s learned from a lot of great guys in his career and one thing I’ve learned is you always look at the pedigree.”

Those influences include Chicago defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and Indianapolis defensive line coach John Teerlinck.

Said Hayward: “[Cullen’s] whole motto is to work hard, to go after it. He’s an intense little guy from upper New York or Jersey or somewhere. He says ‘tonic’ and not ‘soda’ and he’s a little fireball. That’s what you need, man. I think he’s perfect for what we’ve got going on.”

“The identity of the D-line is going to be hard work. We may not be as big as John Henderson or Marcus Stroud. But most of the time making plays is just effort. Do you give up? Or do you continue to work?”

The Jaguars hired Cullen in January with the blessing of commissioner Roger Goodell.

The quick recap of his fall: Cullen drove through a suburban Detroit Wendy’s naked in 2006 -- a scene later revisited through a Jon Kitna Halloween costume. Cullen was arrested for that and separately for a DUI, incidents that led to a suspension for one game by the team, another game by the league and a fine of $20,000 for conduct detrimental to the league.

The two cases resulted in fines and 10 days of community service as well as a judge's order to attend outpatient treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“Motivated guys are great, right?” asked head coach Jack Del Rio. “Players or coaches, that’s what you want… I know Joe’s very hungry for an opportunity, when he’s been in the league and the line’s he’s worked with he’s done a nice job with and I think he’s very thankful for a second shot.”

“All I know is that there isn’t a single one of us that’s perfect, I know I’m not,” Kampman said. “This profession obviously puts you in a fishbowl and the great thing is that I know he’s addressed it with the group and is moving forward. Each and every one of us needs to be about redemption.”

Cullen started off our chat with an emphasis on how grateful he is to owner Wayne Weaver, GM Gene Smith and Del Rio for the second chance.

In three seasons in the same post in Detroit, he had pretty good line play on pretty bad teams. In 2007 the Lions jumped from 24th to ninth in the NFL in sacks, and the defensive line accounted for 28.5, seventh-most in the league.

But he was exiled in 2009 when the Lions started over with a new coaching staff. He spent the year as an assistant at Idaho State.

He and his 2010 draft class will get a lot of attention this year. His rookie pupils include tackle Tyson Alualu, the 10th overall pick from Cal, third-round tackle D’Anthony Smith and fifth-round ends Larry Hart and Austen Lane.

“They’re very talented, they’re very gifted,” Hayward said. “This is the time for someone to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a lot at stake here. Now do you want to mess it up by being a goof off or do something special?’”

Cullen isn’t so much worried about quantity as quality in the sack department. He said he craves “impact sacks,” the kind that come with strips or turn field position at a crucial spot in a game.

The defensive line won’t be judged on sacks and can affect games in many more ways, Smith said.

“I think it’s about making the quarterback move,” Smith said. “You’d like to get him down a lot. But you make him move, most quarterbacks who can’t set their feet to throw, cannot throw the ball accurately. So you get opportunities for more pass break-ups, for interceptions and you certainly get opportunities to get off the field with an incompletion.”

Cullen’s hardly set modest goals, especially considering it’s a team with one very big star in running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

“We’re going to be the face of the organization and really be the group that creates a relentless attitude about getting to where we want to be,” he said. “So we’ve got to not just be good, we’ve got to be great in everything we do.”
John Henderson is a Nashville favorite son, so naturally when he was let go by the Jaguars, the question started flowing: Would the Titans bring him in?

After dealing Kevin Vickerson for next to nothing on the draft’s final day, the Titans consider themselves at least four-deep on the interior with Tony Brown, Jason Jones, Sen'Derrick Marks and Jovan Haye. They also drafted seventh-rounder David Howard out of Brown in the seventh round.

To me, Henderson doesn’t fit the high-motor qualification that’s mandatory for Titans defensive linemen. Plus, they are going younger on defense.

Nevertheless, many e-mailers are saying if the Titans could get him for the minimum as a space-eater as part of the rotation, they should jump.

I suspect he will do better, largely on reputation not his résumé over the past two seasons. He will reportedly visit the Chiefs Wednesday.

I bounced Henderson staying in the division off of Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

Health is an issue for sure. But if you look at him as just a space-eater with good power at this point, I think he has value.
Williamson: "Jacksonville had to improve their pass rush. They are trying by signing [Aaron] Kampman for the outside and getting a different type of DT for the interior. Upfield high-motor guys with excellent quickness. Obviously, that is not Henderson any more. ...

"At this stage of his career, I don't see a dominant all-around player like he and Marcus Stroud were back in the day. Those two were really something with their length, power and athletic ability. Henderson still has some of that, but I see less playmaking ability and certainly less pass rush. To me, he is now the stronger heavier run stopper in a 4-3, which is what Houston needs. Put a guy with Henderson's beef next to [Amobi] Okoye and in front of those linebackers and their run defense might really improve. Not saying that Tennessee couldn't use him, too, but I like the fit in Houston better. No matter what though, I would like to see him in some sort of a rotation and not as a guy who plays nearly every snap."
The Jaguars' roster purge under second-year general manager Gene Smith will continue Monday with the release of eight-year defensive tackle John Henderson, reports Adam Schefter.

Henderson was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2002 and went to the Pro Bowl twice. Paired with Marcus Stroud in the middle of the defensive line, he helped give the team a strong-up-the middle, physical identity.

But he has worn down and not been nearly up to his earlier standard in the last two seasons, and was called out by coach Jack Del Rio for sitting out minicamp sessions last year with a shoulder injury.

The Jaguars used their top two picks in the draft for interior defensive lineman -- Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith -- and are set to move on with those two, Terrance Knighton and Atiyyah Ellison as their defensive tackles.

Jacksonville tried to move Henderson during the draft, but clearly had no takers -- more evidence of how little value veteran players had during the three-day draft.

Schefter also reports that the Jaguars have withdrawn their RFA tender offer to linebacker Clint Ingram, who becomes unrestricted. A trade for Kirk Morrison Saturday gives the Jaguars an upgrade, and they will now play with Morrison in the middle, flanked by Daryl Smith and Justin Durant.

That makes for three first- and second-round picks the Jaguars have dumped in recent days. Along with Henderson and Ingram, they traded Quentin Groves to Oakland for a fifth-round pick.

The team now has just six of 15 first- and second-round draft picks from its seven drafts from 2000 through 2006 on the roster:

Second DT could doom Henderson

April, 23, 2010
Back-to-back offensive tackles last year. Back-to-back defensive tackles this year.

D’Anthony Smith out of Louisiana Tech with the 74th pick, on the heels of Tyson Alualu 10th overall, certainly suggests the end of the John Henderson era in Jacksonville.

Adam Schefter said earlier Friday the Jaguars were willing to listen to offers for Henderson. Over the last two years, he’s not been the guy people used to fear and I’m not sure what kind of value he has now.

But with a young group in Alualu, Smith, Terrance Knighton and Atiyyah Ellison, I am thinking they're not looking to be five deep on the interior.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. thinks Henderson could draw a fourth rounder in a trade.

“He is on the downside though,” Williamson said. “Maybe use him in a rotation at his new team.”

Anybody want to play matchmaker?
Tyson AlualuEzra Shaw/Getty ImagesThe reaction to Jacksonville's selection of Tyson Alualu could change from shock to awe over time.

Set your board. Stick to your board. Build with a foundation first. Trust what you see.

With the first pick of his second draft, Jaguars general manager Gene Smith looks to have stuck to his tenets, outside opinion be damned.

Picking for a team that’s struggled to sell tickets and generate excitement, Smith wasn’t necessarily expected to take anyone flashy.

But Jacksonville wasn’t expected to take Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu either.

And that’s kind of the point here.

Owner Wayne Weaver wasn’t looking for pizzazz when he installed the low-key Smith, a scout who’d been with the team since it started in 1994, as GM last year. He was looking for solid football acumen and a steady hand.

The rushed judgments will say the Jaguars reached for Alualu. When Jacksonville is on the clock, Smith is obligated to factor in how a favored player is valued by the rest of the league. Count me among those who believed they liked C.J. Spiller and Rolando McClain. If, with those two gone, Alualu was the best player on the Jaguars’ board and they stayed true to their months of homework, well despite our inclination to snicker, we have to wait and see just what they got.

“I don’t mind defending players that I feel very strongly about because I understand where you’re coming from, I do,” Smith told Jacksonville reporters. “There will be questions on this guy. He wasn’t certainly in everybody’s mock draft at the top end of the first round but he was certainly on our draft board.

“And again we’re going to allow the body of our work drive our decision-making and with all due respect, I feel very confident that this guy will come in and be what we want to help our team to get to where we want to go.”

Said coach Jack Del Rio when asked about selling Alualu to Jaguars fans: “I think we have to trust our work, and then people have to trust the people doing the work.”

Smith is the son of a construction man, and talks over and over about building a foundation. His first draft featured a first- and second-round one-two punch of offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton.

Jacksonville is now at least four-deep on the interior defensive line. A fading, 31-year old John Henderson may now be available via trade. Last year’s third-round choice Terrance Knighton is a solid run stuffer and journeyman Attiyah Ellison earned a new contract with his showing last year.

Alualu, who is of Samoan decent and grew up in Hawaii, is married with two kids and not far from a degree in ethnic studies from Cal. He said the Titans and the Patriots rated as the two other teams that showed the most interest in him.

He’s never been to Florida. But one day not too far in the future he’ll be in the Sunshine State to sign a deal that includes a signing bonus well beyond what would have come where he was projected -- in the late-first or early-second round.

The two long-time lead dogs in the AFC, New England and Indianapolis, don’t typically draft in line with outside opinion and it’s worked out fine for them.

Don’t get me wrong: Smith doesn’t have the skins on the wall of Bill Belichick or Bill Polian.

But if you want to try to find certain qualities to build around and not fall victim to what one AFC South Blog reader and great debater, Nathan Cherolis, recently called “a common mind set among the decision makers that blinds them in areas.”

So what if it’s Smith and his scouting department that saw this clearly, and it’s all the teams that valued Alualu less that were blinded to an accurate value? Then we won’t be talking about a reach when the fair time frame for evaluating arrives. We’ll be talking about Smith’s courage and praising him for how bold he was.

“I’m not trying to win a popularity contest,” Smith said. “I’m trying to win a Super Bowl and I feel like he’s someone that can help us do that… “He’ll bring a lot of energy. He’s a type of player on the defensive side that inspires others…

“He’s got a lot of the things that you look in a defensive lineman at this level, a guy that can be a force inside. Maybe for a scout it’s probably a little easier to understand because we have a little bit more knowledge of him throughout his career. I certainly embrace the questions and trying to get more knowledge about Tyson because I’m excited to have him, again, a part of this team.”

Everyone’s looking for outside-the-box thinkers, people who don’t fall easily in line with conventional wisdom, who can make the case for something original. But when we see someone who might be trying to set such a course, we are appalled and offended by his straying from the pack.

Remember the horror when the Titans picked Chris Johnson? What about the outcry over Mario Williams?

When I texted a scout about how early he felt 10th overall was for Alualu, his first reply was one word, a reaction much the same as mine: “Wow.” He later said his team expected Alualu to be drafted in Friday’s second round. Another AFC insider said he loved Alualu as a player, but also figured he’d be a Friday guy.

I don’t picture Smith flinching at such reactions or caring much about them.

He’s got a window -- three or four or five years -- to build a small-market team into an efficient one that can contend with mighty Indianapolis, budding Houston and steady Tennessee in the AFC South.

To do so, Smith’s clearly going to stick his neck out.

If it gets chopped off, so be it. But let’s not swing the axe just yet. Please, not yet.