AFC South: R. Jay Soward

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.
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.

Draft watch: AFC South

February, 24, 2010
2/24/10
2:02
PM ET
NFC Schemes/Themes: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Busts and late-round gems.

Houston Texans

The previous regime traded with division rival Tennessee to get Western Michigan linebacker Jason Babin with a second first-round pick in 2004 and he never became what they envisioned. The first-rounder from the next year, Florida State defensive tackle Travis Johnson, wasn’t good either. Johnson flashed some but wasn’t long-term help. Wide receiver David Anderson (seventh round from Colorado State in 2006) is a quality slot receiver, and probably the team’s best late-round pick.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts traded up in 2007 to take Arkansas offensive tackle Tony Ugoh 42nd overall. He was the man to replace Tarik Glenn when he surprised the team by retiring the same year. But Ugoh lost his starting job in 2009 and was often inactive. Two third-rounders from the same draft also faded: cornerback Dante Hughes from Cal didn’t make it out of camp in 2009 and Ohio State defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock quit football in 2008. Late-round finds abound: Howard safety Antoine Bethea (sixth round) is a Pro Bowl talent; Mount Union receiver Pierre Garcon (sixth round, 2008) just had a breakout season; punter/kickoff man Pat McAfee from West Virginia (seventh round, 2009) is a consistent performer. And Indianapolis does consistently well with undrafted rookies, such as safety Melvin Bullitt and cornerback Jacob Lacey.

Jacksonville Jaguars

First-round busts have been a major reason the Jaguars haven’t broken through as a consistent contender: receivers R. Jay Soward of USC in 2000, Reggie Williams from Washington in 2004 and Matt Jones from Arkansas in 2005 are gone and safety Reggie Nelson (Florida, 2007) and defensive end Derrick Harvey (Florida, 2008) rank as major underachievers. Late-round gems? Purdue guard Uche Nwaneri was a 2007 fifth-rounder and has started a lot of games and Florida’s Bobby McCray was a good defensive end for a seventh-rounder in 2004. James Harris was ousted as the personnel chief and the team seems on a better track under Gene Smith, who was named GM about a year ago.

Tennessee Titans

Any list of recent high-ranking failures has to start with first-round cornerback Pacman Jones, sixth overall from West Virginia in 2005. He was probably the best defensive football player there, but the Titans failed miserably in researching his personality. Other busts who hurt them: Ben Troupe (second-round tight end from Florida in 2004), Andre Woolfolk (first-round cornerback from Oklahoma in 2003) and Tyrone Calico (second-round receiver in 2003). Cornerback Cortland Finnegan was an All-Pro in 2008 and heads any list of recent late-round gems. He was a seventh-rounder from Samford in 2006. Tight end Bo Scaife was a sixth-rounder from Texas in 2005 and promising defensive end Jacob Ford from Central Arkansas was a sixth-rounder in 2007.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Team needs: Receiver, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, defensive back

 
  AP Photo/Michael Conroy
  It's unlikely that Boston College defensive lineman B.J. Raji will still be on the board at No 8, but if he is, expect the Jaguars to jump.
Dream scenario: It's possible the Jaguars could have the best player at two need positions on the board when they draft at No. 8. Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech could be around, and while Jacksonville may be wary of first-round receivers based on past failures -- R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones -- it would be hard to resist a prime weapon for David Garrard considering the team's top receivers now are Dennis Northcutt and Mike Walker. Still, new general manager Gene Smith has talked a lot about starting to build by concentrating on the foundation, and Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji could do a lot to help the interior line. Paired with John Henderson, Raji could help return the team regain the identity it enjoyed with the Henderson-Marcus Stroud combo and help take attention away from second-year ends Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves.

Plan B: The Jaguars have lots of holes and if they can't address one directly with No. 8, the way Smith has talked of building through the draft, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't want to bump back to gather extra picks. Maybe the Jaguars are really interested in USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. But they struggled to sign Harvey last season. It would surely be harder to strike a deal with a top 10 quarterback who they don't expect to start this year. Perhaps they want someone else who's interested to come up and get Sanchez here. The Jaguars traded into this pick last year, so teams will have a good sense of what it would take to make a deal.

PollCenter: On the Clock
What is the Jacksonville Jaguars' biggest positional need? VOTE

Scouts Inc. take: "After signing Tra Thomas, the Jaguars are now able to draft a project offensive tackle later in the draft as opposed to reaching in the first round for Andre Smith or Michael Oher. But, the Jaguars are not deficient in terms of glaring needs and wide receiver ranks right at the very top of that list. Michael Crabtree would be the ideal selection and in my opinion, as getting the best player in the draft at number eight would be a complete steal. Still, chances are that Crabtree doesn't make it that far. Is Jeremy Maclin worth that pick for Jacksonville? He certainly could be considering the position he plays and his big play ability, but overall, he isn't polished enough to come in an immediately be a go-to option. Two defensive players to keep an eye on are B.J. Raji, who is also unlikely to still be available but would be a tremendous get for the Jags, and Malcolm Jenkins, who could be exactly what Jacksonville needs to sure up their ailing and thin secondary. Mark Sanchez has been mentioned here, but I just don't see that happening." -- Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

Who has final say: Jack Del Rio's desires will certainly be heard, but Smith made it clear when he took the post that he's got the final say on both draft picks and the roster.

On the Clock: Oakland Raiders, April 10.

Previous On the Clock: Green Bay Packers. The team-by-team series.

 
  Getty Images
  Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Reggie Williams: the Reggie that worked and the Reggie that didn't.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

The Colts have an all-time great at quarterback. The Jaguars and Titans do not.

No. of WRs Drafted Since 1997, By Team
Team No. of WRs drafted Avg. overall draft choice
Green Bay 19 144.5
Tennessee 17 121.1
Atlanta 16 143.6
Denver 16 127.6
Chicago 15 121.5
Cincinnati 15 125.0
Pittsburgh 15 111.4
Baltimore 14 123.9
Buffalo 14 141.3
N.Y. Giants 14 118.7
Kansas City 13 120.9
New Orleans 13 151.9
Tampa Bay 13 140.8
Minnesota 12 137.5
Oakland 12 166.6
Philadelphia 12 106.5
San Francisco 12 142.9
Seattle 12 153.7
St. Louis 12 119.7
Arizona 12 116.3
Cleveland 11 102.0
Jacksonville 11 137.9
Detroit 10 102.2
N.Y. Jets 10 135.6
Washington 10 113.7
Carolina 9 116.6
Dallas 9 153.3
Miami 9 109.1
New England 9 133.4
San Diego 8 107.1
Indianapolis 7 98.4
Houston 6 114.2
Source: Keith Hawkins of ESPN Research
The Colts drafted a Hall of Fame receiver in 1996. The Jaguars and Titans did not.

Look at the history of those three teams in the AFC South at wide receiver over the last dozen years, and Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison have done a lot to skew the comparison.

Even so, just over a month before the 2009 draft, it's hard not to try to sort through the different approaches at receiver by the division's three receiver-needy teams.

Harrison was in Indy before Manning, but the Colts have made it a priority to provide weapons for their quarterback. The Jaguars and Titans, meanwhile, are run-based teams that have failed to find the downfield threats that would open things up.

Jacksonville and Tennessee have missed in different ways.

The Jaguars swung and missed three times when they spent first-round picks on receivers -- R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones all busted -- while the Titans spent high picks on other positions while managing to develop only one Pro Bowler, Derrick Mason, out of 17 drafted wideouts.

We're leaving the Texans mostly out of this conversation for two reasons -- they don't have as much of a draft history to examine and receiver doesn't rank as one of their big needs heading into this draft.

But Houston is included in these capsules, in order of the number of receivers drafted since 1997, for context:

Tennessee:
Receivers drafted: 17 (Second in NFL)
Average overall pick: 121.1 (15th)
Average round: 4.06
Average draft value pick: 86th
First-rounders: 1
Passing offense since 1997: 17th
Philosophical summation: The Titans haven't spent a first-rounder on a receiver since they passed on Randy Moss for Kevin Dyson in 1998. They've thrown a lot of mid- and late-round picks at the position and hope to make things work with willing blockers in a run-first offense that has not consistently stretched the field on the outside under Jeff Fisher. They won't usually play kids who don't know the entire offense early on and like to talk about how they don't need an All-Pro caliber No. 1 guy to succeed.

Jacksonville:
Receivers drafted: 11 (Tied for 21st)
Average overall pick: 137.9 (23rd)
Average round: 4.55
Average draft value pick: 62nd
First-rounders: 3
Passing offense since 1997: 14th
Philosophical summation: They've not been afraid to spend first-round picks on receivers and haven't found a star in three stabs with R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones. Indications are, however, they aren't afraid to swing again. They want a big-time weapon for David Garrard to be the quarterback they envision and may well grab Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin at No. 8 in the first round if one of them is available. Veteran Torry Holt, a free agent, is visiting the team Thursday.

Indianapolis:
Receivers drafted
: 7 (28th in the league)
Average overall pick: 98.4 (First)
Average round: 3.29
Average draft value pick: 60th
First rounders: 2
Passing offense since 1997: First
Philosophical summation: Surrounding Manning with weapons is always a priority. The Colts got an all-time great in 1996 with Marvin Harrison, and rather than thinking they could supplement him with bit players, they spent more resources to surround him -- with Reggie Wayne in round one of the 2001 draft, with free agent Brandon Stokley in 2003 and by drafting Anthony Gonzalez in round one in 2007. They could well grab another at No. 27 in this draft.

Houston:*
Receivers drafted
: 6 (32nd)
Average overall pick: 114.2 (Ninth)
Average round: 4.00
Average draft value pick: 39th
First rounders: 1
Passing offense since 2002: 28th
Philosophical summation: They hit a home run with Andre Johnson in the first round in 2003 and have worked to build an offense around an unassuming, hard-working talent. The Texans have done r
easonably well developing Johnson's supporting cast with free agent additions Kevin Walter and Andre Davis and 2006 seventh-rounder David Anderson. With an improved line and run game, if quarterback Matt Schaub stays healthy, Johnson will remain one of the league's most feared weapons.
*--Since 2002

In the graphic below, Aaron Schatz from footballoutsiders.com suggested I look at the differences in approach at wide receiver by using a "draft value chart." A general average of draft position assumes the difference between each draft spot is the same, while the sort of value chart teams use for trading picks takes into account just how different the value is between a first-rounder and a sixth-rounder.

Average Value of WRs Drafted Since 1997 By AFC South Teams
Team WRs drafted Total points value AVG Draft value of AVG
Houston 6 3079.65 513.3 39th pick
Indianapolis 7 2101.7 300.2 60th pick
Jacksonville 11 3095 281.4 62nd pick
Tennessee 17 2701.5 158.9 86th pick

Two assessments of what this all means:

Schatz of footballoutsiders.com:

"It's a different issue with each team. The Colts have hit on their first-round receivers, the Jaguars have not. Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez. Honestly, what else have the Colts had to do to find receivers? Those three play so well that everything else they look for is slot guys and depth.

"On the other hand, the Jags have blown first-rounders on Reggie Williams, R. Jay Soward, and Matt Jones. Williams is sort of a good second guy, Soward sucked, and Jones is a mess who was totally overdrafted."

"I don't think the Titans have spent a first on a receiver since Kevin Dyson. They did a great job of drafting Derrick Mason, and have been stumbling along otherwise with lower picks that didn't work out and free agents. That's different from the Colts, though -- the Colts didn't have a chance to have lower picks not work out because their first-rounders are so good. And the starter before Wayne was drafted was [Jerome] Pathon, who was a second-rounder who had a career that was about equal to what you would expect from a guy taken with an early pick in the second round."

ESPN analyst Herm Edwards former coach of the Jets and Chiefs:

"It depends on what your philosophy is on offense, it has a lot to do with what you are trying to do. Receivers, it's always a tough deal when you draft those guys, especially high. Because the expectations on them are so enormous. It sometimes takes those guys two or three years to really get going into the system.

"If you look at Indy, they've got a system with a quarterback where all they have to do it fit the pieces they want, like the kid Gonzalez they drafted from Ohio State. You look at him now, they used him a lot in the slot, so they kind of brought him along. I think now with Marvin being gone Gonzalez will probably replace Marvin outside. When they moved him to the slot, they really took away Dallas Clark, because Clark is really their slot guy in three wideouts, they put him in the slot a lot. Now they've got a speed guy in Gonzalez, they can move him back outside and now what they'll probably do is look for another guy. They are always a year or two ahead of what they want to do.

"Tennessee, in my opinion, is more of a team that's going to try to run the ball and play physical on defense, do it that way. So their receivers are a little bit different than the guys in Indianapolis. Those guys have got to be able to block. If you look at Tennessee's receivers, they're pretty big. Jacksonville has the same kind of guys. They're more of a play-action team, they're going to try to hit the home runs. Those teams are going to pound you with their running games, try to get eight guys in the box, get one on one outside, and then from there try to hit you with the home run.

"Jacksonville, they've had some guy but none of them have really turned out. But that's a lot of teams, though. They are so hard to figure out. This year in this class is kind of unique. Five or six of the top guys are juniors. That's what makes the class so good... Now you're talking about bringing a young guy in that's going to take a little time to develop.

"The Colts, if they miss on a guy it's almost not on the radar screen, because when you think about it, he ain't going to play anyway, he's not pressed to play right now. It's been the same starters every year. Now they need one."

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

When the Jaguars parted ways with receiver Matt Jones Monday, it sent me fishing through the recent draft histories of the four teams of the AFC South.

The Jaguars' poor record with first-round picks in recent years -- think R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams and now Jones -- is a big part of why they are rebuilding. The Colts' strong record with first-round picks -- think Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and Dallas Clark -- is a big part of why they are always in the playoffs.

It's pretty much a given that players drafted in the first round in the last two drafts are still going to be around -- Houston's got tackle Duane Brown and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye; Indianapolis has receiver Anthony Gonzalez and traded out of the first in 2008; Jacksonville has safety Reggie Nelson and defensive end Derrick Harvey; Tennessee has safety Michael Griffin and running back Chris Johnson.

What about from 2000-2006?

Forget about picks traded away on or before draft day. First-rounders from that span should be established core guys in their primes, players their teams wanted to resign and make a part of things for the long term.

This is unscientific, of course, but here's the scorecard:

AFC South in the first round, 2000-2006
Team First rounders left First round picks Batting average
Indianapolis 5 6 .837
Houston* 4 6 .667
Tennessee 2 5 .400
Jacksonville 2 7 .286

And how about outright first-round busts in the same span?

In my subjective opinion, that scorecard is:

Colts -- 0

Texans -- 2 (David Carr, Jason Babin)

Titans -- 2 (Andre Woolfolk, Pacman Jones)

Jaguars -- 3 (Soward, Reggie Williams, Jones)

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Last week I posed this question: What one philosophical tendency, trend, tenet or practice would you like to see the Jaguars change, and why?

As opposed to some previous questions you've encountered here, I wasn't looking to reach any sort of consensus, just to stir some debate. Based on your responses, I think we got that.

So here's the best of what you had to say with some of my thoughts interspersed. Thanks for all the quality responses.

Steve in Jacksonville: The Jaguars need to have a tough competitive camp. For the past two years, Jack has been a little soft on the players. The team paid the price losing in both instances to the Titans. Two years ago, they managed to bounce back and get a little hot at the end of the season. I'd rather see blood, sweat, and tears to get everyone battle ready!

Paul Kuharsky: I really think Jack Del Rio is reassessing everything based on last year's failures. While his camp philosophy has been to keep it somewhat light, I wouldn't be surprised if he turns it up as he looks to help his team re-establish its physical identity.


Keith in Jacksonville: Simple: Get Greg Jones back in good health so he can go back to the caliber football he played at Florida State....you only need type his name into youtube to see what I'm talking about. Much love to Mojo and a bittersweet good riddens to the Gator, but now let's give the football to the big double 3 and get the Jags run game back to what it used to be.

Paul Kuharsky: I don't know that Jones at his best is going to fix what ails the Jaguars or qualifies as a change in philosophy, but I appreciate your enthusiasm.


Tom in Jacksonville: Magic Wand comment: I would like to see the Jaguars solve the "Houston problem". Even in the years when Jacksonville fields a good team and the Texans do not, they either split or get swept. It just seems the Texans have their number.

Paul Kuharsky: There is no philosophical tenet that's led to Jacksonville's struggles with Houston, I don't think. Nevertheless, this is a big issue they need to figure out. The Jaguars are 6-8 all-time against Houston, have swept the season series only once (2005), have been swept twice and have split four times including last season. The Colts and Titans, meanwhile, have records of 13-1 and 11-3, respectively, against the Texans.

The problem from a Jacksonville angle is this: The Texans are moving from division pushover territory to Serious Threatland.


Will in Jacksonville: That's easy. The Jags need to change there Scouting Department. Both Pro and College. Lets look at the evidence, R J Soward, Reggie Williams, Byron Leftwich, etc... Bryce Paup, Hugh Douglas, Jerry Porter, etc... Every team misses but can you think of a team that misses more outside of Detroit than Jacksonville?

Paul Kuharsky: First-round failures and free-agent busts have been issues, of course. The Jaguars have sworn off big free-agent shopping, so that side of things should be less of an issue.

And new GM Gene Smith is now calling the shots, which should provide some hope that the draft strategy and analysis changes in ways that will improve the hit rate at the top. But we'll have to wait and see.


JvilleJag2 in Jacksonville: Well since we're talking about the Jaguars and Jack Del Rio is head coach of the Jags I'll say I wish he would hold onto his assistant coaches. I don't think any other head coach since Del Rio's been hired has fired more assistants. I understand some positions are going to underachieve but that doesn't mean the coach has to be canned. I think it's a blemish on Del Rio's record and has damaged the chances the Jaguars organization could have to hire first rate coaches. I also believe Del Rio has let his attitude cloud his judgment on coaches that he's given the pink slip to.

Nelson in Jacksonville: If I could change a tenet of the jaguars, It'd be the over all coaching staff. There are too many head coaches on one team, It won't be as bad this season with Greg Williams gone, but seeing as how last year Jack Del Rio, Mike Shula, and Greg Williams, all of which are head coaches(Greg Williams' goal is trying to be a head coach), so no true decisions are the whim of Jack Del Rio, he has so many other people to look to before he's able to make an executive decision. I only wish he could do whatever he want with his team.

Paul Kuharsky: Staff stability is definitely an issue. The idea that Del Rio can't make a decision because of who his assistants are, however, is a misguided one. Who do you think hired those assistants? He did.

There is a perception that he relies on his inner circle, which includes running backs coach Kennedy Pola and assistant head coach/tight ends Mike Tice, disproportionately. If the Jaguars don't look like they're on the upswing this year, Del Rio's job security could fall into question. Because of that I think he will be more hands-on with the defense and with new coordinator Mel Tucker.


Brian in Jacksonville: Jags tenet...tough one Paul. Considering the lack of talent across the board there are many tenets I'd like to see changed but after application we might find the change didn't offer any real improvement. Not be run first? You need receivers. Blitz more? You need a better front 4 and faster LBs, along with DBs you can trust. I love that Jack gambles on 4th down. I guess I'd like to see Garrard get the TE more involved. I know Lewis had his drops last year but in watching the games (I attended all home games and 1 away), ML is open a vast majority of the time and David simply isn't getting him the ball. If you take a TE in the first round you'd better make him more integral. I would imagine, however, that faster receivers who run better routes would open the field some. Still, the opportunity is there.

Paul Kuharsky: I too have struggled to understand why they haven't found ways to use Marcedes Lewis more consistently and more effectively.


Charles in Jax: With regards to your Jags magic wand question: I wish the Jags could change the size of their stadium. Jags fans and the team get a bad rap for not supporting the team and having its share of blackouts (none in 2008 though), but people tend to forget its the league's smallest market in population terms (giving GB Milwaukee) yet it has one of the largest stadiums. It was built this way to accomodate the annual FL/GA game, Gator Bowl, and the one time Super Bowl, but its way too big for the market. Shrink it by 10,000 seats and you'd have year-round sellouts and perhaps a waiting list.

Paul Kuharsky: I wrote about this in my early days on this job.

Jacksonville did a good job supporting the Jaguars in 2008 despite a disappointing season. Anyone who gives the
team and city grief for having to cover some seats to downsize probably isn't aware that Jacksonville Municipal Stadium still seats 5,664 more than Soldier Field.

Have marketing, sales and support always been what you'd hope? No. But should we really expect an expansion team in a small city to average better crowds than a team with the history and population of Chicago?

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Whether Matt Jones is in more trouble or not -- and my feeling is he will face more league discipline for violating terms of a plea agreement -- the popular thinking now is that the Jaguars may be lining up for a receiver at No. 8 in the draft.

Michael Crabtree should be gone, but Jeremy Maclin could be there, and he could be intriguing for a team that needs a big-play threat.

In an extended conversation I had last week with GM Gene Smith -- before the Jones developments and the signing of veteran left tackle Tra Thomas -- I asked him whether the team's track record with first-round receivers would have a bearing on its considerations in his first draft at the helm.

The team has had trouble finding a big, consistent contributor when using first-round picks on receivers -- see R. Jay Soward (29th in 2000), Reggie Williams (ninth in 2004) and Jones (21st in 2005).

Here's what Smith had to say on the need for a receiver in response to a question that mentioned how both the Jaguars and the Titans are receiver needy:

"It's been challenging for us," Smith said. "Certainly we are an offense that uses multiple tight ends and we do throw to our backs. There are teams that primarily throw to their receivers. We throw to the whole skill group, the tight ends, receivers and the backs, so we spread the ball around. But it would certainly help us for a player or two to emerge on the outside that can consistently win when put in one-on-one situations. The Titans are a lot like us, they want to establish the run and I do believe that you win games up front. What was our strength two years ago, running the ball, was a little bit of our Achilles heel last year in the fact that we had those injuries early in the season.

"We do need to get someone on the outside that can consistently win and that's one area that to improve our football team that we do have to get better."

And here's Smith on the influence of the recent draft results at the position:

"History, to me, is the greatest predictor of future success for an individual," Smith said. "It certainly wouldn't hold us back from selecting a great player. I mean, regardless of what position it is. When you have an opportunity to get a great player, it's something you would not pass on, you just wouldn't do that. But certainly, is there a little bit of an alert based on prior history? Yes. Like I said, you hope the next time you are in position to make a decision like that, you make a better one. So any position, receiver is right in there with our thoughts to improve this football team."

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