Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars May Pass on Hardy Illinois Star `Not a Pure Pass Rusher'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars May Pass on Hardy Illinois Star `Not a Pure Pass Rusher'

Article excerpt

Although Illinois linebacker Kevin Hardy has been linked to the

Jacksonville Jaguars for several months, and many draft experts

predict they will select him with the second pick, it now

appears Hardy may be off the Jaguars' wish list.

Although Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin won't publicly say Hardy

will not be the choice, indications are that the Jaguars have

backed away from taking Hardy with the second pick. That means

Jacksonville either will take Southern Cal wide receiver

Keyshawn Johnson at No. 2 or trade down and take a pass-rush end.

How can Hardy, a player many feel is one of the top three

players in the draft, fall past the second draft spot and maybe

even further?

"He's not a pure pass rusher," said Rick Reiprish, the Jaguars'

director of college scouting. "If you're looking for a

pass-rusher, that's not the guy who's going to solve your

problem. If it's a pass-rusher you're looking for, I don't think

he is an answer.

"I don't want to say that he can't do it, because he has. But a

pure pass rusher is not him. A pure linebacker is him. I don't

think you get the pass rush you're looking for out of Kevin

Hardy. That doesn't mean he's a bad player. He's a linebacker."

With the Jaguars in dire need of a pass-rusher -- their 17

sacks were lowest in the NFL last year -- Hardy doesn't fit the

need. At 6 feet 4, 244 pounds, Hardy would have to play the

strong-side linebacker position for the Jaguars. In their

defensive scheme, the Jaguars prefer to get pressure from the

front four. That makes left end much more of a priority than

strong-side linebacker.

Moreover, Coughlin has hinted that he is more than satisfied

with his current linebacker trio of Bryan Schwartz in the

middle, Eddie Robinson on the weak side and Joel Smeenge on the

strong side. Smeenge played well at strong-side linebacker in

1995 after a late-season move from left defensive end.

Coughlin also said yesterday the Jaguars would listen to offers

of a possible trade down, but a trade would hinge on what the

New York Jets do with the No. …

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