Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Top Linemen Likely Won't Be Available

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Top Linemen Likely Won't Be Available

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino, Times-Union sports writer

If the Jaguars were picking four or five spots higher when the college draft opens Saturday, they would likely select an offensive tackle in the first round.

There are two in this year's draft who are being touted as can't-miss blue chippers -- Mike Williams of Texas and Bryant McKinnie of Miami.

Since both figure to be gone before the Jaguars make the ninth selection, the odds are that the Jaguars will go in a different direction.

It would be a reach for them to take one of the next two tackles on the board -- Levi Jones of Arizona State and Mike Pearson of Florida -- at the ninth spot. Reaching for a player to fill a need is always risky and the Jaguars, who need a productive draft after two consecutive losing seasons, don't figure to take that risk.

But nobody will be surprised if they take an offensive tackle in the second round when they make the 40th pick of the draft.

They've found two starting linemen -- Brad Meester and Maurice Williams -- in the second round of the last two drafts.

They'd like to make it three in a row.

One player they could be looking at is Boston College's Marc Columbo, who made the switch from right to left tackle three games into last season so he has experience at both tackle slots. Columbo is a second-round prospect on many draft boards.

An offensive tackle is a major priority in the wake of the departure of Tony Boselli in the expansion draft to the Houston Texans.

Boselli played in only three games last year, but the Jaguars view the player who replaced him, Todd Fordham, as a backup type. They've also decided that Jeff Smith, who started at center last year, isn't in their plans.

The result is that the line will have a new look this year.

If John Wade -- who started in 1999, but was bothered by foot injuries the last two years -- returns to his center spot to join newly-signed Chris Naeole in the line, the Jaguars will have five experienced offensive linemen on the roster. The other three are Williams, Meester and Zach Wiegert.

The problem is that they don't have two tackles and they haven't decided if Williams will stay at right tackle or switch to the left side. …

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