April 29, 2006
Two UCLA players were selected in the first two rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.
With the 28th selection in the first round, Jacksonville selected All-America tight end Marcedes Lewis. The 2005 Mackey Award winner set UCLA career tight ends records for receptions (126), yards (1,571) and touchdowns (21). As a senior, he set single-season tight end records for receptions (58), yards (741) and touchdowns (10).
With the 28th selection in the second round (60th overall), Jacksonville selected All-America running back/kick returner Maurice Drew. In 2005, Drew set an NCAA record by averaging 28.5 yards on his 15 punt returns, including touchdowns of 72, 66 and 81 yards. He accounted for a school-record 1,863 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior and left UCLA as the school's leader in career all-purpose yards (4,688, including 2,503 on the ground).
www.jaguars.com on Marcedes Lewis
If the intent from the beginning was to build a passing attack, the selection of tight end Marcedes Lewis in the first round of Saturday's draft would seem to have completed the task. The Jaguars made Lewis the 28th overall selection of the NFL draft and the Jaguars did so with time left on the clock.
"Once we got to our pick, he was our pick," coach Jack Del Rio said.
There was no discussion in the Jaguars war room. Personnel boss James Harris got Lewis on the phone and, after a brief conversation, Lewis' name was turned into Commissioner Paul Tagliabue at draft headquarters in New York.
"He can block and receive. We believe he can play the complete game," Harris said of Lewis, 6-6, 252.
Two USC players - running back LenDale White and offensive tackle Winston Justice - were available, as were Georgia tight end Leonard Pope, Florida wide receiver Chad Jackson and a few other players who fit at the pick. Lewis, however, was a player the Jaguars had targeted no later than last week.
His selection means the first four first-round picks of the Del Rio/Harris era are a quarterback, two wide receivers and a tight end. In other words, the Jaguars have used their last four first-round picks to draft a passing attack and Jaguars fans will be eager to see results next season.
"I continue to believe in that young man," Del Rio said of 2004 first-round pick Reggie Williams, who has struggled through his first two seasons. "The third year is historically a big year for receivers."
Lewis is a fantastic receiver with soft hands and the ability to adjust to the ball and make difficult catches look easy. He caught 58 passes for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns at UCLA last season, giving him 21 in his four-year career.
The only knock on Lewis is his 40 time, 4.8. The Jaguars don't believe that's an issue.
"Speed sometimes can be overrated. (Tony) Gonzalez was a 4.8 guy and 4.8's not bad; 4.8 running down the middle should open things up outside for our wide receivers," Del Rio said. "We're happy to have added another weapon.
"We feel solid about this pick. It was a pick the coaches and scouts had an affection for. He's a fine young man; top character," Del Rio added.
"There have been several Pro-Bowl tight ends who've run 4.8. The thing that's important is play speed and he plays fast," Harris said of Lewis.
Asked if the Jaguars had given consideration to Justice or White, Harris said, "No, we were going to take Marcedes Lewis. This was our guy. He was the next highest-rated guy on our board."
www.jaguars.com on Maurice Drew
Maurice Drew has spent his football career disproving the notion that he's too small to be a star. Now he's going to try to prove he's not too small to play in the NFL.
"I play with a chip on my shoulder," the 5-7, 209-pound Drew said after being selected by the Jaguars in the second round of Saturday's NFL draft. "Now is my chance to prove to the naysayers that it doesn't matter how tall you are."
Drew was too exciting for the Jaguars to pass up. He offers potential as a star punt-returner and coach Jack Del Rio wouldn't discount Drew's potential to become a feature running back.
"We drafted him as both. We think he can be a positional player," Del Rio said.
At UCLA, Drew scored 13 touchdowns rushing last season and returned three punts for scores. He also caught 31 passes for 453 yards and four touchdowns and he has been tagged a "poor man's Reggie Bush."
On Saturday, Drew watched several teams pass him by to select other running backs. "They didn't want to take a chance on me. I don't know why not. The Jaguars took the chance," Drew said.