The Jags and first-year coach Jack De Rio are in good position with the eighth selection overall. The Bengals' choice, meanwhile, will be followed by the Detroit Lions picking second and Houston Texans third. Chicago, Dallas, Arizona, and Minnesota are up prior to Jacksonville.
If the Bengals don't trade the top pick, they are most likely to take one of three prized talents - quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Bryon Leftwich. Heisman Trophy winner Carson is considered the front-runner.
The team with the first overall pick is allowed to negotiate a contract with its choice before the April 26 draft.
Jacksonville, which has selected a pair of defensive tackles - John Henderson of Tennessee (2002) and Marcus Stroud of Georgia (2002) - the past two years but are said to be possibly eye-balling a quarterback. In fact, the Jags haven't been acting like a team that feels comfortable behind center.
Although Jacksonville has said veteran Mark Brunell is the starter and has proclaimed David Garrard as his successor, the team recently sent a large contingent of high-level scouts to Leftwich's individual workout in Bradenon.
"You can never have enough good players at any position, especially at quarterback where such a premium is placed on that position," Del Rio recently said. "We're not afraid of adding another good one."
Leftwich is a thick-framed athlete with excellent arm strength...Has a very good grasp of the passing game, calling half of his plays at the line of scrimmage last season at Marshall. One of the most prolific passers in college football annals, Leftwich set the Mid-American Conference career records for passing yards and total offense. He's also a one tough hombre who isn't afriad to take a lick.
During his workout, Leftwich reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, threw 70 passes to a group of NFL receivers that included ex-Florida State wideouts Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans and showed mobility.
Several recent mock drafts have projected the Jaguars to take Leftwich with the eighth overall pick, in part because what appear to be their top choice -- Miami wide receiver Andre Johnson -- will likely to be gone by then. Still, it may also be unlikely Leftwich is still on the board when the Jags select.
Additionally, the team also is said to be pleased with Gerrard's play during the Jags' recent mini-camp. Not helping matters, Gerrard, a second-year backup, wasn't pleased to hear of the interest displayed by the Jags to Palmer and Leftwich.
"I look at that and wonder why that is," Garrard said. "If they do [draft a quarterback], that's fine. It would just make me wonder. That would make anybody in my position think."
At the moment, however, all that matters is what the Bengals are thinking.
JAGS' FIRST-ROUND PICKS
2002 -- John Henderson, DT, Tennessee
2001 -- Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia
2000 -- R. Jay Soward, WR, USC
James Stewart, RB, Tennessee
(from Kansas City)