Jaguars sign first-round pick Lewis
NFL.com wire reports
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (July 28, 2006) -- First-round draft pick Marcedes Lewis signed a five-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars a day before the team was set to begin training camp.
The tight end, chosen with the 28th overall pick, is expected to open camp behind veteran Kyle Brady. But the Jaguars are counting on the rookie to help replace Jimmy Smith, who abruptly retired in May and left the team with little experience at receiver.
With the sure-handed Lewis under contract, the Jags have one unsigned draft pick. But the team was hoping to sign its third-round pick, linebacker Clint Ingram, before camp started.
The Jags signed running back Maurice Drew (second-round pick), linebacker Brent Hawkins (fifth round), defensive end James Wyche (seventh round) and cornerback Dee Webb (seventh round) earlier this week.
Lewis, a 6-foot-6 versatile target from UCLA, is expected to provide the most immediate impact among the rookies. He set career receiving records for a tight end at UCLA with 126 receptions for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The second tight end taken in the 2006 NFL Draft behind Maryland's Vernon Davis, Lewis was awarded the 2005 Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. He led the Bruins with 58 receptions for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Jacksonville would love to see similar numbers, especially without Smith. The five-time Pro Bowl selection called it quits after 13 seasons, 862 receptions and 12,287 yards receiving.
The 37-year-old receiver led the Jags with 70 catches for 1,023 yards and six touchdowns last season. It was his ninth year with at least 70 receptions and 1,000 yards.
Without him, the Jags need more production from former first-round picks Matt Jones and Reggie Williams, as well as Ernest Wilford. Coach Jack Del Rio also wants Lewis to be an integral part of the receiving corps.