So much for missing out on a middle linebacker in this year's draft.
After watching Alabama's Rolando McClain and Penn State's Sean Lee get drafted ahead of their picks in the first and third rounds, Jacksonville's war room wasn't done trying to find a fit between outside linebackers Daryl Smith and Justin Durant.
The resulting trade sent the 108th overall pick to Oakland in exchange for the Raiders' last fifth-rounder (pick 153) and standout middle linebacker Kirk Morrison—who, ironically, may have become available only after Oakland picked McClain eighth overall.
Morrison, a third round pick in the 2005 draft, hasn't missed a game since entering the league, starting 79 of the Raiders' 80 regular-season games over that stretch.
With 631 tackles (496 solo) in those five seasons—including 268 over the past two seasons—he emerged as a stalwart presence in the middle.
As Morrison's five forced fumbles in the 2008 and 2009 seasons attest, he's also an explosive hitter willing to throw his 6'2", 240-pound frame around and put his hat on the football.
Oakland's new direction on defense has been heralded by early-round selections spent on McClain and Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston, in addition to several recent free acquisitions—among them, former Jacksonville second-rounder Quentin Groves.
When the Raiders decided to ship Morrison out, though, Jacksonville became the first to reap the benefits of that change.
Having drafted defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith with their first two picks, the Jaguars were able to continue using draft picks to solidify their defense up the middle.
General manager Gene Smith's philosophy, as in 2009, has been to maximize the value of each of his picks.
In nabbing Morrison, a five-year starter in the prime of his career, Jacksonville may have turned that fourth-round pick into gold.
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