ORLANDO - Coach Jack Del Rio knows the Jaguars may be facing a momentous decision during next month's NFL draft.
If Tim Tebow slips to the later rounds, Jacksonville could be tempted to select the former Gator quarterback who won two national championships while emerging as one of the most popular players in Florida sports history.
The Jaguars dropped their final three games last season to finish 7-9 as David Garrard threw only 15 touchdowns and suffered 42 sacks.
Fan interest in the Jaguars bottomed out in 2009 with a series of home blackouts, triggering a massive marketing program to sell tickets this fall.
Despite Tebow's popularity across northeast Florida, Del Rio said the franchise will make a football decision.
"Our GM, Gene Smith, and I work hand in hand, discussing how we want to build this football team," Del Rio said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "With Tim or anyone else on our board, we're going to do the work and where they fall, that's what we're going to do.
"He's certainly on the wish list because he exemplifies some of the characteristics you're looking for. He's a terrific leader and his intangibles are off the charts. Those types of things put him in the 'absolute would like to have' category."
Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, speaking on Dan Patrick's radio show Tuesday, says he thinks Tebow will be taken quickly in the draft.
"Somebody, I think, is going to take him in the first round. I'd be surprised if by the end of the first round somebody hasn't taken him. ... And I think it will pay off for them."
Dungy was dismissive of common criticisms regarding Tebow's passing technique and preparedness for the NFL.
"I heard the same things about Steve Young. I heard the same things about Vince Young," he noted of Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner.
One intangible clearly working in Tebow's factor is character, and Del Rio said such issues are taking on added importance when assessing prospects in the draft.
"We've done a better job recently of focusing on the type of young men we'd like to add to our football team and our community," he said. "And we're not spending so much time trying to clean up guys that don't belong."
Del Rio retained his job despite speculation owner Wayne Weaver would make a change. After an 11-5 season in 2007, the Jags have won only 12 of their last 32 games and recent drafts have been erratic.
"We feel like we went through a down cycle and now we're coming out of it and heading in the right direction," Del Rio said. "We didn't play very well on the road last season (2-6) and I thought for the most part, we had a bad year defensively. We've got to play a lot better on that side of the ball."