Gene Smith is value drafter. He finds small school guys to place into rotation quickly. He knows who he wants and he goes out and gets them.
While claiming to be a Best Available Player (BAP) drafter, what Gene Smith truly is is a Best Available Steal drafting. Whether it’s grabbing Derek Cox or Tyson Alualu, Gene Smith notices who will be on other people’s lists in later rounds or later in the same round and says “screw you, I want him.”
And he gets him.
Purely following BAP will put players like Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, and Quinton Coples in the line of anyone drafting at #7. However, Gene Smith knows that while those players may be the best available players, they may not be the best available steal.
What I mean is that players like Coples and Julius Peppers have tremendous talent and skills but they may not always be the best steal. Peppers brought a bit of a headache to Carolina coaches (though he is a great player and seems to have shaped up in Chicago), I sense Coples will be similar. This relates slightly to character (Which Gene Smith heavily values), but isn’t quite the same. By stealing someone like Ingram away from other people who may draft him later in the round, Smith could guarantee a workhorse defensive end and let someone else handle the headache and inconsistency that Coples may bring.
Let’s look at Tyson Alualu in 2010. Alualu was touted as a late 1st round prospect. Nobody really expected the Jags to nab him at 10, but Smith knew that someone else would be making off with a very good player and respectful individual later in the round. Smith stole Alualu away from teams that would have gotten great value in already effective schemes from a strong player.
I suppose I may not be communicating this very well, but really it comes down to taking players away from other teams so they can’t have them and the Jags can.
It’s slightly different from BAP, but it’s the reason the Jags will do very well in the 2012 draft.
Whether it’s Melvin Ingram, Michael Floyd, or some other gent that Gene Smith sees as a potential threat on someone else’s team or as a steal for the team even if he isn’t highly touted as an early round talent, Smith will take them.
Rather than thinking purely of BAP, we’ll have to start assessing Smith on his steals. When we start thinking this way, some of the “surprises” from years past are no longer surprises, but actually seem logical.
Search for the logic in the 2012 draft and you’ll see that Smith is a slyer fox than we realize.
– Luke N. Sims