Recently profootballfocus.com put out their draft grades for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2008-2010. That includes one year (’08) of Shack Harris drafted players and two years of Gene Smith era players.
Fortunately the only player drafted by Gene Smith to receive a grade lower than 0.0 was Eben Britton.
This seems odd to me because Britton was widely considered to be a solid player by the Jags coaching staff and the NFL community during his rookie season. Perhaps time spent on the field played a major factor in the downgrade. At the same time, D’Anthony Smith (our favorite injured player) received a 0.0.
Alas, the look at 21 players drafted in the three year span was rather superficial and poorly researched.
While I give ProFootballFocus a lot of credit for the work they do, this time they got it wrong. The tidbit on Derek Cox allowing the lowest completion percentage in the league when he was playing last year was nice (32.1% is pretty good!) but it didn’t give him nearly enough credit for a very effective rookie campaign in 2009.
That said, the Jags obviously have a solid number of drafts to build on. Of the 21 players listed by ProFootballFocus, all but eight are still with the team and five of those eight were from Shack Harris in 2008.
The foundation has been laid by Gene Smith. There are a number of middle round contributors that play and start for the team regularly. Which brings us to this next season: putting the icing on the cake.
I like to compare the Jaguars to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Tony Dungy. Dungy developed a winning strategy in Tampa, he had a number of good players beneath him, but he never could get over the hump. The next year Jon Gruden was brought in and he brought a Superbowl Championship to the Bucs along with him.
The team had a very solid base, built around QB Brad Johnson, WR Keyshawn Johnson, DE Simeon Rice, and LB Derrick Brooks. Am I saying the Jags are going to go from a 5-11 team to a superbowl winning team? No. But if a 9-7 foundation in Tampa can turn into the superbowl champions, I don’t see why the Jags can’t get into the playoffs.
Sure Blaine Gabbert isn’t Brad Johnson. But the team in Jacksonville is built around a different piece: Maurice Jones-Drew. Sure he isn’t Mike Alstott and Michael Pittman all rolled up into one, but he’s the best in the business. He’s unbelievable. And he has his complement on defense in Daryl Smith. So really what the Jags need is a solid passer to complement the running game (like Pittman did for Johnson and the passing game) and a strong/decent performance from the passer or wide receiver to get into the playoffs.
Ok, it’s a tad simple, I agree.
But the point is that the Jags have a very solid team. They’re just missing that final piece. The icing on the cake. The defense will still be solid (it helps to have your defensive coordinator and most of your starters returning). But the offense is an entirely new ball game. And that’s good.
Mike Mularkey and Bob Bratkowski may just know what it takes to push the Jaguars over the edge.
Gene Smith has laid a solid foundation. He’ll add a couple key pieces this year. It’s time. The table is set. Unless Smith strikes out, it’ll be tough to not be successful with the team the Jags have assembled.
This draft is becoming unbelievably important for the Jaguars. We’re a WR or a DE away from the playoffs. Smith has identified that we’ll get the guy we need in the draft.
Now it’s up to Mike Mularkey, like Jon Gruden, to get the Jags over the hump.
– Luke N. Sims