Punter Bryan Anger, out of California, was one of the biggest surprises in the 2011 draft. A punter never goes in the third round; especially when holes could have been filled on both sides of the ball. Yet as the season goes on, the Anger pick makes more sense, but not because he’s a game changer.
Since Gene Smith has become General Manager for the Jaguars, he has professed a style of drafting players who are the BAP, or best available player. According to Smith BAP also includes being academically sound as well as being a captain for multiple years. In 2011 The Jaguars moved up to the 10th selection from the 16th, trading with the Washington Redskins, to select Blaine Gabbert. While I do think Gabbert was a great selection at the time and still do, better picks could have been made. The Titans had selected Jake Locker two picks before, the Gabbert selection was a knee jerk reaction. As was Anger. Projections slated the Jaguars to fill the even bigger void of defensive end with either J.J. Watt or Ryan Kerrigan, which in hind sight, were much better selections.
At the time, David Garrard was coming off an improved season from 2009. He was slated to start, even being introduced by the organization as the starter for the season. He had three years remaining on his contract, and coming off the lockout, he would give the team the best chance to win while Gabbert learned the offense on the sideline. Yet injury cut him short early in the preseason, which resulted in him getting the axe. It was a knee jerk reaction. Gabbert was forced to start after a horrendous week 2 performance from Luke McCown. The Jaguars ended up going 5-11.
If the Jaguars had not drafted Gabbert, the Jaguars may have done worse as a whole if they would have had to rely on McCown or a free agent pick up, but that misses the mark of the article. In this year’s draft, Justin Blackmon and Andre Branch were drafted with the first two picks, in order to improve both wide receiver and defense end positions. These positions should have been filled the year before, but the Gabbert pick cost both a first and second round pick. In the third round, the Jaguars knee jerk reaction once again forced them to stray away from a BAP mentality, taking Anger out of need.
The Jaguars would need a punter this year to make up for last year’s bandages in free agency. Matt Turk and Nick Harris were not performing to expectations, forcing the former to be cut for the latter. Harris was eventually let go as well. Anger was picked in the third round because pressure would be on the offense again this year. With the defense coming off a great year, a punter would help pin opposing offenses deep into their own zone, which would result in a shorter field for a struggling Blaine Gabbert.
Yet injury and poor performances have once again sundered the team, resulting in a current 1-3 record. If the Jaguars are to improve for the future, the draft has no more room for knee jerk reactions.
– Antonio Furgiuele