David Caldwell Vs. Gene Smith: A first Draft

Former Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith left Jacksonville as the scape goat of a failing franchise.  The constant underwhelming top 10 draft picks, lost seasons, and unfulfilled promises fell squarely on his shoulders.  For the most part I agree with it, as I spent much of the last two years publically calling for his head on a stake.  Now the Jags have David Caldwell and the fan base is more ramped up with excitement than they have been in years.  The media seems to be covering the Jaguars a lot more than usual.  Coupled with the new logo and uniforms, the initial grades of the team’s 2013 draft are very high from ESPN’s Mel Kiper to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports.

Before we crown David Caldwell the savior of Jacksonville, we should all dust off the archives of 2009 and compare the Jaguars then and now:

Year: 2009 Year: 2013
Previous Record: 5-11 Previous Record: 2-14
GM: Gene SmithNFL Experience:

-1994-1999: Jaguars College Scout

-2000-2007: Jaguars Director of College Scouting

-2008: Jaguars Executive Director of College and Pro Personnel

GM: David CaldwellNFL Experience:

-1996-1997: Panthers Scouting Assistant

-1998-2007: Colts Area Scout

-2008-2011: Falcons Director of College Scouting

-2012: Falcons Director of Player Personnel

Plan for team: Get younger Plan for team: Bring in competition
First Draft Pick: Eugene Monroe, LT First Draft Pick: Luke Joeckel, LT
Coach: Jack Del RioPrevious Employment:

-Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator. Took a 30th   ranked defense to 2nd ranked defense.

-Jaguars head coach since 2003

Coach: Gus BradleyPrevious Employment:

-Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator. Took 27th ranked   defense to 4th ranked defense.

- No previous NFL head coaching experience

Best Record as GM: 8-8 (2010). No playoff appearances. Best Record as GM: TBD


Now there are some clear differences.  Caldwell’s team has a new coaching staff, ownership, and even logo and uniforms.  But Shad Khan isn’t going to step on the field any more than the Jags previous owner Wayne Weaver did.  The new logo isn’t going to catch any more touchdowns than the old one did.

While many differences are apparent, there are some similarities between the 2009 team and 2013 team.  Both drafted rookies expected to start immediately, which is always a gamble.  Both have a glaring weakness at pass rush.  Gene Smith chose to draft some secondary players and rely on previously drafted defensive ends Derek Harvey and Quinton Groves to improve.  David Caldwell Chose to draft secondary players and rely on previously drafted Andre Branch and recently acquired Jason Babin.

Did Gene’s plan work? Hell no.

Will David’s? Man, I hope so.

-Lionel Joel

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Tags: 2013 NFL Draft David Caldwell Eugene Monroe Gene Smith Gus Bradley Jacksonville Jaguars Luke Joeckel

  • LukeNSims

    Hopefully more than one player from the 2013 draft will be with the Jaguars after four years.

  • JaxJagsForever

    I just like the way Caldwell is conducting business. I feel good about the direction of the franchise, and I haven’t been able to say that for a long time. It really is a completely fresh start which is exactly what we needed. We really didn’t get that with Gene Smith. When Shack left, Gene kept many of Shack’s pieces in place. He fundamentally had a very similar philosophy as Shack. Caldwell, on the other hand, is a completely new direction and philosophy. It just feels really positive. Hopefully we are not all fooled, but I don’t think so….

    • Lionel Joel

      I agree. What you’re saying is certainly true about the fresh start and being excited about it is definitely not a bad thing. I do worry that the unfamiliar level of positive press the Jags are receiving nationally might build unrealistic expectations for the team in the short run. The line between “on the right path” and “arrived” can get blured by a success hungry fan base and I hope we can define that line and instill a certain level of reserved optimism for the first season or two until Gus and Dave can get all their pieces in place. I think John Oehser does a good job of balancing fans’ exuberance in “The O-Zone”. Is the GM change apples to apples? certainly not, but there is still a long way to go until the team’s on-field success matches their off-field moves in April and May.

  • http://www.facebook.com/conglommerate Nathan Blair

    Competition breeds success….Look what Seattle has done as well as the 49ers. Competition is what drives pro athletes to play to their potential.