Here we are, about six months removed from the end of the 2012 season and the end of the Gene Smith era in Jacksonville. It started out with promise and hope, led primarily by the head of the Jaguars.com media machine Vic Ketchman. It only took 4 drafts however for Gene Smith to take an old roster with a dearth of young talent and systematically annihilate it.
After a two win season, the best thing to do is move on. That’s exactly what Shad Khan did by burning it all down and hiring an entirely new front office and coaching staff. Unfortunately, such drastic measures can’t be applied on the entire roster. While plenty of Gene Smith’s failures (draft and free agency) have been purged, there are plenty of carry-overs from the past few years. Not all of them are failures, but clearly he didn’t leave much in the cupboard.
Paul Kuharsky, AFC South blogger for ESPN, recently had a chat where someone asked about the primary reasons for the failures of Gene Smith’s draft picks. The answer is frighteningly blunt.
“Overall theme would have to be they weren’t as good as Smith thought they were.”
– Paul Kuharsky
There’s little to refute such a simple but encompassing claim. Save for Eugene Monroe, the case could be made that all of Gene Smith’s early draft picks were overdrafted. Drafting Tyson Alualu with Jason Pierre-Paul still available; Blaine Gabbert over Colin Kaepernick; and trading up for Justin Blackmon based on pure need.
At the time, Gene Smith’s first draft in 2009 looked like a home run. Going into 2013, only one player remains from that draft – Eugene Monroe. The point is that it’s difficult to evaluate a draft right away or even after one year. Nonetheless, David Caldwell’s first draft and his approach thus far is starkly different from Gene Smith’s. And that’s definitely a good thing.
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