Jacksonville Jaguars fans are trying hard to forget the darkest hours in the history of the franchise – more commonly known as the Gene Smith era. Over 4 seasons, the former general manager we “trusted” the franchise to systematically destroyed any semblance of a competent football team. Underwhelming free agent signings coupled with disastrous draft decisions led to what was arguably one of the least talented rosters in the modern era of the NFL.
The two most prominent exhibits in Gene Smith’s case for being the worst general manager ever are his last 2 first round picks. Trading up in the first round in back-to-back years to select quarterback Blaine Gabbert and wide receiver Justin Blackmon might go down as the worst two year combo draft ever. Erik Lambert over at NFL Mocks saw fit to highlight both selections in his latest piece about the biggest draft busts in the last decade:
"#6: Blaine Gabbert (2011)The formula for making busts at quarterback is actually quite predictable at this point. A team sees a talented kid with loads of potential but comes from a college-style offense. They take him higher than he should probably go, put him on a bad roster with limited weapons or protection and then cap it all off by playing him before he’s ready.That is what happened with Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars.#5: Justin Blackmon (2012)There were no doubts surrounding Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon coming out of college. He was one of just two players in history to win the coveted Biletnikoff Award for best wide receiver in the county. His mixture of strength, speed and acceleration made him a nightmare to cover. If anybody could turn around a passing game from Day 1, it was him.The problem was the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t put enough stock in their evaluations of his mental picture. It became clear rather quickly that Blackmon, for all his immense talent was also immature and reckless off the field."
I certainly don’t need a reminder of how bad the times were under Gene Smith, but it’s nice to see some level of sympathy from outsiders.
Current general manager David Caldwell is doing his best to right the wrongs of his predecessor, but he still has a long way to go. It’s almost impossible for him to do any worse, so at least he has that going for him.
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