With the Super Bowl only a few short days away, the time to start focusing full throttle on the NFL Draft is coming up. For fans of the Jaguars, the draft has already been a topic of discussion for weeks now, but it’s something we’ll delve deeper into in the coming months.
With so much time until the draft in May, we can take a step back and look into the past – an exercise that is unfortunately not very fun for the Jacksonville faithful.
Most Jaguar followers are fans of general manager David Caldwell. He took a roster that was completely bereft of talent and has found a handful of legitimate playmakers, mostly on the offensive side of the ball. The heat is turning up on Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley to win more games in 2016, but the young front office executive has shown he can find good players in each round of the draft.
Before Caldwell, there was a very dark time in Jaguars lore.
The Gene Smith era.
“In Gene we trust” was the ill-fated motto chanted by legions of Jaguar fans online, something borderline hilarious and/or depressing in retrospect.
Gene Smith had 4 drafts to try and stockpile the Jaguars with talent. Instead, he assembled perhaps the least impressive roster in recent NFL history.
One of his many gaffes came in 2010 when he put together a historically bad draft class. According to Pro Football Focus, the 2nd worst draft class of that year:
"10. Jacksonville JaguarsCumulative grade (six picks): -94.3Best pick: DL Austen Lane (round 5, pick 153, -5.1 cumulative grade)Lane provided one positively-graded season (2012) at a cumulative score of +7.8 as a rotation defensive lineman. Not much else to say about this draft class.Worst pick: DT Tyson Alualu (round 1, pick 10, -79.1 cumulative grade)Sometimes the instantaneous reaction turns out to be the right one, as Alualu was widely regarded as a reach with the 10th-overall pick. Somehow, Alualu has survived on Jacksonville’s roster to this day, despite consistently posting well below-average grades."
Tyson Alualu is the only player left from that draft class left on the Jaguars… he’s also the only player from that class currently on an NFL roster (D’Anthony Smith is still somehow on the Chicago Bears practice squad). Gene Smith often felt the need to “outsmart” the rest of the NFL by reaching for players with less of a pedigree or from smaller schools, a habit that would eventually lead to his demise.
Outside of Alualu and the few years from Austen Lane, the Jaguars got absolutely nothing from the 2010 draft class. Larry Hart, Deji Karim, and Scotty McGee barely sniffed the field in a Jaguars uniform. McGee and Hart were both released before the start of the 2011 season, and Karim was released right after the 2011 season.
Most teams have at least one or two players from 2010 currently in their prime and contributing at a high level. It’s easy to see why the Jaguars have been in such a tough spot this entire decade.
While we might criticize some of Caldwell draft choices, he’d be hard pressed to outdo Gene Smith in 2010 or any other year for that matter.