If there was ever a time thathttps://www.pro-football-reference.com/coaches/GrudJa0.htm Jaguars general manager David Caldwell needed to be right, it’s this year with the upcoming NFL Draft.
Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is not the only one who must nail the upcoming NFL Draft in order to help keep his job. David Caldwell, who holds the same position in Jacksonville with the Jaguars, is in the same boat.
I think it’s safe to say both men, who are familiar with each other having worked together in Atlanta prior to Caldwell coming to Jacksonville in 2013, are feeling pretty warm in their offices, despite the cooler weather that is blowing through the south right now.
"“Thomas Dimitroff has done the entire Atlanta Falcons organization a disservice over the last ten years,” Jeff Benedict of Blogging Dirty wrote. “He has failed to secure the most important pieces to any successful run, dominant pieces on the offensive and defensive lines.”"
While the 2019 draft class was a hit here in Jacksonville, the same thing can be said for Caldwell, who was given a reprieve on Dec. 31 when it was believed he would be fired by Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Jacksonville’s mess is far greater than the one in Atlanta, but there have been some good moments during the draft he can hang his hat on.
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Caldwell knows this is a critical offseason both for himself and the team. Two straight double-digit loss seasons hasn’t sat well with Khan or the fans. With a new offensive coordinator in place in Jay Gruden and the same defensive staff from last season led by coordinator Todd Wash, this is a one-year deal for everyone in the organization to make improvements in every aspect of the football team.
Caldwell must set the example.
"“The Jaguars must make decisions regarding multiple high-profile veterans, and they must address the contract situation of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue,” John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote. “They also hold three of the first 42 selections in the April 2020 NFL Draft, making this the first of two critical drafts for the franchise.”"
There are plenty of things Caldwell is excited about with free agency in March and the NFL Draft in April, as he explained while talking to the media at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. With three picks in the first 42 selections and players the front office may be looking at once they become free agents, it’s a busy time for Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone to plan the team’s short-term future.
Marrone will now have more input in player personnel decisions with the Jaguars parting ways with Tom Coughlin, who was fired prior to the end of the 2019 season.
"“It’s really exciting, looking at what we have – the pieces we can fill with our extra draft capital,” Caldwell said. “I’ve never had this type of draft capital – not only here, but in my career. We’re excited to use that and see what we can do with it.”"
Caldwell must use that draft capital to add missing pieces to a fractured franchise. The Jaguars were 6-10 this season, but there as a five-week span where the defense was as ineffective against the run and could not stop opponents from scoring.
Jacksonville’s offense was also one of the worst in the league, scoring only 18.8 points a game, which was 26th overall. This team has so many needs, it could use the first-round picks on either side of the ball and still need to add depth at other positions.
Caldwell hit a home run with the 2019 Draft Class, with Josh Allen, Jawaan Taylor, and Gardner Minshew all receiving post-season honors for their performance. If he can do that again, the Jaguars could be better in 2020.
But what is most important is that the current general manager pushes all the right buttons so he does not leave a better roster for the man who will eventually replace him if he cannot move this team in the right direction.