After the resignation of James "Shack" Harris the Jacksonville community has been praising the moves and draft picks that Jaguars GM Gene Smith have made.
I think that everyone agrees that Shack could do almost nothing right in the first round, and the the rest of his drafts are debatable. It's been brought up that he was a draft-for-needs type of drafter. That he drafted too many skill position players on the offensive side of the ball, and that's why we have many of the holes we have in our lines.
I think it's obvious that we passed up too many offensive linemen in the years that Harris was here, but I think that we have that line rebuilt for the most part. On the defensive side I believe we are good at the DE position, even though there is plenty left to prove. Our biggest and main concern left is at the DT position.
I don't know why, but I had the urge to figure out how many players we passed up at DT since 2003. 2003 being the largest sample I could imagine that would leave us with players that could still have 4 likely pro bowl years left in them. Players like Jamal Williams, John Henderson, Stroud, and Haynesworth are not part of this list because they are not the future. They were drafted before 2003 and Shack didn't even have the option of drafting them anyhow.
So I came up with a list of players that are widely considered decently players or better at the position of 4-3 DT. I included a few 3-4 NT's that would fit well in a 4-3.
Year, Player name, was he avialble (Y or blank), where were they picked, If 'Y' who we picked instead
08 Jason Jones Y 2nd Derrick Harvey, Quentin Groves
08 Glenn Dorsey Not Avaible
08 Sedrick Ellis Not Avaible
07 Jay Alford Y 3rd RD Reggie Nelson, Justin Durant, Mike Walker
07 Brandon Mebane Y 3rd RD Nelson, Durant, Mike Walker
06 Haloti Ngata 12th Overall Not Available
06 Gabe Watson Y 4th RD Lewis, MJD, Ingram
06 Barry Coefield Y 4th Same as Watson
05 Mike Patterson Y 31st overall Matt Jones
05 Jay Ratliff Y 7th Everyone
04 Darnell Dockett Y 3rd RD R Williams, Greg Jones
04 Tommie Harris Y 14th overall Reggie Williams
04 Vince Wilfork Y 21st overall R Williams
04 Tank Johnson Y 2nd RD Reggie and Daryl Smith (Tank is not a great character guy either)
03 Kevin Williams Y Leftwich
Looking at this list we can see, first, that there aren't very many players worth high picks since 2003. There are only about 15 players listed. There are a few I probably missed, not many I'm sure. But there have been nearly 1800 other players drafted in that same time period. Statistically there's a very slim chance we wouldn't have a problem at the DT position right about now.
Third, in a few cases, I would have made our picks again.
I also think this list could be smaller if the 2008 picks don't pan out.
This is not an excuse for Shack, because he's made too many other mistakes. It's mearly an observation of how hard it is to be a GM and how rare a good DT is. Maybe we need to rethink DT as being higher on the list of premium positions.