"Listen, I'm Gene Smith, and I don't care who you think I should draft."
If like myself, you are not a mock draft guy, then you greatly appreciate the time and effort spent by others in putting one together. At the very least it gives you exposure to players you have never heard of, much less considered drafting. Truth be told, sometimes you even learn that a specific college actually has a football program.
I am, however, of the opinion that mid-way through round-two, a mock becomes a game of monkey-darts. There is no empirical data to back this opinion, but I am comfortable saying that a guy who does anything more than a two round mock draft is not doing it based on what he has seen. If you have game tape on Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from Ohio or Jared Veldheer from Hillsdale I offer you my strongest apology.
For Jaguar fans the first round has become the most intriguing pick since historically the team cannot seem to get it right. Not since 2002's John Henderson was taken with the ninth pick has a player been considered worthy of the honor. Marcedes Lewis has been the closest and the Eugene Monroe is still in the evaluation stage.
Over the last eight years we have experienced the clock mismanagement that yielded Byron Leftwich, the reach that gave us Reggie Williams, the gamble that gave us Matt Jones, and the draft day cascade that gave us Reggie Nelson. As the 2010 draft approaches we should not expect any less drama.
Some are calling the Jaguars selection at 10 the most intriguing pick of day one. Most mocks point to defensive end as the obvious choice while others have them going defensive back, quarterback and even wide receiver. It is easy to look at areas of need an try to find that player who will be available, then pencil them in as the pick. What I think many fail to evaluate is the man making the selection: Gene Smith.
We only have one draft from which to speculate but I think there are enough clues for us to work with.
Back in 2009 Gene Smith said, "Character is going to matter. You're going to see a competitive roster." Those two statements are not mutually exclusive, however, it is also true that one does not necessarily follow the other. Simply put, your integrity will not compensate for your physical shortcomings, nor will your narcissism be negated by your talent.
It is possible that Gene's simply more adept at finding candidates who have attained a synchronicity of traits. We can look at the draft en masse to gain an overall perspective of this man's mind set.
In 2009 he took all but one senior: Eben Britton was a RS junior. Six of the nine selections were team captains. All displayed ability for the totality of their college careers. Following is a brief sampling of information.
Eugene Monroe (sr)
- Four-year letterman and three-year starter
Eben Britton (RS jr)
- Team captain
- Started all 37 games played in three seasons
Terrance Knighton (sr)
- Team captain
- Three-year starter at Temple who saw significant action as a true freshman
Derek Cox (RS sr)
- Team Captain as a junior and senior
- Three-year starter and saw action in 11 games as a redshirt freshman
- Served as President of SAAC (Student Athletic Advisory Council) during 2008-09 season at William & Mary
Mike Thomas (sr)
- Four-year starter, playing in 48 games with 39 starts
Jarett Dillard (RS sr)
- Started 46 of 49 games
Zach Miller (sr)
- Team captain for final 3 seasons
- Three-year starter at quarter back and played in 10 games and saw action as reserve QB and WR as a freshman
Rashad Jennings (sr)
- Team captain as a junior and senior
- Only fourth true freshman to start in the season opener while playing for Pittsburgh.
- Started 29 of 33 games at Liberty.
Tiquan Underwood (sr)
- Team captain
- Started 32 of 49 games in four seasons, all games in his junior and senior years.
- Was the recipient of the Loyal Knight Award, honoring the Rutgers player whose character and dedication have proved resilient in his pursuit of excellence.
Even the free agent acquisitions follow the philosophy of character and talent. Last year Torry Holt and Tra Thomas served to mentor the youth at wide receiver and offensive tackle. This year he brings in Aaron Kampman, a much loved player while in Green Bay, and re-signed the high character Reggie Hayward to improve upon and ensure stability at defensive end. There is also hope these two will aide in making Derek Harvey into a more dominant player.
Who then could Gene be looking at with the number 10 selection? The following short commentary should illuminate who fits and who doesn't.
Dez Bryant, WR OK St (soph) - A Heisman candidate entering his junior year in 2009, he failed to fully disclose his interaction with former NFL player Deion Sanders and was ruled ineligible his junior year. Has maturity questions, but very talented.
Earl Thomas, S TX (RS soph) - WalterFootball.com compared him, athletically, to Reggie Nelson. Bad omen? Being a RS sophomore is a concern but the two years he started were outstanding. May play CB and S.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE USF (jr) - Two years at the community college level and one "breakout" year of production at South Florida while foregoing his senior season.
Derrick Morgan, DE GA Tech (jr) - Much like Pierre-Paul, Morgan is another one year performer. In fairness Derrick did play as a true freshman and started all 13 games as a sophmore with an honorable mention for the All-ACC team.
Jimmy Clausen, QB ND (jr) - Clausen seems to be just on the cusp of fitting the mold. A physical knock on Jimmy are his small hands, however he played in a pro style offense. He appears to have the tools to be a NFL quarterback, both physically and mentally, although there were early maturity issues.
Rolando McClain, LB AL (jr) - All three years he was productive and his Junior year saw him assume play calling duties for the defense. He is also recognized as a leader by the 'Bama players and coaches. The questions posed at Rolando relate to what defensive scheme fits him best.
Joe Haden, CB FL (jr) - He was the first true freshman to start at CB on opening day in Florida history and has a laundry list of awards and award nominations for the 2009 season. Some question his speed as he ran a very questionable 40-time.
Dan Williams, DT TN (RS sr) - He improved from 2008 to 2009 under Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin. There are weight concerns but he had a dominant senior year and presented himself as very coach-able.
C.J. Spiller, RB Clemson (sr) - Arguably "the" offense for the Tigers his entire college career. Hard worker who plays hurt. Questions as to whether his success will translate to the NFL.
Am I over simplifying?
Sometimes we over-think the problem.
If it is possible to get inside the GM's head, evidence from last year's draft along with his approach to free agency may be enough see whose name he'll put on that card. Mentioning need in the same breath as draft presents itself as heretical, except for the sentiment that if offensive tackle is BAP at 10 then the trade card will probably get played.
That being the case it seems pointless to get into a discussion that focuses on the DE problems or the DB weaknesses. As far as we know, Maurkice Pouncey, Center from Florida, made a big impression at his pro day, enough to be in Gene's top three. Your panacea is not a round-one pill. Therefore, the prevailing thought that Jacksonville goes DE because they need one and they are available is not Smith logic.
This quote from back in January of this year may allude to how his value chart shapes up.
(We will have) more of a penetrating front, hard-charging with more of a one-gap philosophy. We want to get to the edges attacking. Clearly we have to get better up front. We will try to acquire a couple of players up front who can help us, but I don't think we'll try to force things.
If no trade offers manifest, he may have to throw a "Crazy Ivan" and go for what may be considered a reach. There is enough Junior talent that would qualify as outside the process or some personal workouts may have disclosed what was not seen on the field. To me it seems highly unlikely that the pick will be someone with a resume akin to Akili Smith or with maturity questions. To build on the success of 2009 you follow that formula in 2010. Doing so will narrow the options those compiling these mocks are giving us.
So who will it be? Just think like Gene.
- Brian Fullford