In April, Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith will have to make a tough decision. All of his draft picks I'm sure are tough decisions, but one in particular will be tougher than most. It's typically a career decision, as it can lock you into long term job security or send out of the building via a boot. Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union wrote a similar piece in the paper, and it's very true. It's a conundrum.
Does Gene Smith draft a guy in the first round at 16th overall? Does he wait until the second or third round? Does he draft one at all?
The team has holes all over the defensive side of the football. While David Garrard certainly isn't terrible, he does make you wonder if he's good enough to get you to and win in the playoffs or if he's just been one of those guys who keeps your head above water but doesn't get you to shore. We know it's a position that needs to be addressed for the future as soon as possible, but we also know the Jaguars have a plethora of defensive positions that also need to be filled.The struggle Gene Smith faces on draft day will be when he goes to get his golden goose, the quarterback. Typically, quarterbacks are overdrafted because they're the most important position on a football team. Often having a good quarterback will hide a lot of the teams ills and a bad one will bring them to the forefront. So, the question is when does Gene Smith pull the trigger?
I wrote last off-season about "waiting on a quarterback", since I'd heard for so long from many fans to "wait till next year" to draft the Jaguars quarterback of the future. That's a dangerous game in the unknown you play. For instance, last year plenty of people advocated the Jaguars to wait and get a quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft, because it was loaded with quarterbacks. Fast forward today and it doesn't look so loaded. Andrew Luck stayed in school, Christian Ponder has a plethora of injury concerns, and Jake Locker didn't really progress as many hoped and thought.
While I think this draft is deep in potential for the quarterback class, it's still iffy one where to draft the guys. I don't think what round a quarterback is taken has any literal translation to his success or not in the NFL. But, history of the past decade has shown you're more likely to hit on a guy in the first round.
An excerpt on my point from last off-season:
It also looks even worse when you compare it to the success rate of quarterbacks taken in just Round 1 from 2000 to 2009, which sits at 53.8% (14 out of 26). That's even counting players like Jason Campbell (ridiculous circumstances), Byron Leftwich (winning record, injury problems), Brady Quinn (unproven), and Matt Leinart (unproven) as full blown busts. So in just one round the success rate of hitting on a quarterback is nearly 5 times greater than a combined 6 rounds and a pool of 103 players.
That was from my research of looking at the drafts from 2000-2009. If you look at the 2010 draft now, Sam Bradford can easily be looked upon as successful and Tim Tebow still is unproven. So, that's at least 1 of the 2 in the first round.
Now, as far as waiting to get a guy in the second or third round, the roll of the dice becomes much greater.
Out of those 129 quarterbacks drafted since 2000, only 26 of those were taken in the first round. That means the remaining 103 quarterbacks were selected in the 2nd round or lower. Now, how many of those 103 quarterbacks managed to turn into something? Only 11, and that's if you count Kyle Orton, Derek Anderson, Trent Edwards and Matt Cassel. Those 11 even include soon to be Eagles starter Kevin Kolb. That puts the mark at just 10.6% on hitting on even a serviceable starter beyond the 1st round.
I feel for Gene Smith on draft day. I know they want to address the position and they need to address the position, the question is ultimately how and when they will. I know the Jaguars like guys like Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, and Patrick Devlin. So, do you make sure to get your guy, or do you wait and gamble they'll make it to you in the second round? Or do you trade back up to make sure to get your guy?