2011 NFL Draft: Day Two Lesson

I've realized something throughout the first two days of this draft. It's a part of the BAP approach that maybe hasn't quite sunk in to some people yet. I know it didn't quite sink in for me until today. We Jaguars fans have been spoiled the last few years by really incredible drafting. For the past two years, with each pick, I have felt like the Jaguars truly have drafted the best available player. What has made the past few drafts so incredible, though, is that most of the pure BAP picks made by the team have also gone to fill positions of need on the team. Not only did we draft the best player on the board with Eugene Monroe, but he also filled a critical team need. Tyson Alualu wasn't just Gene's top rated player left in the draft, he was a top player at a position that needed immediate attention.

In '08 and '09, Gene Smith's picks had miraculously managed to merge need and value. So far this year, I don't feel like that has been the case. That's why picking Blaine Gabbert left an odd taste in my mouth. We didn't need a QB. We had other, more depleted parts of our team that I felt should be addressed. And then, in such a stacked defensive draft, the Jaguars selected... an offensive Guard from Lehigh in the third round? It seems counter-intuitive, but it's not. It's OK. Actually, it's a good sign.

I sort of figured this out partially from watching the Jaguars draft, and partially because of the Steelers. At the bottom of the first round on Thursday, the Steelers were on the clock with Derrek Sherrod still available. "Well," I thought, "looks like the Steelers are finally going to get Big Ben some protection." Then the pick was made: Cameron Heyward, DE from Ohio State. It threw me off for a moment, because it seemed like Sherrod was a great combination of need and value, but when I looked at it objectively, I realized that Heyward was the better player of the two.

Going back to the Jaguars, I truly felt that we were going to take CB Davon House with pick #80, or maybe a LB in Mason Foster. They are good players at positions of need. When the Jags traded up, I was confused. Then we took Will Rackley. Strangely, something linked the two picks, Heyward and Rackley, in my mind. They struck me as opposite sides of the same coin: The Steelers have a major need on their offensive line and a small one at DE, but took the Heyward because he was the BAP. The Jaguars have major needs all over their defense and only a minor need on the O-line, but they took Rackley. Why? The only answer that makes any sense is that he was the BAP.

BAP picking will not always fill a need on your team, in fact often it wont. Still, these off-the-cuff picks have finally driven home the fact that Gene Smith is building the Jaguars the same way the perennial-contender Steelers do. Exactly the same way. What do I think of the Rackley pick? I love it. Not necessarily because Rackley is going to be a game-changing player, though I do believe Rackley will be good. No, I love the pick, because it helps me understand the Blaine Gabbert pick. I realized we took Gabbert for one reason only: because he was the best player available. It shows me that Gene is truly dedicated to taking the BAP regardless of need and that, my friends, is the way to build a perennial winner.

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