In a league where every team receives equal opportunity to draft the strongest/fastest/brightest of talent from the collegiate ranks, parity exists.
As defined by Webster's Dictionary:
Parity: the quality or state of being equal or equivalent
Simple, right? Not all teams are equal, though all teams possess a fair chance to become dominant due to the inverse draft order purposefully keeping all things equal.
After all, it wouldn't be fair if the Giants win the Super Bowl then draft Andrew Luck to play second-string for the next five years. The rich would, in effect, get richer and ruin the competitiveness of the NFL. The wise people that invented the draft conceived a reverse finishing order patter for the draft, giving us parity.
In 2011, the Colts played horrible, finished last and deservedly drafted first overall. The Colts then take one of the most highly regarded QBs to come out of the collegiate ranks in the last ten years. Why? They were desperate. They needed Andrew Luck significantly more than the World Champion Giants needed him. Past misery begat future hope.
Unfortunately, the parity-driven NFL draft system doesn't always work as it eventually did for the Detriot Lions (Johnson, Stafford, Suh). You see, teams rely upon talent evaluators and a little bit of luck on draft day to determine and then select the players to upgrade their roster talent. You can see where human error leads the development of a franchise astray.
When you look around the league and see players taken in the early part of the first round, you know that either that team traded a kings ransom (Falcons for Julio Jones) for that top pick, or they earned it (Lions, half their team). The Jaguars have done both, managing to draft five straight top-10 picks. Do you remember them?
2008--DE, Florida, Derrick Harvey (8th)
2009--LT, Virginia, Eugene Monroe (8th)
2010--DE/DT, California, Tyson Alualu (10th)
2011--QB, Missouri, Blaine Gabbert (10th)
2012--WR, OK State, Justin Blackmon (5th)
I feel comfortable skipping over Blackmon, who just finished his 4th NFL game. The rest of the list represents the opportunity the Jaguars franchise received to upgrade their roster. Hindisght reveals a 20/20 vision of the past, so there is really no use in stating things such as: The Jags missed on JJ Watt, or Calais Campbell, or anyone else for that matter. I don't believe it's fair to know the future and then state the Jags should've acted with that knowledge.
I do, however, believe it to be fair to say that the Jaguars should have drafted a Pro Bowl-caliber player at least once and I really feel as though those are very, very low expectations. One Pro Bowler--that's all.
It's easy to say that Eugene Monroe plays near a Pro Bowl level almost every game but due to the anemic state of the Jaguars' offense as well as the small market, he gets overlooked. The other argument might state that one of these top-10 drafted players should stand out and draw attention to the often overlooked offensive linemen. They don't even stand out. Harvey, for example, struggled to even make a training camp after the Jaguars parted ways with their wasted draft pick. Let's make no mistake about it, Harvey wouldn't go down as a good 4th rounder.
Current General Manager Gene Smith only partly drafted Harvey, as Smith took part in a 3-man committee-approach to drafting(Smith, Shack Harris, and Jack Del Rio). However, Smith handed in the final say on every other top-10 pick on the above list, including trading up from 16th in 2011 to nab Gabbert. The future capability of Gabbert can be argued at another time. I wrote this article to only point out the amazing opportunity the Jags had with 5 straight top-10 picks. Really, think about it. Game-changing talent can be found in the top-10 and the Jags got 5 in a row.
Smith did not exactly use these top-10 draft opportunities to rake in the talent. He did not exactly make other teams jealous. If we examine the other rounds, it gets worse but that's not the the end game. The final barometer? The display of said "talent" on the field and the sad, unfortunate bottom line in this business called the NFL rests on the field. Despite a 1-3 record, the Jaguars managed to not look capable, effective or even hopeful in two full games (Texans and Bengals) while managing only spurts of effectiveness in their other two games (Vikings and Colts).
I realize that with a new coaching staff comes delayed expectation and a small chance that the Jags early struggles are merely the team just getting in a rhythm. I just don't believe that.
Hyperbole Of The Day
This franchise is now Derrick Harvey. How about that State of the Union?