As we head into year four of Gene Smith's rebuilding of the Jaguars, I wanted to take a look at what Gene has done in the first round of his previous three drafts to try and better understand and possibly predict what will happen this year.
Drafted 8th overall Eugene Monroe the OT from Virginia. This was a surprise pick at the time in that no one thought that Monroe would slide all the way down to the Jags at eight. At the time we were in need for a LT and we were fortunate enough to get top five talent when we did. In this case Gene recognized the value of both the position and the athlete that Monroe is. He did not make what was thought to be the "fan's choice" of Michael Crabtree.
Drafted 10th overall Tyson Alualu the DT from California. Again another surprise pick but not like the previous year. At the time of the pick, more than a few fans (myself included) did not know who this was. This did not dissuade Gene who did not take the popular choice of Tim Tebow. This again shows that Gene was able to recognize a talent that few people knew of at the time. Again he showed that he values the position of a lineman by making it his second 1st round choice.
Drafted 10th overall Blaine Gabbert the QB from Missouri. This once again was surprising for several reasons. First Blaine was at one point considered a top 3 talent in his draft class. Secondly this was the first time Gene made a trade in the 1st round. This pick shows that Gene recognized again a top athlete that some others ignored. Secondly it shows again that Gene is not afraid of the bold choice as long as he deems the reward worth the risk.
Overall I would say based on the very limited amount of data, that Gene Smith has certain things that he uses in making his first round grades. First would be his emphasis on getting people who are not just very good athletes but some of the best when measured up against their draft class companions. Secondly he places values on certain positions. Lineman, and quarter back are priorities for how Gene plans to build our team. While it is safe to assume that he will not be drafting another QB for some time, it shows that he does recognize that without an effective passing game we will not be successful. While it also shows that DE is something that he has stayed away from despite big "names" still being on the board when he made his selection. Another important thing to not is that while all of Gene's choices were not 4 year starters at their prospective schools, they were all consistent and productive during their college careers. This would eliminate "workout wonders" and "underachievers" from his list. Finally Gene has chosen with his three 1st round choices that he values intelligence, hard work, dedication, and responsibility.
With all of this info I offer the following prediction(s).
1. Forget Blackmon: Too short, too light, to much hype.
2. DE is a no go: Gene said it is a weak class.
So I offer the following three names as who Gene will be targeting on draft day whether it be through a trade or taken at #7
1. Morris Claiborne
2. Riley Reiff
3. Michael Floyd
All three are impressive athletic specimens, play in very important positions for the modern NFL, and have been consistent and productive at the college level.
Let the debate begin.....