It's no secret that former general manager Gene Smith preferred players with good character and tended to acquire them for the Jaguars. Until recently, I generally felt the criticism of Smith for liking guys with good character was overblown, because all else equal at least, choosing a guy with good character over one with bad character makes sense, and in extreme situations a person of particularly poor character could be destructive to a team. Without knowing specific instances of players Smith forewent acquiring because of character issues, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that his philosophy reflected the one I described above, which I think is reasonable.
But an interesting (to me at least; apologies in advance if this is not new information to many of you) wrinkle to the story came on Sunday when John Oehser defined Gene Smith's philosophy on character in concrete terms: "Smith believed wholeheartedly that players with unassailable character worked harder and had a greater chance for success than players without it." And earlier in the week, Oehser observed that Smith passed on many more players for character reasons than Oehser thought prudent.
I think this information makes the criticism of Smith for focusing on players' character much more reasonable. As a matter of logic, if Smith's theory were correct, the lesser talent with pristine character should have already out-performed the superior player with lesser character by the time of the NFL draft. Perhaps the lesser player's pristine character propelled him higher than he would have otherwise been. But being an Eagle Scout only takes you so far. By the point an NFL prospect completes college, he will have had to put in tremendous hard work to reach such a skill level, and the positive effects of good character should already be reflected in the player's abilities. To then still choose the player with lesser ability but superior character, Smith, in effect, was double-counting the benefits of positive character, even assuming his theory were correct in the first place.