Let's start with 2008, the year of the screw-up. The year Shaq Harris elected to swing for a homerun and select those two great DE's. Then, we can check out 2009, Gene Smith's first draft. For the sake of sparing your eyes from digesting the horror, I will only look at the first two rounds.
What if the Jaguars pass up their 'brilliant' idea of trading up for DE's Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves? What if they trade up less for Boise St LT Ryan Clady in the first and later stay put in the second for Cal WR Desean Jackson? What if they take Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Jordy Nelson or any player that could stick on the team?
Clearly, the Jaguars missed out on opportunities by swinging for the proverbial fence. There's an old lesson in baseball that you don't try to hit a homerun every time you take a swing, you let the pitch come to you. The same lesson can be applied in the NFL Draft. Look at the Baltimore Ravens, for instance. GM Ozzie Newsome ferociously devoured the Jaguars front-office through trades during the 2008 draft. These trades set Newsome's team up for a Super Bowl in 2013 while leaving the Jaguars in shambles. Newsome gained a lot of picks and slid backwards waiting for his perfect pitch/players. He let the draft come to him. Then, he let the Super Bowl come to him. Again, the Jaguars went 2-14.
What's the lesson? Take the talent available and make sure they are indeed talented players that you're drafting. Trust your scouting, trust your work and never get enamored with a player. After acquiring enough talent, then the Super Bowl becomes a possibility. Relying on rookie DE's and older veterans past their prime to bring you the Super Bowl at the cost of your future is NOT the correct way to use the tool known as the NFL Draft--as we Jaguars fans learned that season...and the seasons after that.
What if the Jaguars pass up on UV LT Eugene Monroe? What if the Jaguars took 'Combine Winner' Penn State DE Aaron Maybin instead?
Well, now you see this game works both ways. The Jaguars may still be trying to fix the left tackle position had they fallen for the green gloves that Aaron Maybin wore as he smoked the competition at the combine. The mock drafters who place Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher as the Jaguars pick may actually have a slam dunk for the Jaguars in 2013, assuming history played out similarly.
The Jaguars nailed this pick, credit GM Gene Smith for taking what was the obvious choice. Monroe should not have been available and the Jaguars stole a fantastic left tackle. The Rams, for example, don't have their choice anymore. Picked second overall, LT Jason Smith quickly found himself relegated to right tackle duties and now he isn't on the team. He starts for the Jets--who are also in need of talent.
Now, for the second round the Jaguars could've taken OT Sebastian Vollmer. Perhaps you've heard of him. Vollmer entered free agency this season as either the best or second best talent at RT depending on who you read (hopefully me). While a little older, Vollmer is a stud right tackle that the Patriots seemed more than happy to retain.
The Jaguars choice, OT Eben Britton, has essentially bombed out of the league after playing many different positions along the offensive line. To his credit, Britton played well his rookie season before injuries slowed him down. The Jaguars also missed out on (in order): S Jairus Byrd (Bills), C Max Unger (Seahawks), OG Andy Levitre (Bills and now Titans), RB LeSean McCoy (Eagles), S William Moore (Falcons), CB Sean Smith (Dolphins and now Chiefs) and a slew of others.
There will always be talent that any GM misses out on through either the draft or free agency. The key remains to not miss out on too much and to make sure you get quality players on your team that allow you to make a bad pick. This way the bloggers that think they know more than they do will praise you, rather than berate you.