Panic has already started to set in for Jaguar fans. With the departure of numerous free agent cornerbacks and the most recent decision by Mike Jenkins to sign with Oakland, fans are starting to worry that we will have no capable cornerbacks on our roster. All of this is all part of David Caldwell and Gus Bradley's plan for the Jaguars. It may not seem like they would be okay with the current state of the position but by simply looking at their past decisions you can see that though fans are concerned, the "brain trust" has a plan.
Let's start by looking at the man in charge of the roster decisions, David Caldwell. Many fans were upset when Caldwell let Derek Cox walk in free agency. The Cox situation however is very similar to how his former boss, Thomas Dimtroff, and he handled DeAngelo Hall in 2008 (their first season). Hall was disgruntled with the team and wanted to move on. Instead of trying to appease Hall, Dimtroff traded Hall, their only good CB, prior to the draft. Though Cox was not disgruntled with the Jaguars, the concept of letting your best CB go is similar. Left only with one average corner, Chris Houston, Dimtroff did very little to upgrade the position before the draft. Dimtroff opted instead to draft a mid-tier cornerback in the draft, C. Owens. Dimtroff continued this trend over the next few seasons where he never invested a high pick or signed a big name FA, instead drafting late round CBs and letting others develop. This strategy has worked just fine for the Falcons over the years with the likes of Brent Grimes developing and getting bargain additions. Similar to Dimtroff, Caldwell has already shown that he will not pay big money for CBs or appease them. Caldwell has already let Derek Cox walk and stayed away from signing any big name FAs. If Caldwell keeps to the philosophy that they had in Atlanta then the Jaguars will continue to not add any top tier talent at CB prior to the draft. Instead Caldwell will attempt to let the talent currently on the roster develop will adding some mid round CBs into mix to compete and possibly take over starting roles. Atlanta never drafted CBs early or signed big named CBs so don't expect the Jaguars too.
Another part of the "brain trust" is Gus Bradley. Though Bradley, unlike Caldwell, does not make most of the roster decisions he still has a lot of input especially when it comes to who makes the final roster. Gus Bradley has a similar philosophy to Caldwell which can be seen perfectly in his first season under Pete Carroll in 2010. In his first season as defensive coordinator Bradley had little talent at CB. Bradley had one capable corner in Marcus Trufant but after Trufant he had little experience. Bradley however made the decision to keep numerous UDFAs that year. The Seahawks ended having 6 cornerbacks on their final 53 man roster, half of those were rookies and two were UDFAs. The other rookie was only a 4th round pick as well. Over the coming seasons the Seahawks famously found Richard Sherman who was merely a 5th round pick and has since turned into one of the best corners in the league. Bradley has experience brining in late round picks and UDFAs to fill his roster for competition but also to develop them into possible starters. In fact in the three seasons that Bradley was in Seattle they never once drafted a CB higher than the 4th round. What was the result of this strategy? One of the best secondary's in the league.
Fans need to simply sit back and relax. It is only April, we still have the draft and plenty of offseason time left to add talent and bodies at the CB position. The position may not have much talent right now but that falls perfectly in line with what the "brain trust" has done in the past for both of their previous teams. The Jaguars will not draft Dee Milliner #2 overall nor will they probably draft a corner early then the 3rd round. Expect a lot of rookies at the position during training camp, mostly UDFAs and expect the position to be pretty awful at times as most the players will be raw and inexperienced. It will be frustrating but based on the work these two men have done in the past, never doubt that this strategy will pay off. It has before and it will again here in Jacksonville.