With the release of Austen Lane the Jaguars only have 12 remaining Gene Smith players out of a total of 26 drafted during his tenure. That is an embarrassingly low number and speaks volumes to why he was finally fired this offseason. Even of the 12 remaining there are no more than a handful of solid players. Below I break down who is left from the Gene Smith era ("Dark Ages") draft picks and where they currently stand. Based on my analysis, it would not be surprising at all if only 9 draft picks remain when the Jaguars release their 2013 53 man roster.
Elite Picks - Eugene Monroe
Of the only 12 remaining picks, Monroe is the only player that could be considered an elite player. He has slowly improved his game over the course of his career and has developed into a Top 10 LT. Even with the drafting of Luke Joeckel, Monroe wil remain at LT and anchor the Jaguars offensive line for at least one more year though hopefully longer.
Good Starters - Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon, Bryan Anger
While Gene Smith had a lot of poor WR draft choices early, he did however seem to at least get the last two right. Cecil Shorts is the best of the bunch and good make a leap into the elite category this season. The Mount Union product is locked into the Jaguars #1 WR spot and looks to be the most talented playmaker on offense as of now. Shorts has his sights set on a 1000 yard season and I have little doubt he won't achieve that. Justin Blackmon even will all his troubles is a good starter when on the field. He had a rough start last season but still was able to really pick it up by the end of the season. Heading into the offseason most expected Blackmon to break out in his 2nd season but his substance abuse suspension hurt his cause. Though suspended for 4 games, when Blackmon gets back on the field he should be a productive #2 wide receiver and a great compliment to Shorts. Finally, Bryan Anger the infamous punter drafted in the 3rd round. Regardless of his draft position, Anger is an above average punter in the league already and though needs to work on not out kicking his coverage has the talent to be on the best punters in the league.
Average Starters - Blaine Gabbert, Tyson Alualu, Will Rackley
This group is filled with players who currently start for the Jaguars but could easily be replaced if better talent came along. Gabbert is already in a fight for his job in his 3rd year and has been labeled a bust by most. He caught a break when the Jaguars avoided the 2013 QB prospects and seems to have one more shot to really prove himself. First step for him however is simply win back his starting job, which might be harder than it looks. Tyson Alualu recently made the switch from DT to DE so we will see if his play improves at all with this change. Hindered by his knee injury suffered his rookie year, Alualu has been starting at DT for years but never really done anything to prove his draft spot (#10 overall). Alualu claims his knee is 100% and that the switch to DE will help with limiting wear and tear but we will have to wait and see on whether he can be a productive starter. Will Rackley missed all of last season but is returning this year and looks to be locked into the LG spot. Though Rackley had a lackluster rookie season, he has the potential to be a solid guard in this league. Again, like Alualu, we will have to wait and see if Rackley can be put it together and be productive in a starting role this season.
The Back-ups - Andre Branch, Mike Harris
Both of the players in this category are currently back-ups but have a chance to break out. Branch, last years 2nd round selection, had a terrible rookie season. He was given a starting DE role early last season but was very unproductive and eventually benched in favor of Austen Lane who was released today. Branch does have all the physical tools to be a good DE however and now with him be put into the role of back-up LEO, has a shot to showcase what he offers. Mike Harris was a late round CB selection last year but eventually found himself in a starting role by the end of the season due to injuries. Harris will start the season most likely on the bench but has a chance to win the starting Nickel CB role if he can keep improving.
Roster Bubble Players - D'Anthony Smith, Chris Prosinski, Brandon Marshall
The final three remaining Gene Smith draft picks are all in danger of not making the 53 man roster. D'Anthony Smith is an enigma whose ability to stay on the roster is uncanny. Smith has been mostly injured in his short career and when he has been healthy, has rarely seen the field. His youth might be what is helping him stay on this roster but with all the new defensive line additions I don't see him lasting much longer without a huge improvement. Chris Prosinski is the butt of a lot of jokes from fans but until the draft was in line to possibly be a starter. After the draft however its now more likely that Prosinski just misses the 53 man roster. Prosinski has some talent but is a terrible tackler and seems to literally be hurdled constantly. With the additions of Cyprien and Evans, Prosinski will really need to have a strong training camp to warrant Caldwell keeping him. Finally Brandon Marshall is also on the roster bubble. The Jaguars may lack depth at LB but Marshall will still need a solid training camp to make the final 53 man roster. After being drafted last year Marshall bounced around between the roster, FA and practice squad during the season. He is still very young which helps his cause but will need to improve to beat out some of the other back-up LBs for a spot.