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To Spiller or Not to Spiller?

One of the most interesting potential draft picks that could occur on Thursday night will be right at pick number 10, when the Jacksonville Jaguars make a selection.  It's been discussed whether or not Clemson runningback C.J. Spiller would be a value pick at 10th overall, but I feel we need to revisit it.  You see more and more indications that it's very possible C.J. Spiller could be the selection at pick 10 from various sources, but how much sense does it make?

To draft C.J. Spiller or the pass on C.J. Spiller?

That's going to be a very difficult question Gene Smith will be asking himself on Thursday evening.  I think most will agree C.J. Spiller is a dynamic playmaker who can help in a myriad of different ways on the football field.  Not only is he an explosive runner, but he is also a dynamic kick returner, and receiving threat out of the backfield.  I don't think the questions is really; is C.J. Spiller worth the 10th overall pick, but is he worth the 10th overall pick given what's on your roster?

Yes, we all know the Jacksonville Jaguars have began using the "Best Available Player" (BAP) philosphy under new General Manager Gene Smith.  He put this into practive last year and had great success with it.  The biggest reason for the success, was that his BAP philosophy magically meshed with the needs of the football team.

  • Eugene Monroe - The Jaguars needed a young upgrade a left tackle, despite signing veteran Tra Thomas.
  • Eben Britton - Like Monroe, the Jaguars needed more youth on the offensive line and wanted to upgrade Tony Pashos at right tackle.
  • Derek Cox - At the time the pick raised eyebrows, but the Jaguars did have a need for a corner opposite Rashean Mathis
  • Terrance Knighton - Another eyebrow raiser, but on their board he was rated highly, and the Jaguars needed a young defensive tackle.

Now, in hindsight it's pretty easy to argue those four picks as BAP. Especially the first two, even as the picks happened.  The difficult part about the 2010 draft is, can Gene Smith pull this off again at the 10th overall selection? Can he perfectly mix BAP with needs?

As I mentioned before, there has been a lot of smoke about the Jaguars liking Clemson runningback C.J. Spiller enough to possibly select him 10th overall. I've made it known I don't think that selection would fit the value, mainly because of the money it would command at the runningback position.  Well, let's look at the pros and cons of this selection and then decide.

Pros of Drafting C.J. Spiller at 10th Overall:

  • Dynamic Playmaker
  • Homerun Threat.
  • Versatile Player (can line up at WR/RB/KR).
  • Adds another scoring threat to an anemic offense.
  • Extends the life of Maurice Jones-Drew.
  • League is becoming a Two-back league.

Cons of Drafting C.J. Spiller 10th Overall

  • Instantly a back-up making more money than the franchise player.
  • Ties up close to $38 million guaranteed at the runningback position.
  • Potentially adds a negative dynamic in the locker room.
  • Is Spiller a full-time back?*
  • Is Spiller even considered the best available player at pick 10?*

Now, I will knock something out of the way to begin with. It is very touchy to pay a rookie more guaranteed money than your franchise player, especially if they play the same position.  I do not feel however, that Maurice Jones-Drew will let the issue create problems in his play or in the locker room. I believe Maurice Jones-Drew will take C.J. Spiller under his wing, just like Fred Taylor did for Jones-Drew.  It still requires mentioning however, as it still could possibly create an issue.

One of the biggest issues with drafting Spiller at 10 is the money.  When the Jacksonville Jaguars had both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew in their two-headed backfield, Maurice Jones-Drew was playing on a 2nd round contract.  Many people also point to the Carolina Panthers when referencing C.J. Spiller and Jacksonville, but when the Panthers drafted Johnathan Stewart in the 1st round to go with DeAngelo Williams, Williams was playing on late, late first round pick money.  Williams signed for around $4.5 million guaranteed and Johnathan Stewart signed a deal with his maximum guaranteed money at $10.8 million.  That's a total of roughly $15 million guaranteed at the runningback position.

Maurice Jones-Drew's new contract paid him $17.5 million guaranteed, more than Williams and Stewart combined. If the Jaguars were to draft C.J. Spiller at 10th overall, that pick would carry roughly an $18 to $20 million in guaranteed money.  Not to mention Spiller would be the back up runningback and kick returner. He'd likely get around 12 touches a game, Jones-Drew averaged 13 touches a game his rookie season.

I think everyone gets the big issues with the money and Spiller.

You also have to consider if C.J. Spiller is even considered the best available player at the 10th overall pick.  Runningbacks generally are not considered premium positions because teams have been able to find them all over the draft.  A perfect example of that is Jacksonville's franchise player right now, a second round pick.  Some people feel if you want the kind of player you're getting with C.J. Spiller, you can wait until the 2nd or even 3rd round and snatch up someone like California's Jahvid Best or Ole Miss' Dexter McCluster. Both offer the same kind of dynamics as C.J. Spiller at a much cheaper cost.  Generally top 10 runninbacks are of the Adrian Peterson caliber. C.J. Spiller isn't in that catagory, I would put him more towards the Reggie Bush catagory; a complimentary weapon, but not a full-time back.

Then there is the question as to if Spiller can even be a full-time running back should an injury occur to the starter.  Spiller always split time when he was at Clemson, and he'll likely split time in the NFL.  Many feel he'll struggle to run inside and tries too often to beat everyone to the sideline.

Now, the good stuff.

Adding Spiller to this offense adds a dimension they didn't have before, but did have with Fred Taylor that just went unused.  The offense now is in the total control of Dirk Koetter, which means it should have quite a bit of a different look than the past two seasons.  Adding a weapon like C.J. Spiller adds a plethora of options.  Spiller can be lined up in the slot, with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield.  Spiller can line up next to Jones-Drew in a split backfield on passing downs.  Maurice Jones-Drew can line up at receiver or in the slot with Spiller in the backfield.  You can even run some wildcat, if that suits your fancy.

Adding a weapon like C.J. Spiller adds a dimension to the offense the Jaguars don't have with current back up running back Rashad Jennings.  That's not a shot at Jennings, but he's a bit 1-dimensional when compared to C.J. Spiller.  Spiller at pick 10 is a 100% pure luxury pick. 

The question is, can the Jacksonville Jaguars afford that luxury if they are stuck at pick number 10?


* Thanks Adam for reminding me I forgot those cons.