Dave Caldwell is the first guy to tell you he and the Jacksonville Jaguars have been risk-averse through his first three years with the team. But when asked about taking Myles Jack -- an elite player when healthy but at risk for a serious knee injury -- Caldwell didn't mince words when talking about what their philosophy would be going forward.
"We want to be great," Caldwell said on Friday night. "We have to take chances, and we have been pretty conservative in our time here and our philosophy of drafting and some of our free agent acquisitions. There is a point in time when you have to close the talent gap, and you are not going to do that without taking risks. This is one that is a calculated risk, and he is going to play out this contract and hopefully he is here for ten, twelve years, and we will look back at it as a good thing for the Jaguars."
I get it. Really, I do. When you're building a franchise from scratch, you've got to make sure the foundations are sound. You can't have a cornerstone that's wobbly or a support beam that keeps you up at night. You set a strong base and then you can take those risks.
And make no mistake, guys like Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue are those types of risks. Jack suffered a free-fall from a top-five hopeful to the second round because of all the injury scares and rumors with his knees. Ngakoue is a functional player, but he's a pass rush specialist and less of a complete, balanced player than guys like Shilique Calhoun or Jonathan Bullard, who were also available.
But then Notre Dame defensive tackle Sheldon Day fell to us. Now, not taking a guy like Bullard or Calhoun didn't seem so bad... but again, Caldwell is taking the risk that Day would still be there with teams needing to upgrade their defensive lines ahead of him.
It's Year 4 of the Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley regime and maybe we wish some of these risks would have been taken sooner. But at least we see the Jaguars brass is aware of the problem and taking their shots.