Yesterday, we began a look back at the history of the Jaguars draft classes by discussing our favorite draft picks from each era of Jaguars football. Today, we turn to the dark side, as we discuss our least favorite picks throughout Jaguars history. Just like yesterday, there’s no real qualifying criteria to abide by here. Your least favorite picks can be labeled as such for any reason you see fit, whether it’s a lack of on field performance, or what you deemed as a bad attitude, etc.. The choices are yours, and yours alone!
I’ll get us started by listing my least favorite pick from each era.
Tom Coughlin Era (the original one) - R. Jay Soward, 2000
As I mentioned yesterday, this is the draft era I remember the least about, given my age. While it was still exceedingly easy to choose my favorite player that Coughlin drafted, choosing a least favorite proved a more difficult task. I really only remember the good players from this era; however, I do know that R. Jay Soward was a bust among busts, so I chose him as my least favorite Coughlin pick. When you stack Soward’s name next to Coughlin’s other 1st round picks, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Soward battled off the field issues, and only played in one season, catching 14 passes for 108 yards. Soward has since said he also battled the pressure of being a 1st round pick, and claims he wishes he never was one, citing a desire to have been drafted by the Saints in the second round instead.
Shack Harris Era - Derrick Harvey, 2008
I almost went with Matt ‘Rodney’ Jones on this one, but instead felt like I HAD to go with Harvey. The Jags traded away multiple picks to move up in the first round and select Harvey. Jacksonville was coming off one of their best seasons in 2007, where they beat the Steelers in the wild card round of the playoffs. After coming up short against the then undefeated Patriots, the Jags felt as though they were only one pass rusher away from the Super Bowl. They went all in on Harvey, and they ended up busting, just like he did. I particularly despise this move because I felt like it was the beginning of the end of the good times in Jacksonville, as Gene Smith was hired as GM the next year, and the team has yet to recover.
Gene Smith ‘Era’ - Blaine Gabbert, 2011
Boy, oh boy, so many choices. Genius Gene picked a ton of bad players, but it’s hard to top a punter in the third round. And yet...well, he managed to do just that. Not only did the Jaguars draft Blaine Gabbert to be their franchise quarterback, they traded up to do it. Don't look now, but they also happened to trade in front of the Texans, who proceeded to take JJ Watt with the very next pick. Gabbert was a major bust, one of the worst quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, and he had a bad relationship with the fanbase from the jump. It really doesn't get much worse than that.
Dave Caldwell Era - Dante Fowler, 2015
Please, don't kill me for this one. I know what a lot of you are thinking. “He’s only played one year, he was coming off an ACL injury!”. I know, I know. But, I have to be honest, and honestly, this was one of my least favorite picks Dave has made. Fowler seems like a decent enough dude, and as I’ve discussed before, I still think he can be a contributing player. I just don't think he will succeed as a full time edge rusher, and that’s what he was drafted third overall to be. I thought the Jaguars should've selected Vic Beasley, given their need for a pass rusher. However, they decided to go with Fowler, citing Beasley’s deficiencies against the run and his inconsistent motor. I know people will be quick to claim that Fowler could become Beasley, but I just don't see it. Beasley played his rookie season with a torn labrum, and he was a much better pure pass rushing prospect coming out of college. Fowler was labeled as a versatile chess piece who could be moved around the defense. Maybe the Jaguars will finally do that, and Fowler will become more of a contributor. Here’s hoping, but that’s still probably not a player you take third overall. Even though it’s unfair to Fowler, that’s the main reason I didn't like this pick, and that’s the point of this discussion.
I’m sure a lot of you will have different choices than I did, and I hope that’s the case, because I’m interested in hearing yours. Who are your least favorite Jaguars draft picks?