I decided to take a look at the Jaguars' previous general managers in terms of Pro-Football-Reference.com's weighted approximate value (wAV) to see how they have fared in past drafts.
Weighted Approximate Value is a weighted sum of a player's Approximate Value (AV) that takes into account 100% of their peak performance in this metric, 95% of their second best year, 90% of their third best year et cetera. AV is explained on their site thusly:
"Essentially, AV is a substitute for --- and a significant improvement upon, in my opinion --- metrics like 'number of seasons as a starter' or 'number of times making the pro bowl' or the like. You should think of it as being essentially like those two metrics, but with interpolation in between. That is, 'number of seasons as a starter' is a reasonable starting point if you're trying to measure, say, how good a particular draft class is, or what kind of player you can expect to get with the #13 pick in the draft. But obviously some starters are better than others. Starters on good teams are, as a group, better than starters on bad teams. Starting WRs who had lots of receiving yards are, as a group, better than starting WRs who did not have many receiving yards. Starters who made the pro bowl are, as a group, better than starters who didn't, and so on. And non-starters aren't worthless, so they get some points too."
AV Ranges in Question
While looking at the non-QB draft data of 31 NFL teams from 2000 to 2019 and the distribution of wAV values therein, the following ranges are of key importance to comparing GMs performance in the draft:
- 20-39 wAV A value that can be indicative of a replacement level to journeyman starter.
- 40-59 wAV A statistical showing that usually indicates a good performer for a non-QB.
- 60+ wAV These numbers should indicate a great performance at a non-QB position, with a strong showing of 90+ wAVs amongst players accepted into the HOF.
In Tom's first stint as a draft shot caller in Jacksonville he drafted 23 non-QB players who went on to have a wAV of 20 or greater, 16 players of 40+ wAV, and 7 players of 60+ wAV. Over his 8 years in this role he averaged the following:
This was an above average showing in all regards, with nearly double the amount of good and great non-QB players drafted per year over the average.
During Shack's 6 years in charge of the team he drafted 16 non-QB players who went on to have a wAV of 20 or greater, 6 players of 40+ wAV, and 4 players of 60+ wAV. This is how he compared to league average over those 6 years:
Once again we see a strong performance in the selection of eventually great players, with above average performance in drafting starter level players per year.
The start of the truly awful GM stretch, Gene Smith drafted 9 non-QB players who went on to have a wAV of 20 or greater, 1 players of 40+ wAV, and 0 players of 60+ wAV. For a GM who prided himself in "base hits" over "homeruns" he managed to be below league average at even getting "base hits" level of players.
After Gene Smith, we entered the delusional era of Dave Caldwell. While he fared slightly better at hitting home runs than Gene Smith, in terms of wAV, he fared even worse in getting those base hits despite constantly high draft position. He drafted 15 non-QB players who went on to have a wAV of 20 or greater, 5 players of 40+ wAV, and 1 player of 60+ wAV. Over his first 7 years with the Jaguars his averages were:
Below average on base percentage, with the upside of hitting 1/4th as many homeruns as should be expected for an NFL GM.
While it is probably too soon to decide which of Baalke's picks for the Jaguars are busts and which are hits, we can look at his stint with the 49ers to get an idea of what we signed up for when we chose to ask for his encore. He drafted 12 non-QB players who went on to have a wAV of 20 or greater, 1 player of 40+ wAV, and 1 player of 60+ wAV. His averages over his 6 years with San Fran were:
Astonishingly an even lower bases hit compared to Dave Caldwell in exchange for the upside of hitting half as many homers than the average NFL GM.
It turns out the Jaguars might not be out of the bad drafting GM woods just yet.