By: James Johnson (@J_1010XL)
A name that has begun to become heavily associated with the Jaguars as of lately is that of West Virginia's former signal-caller Eugene “Geno” Smith, who recently had his Pro Day on the 14th of this month. I'm sure I won't get any arguments when I say that it was probably the most anticipated of this year’s draft class and according to reports Smith didn't disappoint. Witnessing his performance from the sidelines was probably a representative of all 32 NFL teams, but perhaps the team with heaviest presence was our very own Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Gus Bradley, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, and general manager David Caldwell, all flew into Morgantown, West Virginia, with senior vice president Tony Khan on the 14th to do their due diligence on the consensus number one quarterback in the 2013 draft. Reportedly, Smith impressed many on lookers as he completed 60 out of 64 passes in a workout coordinated by former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke. Not too soon after Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley and Smith then had a one-on-one session in which Bradley got to chat with Smith and evaluate 90 minutes worth of film together. In a recent interview with The Florida Times Union it was revealed that Bradley was very impressed with what he both heard and saw in Smith at his Pro Day.
“I had high expectations, but I think I came out there feeling even better,” Bradley said of Smith.
He then continued on to say, “I sat down with him and I just wanted to see how he would be once he entered our building” and also used his time with Smith to evaluate how people would rally around him in the locker room.
Bradley's comments since haven't been overlooked as many analyst have taken note to them. Some think the Jags maybe bluffing to possibly gain a trade partner for Smith and acquire more picks which they definetly could use. Then there's some that believe that the teams intrest is legit. So the question of the day becomes is this a smokescreen or not? If I had to guess I'd say not as the Jaguars seem to putting a lot of effort for this just be a smokescreen. That being said below is a couple cases I could make for drafting the young Florida native.
Now first I want to start by saying that in my last mock I went with Dion Jordan with the Jaguars first pick, however, I could certainly see the team going another route and pulling the trigger on a potential franchise quarterback in Geno Smith.
My first case for Geno concerns the man in charge of the Jaguars personnel decisions, and that’s general manager David Caldwell. We’ve all heard the notion that every GM wants to draft his own franchise quarterback, well I can’t help but feel David Caldwell is no exception. Yes, I understand that both Caldwell and Gus Bradley have openly stated they support Blaine Gabbert, but as the head coach and general manager of the team would you expect them to say otherwise? Both Caldwell and Bradley are coming from situations where they watched their respective GM’s draft and start what appears to be pending franchise quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson as rookies. If Caldwell and his “co-builder” Bradley feel that Geno Smith can be either of those quarterbacks they won’t hesitate to turn his name in to Rodger Goodell on draft night.
The next question then becomes, is the number two overall pick too high to take Smith, and my answer to that is simply, no.Most analysts, scouts, and GM’s tend to agree with one another that Smith is a consensus first round talent, whether it’s a late or early first rounder. That would also mean that those who see him as a first rounder likely do so because they feel he can become a franchise quarterback at some point in his career. So if you’re a team that feels like he can be a potential franchise quarterback (possibly the Jaguars) why does it matter where you take him in the first round? This is likely the mentality that Thomas Dimitroff and David Caldwell had when they drafted Matt Ryan who was considered a “reach” by most where they took him. Essentially that controversial move was one that made them the Super Bowl contender they are today, and if I’m David Caldwell drafting Smith with the number two overall pick maybe a risk well worth taking.
Lastly, the case I want to make for Smith is the situation I think Gus Bradley will put him in. Recently I read an article of an interview between Maurice-Jones Drew and Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated. In the interview Jones-Drew talked about his rehab, returning to college to get his degree, along with a few other subjects. He also stated he would be full-go around June and that he basically will be a key contributor to the Jags offense as Gus Bradley informed him that he plans to “run the rock”. This statement stood out to me particularly because it wasn’t the first time I heard Gus Bradley mention this. In his first press conference Bradley also made the notion that he wants to put emphasis on running the ball being that it puts a strain on the defense and eventually opens up the passing game. That being said it sounds like if the Jags drafted Geno Smith they’d be putting him in a situation where he wouldn’t have to rely on his arm as much. It’s almost a no-brainer this offense will be almost identical to that of the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins both of which were ranked in the top five in terms of rushing. Take that into account with the fact that both offenses had a rookie quarterback under center and you could make the case that Geno Smith could be just as successful as a rookie.
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