Praising Gene Smith? Proceed With Caution

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Jacksonville Jaguars
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fans at Jaguars Draft parties all over town last night literally exploded with enthusiasm when it was announced the Jaguars had traded up to the 5th pick and taken WR Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State.

Indeed, it was a slick move by the often criticized team’s general manager, Gene Smith. Not only did he get the man a majority of Jags fans wanted but he practically stole him considering what other teams paid to move up in the draft. The Jaguars gave up a 4th rounder. Smith also is proving to be a master at the shell game, having dropped hints everywhere that the Jaguars were looking to move down, not up.

But as one of Smith’s biggest critic I’m not ready to forgive and forget yet. First, Blackmon has to prove himself and Smith’s evaluation. Second, we’ve seen Smith do this before.

Our memories are often short. Just a year ago Smith surprised us by moving up to the 10th spot and taking QB Blaine Gabbert. There were celebrations all over town then, too. The more Gabbert played last season the less celebrating there was.

I like the move. Lord knows the Jaguars need help at wide receiver. But we’re still waiting to see if Smith can truly judge talent.

In fairness to Smith, wide receiver is one of the riskiest positions to judge. Few, if any, positions produce more busts AND surprises. The Jaguars know the “bust” side of this well, having wasted 1st round picks of receivers R.J. Soward, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones.

If Blackmon proves himself worthy of being drafted so high it could produce incredible results. The addition of Blackmon and free agent Laurent Robinson could have a snowball effect. While Gabbert played poorly as a rookie, he didn’t get much help from his receivers. Better receivers hopefully means a better Gabbert.

It also could make running back Maurice Jones-Drew even more effective. Huh? Didn’t he lead the NFL in rushing last season? (Absolutely, but imagine using MJD less but with the same or better results?) If the Jaguars can throw the ball, MJD won’t have to stare at 8- and 9-man fronts every time he lines up.

Thus far in his career at Jaguar GM, Smith has made solid-to-okay but unspectacular draft picks in the early rounds. He’s overdue to get the kind of impact player NFL teams need to contenders for titles.

Smith’s future as an NFL GM could be riding in Blackmon’s hands.


  1. James Walker says:

    Mr. Lamm, I agree with most of your points. However, there is no way we can hold Gabbert accountable for last season. No OTAs, no pre-season, and not starting the season (which had to be a serious confidence booster courtesy of bonehead Del Rio) did not prepare Gabbert properly to start for the Jaguars.

    Yes, he had VERY little help from the WRs – I couldn’t agree more. Moreover, although the offensive line blocked well for MJD, it was a joke when it came to pass protection. Bottom line: I am not ready to throw in the towel on Gabbert yet.

    If Mularkey hires the right people to develop Gabbert correctly, then he’ll do just fine. Hopefully, not too much damage was done in his first year to ruin his confidence. The only thing I saw that was of great concern was the “duck and chuck” routine he fell into after getting killed when he dropped back more than three steps. That must stop or I don’t care who coaches him – he’ll never make it in the NFL.

    MJD will love life if Blackmon and Robinson flourish. We shall see what Smith does with the picks in the second through seventh rounds. I think he needs to address DE and/or RT immediately; Eben Britton has a huge question mark, and Lord knows we are the worst at rushing the QB.

    I write for Bleacher Report: Walker

    If you have a moment, I would greatly appreciate any advice or comments you could give about my writing. A man of your stature and reputation in the sports media world could only help a guy like me who’s trying to make it doing the same thing.



  2. Wyman says:

    As a guy who writes a couple of non-sports blogs, I know how Mr. Walker feels. Forget my thoughts, go Coach-up Mr. Walker, before the season starts. Still plenty of time to mull over the upcoming Jaguars season. Here’s your chance to be a cross between Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier, while coaching-up Mr. Walker on the finer ponts of being a Guru. Gooooo….LAMM!!!!! 🙂

  3. Wyman says: Think that is what he meant to post, but not certain.

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