Don’t Slam Gene Smith…YET

Posted: April 30, 2012 in Jacksonville Jaguars
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m not going to be a hypocrite and rip Gene Smith for drafting a punter in the third round with the 70th overall pick. Yes, like most of you, that was my initial reaction.

But over the years, I’ve been an outspoken critic of coaches who talk about offense, defense and special teams as being equal parts but always treating special team players as afterthoughts. If all three are equally important, put your money where your mouth is.

That’s exactly what the Jaguars general manager did when he drafted California punter Bryan Anger. A bold, risky move, yes. A stupid move? Only time will tell.

Smith and Anger now face incredible pressure and scrutiny. Not only will Anger need to be an extraordinary punter immediately, the Jaguars need to win more than they lose this coming season — and probably make the playoffs. Otherwise, Smith will deserve the heat he catches.

That goes double if any of the 183 players picked after Anger become immediate impact players. Triple that if any of those players turn out to be star pass rushers and pass catchers.

Understand I haven’t studied any tape and, instead, I am going by what I’ve seen on TV and read about the various players. Among the higher rated and better known pass rushers the Jaguars ignored to select a punter are Miami DE Oliver Vernon (3rd round, 72nd pick, Dolphins), Arkansas DE Jake Bequette (3rd, 90, Patriots), Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (4th, 103, Panthers) and Nebraska DE Jared Crick (4th, 126, Texans). The wide receivers of the same ilk include Rutgers’s Mohamed Sanu (3rd, 83, Bengals), Wake Forest’s Chris Givens (4th, 96, Rams) and Wisconsin’s Nick Toon (4, 122, Saints).

Among other players at positions where the Jaguars have needs who were ignored by Smith are a pair of former Georgia Bulldogs, center Ben Jones (4th, 99, Texans) and cornerback/kick returner Brandon Boykin (4th, 123, Eagles).

As for rating Smith’s overall work for the Jaguars’ draft, I’m still convinced he’s determined to show everyone he’s the smartest guy in the room. Certainly drafting the punter is a major part of that. Taking a 28-year-old defensive tackle from Division III Ashland, Jeris Pendleton (6-3, 328), in the 7th round is another example.

The bottom line is that since the end of last season the Jaguars appear to have improved their roster. Getting Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon in the 1st round and signing free agent WRs Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans provide 2nd year QB Blaine Gabbert with far more help than he had last season. Holdover Mike Thomas could be the key to the passing game. He has a chance to flourish as a slot receiver now that the Jaguars have outside threats. Re-signing DE Jeremy Mincey and getting Clemson DE Andre Branch in the 2nd round can only improve the anemic pass rush. What if DE Aaron Kampman can make a comeback from two knee injuries? The pass rush could actually be a plus.

The best possible scenario for Smith and the Jaguars is Anger won’t have to prove himself too often because the team will score a lot more points and not punt as often.


  1. cjaxjazz says:

    Hey, someone check the facility to make sure Jack’s gone.
    Lamm is correct about one thing; it will take time to determine if drafting a punter in the 3rd round was a bad move…… Ok, time’s up. It was a bad move!!! Oh, he will be a good punter, but it tells me more about the style of play than anything. Are you sure Jack has left the building? I wish the Jaguars had a sub- par running game, so it would force them to pass the ball. I feel they will try to run the ball no matter what…… We’ve seen this before, and 2012 may become a pretty sad situation. The drafting of the punter tells me that punting will make up 25% of the offensive plays. Hey, I guess the punter will be a starter. Since I live in Jax, I really want the Jaguars to win, but I’m a Falcon fan.

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