AFC South: Terry McDonough
When he took over as the general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars, David Caldwell fired coach Mike Mularkey and most of his staff. Now he’s let go the top two members of the scouting staff he inherited as well as a scout.
Per Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, the Jaguars have parted ways with director of player personnel Terry McDonough, director of pro personnel Louis Clark and southwest regional scout Chris Prescott. Prescott is the son of Jaguars former chief financial officer Bill Prescott.
Caldwell will now bring in his own people for those posts, and perhaps more.
One prime candidate is likely to be Chris Polian.
Caldwell worked for Bill Polian in Indianapolis, and Chris Polian was on the staff there. Caldwell came to Jacksonville from Atlanta, where the Falcons hired Chris Polian after the Polians were fired by the Colts following the 2011 season.
There will be other candidates with expiring contracts or who come free in similar moves with other new regimes.
Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union wrote about how the Jaguars intend to experiment with a Wildcat package in camp and the preseason with Mike Harris, their sixth-round pick out of Florida State in position to throw.
close the gap on Tennessee if Blaine Gabbert can up his game to average and if the coaching staff lives up to its billing.
Two picks into the draft I was excited about what they’d done with receiver Justin Blackmon and defensive end Andre Branch.
Then they made the controversial third-round punter pick. And now they are talking Wildcat.
You lean on a gimmick when your base stuff won’t work, so looking at Harris’ good arm as potentially providing a change-up doesn’t serve as a great endorsement of Blaine Gabbert.
Harris was a spread option quarterback at South Miami (Florida) High School. I wouldn't bank on that for much beyond an occasional trick play.
My understanding about why Tim Tebow ultimately decided to steer the Broncos to trade him to the Jets instead of the Jaguars -- who made a similar offer -- was because he’d get more chances to play on offense in New York.
Great, I said, no gimmicky stuff for the Jaguars. They want to play and excel largely as a conventional offense.
Now I am wondering why they are pumping up the Wildcat, which is largely dead around the league.
Here’s a piece of Ganguli’s story with Mularkey talking.
“It’s not really the college Wildcat scheme but it is a way to attack defenses with somebody other than your quarterback,’’ he said.
He said his scheme sometimes doesn’t have the quarterback on the field. In some Wildcat formations, the quarterback is spread out as a wide receiver.
He said he always asks players if they’ve played quarterback at some point and how well they throw. Besides Harris, the other player he has identified as a candidate is wide receiver Cecil Shorts, who was a high school quarterback.
“We’re going to see how it looks in camp and maybe experiment a little bit in the preseason,’’ he said.
With anything they run that’s Wildcat-like this season, they are begging more Tebow questions, especially if he has any success in the system with the Jets.
The Jaguars, of course, are upbeat and confident they’ve made the right choices, with the selection of punter Bryan Anger in the third-round, outside linebacker Brandon Marshall at a spot where the roster is well stocked, and Harris and seventh-round defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton out of Ashland.
Every team in the league feels confident now. I just hope Terry McDonough, the team’s director of player personnel, doesn’t wind up regretting this enthusiastic comment:
“The bottom line is that we will win, we will fill the stadium and we are going to talk about the punter at the end of the year.’’
“Terrance, due to the injury and the surgery, is going to miss the majority of this offseason for the next three months,” Mularkey said. “With the injury, his inability to lift, run, or do anything physical, he will not be involved in the offseason for at least the next three months. He is at home trying to heal. The healing process is going to take a while and it’s really not an issue we’d like to talk about because he’s not going to be around here due to the injury. The best place for him is at home right now. …”
“There’s a big concern for his health from this team and his family. The healing process has to answer all of those questions. It’s too early right now to give you an answer.”
But general manager Gene Smith indicated at the same team luncheon that going into the draft the team remains optimistic about Knighton’s recovery, but said nothing is definite and the team doesn’t know where Knighton will be in three months.
Knighton had seemingly done good work since the end of the season to keep his weight in check. But now unable to do physical activity for at least the early stages of his recovery, there is an obvious concern about staying at a good number.
“I know that Josh Hingst, who is responsible for helping the nutrition of the food and diets of the players, is going to make a visit to Terrance in person and go through the diet and hopefully help control those things,” Mularkey said. “I’m sure Terrance is aware of the situation. He’s been aware of it the whole offseason.
“He came in here about a week ago when our phase one kicked off and he was in good shape for this time of the year. So I think it’s been something that he’s addressed already early on in this offseason and I think he knows what he has to do. We’re going to try to help him along in that process with a hands-on approach.”
If Knighton can be at the right weight when he returns, it will be a huge boon. He’ll have the resources to help him. He needs to use them. A difficult thing will now be more difficult. But he’s a pro a year away from a new contract and he needs to maximize his chances to play the way he’s capable of playing and to turn it into a financial payoff.
Smith and his top personnel man, Terry McDonough, both said defensive tackle is the deepest spot in the draft. The team also gets back 2009 second-rounder D’Anthony Smith after two seasons lost to injury.
In five picks, Jacksonville drafted offense in the first, third and fourth round, and added to the defensive secondary in the fourth and fifth.
Here is director of player personnel Terry McDonough from a session with the Jacksonville media.
“I don’t know if you guys are going to ask about why didn’t we take more defensive players, but I told [defensive coordinator] Mel [Tucker] two days ago, I said, ‘Mel, just relax. Trust what we’re doing.' It would have been a lot easier to sit up here and explain if we had unrestricted free agency before the draft. It would have made more sense probably to you and everybody else.
“This was not a strong draft in my opinion in positions that we ‘were looking for.’ I didn’t feel it was a strong cornerback draft even though there was a lot of numbers. I didn’t feel it was a strong linebacker draft, and what Gene [Smith] and I try to stay away from is we have the needs, needs, needs and it might look good when we get our grades if we take the needed positions, but if that guy’s not good enough and we reach to take a need, you’re going to be needing that same position the next year and the year after because that guy’s not going to be good enough.
“So we wanted to select players in this draft that were good enough to come in here and help us this year, and then go to unrestricted free agency and get targeted guys there. We plan to be active, that can fill some of the needs we didn’t [fill], because we weren’t going to fill them all in this draft.”
So Jaguars fans have to be patient and understand the roster is hardly complete at this point. When the lockout ends and the market opens, the Jaguars will be shoppers. And we know what they will be shopping for.
Late in this podcast of “The Draft Zone” with Jonathan Hutton from Nashville, I discuss needs around the AFC South.
Connor Barwin and Owen Daniels updates from Stephanie Stradley.
It’s a new direction for the Texans' defense as the draft approaches, says Nick Scurfield.
The Colts are sticking to offseason conditioning plans, says Mike Chappell.
Dallas Clark’s episode of “Criminal Minds” aired Wednesday night.
Maurice Jones-Drew doesn’t think draftees should skip the ceremony, says Tania Ganguli.
The Jaguars have a core group of guys they can win with according to defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, says John Oehser. Note Terry McDonough’s thoughts on quarterbacks in this draft.
Why is Iowa defensive end Ryan Kerrigan regarded as safer than Missouri end Aldon Smith? Alfie Crow rants.
Jim Wyatt examines whether Kenny Britt’s arrest could affect the Titans’ draft plans. I say no, and on NFL Network last night Mike Munchak said he was disappointed in the development but while the Titans could take a wide receiver during the draft it would not be because of what's going on with Britt.
If the games are played, the Texans draw two quality opponents to Reliant Stadium for the preseason, says Alan Burge.
The Bob Sanders banner on Lucas Oil Stadium is coming down and the replacement is ... Mike Chappell spills the details.
Public records confirm Peyton Manning and his wife had twins. They’ve asked for privacy. Unless being a dad has some discernible bearing on his play, then, it’s the last you’ll hear of it here.
A look at the Colts' drafting profile from Brandon Berg.
Director of player personnel Terry McDonough runs down needs as coordinators Dirk Koetter and Mel Tucker talk with fans about their work, all from Vito Stellino.
The St. Augustine Record calls for support for the Jaguars.
Draft-time group think is often wrong at draft time, says Hays Carlyon.
The Titans have had quite a few late-round finds, says Jim Wyatt.
So much for a drama-free offseason for Kenny Britt.
John Glennon thinks it’s more likely the Titans trade down than up.
“I have the same feeling about this draft as I did about last year’s draft after the draft,” he said. “Obviously our defense we needed to get, up front, a lot more athletic, a lot more explosive. It’s no secret that last year we had 14 sacks, which was a league-low in the NFL, and we’re going to try to correct that. We took two very explosive defensive tackles with our first two picks, and then we followed it up with two defensive ends after that…
“Offensively coming into this draft we were pretty much set, maybe there were one or two positions. But defensively we knew up front on the defensive line we needed to get a lot of people that can really run and can get after the quarterback, so we feel like we did that.”
Jacksonville's drafted running back Deji Karim and kick returner Scotty McGee in the sixth round.
Those are qualities that make him seem like a perfect fit for his job. Twelve games into his first season as GM of the Jacksonville Jaguars, he works quietly, anonymous to most NFL fans. That’s just fine with him.
With his team surprisingly in control of one of the AFC’s final playoff spots as it prepares to host Miami Sunday and Indianapolis next Thursday night, he’s been more popular this week, carving out more time to talk to people like me.
His first draft class has made as big a contribution as any in the league and includes a third-round defensive tackle from Temple, Terrance Knighton, and a third-round cornerback from William & Mary, Derek Cox. Coming from those non-powerhouse schools, both picks raised eyebrows when their names were called in April. Both have been effective and look to be long-term building blocks.
Some of Smith’s personnel peers say he deserves applause for his willingness to go with them.
“You’ve got to identify what your needs are, really look at the players and not worry about what everybody else says and I think that’s what they did,” one AFC personnel man said. “You’d prefer not to have to make those decisions your first or second year, you’d like that to come further down the road. But sometimes you don’t have a choice. I think he gets a lot of credit for stepping forward and doing what he thought was the right thing.”
Unless things come apart for the 7-5 Jaguars in spectacular fashion from here, I believe Smith has done enough of the right things that he ought to be seriously considered for any executive of the year awards.
In a wide-ranging conversation Thursday afternoon, we covered a lot of ground.
Here is my attempt to plug you into all of it.
In praising fourth-round pick Mike Thomas, the speedy but small receiver out of Arizona drafted No. 107 in the fourth round, Jaguars director of player personnel Terry McDonough shredded a couple of failed first-rounders in the team's recent history.
Others have already concluded the same things.
Still, it is interesting to read these comments which sprouted out of talk about Thomas' speed -- a 4.29 at the combine according to McDonough:
Will he be a slot receiver?
"Yes, he'll be a slot receiver. What we thought last year when we had Reggie (Williams) and Matt (Jones) and all those receivers, we didn't have a guy that could catch it and do anything with it. And the coaches said we need a player that when you throw him the ball, they can get fast quick, and that's what this guy can do. He can get off the spot. He has burst. So we're excited. It'll be a little different than what you guys have seen around here the last couple of years, and he's a lively guy. Where he was, we thought he was probably going to go maybe a round earlier. So he was the top rated player on our board when we got him."
On the change in the wide receiver philosophy:
"What I will say is this kid can run and it's not one of these. We test the guys who are running the fastest but we bring them in here as fast guys but they really weren't fast. They ran fast on the watch. When you guys are out at mini-camp you'll see, this guy is fast. His speed is evident and his speed is quick. Where Matt (Jones) ran that time at Indy but then you never really saw his speed when he was out here, and you really never saw speed with Reggie (Williams) but you'll see speed on this guy."
Why do you think Thomas lasted to the fourth round?
"[He's] 5 foot 8. Those short receivers don't really go that high. And there's been a lot of receivers taken ahead of him, but I think when you're short like that you get pushed down on the board."
Now you have a 5-7 running back in Maurice Jones-Drew with a 5 foot 8 receiver in Thomas:
"If we could get half the results out of this guy that we got out of that running back, we'll be happy."
Scouts Inc. rates Thomas as above average in three of five receiver categories:
Separation: Quick-twitch athlete and polished route runner. Above-average initial burst off the line of scrimmage and eats up cushions quickly. Sticks foot in the ground and explodes off plant foot coming out of breaks. Uses quick feet to beat press coverage can get muscled out of routes by bigger corners.
Run after catch: Explosive open field runner. Elusive and can make defenders miss. However, isn't going to break many tackles.
Competitiveness and toughness: Competitor and shows good overall awareness/instincts. Not afraid to go over the middle and catch the ball in traffic. Does a nice job of finding an open area when quarterback scrambles. Does a sound job of throttling down and can keep both feet in bounds when catching passes near the sideline.
A couple notes out of the Jaguars' press conference today with GM Gene Smith, coach Jack Del Rio and director of player personnel Terry McDonough. Thanks to the PR staff for sharing transcripts.
Reduced pressure: The team's three free agent signings from the outside, most recently receiver Torry Holt on Monday, has eased the pressures of the draft.
"I think one of the things that we had hoped to be able to do is to be able to acquire a guy like Tra Thomas who's a consummate professional [who] we know can play and start in this league and has for a long time," Del Rio said. "Torry Holt, the same thing, consummate professional, can come in and play for us right now; a Sean Considine. So all three of these guys fit that where you're not just totally void at the position and now you can really let the draft come to you. And I think that's so important.
"In each of those three cases those are positions that had we not been able to fill them prior to the draft, we would have been feeling some pressure and that can cause you to make bad decisions. So I feel good about the fact that we were able to address those things knowing that long term, yeah, we still have a desire to add players at those positions, but I think it doesn't force you into this feeling like you've got to do it early or anything like that. We'll be able to let the best player available come off the board."
Juggling 20 or 30: McDonough thinks there is very little consensus in how teams are stacking players through the first round.
"Not consensus, but I think a lot of teams probably have Aaron Curry as their top player," he said. "After that there are 20 or 30 players that you can juggle in any order. In past years it has been six, seven or eight players where everyone says, 'These are surefire guys.' In this draft there just might be a couple."
He views the second tier of players as very deep, and specifically mentioned depth at receiver and offensive linemen, two positions of need for the Jaguars even with Thomas and Holt in the fold.
"We look at the 20th pick and the 40th pick and there are a lot of similarities between those players," he said.
Asked how many top eight players there are in this draft, McDonough said: "One draft I don't know what year it was  -- the year Shawn Andrews, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow, DeAngelo Hall, Roy Williams -- that draft, those were the guys. Everybody knew. Everybody knew those seven guys were going to go there. This draft, you don't have that. That is why there is so much speculation in the top 10. I think there is going to be some offensive tackles picked because of need up there. There's going to be some quarterbacks picked because of need up there. There isn't a defined, 'OK, these are the seven guys.'"
Quarterback in play: According to Smith, it's possible the Jaguars could take a quarterback at No. 8 if that's where their best-player-available draft strategy leads them. But if it happened that way it wouldn't be an indictment of David Garrard, it would be a stockpiling of talent.
"You're trying to get the best available player and if that's who it is, if it is a quarterback, it's obvious that you're going to have some financial ramifications," Smith said. "That position is paid differently than other positions, especially that high in the draft. But you have a good young player that we feel will be an eventual starter in this league. And we feel very good about David; it would make us very strong at that position. But again, quarterbacks have good trade value and I think that's the key that you have to understand."
The Jaguars could probably get more from a trade partner if the team looking to get to No. 8 is doing so for a quarterback, Smith said.
That sure seems to be an ideal scenario of the Jags.
Versatile Raji: Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji is in the mold of Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton, a true 3-4 nose tackle, Smith said. But he also said Raji could fit into any team and system.
Final prep: Smith and his staff will conduct a mock draft Wednesday and look to cover as many scenarios that could unfold in the seven picks ahead of them.
Pre-draft press conferences can be some of the most awkward around the NFL.
Teams like GMs and/or coaches to provide some fodder for reporters, and we want to hear from them. But their objective at the podium or table is typically to offer little real information or even to put a last bit of misdirection in the air.
The Jaguars just wrapped up their pre-draft press conference Tuesday afternoon, and we expect to be able to get a taste of what general manager Gene Smith, coach Jack Del Rio and director of player personnel Terry McDonough had to say later on.
Here's when you can expect to hear from the rest of the division:
- Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith will talk Wednesday at 2:30 ET, and you can see it live at houstontexans.com.
- Tennessee Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt, national supervisor of college scouting C.O. Brocato, director of college scouting Mike Ackerley and scouting coordinator Blake Beddingfield will talk Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.
- Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian will talk with local press at 2 ET Friday.
We'll do our best to sort through those press conferences and hit any highlights.
Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver Monday announced specifics of the team's front office shuffle, saying new GM Gene Smith has the final say in personnel while coach Jack Del Rio has the final say in on-the-field matters.
Smith's title is General Manager/Senior Vice President, Player Personnel, a stronger title than James "Shack" Harris had. Harris was Vice President, Player Personnel.
Here are the most important pieces of the press release:
"The changes we are making will bring greater clarity in responsibilities," Weaver said, "with Gene Smith having final say in personnel decisions and Jack Del Rio having final say in all coaching decisions. Gene has been given greater and greater responsibility with this organization, and I am confident that in this new role he will be successful in directing our football operation.
"...Gene and Jack have worked closely in the past and will continue to do so to make this a strong, competitive team year in and year out. Our goal is to win a championship and the moves we make are with that clear objective in mind. I'm excited for our fans because I believe we are ascending as 2009 unfolds..."
Said Smith: "I appreciate and am grateful for Wayne's leadership and his confidence in me. Our challenge is to build a playoff-caliber team that can compete to win a world championship. We have a staff of quality people who drive the process, and the player personnel department will continue to work with the coaching staff to collectively accumulate not only the best players, but the best people who possess our defined character traits. I'm looking forward to developing a roster with Jack that will give our coaching staff a competitive advantage."
In the three other promotions, Terry McDonough was named director, player personnel; Tim Mingey was named assistant director, college personnel; and Andy Dengler was named national scout.
A quick look at each:
- McDonough has been with the Jaguars for six years, most recently serving as national scout. A veteran of 20 years in scouting, McDonough has worked in scouting and supervisory roles for the Barcelona Dragons of the World League in addition to the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
- Mingey joined the Jaguars in 1994 and, like Smith, is one of 15 current Jaguars employees who have been with the organization for 14 years. Mingey has been an executive scout for the last six seasons after serving as a college scout for nine years. Previously he spent 21 years as a college assistant coach and a recruiting coordinator.
- Dengler was promoted to executive scout in 2008 after serving 10 years as a college scout for the Jaguars. Joining the team in 1998, he had four years of experience as a National Combine Scout and eight years experience coaching in college as an assistant head coach, coordinator and position coach.