Thursday, April 25, 2013
Caldwell gets OT first, as Smith did
By Paul Kuharsky
In 2009, with his first pick as an NFL general manager, Gene Smith selected Eugene Monroe at No. 8 overall. Smith believed the foundation of his Jacksonville Jaguars should start with a cornerstone lineman.
Four years later, Smith’s successor, David Caldwell, has gone the same direction with his first pick, Thursday's second overall.
Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M was long presumed to be the top pick in this draft, but Kansas City chose Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher instead.
New Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said recently that if the team drafted a premier tackle at the top, the newcomer would play on the right, with Monroe remaining on the left. That, of course, could change.
Monroe has been a good player for the Jaguars, not a great one. I don’t think longtime line coach Andy Heck maximized the talents of many of the team’s guys. Now Heck is, interestingly, with the Chiefs and will coach Fisher, while George Yarno will work with Monroe and Joeckel.
Having two left tackles and playing one on the right side isn’t a crime. A year from now, Monroe might leave as a free agent. We’ll have to see how he plays, how much the Jaguars want him, how much he wants to stay. If Caldwell had drafted a defender, all those questions still could have been in play for Monroe after 2013.
At worst, in a year, the Jaguars would shift Joeckel to left tackle and probably get an upgrade.
For 2013, the Jaguars just became a significantly better pass-protecting team, which helps Blaine Gabbert's chance to improve or creates a better setting for a new quarterback. They get better blocking for Maurice Jones-Drew, too.
Right tackle was a disaster area last year with Cameron Bradfield starting 12 games and Guy Whimper starting four. Neither was up to the task.
Cross it off the list of issues.
Pass rush, cornerback and strong safety remain massive holes, and a quarterback could be in play with the first pick in the second round Friday night. Or sooner, if the Jaguars trade back into the first round.