The answer to that question is really just many more questions. Sort of like this, to name only a few:
- If they are, then what the hell do they plan to do with Blaine Gabbert?
- If they are, then they’re really going to use a top 10 pick on a quarterback for the second time in three years?
- If they are, then does that elevate the value of Matt Barkley and maybe even Ryan Nassib for the other quarterback needy teams who are on the clock shortly after the Jaguars at No. 2? (namely, the Bills, Raiders, and Cardinals)
But really, here’s the most important question: in late March and still a month away from draft night, how much billowing thick smoke comes with every nugget tying the Jaguars to the best quarterback in this draft class? A lot, probably.
The latest such nugget is buried in Peter King’s weekly Monday Morning Quarterback bible, somewhere after he says something about the awful seating arrangements on Delta Airlines. And it truly is the definition of an information slice, as King notes that the Jags are “interested, preliminarily“. By drafting Smith, the message would be clear: we screwed up, huge time.
At best, Blaine Gabbert has been inconsistent, and at worst he’s been absolutely horrible. We all understand this, and surely he does too. We also are abundantly aware that the NFL has always been a league where a head coach’s fate is often tied to his quarterback. Just ask Ken Whisenhunt, for example, who lost his head coaching gig in Arizona mostly because his team’s entire QB depth chart induced a whole lot of vomit. The Jags have a new head coach in Gus Bradley, and he surely wants to retain that position for more than one season.
Fair enough, but although the Andrew Lucks and Robert Griffin III’s have led to a complete lack of patience with rookie/young quarterbacks, as horrible as Gabbert’s been we need to keep some context in mind. He’s made his share of starts (24), but a significant portion of those starts came during a 2011 season when he had little pass-catching support, and even more came this past year with Maurice Jones-Drew out, and he then had little backfield support. Yeah yeah, Chad Henne came in and was a volume passer, accumulating a whole lot of yards when Gabbert went down (he topped 300 yards in a game twice). He also threw as many picks as he did touchdowns (11 apiece), and had a passer rating of just 72.2. Meh.
It remains likely that the Jaguars and their new front office regime led by general manager David Caldwell will give up on Gabbert, admitting that he was a reach at No. 10 two years ago. But reaching again isn’t the solution either, with Smith not quite worthy of the second overall pick. That’s why the Smith-to-Jacksonville chatter you’re hearing right now is likely only truthful if it nets the desired price: picks, and hopefully lots of them.
Caldwell is surely leaking interest to get the Bills (currently at No. 8) or Cardinals (No. 6) into a bidding war to move up and secure their franchise quarterback. He can then address a weak pass rush by moving back in the opening round, and then wait on Nassib.