Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars GM Gene Smith Must Hit a Home Run in the Draft

Eugene Monroe has played well, but not 'top 10 pick' well.
Eugene Monroe has played well, but not 'top 10 pick' well.Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images
Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistApril 16, 2012

Every team needs a good draft.

The Houston Texans could be serious Super Bowl contenders if they have a bang-up draft to replace some of the pieces they've lost.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans could leapfrog the Texans and become a playoff team if they nail it in New York.

The Indianapolis Colts need Andrew Luck to turn out so well that, no matter how good, no other draft haul can compare.

However, when it comes to which AFC South team absolutely has to be perfect, there's really no contest.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have to have the best draft.

As Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union pointed out yesterday, Jaguars GM Gene Smith has had some bad luck in the NFL draft in the past.

Tyson Alualu hasn't been bad, but he hasn't proven worthy of a Top-10 pick, either. Blaine Gabbert struggled in year one, and Eugene Monroe isn't beating down the door of the Pro Bowl.

His second and third-round picks haven't been great, either. William Rackley was terrible. D'Anthony Smith has yet to play a down. Eben Britton, Derek Cox and Terrance Knighton have been solid, but even Knighton has had issues recently.

Drafts are won and lost at the top. Smith has picked in the Top 10 in all three drafts following his appointment, but has yet to find an elite talent. Monroe and Alualu are fine players, but neither has proven to be the kind of difference maker that a franchise taking early in the first round needs.

With a new owner in town who has no loyalty to Smith, 2012 promises to be a defining draft for the current Jaguars GM and for the franchise.

Without a good draft and some serious improvement from Gabbert, there will be little reason for Shad Kahn to stick with Smith.

The Gabbert pick will obviously be Smith's legacy, so it's this year that could help determine whether he's around long enough to see that legacy written.

Rebuilding in the NFL is painful, but if Shad Kahn doesn't like what he sees in this year's draft class, he'll have to consider parting ways with Smith before letting him pick in the Top 10 for a fifth consecutive year.

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