Gene Smith: QB in draft not a guarantee

No one has gone as long without drafting a quarterback as the Jacksonville Jaguars. Byron Leftwich was the seventh overall pick in 2003, a year after David Garrard was a fourth-rounder.

The outside expectation is that it’s time. Gene Smith is running his third draft as the Jaguars general manager, and Garrard needs pushing. Too much had to fall correctly into place for the Jaguars to make a Super Bowl run with the inconsistent Garrard at quarterback. A young group of talented players needs a centerpiece.

But Smith told Jacksonville reporters Thursday that there is no guarantee the Jaguars take a quarterback.

“It’s possible [we don’t draft one],” he said. “If that’s the case then that’s the case. We go into every draft trying to target certain players, trying to come out of it accomplishing certain goals, but we’re not always able to do that. We don’t have complete control over who we are able to draft. There are other ways to do it. Player personnel is a year-round process. I know the draft is the biggest part of it, but we’re in a continual evaluation mode throughout the year trying to acquire players that can help upgrade our team.”

I count 10 franchises in need of a quarterback. Nine of them have a pick before the Jaguars first choice at No. 16. Seven of those franchises are scheduled to make two selections before the Jaguars come around with their second-round pick, 49th overall.

Of course, Smith was unlikely to come out and say he's is sure to draft someone who plays position X or to not draft someone who plays position Y. And that answer suggests if the team doesn’t draft a signal-caller, it’ll be looking to sign or trade for a veteran to go with Garrard and Luke McCown.

Smith said if there is a rookie, he won’t have to play right away because of Garrard, a healthy situation as far as easing a new guy in at his own speed.

The Jaguars’ pass rush was still lacking last year and the first round is loaded with quality defensive ends. Jaguars line coach Joe Cullen ran the pro day workout for a large share of defensive ends around the country.

Purdue end Ryan Kerrigan has routinely been given to the Jaguars in mock drafts. He’s a high-character, high-motor, four-year player who was a captain, lines on the résumé which make him a “Smith guy.” But the GM said Kerrigan is not one of a kind.

“He’s what a lot of people are looking for,” Smith said. “There are other players like him in the draft. It’s nice to know that you can target players at any position and get the right kind of character and the right kind of competitor. He’s certainly in line with those thoughts, but there are a number of them in this draft. He’s just one of many so it makes my job a lot easier when we are stacking our draft board when you have a lot of choices.”