Jags Draft Will Be Judged On Gabbert

Jacksonville's draft day trade to acquire Blaine Gabbert will almost certainly cost some people jobs. Will it be David Garrard's or Jack Del Rio's?

They traded up to get their quarterback of the future on the first round of the draft and probably made it likely that coach Jack Del Rio won't be part of that future.

They traded up to get Blaine Gabbert, who is now their quarterback of the future.

The Jaguars gave up their second-round pick to Washington to trade up six spots with Washington from 16th to the 10th spot to select Gabbert, who will eventually replace David Garrard as the team's quarterback.

To give up a second-round pick to get a quarterback of the future was a logical move for general manager Gene Smith.

But it meant they probably won't be able to address their shaky defense before the third round.

That means the defense probably won't be that much better so the Jaguars will likely be in a rebuilding mode for another year. But Del Rio has to win this year to save his job so he's in a difficult situation.

Gabbert played in the spread offense at Missouri and came out after his junior season so he probably needs time to adjust to the pro game.

But that's not going to stop the fans from clamoring for Gabbert sooner rather than later although both Del Rio and Smith stressed that Garrard is still the quarterback.

"Our intention is to have David as our quarterback and have Blaine come in and push David," Del Rio said.

"David is our quarterback. We've got Luke McCown behind him," Smith said. "He's a proven starter."

The addition of Gabbert also may excite the fans and cause a bump in the team's sluggish ticket sales.

But Del Rio knows he's going to have to deal with all the speculation about the quarterback position in training camp.

"We'll have fun. C'mon. That's part of the deal. We all know that. You guys are going to have fun with it. We're going to do the best we can to keep it real as a football team to continue to keep the focus on team.

"We have two good young men who are going to be battling. We have the right kind of guys. Very unselfish. A guy with a skill-set who's got a lot of talent who's a younger player who needs to grow and another guy who's an older player who's been real solid who's going to be pushed to be even better. I think that is more of a positive that maybe it sounds like right now," he said.

Smith said of all the hoopla that will likely take place this fall, "That's normal, though, for that position in general for the fans to do that (clamor for the young player). We're going to go with the players who give us the best chance to win."

Smith said of Gabbert, "He's certainly got the height, weight, speed, He's got the arm, he's got the mental ability so we feel like he's got ascending ability for a quarterback. He's at a position that arguably makes the greatest impact of the game."

Del Rio said, "It's a quarterback driven league. We think he has a chance to be a real good football player. We know he's a good skill set and we also know he has a lot of work to do. We're looking forward to getting started."

Gabbert started two years at Missouri and led the team to a10-3 record last year. He threw for 3,186 yards and 16 touchdowns last year.

Assuming the lockout isn't imposed again, getting Gabbert signed in time to open camp may not be easy because he has a high powered agent in Tom Condon.

Garrard tweeted after the pick, "I love being a Jaguar and plan on being here for a long time."

Gabbert said he is will do whatever the coaches want him to do.

"I have the ability to throw the ball down field and fit it into tight windows, and then the ability to make a play when the pocket breaks down," he said.

Gabbert will be helped by the fact the lockout has been lifted and he can start studying the playbook and working with the coaches immediately although that could be short circuited if the lockout is put back in place by the appellate court.

Realistically, though, the odds are that Gabbert will be expected to be the starter by the 2012 season if not before.

Del Rio also will face a sensitive situation of dealing with a veteran quarterback and a first-round draft pick for the second time in his career.

In 2003, Mark Brunell was the veteran starter and they drafted Byron Leftwich, who became the starter when Brunell was injured early in the season. Del Rio later announced that Leftwich would remain the starter even before Brunell was healthy enough to play, a move that alienated many Brunell fans.

The Jaguars would probably be better off going with Gabbert from the start, but Del Rio is likely to start off with Garrard because he needs to win to keep his job and Garrard probably gives him a better chance to win this year.

This is the second consecutive year that Smith had pulled off a shocking development on the first round with the 10th pick.

Last year, he took defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with that pick even though Alualu wasn't rated that high on many draft boards. Smith was vindicated when Alualu started all 16 games even though he was battling injuries.

Smith said he's not a gambler, but called himself a "calculated risk-taker."

Smith first offered Dallas a second-round pick for the ninth pick, but the Cowboys turned it down. He then made the same offer to Washington and the Redskins took it and drafted defensive end Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick, who was listed in that spot on many mock drafts for the Jaguars.

It was a long-term move, but by giving up their second-round pick, the Jaguars won't be able to help their poor pass defense until the third round.

But Smith said the Jaguars will get help from their final five picks, from developing players already on the team and from free agency.

"We will be better than what we were last year (on defense)," Smith said of the defense. "I feel very confident."

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