The move to waive the rookie quarterback is hardly as shocking as last season's move to release former starter Byron Leftwich just nine days prior to the regular season opener. Still, it does leave the Jaguars with a slight dilemma—when will they develop a young quarterback?
Jacksonville currently has three quarterbacks on the roster, starter David Garrard, backup free agent acquisition Cleo Lemon, and veteran journeyman Todd Bouman. Lemon is the youngest of the group at 28 years old (will turn 29 in a few weeks), and with all due respect to Cleo, he's not a player that the team could build the future around.
Paul Smith was a very efficient passer at the University of Tulsa, as evidenced by his host of school records. Smith threw for over 5000 yards as a senior, and was named Conference USA's Co-Offensive Player of the Year. At 6'1", 208 lbs., Smith is mobile and very accurate on short routes. Despite being undrafted, Smith remained very confident—
"I heard people talking about Tom Brady being drafted in the seventh round (he was actually selected in the sixth-round) and him telling the owner this was the best decision that the organization has ever made. I guess I'm one step below the seventh round, being a free agent, but I really feel like, I can say the same thing. I want to tell somebody that this was the best decision that they could have made for a quarterback this year and hopefully it works out that it's the best decision they've made as an organization. Without being arrogant, you have to have the confidence to want to come in there to compete and succeed."
"I have seven chips on my shoulder."
Still, all of those attributes and shoulder chips meant nothing in training camp as Smith struggled to make outside throws, and seemed to be picking up Dirk Koetter's offense slowly. The hopes by many were that the undrafted rookie could earn a spot as the Jaguars third quarterback if they indeed chose to keep one. As camp progressed, Smith was more likely a practice squad candidate rather than a 53-man roster candidate.
It is possible that Smith can still earn a practice squad spot with the Jaguars, as it isn't extremely likely that he'll be picked up by another club, as several veteran free agent quarterbacks remain unsigned.
The likelihood of Paul Smith developing into even a backup quarterback in the next few years was dubious, at best. Although Smith started three full seasons at Tulsa, his physical skills aren't going to get the job done consistently on the NFL level, and if the Jaguars were going to depend on him to play anything more than meaningless preseason snaps in 2008, they would be in serious trouble. Jacksonville still must find a young signal caller to develop for the future.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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