Sitting there at the stadium, I was debating the pros and cons of what the Jaguars should do with their first round pick with a couple of other members of the local media. The team was on the clock and Brady Quinn had fallen to the 17th spot and was there for the taking.
“How many games does Reggie Nelson win for you this year,” I asked to no one in particular. “None,” was the collective answer. “And how many does Brady Quinn win for you this year? None,” I answered my own question.
“So, all things considered, and if you’re Jack (Del Rio) you have to know you’re on the hot seat. You take Quinn, you clear up the quarterback situation, you buy yourself another year, and you probably buy yourself another year or two to win,” I said with logic following my thought process. That’s when the Jaguars traded out of the 17th spot, picked up two more draft picks and took Denver’s position at 21.
“They still can get Quinn there,” we observed, “and probably Nelson too” The only player the Jaguars couldn’t get any longer who was on their radar was Jarvis Moss. That’s whom Denver wanted and moved up to get him. Nobody was going to jump in front of them at 21 to take Nelson, and it didn’t look like teams were that anxious to do that to get the Notre Dame quarterback either. So when their pick rolled around again, both Nelson and Quinn were still there.
“We had already made up our mind,” Jack Del Rio said later. “We don’t want to be making any decisions while we’re on the clock. Reggie was a combination of the best player available and he filled a need for us.”
But what about Brady Quinn?
“We decided that we weren’t going to take a quarterback at that spot and we’re excited about Reggie Nelson,” Jack said quickly in coach-speak.
Even though they had Nelson and Quinn rated nearly equally on the board, Nelson was the pick, despite the things that Quinn brought to the table outside of his ability as a quarterback. There is a reason he lasted until the second half of the first round. He was the “buzz” pick, the hype guy in this draft. Some teams rated him among the top three players available this year; others didn’t even have him in the first round.
Clearly the Jaguars were among the latter.
The questions about Quinn started with his accuracy, his ability to win big games and his decision-making process as a quarterback. If you’re not convinced he’s the guy for the future, then you pass on him and move on. But don’t expect to get a free pass because of it.
“I was really angry,” one fan told me on Saturday night. “I’m a Gator,” she explained, “and I like Reggie Nelson, but Brady Quinn! Come on! We get rid of Byron, we get a likable guy at quarterback, we have a player for the future and he’s better than what we have,” she went on to explain, voicing the opinion of a majority of fans in one sentence.
So the Jaguars passed on a golden PR opportunity, twice, in order to take a safety that might fill a need but doesn’t excite anybody. He’s not apiece to the puzzle that changes anybody’s opinions about a team that went 8-8 last year.
I was fascinated by the ESPN panel’s “Yeah, but,” assessment of last year’s Jaguars team. “Boy they have a great defense,” they kept saying “but they’re the ‘Yeah But” team. “They beat Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Dallas, “Yeah But Houston beat them twice.”
So that’s what everybody thinks about the Jaguars, and rightfully so. They need to hope that fans don’t translate that into this year as in, “They took Reggie Nelson. Yeah, but they passed on Brady Quinn.”