It doesn’t take long for Shad Khan to figure out what he likes and doesn’t like when it comes to a business he owns. After his first draft day as owner of the Jaguars, he knew there were some things he didn’t like.
“It wasn’t until the afternoon of the day of the draft that I found out. It was ‘top secret.’ It was like a stone tablet that kind of descended,” he explained in his office two days before the 2016 NFL Draft. “And then it was even like ‘We’ll peek the curtain and let you take a peek, only because you own the team.’ Now it’s much different, it’s inclusive. The scouts, the coaches, led by (GM) Dave Caldwell. You want to be prepared and not be impulsive.”
As the owner, Khan isn’t going to make the decisions on whom the Jaguars should take, but he’ll be in the room when the picks come up to offer counsel. “I feel really good about it. It takes discipline,” he told me when I asked about being on the clock. “Are you going to take the player you want? Are you going to trade the pick? You have to be prepared and then disciplined to be able to execute your plan.”
Memories of his first draft in 2012 are very clear in Khan’s mind, and he doesn’t want to make the same mistakes. “I was new and I was graciously invited to visit some people during some of the draft, so I missed some of the picks. Like taking a punter in the third round. That had a profound effect on me,” he said with a bit of emphasis.
“One thing you learn early on is don’t believe anything anybody is telling you,” Khan said with a laugh regarding the learning process about the draft. “There is a certain amount of gamesmanship. It’s best to maybe not talk to some of your friends because you don’t want to be less than candid about it.” While he’s not making the picks, Khan is involved in the process of compiling information about potential players the Jaguars could be targeting. “I got to know a lot of these young football players up close and personal. They sat in the chair you’re sitting in,” he said with a laugh. “I would not judge them on football talent but I think what kind of team player they might be, what makes them tick, they’re gifted athletically but they’re still very young men.”
While going through this building process, the Jaguars have built what Khan calls “a core” of players who are representative of what the team is looking for when it comes to the on and off-field production. Whether it’s Blake Bortles or Allen Robinson and any number of veterans they’ve acquired, they all have a thread of personality that show’s they’ll fit into the organization.
“Absolutely,” Khan said immediately.
While he’s been successful across the business spectrum, Khan has an expectation to be successful in the NFL as well. Even with the human component of injury as part of the equation, Khan doesn’t see it that much differently.
“I think there are variables in life and in every business. It could be the marketplace, processes, and people getting ill. There are rules in the NFL about players moving but in life there are no rules. You could say “I’m the most valuable employee today, and this afternoon I’m joining the circus,” he said with a huge laugh.
Off the topic of the draft, Khan said he was extremely pleased with what’s going on with the Jaguars and London. When I asked if it was possible that the Jaguars might play a game as an “away” team overseas he smiled and said, “Anything’s possible.”
He likes the progress being made to the stadium improvements saying that he hopes what is happening on the south end zone will be “an iconic representation of Jacksonville.”
He expects the Shipyard project to eventually be completed but added, “We can start east of there until the EPA situation with the city, the state and the federal government gets sorted out.”