The last time the Jacksonville Jaguars selected 29th in the first round of the NFL Draft, then head coach Tom Coughlin selected USC wide receiver R Jay Soward. It might have been the worst first round pick in franchise history.
If he isn’t, Soward is a selection the Jacksonville Jaguars would love to forget.
“Soward battled alcohol issues as a rookie and Coughlin fined him numerous times for violating team rules. Coughlin even sent a limo to Soward’s home to ensure that he would make team meetings,” writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. “Soward caught 14 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown in 13 games in 2000 but was suspended for the first four games of the 2001 season after violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.”
He moved on to the CFL where he lasted three seasons with the Toronto Argonauts.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had their fair share of missed opportunities. Wide receivers Reggie Williams and Matt Jones come to mind. The team also used the second pick in the 2013 Draft on tackle Luke Joeckel, who battled injuries and a two position changes in his four seasons with the team. Joeckel is now playing for the Seattle Seahawks.
While the NFL Draft is as unpredictable as the stock market, picking so late in the game is a new concept for this team. In 2011, the team had the 16th pick in the first round, traded up to 10th with the Washington Redskins and grabbed Blaine Gabbert. The Houston Texans picked JJ Watt with the next selection.
Soward, however, is the one most pundits talk about when it comes to wasted picks.
DiRocco points out It’s a much different scenario for the Jaguars now than it has been over the past decade when they picked in the top 10 every year. That’s an NFL record, as is the six consecutive seasons in which they picked in the top five (2012-17).
“Only two of those players — defensive tackle Tyson Alualu and quarterback Blake Bortles — earned second contracts with the Jaguars and cornerback Jalen Ramsey was the only one named to a Pro Bowl or the All-Pro team,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, the rest of the teams picking in the top 10 since 2008 had no trouble finding elite players. Of the 100 players taken in the top 10 the past decade, 41 became Pro Bowlers (a total of 103 Pro Bowls) and 20 were named All-Pro (a total of 32 times).”
Finding players at the back end of the first round is not impossible. Center Nick Mangold (New York Jets in 2006), guard Ben Grubbs (Baltimore in 2007), safety Harrison Smith (Minnesota in 2012), were all taken from that draft slot.