New Jags GM says he prefers prospects from big schools


One of the most dangerous traps for personnel evaluators is dogma.

Saying you’ll never do this, or always do that is a good way to acquire a set of blinders and miss.

But while new Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said he never rules anything out, he admitted a bit of prejudice in the draft process from players from big schools.

“I always believe in drafting and acquiring toward what the norms are,” Caldwell said, via the team’s official website. “If 93 percent of the players in the NFL are playing at Division I-A programs, that’s the norm. I’m not saying I would never draft a small-school player, but they would have to dominate that level. I wouldn’t say absolutes, but I’m a believer: Big school, big competition.’’

During his time with the Falcons, their top draft picks were from Wisconsin, Alabama, Missouri, Ole Miss and Boston College.

While Julio Jones and Matt Ryan aren’t better players because they played at their respective colleges, there is a better opportunity to scout like vs. like in the SEC (or even the ACC) than the directional state schools or Division II players.

18 responses to “New Jags GM says he prefers prospects from big schools

  1. Before you people start dogging Gene Smith for not drafting big school players, remember that he drafted Bryan Anger from Cal.

  2. Im with Caldwell here…look around the league at teams w/ small school qbs. The Ravens and Joe Flacco come to mind. That being said, Im sure Ravens fans would agree big school studs like Blaine Gabbert are clearly the way to go.

  3. Yah, for every Danny Woodhead there are a bunch of guys who flash that promise.

    Woodhead dominated at Chadron State, and it translated. Also, as a new guy, if you fail, you want to fail with guys from Bama and LSU and not some random FCS school.

  4. Yeah, because the two starting QBs in the Super Bowl this season came from the powerhouses known as Nevada and Delaware.

  5. I think you have to have a mix of both. Ted Thompson has had quite a bit of success picking players from small schools in the middle rounds. Nick Collins (Bethune-Cookman) was an All-Pro caliber player before his career ending neck injury. He’s got two high-quality guards (Sitton – University of Central Florida) and TJ Lang (Eastern Michigan) both taken in the 4th round (while his 1st rounders at tackle didn’t play much last year from Iowa and Mississippi State). The Patriots traded up with Green Bay in 2006 to draft the immortal Chad Jackson out of Florida, while the Packers gladly selected Greg Jennings with the Pat’s pick in the 2nd round out of Western Michigan. Two of his “bust” picks (and he doesn’t have too many) were Justin Harrell (Tennessee – 1st round) and Brandon Jackson (Nebraska – 2nd round).

    Just pick the guys who can play football.

  6. The problem with Gene Smith was that most of his picks were bad whether they were from large or small schools, and he lost picks by trading up. Still, the Jaguar fans focused on his seeming preference for small schools. So, Caldwell was smart to get in front of this issue.

  7. It really seems to me as though the highest bust rate for NFL draft picks are those coming out of the SEC and schools like USC, where the talent levels they are surrounded with make them appear better than they are.

  8. Yes, Jacksonville needs to stop drafting all those terrible small school players, like Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Tyson Alualu, Blaine Gabbert, Derrick Harvey, and Reggie Nelson.

    SEC? Pac-12? Who has even heard of these conferences?

    Funny how the story earlier today is whether Derek Cox is good enough to use the franchise tag on, while all those top draft picks from those conferences are washed out or hanging on by a thread. And then there’s Cecil Shorts.

    Yep, small school drafting, that’s the problem in Jacksonville.

  9. This new guy is simply saying that he will lean towards the big school kid over the small school kid if everything else is equal….makes sense to me!

    and Gene Smith had more than one bad philosophy as it pertained to drafting. He leaned too heavily towards character and missed good talent, he refused to drafted from the SEC, he preferred small school guys (Mostly in the latter rounds), he only drafted 1 QB in 4 drafts and he didn’t bring in enough competition for the teams struggling O-line and D-line (refusing to admit he made poor selections). All that adds up to the worst roster in the league right now….

  10. Let’s see here…

    Falcons select Mat (I have a handle before I’ve thrown a pass in the NFL) Ryan. VS

    Joe (I just win) Flacco

    League stats almost identical except one exception.

    Playoffs: Ryan – one win, two losses and a whole lot of crying

    Joe Flacco 11 wins against 4 losses, 1 Lombardi, 1 SB MVP award and 1 trip to Disney.

    Who was the Delaware blue hen, who was the BC golden boy. Who was the 3rd pick in the 1st round and who was the 18th pick?

    Today’s dogma is tomorrow’s dog poop.

  11. Meanwhile, championship caliber franchises will do the extra homework uncovering the hidden gems all over the rosters of the mid-majors.

    This guy seems like a clown. There’s no shortcut.

  12. You can find anecdotal evidence to support any argument you want including, i.e. draft small schools because look at Cecil Shorts. Caldwell is simply acknowledging what the statistics say: The likelihood of success is greater drafting from schools with better competition than those with lesser competition. Gene Smith never grasped that concept. When he did draft from larger schools, he often did so poorly as reflected by the idiocy of picks like Blaine Gabbert who he spent picks to get.

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