Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coughlin Didn't Set Bar Too High for New Guys

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coughlin Didn't Set Bar Too High for New Guys

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

When Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver decided to fire Tom Coughlin, then split the power on personnel decisions between vice president James Harris and coach Jack Del Rio, among the biggest reasons for the change was too many draft-day mistakes.

Looking at the Jaguars' drafts from 1995-2001, Coughlin came up considerably short. He hit a home run on six-of-68 picks -- Tony Boselli, Rob Johnson (fourth-round pick who was later traded for a first-round pick), Mark Brunell (obtained in trade for two picks), Tony Brackens, Fred Taylor and Marlon McCree (seventh-round pick who became a full-time starter). Coughlin also took 15 other players who became starters (never Pro Bowl-types) or were decent backups taken out of the lower rounds, all of which should count as good selections.

Twenty-one of 68 draft choices being either great or good translates into a .309 percentage, which is fine for a hitter in baseball, but not for an NFL personnel operation. Of Coughlin's 68 picks through 2001, the Jaguars either cut 32 immediately in training camp or they lasted two years or less with little contribution.

Coughlin had the benefit of a team willing to spend in free agency to offset his suspect choices. Harris and Del Rio have that luxury to some degree, but if they expect to last as long as their predecessor, they need to draft a lot better. . . .

Harris said this week that he could envision the possibility of drafting Byron Leftwich and keeping Brunell next season. But it'd be pretty awkward for Brunell to feel comfortable even as the starter, knowing fans would clamor for Leftwich the moment Brunell has a bad game. If the Jaguars take Leftwich, they may release Brunell because he's only a $2 million hit on their salary cap in 2003 and 2004. . . . For Mario Andretti's next stunt, the 63-year-old driver will star in his own reality TV show in which Dr. …

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