Jaguars will take time to develop rookie signalcaller

Posted March 03, 2011 @ 11:15 p.m.
Posted By Arthur Arkush

With David Garrard the only quarterback under contract, the Jaguars elected earlier this week to re-sign backup Luke McCown to a one-year extension. McCown, 29, appeared in only one game last season before tearing the ACL in his right knee. But he is expected to back up Garrard in 2011, with GM Gene Smith likely to draft a developmental quarterback who will be listed as third on the depth chart. In recent years the club has opted to keep only two signalcallers on the roster, but that will likely change next season.

It's no secret Smith wants to draft a quarterback this April — the Jaguars have not used a draft pick on a QB since Byron Leftwich was selected seventh overall in 2003 — making the decision to re-sign McCown in part a reflection of Smith's philosophy of bringing rookie QBs along slowly, the way we hear it.

"No matter where you take the guy in the draft, unless he has to play by default, they all have to be developmental," Smith said on the team's Web site last week. "The luxury is he doesn't have to play right away, because it's a whole different speed of the game. At this level, defensive players and coaches have a lot more time to do more things than what that player has been confronted with at the college level. Your wish is to have some time to develop."

This year's QB class provides intriguing upside but doesn't include a QB who is considered NFL-ready, which suits Smith's philosophy well.

McCown has started a total of seven games in seven NFL seasons. The Jaguars consider him to be one of the better backup QBs in the NFL, but he is not in line for a starting job.

Garrard is coming off arguably the best season of his career, but he still suffers from inconsistency and questionable decision making when faced with pressure.