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Jaguars move up to grab Gabbert

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Recent posts by Arthur Arkush

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Posted April 28, 2011 @ 11:07 p.m. ET
By Arthur Arkush

The Jaguars' league-leading seven-year drought of not drafting a quarterback is over.

GM Gene Smith turned heads for the second year in a row by moving up six spots in order to select Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall pick. [Jacksonville sent the 16th and 49th overall picks to the Redskins in the deal.]

So much for base hits — Smith swung for the fences with this bold move.

And the home run still hasn't landed.

Picking at No. 16, it was widely expected that the top two — if not more — quarterbacks would be long gone. Instead, Smith watched Gabbert's surprising descent and simply had to make a move, matching the best available player with his spot.

If sticking to his board wasn't enough, Smith, though he would tell you it does not factor into his thought process on Draft Day, brought excitement to a dormant fan base that was sick of the status quo. And it did not involve selecting hometown hero Tim Tebow.

Who looks like the smart one now?

Smith has rebuilt the Jaguars methodically over the past two drafts, choosing to first focus on the trenches and wait until the time was right to acquire the future face of the franchise.

That time is now.

Although Gabbert is not expected to start right away, with QB David Garrard coming off arguably his finest statistical season and Smith preferring to allow his young quarterback time to develop, this was too perfect of an opportunity to pass on.

What they are getting in Gabbert is an immensely talented quarterback who will have to learn how to operate in a pro-style offense. While he does not possess the escapability of Garrard, he has a stronger arm and greater upside.

Smith has done an outstanding job of rebuilding an organization that was sorely lacking in talent when he took charge two-plus years ago. And while many questions remain on the defensive side of the ball, Smith has given Jaguars fans a reason to be optimistic about the future by selecting Gabbert.

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