David Garrard (Getty Images)
JagNation.com will be analyzing the roster, one position at a time as we develop our depth charts. We'll start with quarterback, a position that everyone thought was set from the start last year.
For the first time in roughly six years, there is absolutely no question as to which quarterback comes into camp as the starter for the Jaguars. A year ago, the water was muddy to say the least, and even Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio anointed the wrong personnel. Byron Leftwich was named the starter back in February of 2007, but with David Garrard's ascension during training camp, Byron Leftwich was left jobless.
|DEPTH CHART - QB
|1. David Garrard
2. Cleo Lemon
3(T). Paul Smith
3(T). Todd Bouman
This year, Garrard can enter camp with his new-found confidence and new found wealth, thanks to a career year in which he was rewarded handsomely by Wayne Weaver. It's the depth chart following him that will require some analysis.
Cleo Lemon seems to be the clear cut number two quarterback, as the Jaguars signed him during the opening weekend of free agency. In Lemon, the Jaguars have some gameday experience and scrambling ability, similar to their starter. Lemon also has a good arm, yet his decision making is not nearly as sharp as Garrard. Having started for the Miami Dolphins a total of 8 games and playing in 13, Lemon at least can step in if needed in a pinch. He's not someone the Jaguars would want to hand the reins to for an extended period of time, and no one has seen enough promise to name him a quarterback of the future, or to begin a quarterback controversy, which the Jaguars organization is far too familiar with.
The two players fighting for number three quarterback spot, assuming the Jaguars have one, will be the real challenge, Paul Smith and Todd Bouman. Here you have the classic rookie with potential versus veteran with experience battle.
Paul Smith was signed as an undrafted free agent, surprising many who thought this Tulsa alumni would be chosen in the draft. Some experts had him in the top ten quarterbacks in the draft, but he slipped under the radar and was one of the first calls the Jaguars made following the draft. At Tulsa, Smith played in all 13 games on the schedule and was named Conference USA Player of the Year. He completed 300 of 499 passes for 4,753 yards with 42 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also averaged 365.6 yards per game and rushed for 12 touchdowns on 96 carries. The main knock on Smith appears to be his height. At 6'1", he is under the average for NFL quarterbacks, but plenty have succeeded despite being vertically challenged at the position.
One option for Paul Smith could be the practice squad. However, the minute a another team has a need at quarterback, you can bet the Jaguars would be in danger of losing him.
Todd Bouman will most likely be the odd man out. With an age/experience ratio of 6 games started in 11 seasons, it's nearly more advantageous putting your team in the hands of a rookie. The best or worst thing Bouman has going for him or against, depending on what side of the coin you're on, is his availability. Despite the NFL being a league with a scarcity of quarterbacking talent, Bouman would likely be available if the Jaguars decide to go in a different direction, as he was a year ago.
Training camp will tell the story of what the actual depth will be, but one thing is sure. Jaguars won't have as big of a surprise at the quarterback position as they did in 2007.