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O-Zone: Boom or...

Posted Apr 18, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Josh from Pensacola, FL:
Should we be at all worried about the reported holdout by Branden Albert? I know it's voluntary workouts, but is that the kind of player we want or need? I don't like it.
John: Well, I’m not sure anyone likes it. But left tackle Branden Albert, acquired by the Jaguars in a trade last month from the Miami Dolphins, indeed reportedly did not attend the opening of the 2017 offseason program Monday – and indications are he wants the team to address his contract. My interpretation: though the Jaguars obviously would prefer if Albert were here, they likely figured this scenario was possible. He had indicated as much around the time of the trade, and media reports from Miami at that time also indicated as much. It stands to reason Albert would want something done with his contract. A veteran who doesn’t have many more high-earning NFL seasons, Albert is scheduled to make about $18 million over the next two seasons, with none guaranteed. Had he signed somewhere as a free agent last month instead of being involved in a trade this offseason, he likely would have earned guaranteed money. I don’t think it’s unusual that he wants to talk contract before beginning to work out with his new team. I would imagine at some point the sides will reach common ground, though I doubt the Jaguars will pay Albert elite-left tackle money. I also don’t anticipate this being something that will cause Albert to not start for the Jaguars next season – or that hurts him on the field. Look for it to be an offseason story that causes a measure of offseason angst (witness: the next few emails), but it doesn’t feel like something that we’ll be talking about come September.
Chaun from St. Louis, MO:
What would be your opinion of a perfect draft for the Jags (for each round).
John: My opinion would be surprise. Perfect drafts hardly ever happen.
Logan from Wichita:
Wow! I am so glad we let Kelvin Beachum go in favor of bringing in Branden Albert. That is working out great so far ... wait ... no, it’s not. GO FIGURE! Now we have a left tackle that is going to hold out and miss valuable time coming into A NEW TEAM. This is working out great. What a joke. We are screwed. Way to go Jags!
John: Logan, Logan, Logan … some perspective, please. Please? The NFL regular season is four-and-a-half months away, and the offseason program that began Monday is voluntary. If you consider the two factors in lockstep, it’s easy to see that while it would have been preferable to have Albert in Jacksonville, there is no need for CAPITAL LETTERS or exclamation points with this story. The Jaguars are not screwed and it’s not a joke. NORMAL PUNCTUATION is fine in this instance!!! Albert is a veteran left tackle who certainly can perform at a high level next season whether or not he reports in April for the voluntary portion of the offseason. If Albert misses mandatory things – which begin in June – then we can hit the CAPS LOCK button. Until then … these things aren’t ideal, but they happen in the NFL.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Did the Jaguars anticipate this possibility with Branden Albert? I'd be tempted to say that I don't believe he will sit out this season and forego salary and at age 32 allow another year to go by and try to come back to the NFL at age 33 and get a big contract. I don't think he has a lot of leverage to work with; maybe he sees the same thing and thinks this is his last chance to get a big contract.
John: The likelihood of Albert sitting out the season or of this really becoming “a thing” is very, very low for several of the reasons you cite.
Matt from Jacksonville:
How are we not talking about "Werewolves in London" with our presence in the U.K.!?!? Also, I'm hoping some team entices the Jags enough to trade down. I'd love to see them get Forrest Lamp later in the first. All the reports I've read on him says he's got the nasty steak you need in a guard.
John: I suppose even nasty steak is better than no steak at all.
Joe from Colonia, NJ:
John, thanks for everything you do. Two scenarios for you: 1. Coughlin and Caldwell decide to pick a quarterback with their first-round draft selection (albeit unlikely) and also decide to let Johnny-O (that's you) decide between Trubisky and Watson … who do you take and why? 2. Tom and Dave decide they are going with a defensive lineman or running back with their first selection and Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas and Jonathan Allen went with picks 1-3; your Nokia flip phone rings in your pocket, you answer, and it's Dave asking you what the heck he should do. What do you tell him?
John: In the first scenario, I would take North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky because the word on Deshaun Watson is he struggled with decision-making and field vision at Clemson. That makes me nervous when it comes to a quarterback transitioning successfully to the NFL. That doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t be successful, but it’s something that rightfully concerns teams when discussing Watson. I don’t think there’s an ideal choice between the two, but I’d take a chance on Trubisky’s inexperience over Watson because of the decision-making. As far as your second scenario, if the Jaguars are determined to go defensive lineman or running back, I would draft Leonard Fournette because the top defensive linemen are gone and Fournette is still there.
Dave from Duval:
The first few seasons they played AC/DC's "Welcome to the Jungle" at the stadium. We won a lot during those times. As long as we're trying to capture that success again let's bring it back!
John: Guns and Roses performed “Welcome to the Jungle.”
Mason from Palm Bay, FL:
Reading your latest mock draft, I agree with all the concerns surrounding Fournette, Thomas, Allen, etc. You have always said your first-round pick doesn't need to be a player you draft for Year 1, but for the next 6-10 years to build a core around. From that perspective, do you think Malik Hooker/Jamal Adams might be the choice here? I know they aren't a position of need but they look to be the safest bets at No. 4. (Assuming nobody wants to trade up and we pick at four).
John: From a purely philosophical, theoretical perspective, I would have no problem with the Jaguars selecting Hooker or Adams at No. 4 overall. Everything I have heard or seen about Adams in particular is that he is a special player more than worthy of the selection. But the NFL Draft isn’t philosophical or theoretical; in practice it’s just hard to see the Jaguars taking a safety at No. 4 overall with Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson on the roster.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
"Sweet Home" was for many years a just-after-halftime, get-the-fans-jacked-up Jaguars tradition. I for one want it back. Something special has been lost.
John: True that.
Larry from Jacksonville:
Fowler is now a bust. Albert doesn't want to play here. The line is trash and everyone wants to draft a terrible quarterback or bust running back. We will never see over four wins for another 20 years.
John: I was planning a Best-of-the-Ozone-2017 edition sometime between now and the draft. Thanks, though. You saved me the time.
Josh from Lynchburg, VA:
If I never have to hear "Free Bird" or "Sweet Home Alabama" again it would be too soon.
John: I felt this way once, too, Josh. I grew out of it.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Could you possibly give us a more concrete definition of draft "bust?” Here's how I see it. After a minimum of three years, if you could go back and redraft, would you still choose that player at the same spot without knowing anything about any other player? If you would not, that player is a bust. Is that too harsh of a judgment?
John: You definition of “bust” is a bit too strong for my taste. I consider a draft “bust” a player who was picked in, say, the Top 50 selections – and who contributed nothing close to what was expected for the level where he was drafted. You would have to put former recent Jaguars players such as Blaine Gabbert and Justin Blackmon in that category – and perhaps Luke Joeckel, though he wasn’t a “bust” to the degree of Gabbert and Blackmon. I wouldn’t put Tyson Alualu in the category of a “bust,” for example, because he played a lot of years for the Jaguars and played very well at times despite never living up to his status as a Top 10 selection. Many people would put all of the aforementioned players into the “bust” category and that’s fine. It’s their definition, but not mine.

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