INDIANAPOLIS – Let’s get to it . . .
Tom from Charleston, SC:
I have one concern around not picking "The Man" early this year. This year's crop of quarterbacks is considered to be the best in quite a while. I agree with David Caldwell that you don't just pull the string because you need a quarterback. There are two glaring problems with waiting. First there is no thought that the next couple of years will have a pool anywhere near as good as this year. Secondly, and this may wishful thinking, if the Jaguars do draft well and show marked improvement they won’t be in position to have a draft choice early enough to get the man in another draft without giving away the farm to move up. With that in mind doesn't it make sense to make the move this year? After all, any draft any year only produces gambles.
John: First, I’d be careful with that second sentence, “This year’s crop of QBs is considered to be the best in quite a while.” That’s hardly a consensus, and it’s really not the feeling you get here at the NFL Scouting Combine at all. The class has been very hyped and it’s not bad, but scouts aren’t doing cartwheels, either. Second, the Jaguars or any other team can’t – or at least “shouldn’t” – make decisions based on pools of players or quality of class. You have to make decisions based on whether you think a player can help you. Whatever the consensus and whatever you think the future holds, if you’re Caldwell you can’t take a quarterback No. 3 overall if you don’t think he’s a difference-maker franchise guy – especially if you think there are difference-making franchise guys on the board.
Patrick from Merced, CA:
Mark Sanchez needs a home. You know where I'm going with this. Should the Jaguars fill a backup roster spot, possibly cut ties with Gabbert and Scott and keep Henne and draft Bridgewater. Sounds exciting!
John: It sounds sort of confusing, too. If you’re thinking the Jaguars should sign Sanchez, keep Henne and draft Teddy Bridgewater … that’s an awful lot of equity tied up at the quarterback position. I doubt Sanchez would be interested in that, and well … we’ve probably already spent too much time on this scenario.
Eric from Amelia Island, FL:
I fully appreciate the passion/obsession of JAG fan wanting aquarterback. It is hard not to be jazzed with all the hype. On the other hand, with the depth of this class I hope we trade back, acquire picks, maybe more than one time. There is GOLD to be mined on Friday and Saturday.
John: I’m sure David Caldwell is more than open to that scenario. The challenge is the same as always when discussing trading – finding a partner. In order to garner a significant haul, you need a team really coveting something to give you that haul. That’s always much easier said than done.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and Section 106:
You often have questions about rookies and answer about improvement in Years 2 and 3. Here's a great read on this topic: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1953863-why-second-year-nfl-players-tend-to-make-big-leaps. Apparently there are good, logical reasons for the improvement - who knew?
John: I did, but that’s because it’s a pretty commonly held belief in NFL circles. Many of the reasons cited in the article are spot on, and there also is the simple matter or physical development. A 24-year-old player is going to have two or three years more to mature physically and get bigger than a 22- or 21-year-old player. Players don’t come into the league turn-key ready; the good ones get better with time as they mature physically and mentally.
Roy from Orange Park, FL:
It seems like most Jags fans want to draft Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Jadeveon Clowney. I'm hoping we draft Aaron Murray from Georgia! What's your opinion of him?
John: I liked Aaron Murray as a college quarterback very much. He had a knack for making plays at that level, but often success at that level doesn’t translate. I think there is a slight chance that Murray can develop into an NFL starter, but my gut is that he is more of a long-term backup. That’s not saying Manziel or Bridgewater are necessarily more than that – there’s a chance they aren’t – but that’s the feel for Murray.
Josh from Waunakee, WI:
I know it is way too early to tell, but I get the sense the Jags are leaning more toward defense now instead of quarterback. That being said, I don't know if I am exactly sold on Clowney like everybody else. Could you see us trading back with a team like Atlanta where they could jump up and snag Clowney and we could still add a quality defensive guy such as Mack and gain a nice draft pick out of it?
John: I don’t know that I’d say the Jaguars are leaning in one direction or the other, though I’d say they’re certainly leaning to not being married to the idea of quarterback at No. 3. If they could trade back and still get Mack … yes, I’d say they would be open to that.
Mike from East Moline, IL:
I am getting the sense that Caldwell is not in love with any quarterbacks at the top of the draft. First he said he would like a franchise quarterback but won't force the pick. Now he has said he is open to trading down and that would be beneficial. I know I am inferring and interpreting, but it seems like he isn't as interested in picking at No. 3 as he is in trading down. I understand not drafting a quarterback just to draft one, but it just seems like pass rush is too big a need and the value with Clowney and Barr is too great. Does he have a first-round target already? Do you think the probability of him taking Sammy Watkins is now increasing? I just felt fairly sure that he would go either quarterback or pass rusher. What are your thoughts?
John: I think you and a lot of people are looking for definitive answers at a time when teams are still asking a lot of questions. That’s OK; fans are supposed to want answers now, but Caldwell and other general managers are still sifting through scenarios and exploring opportunities. I wouldn’t say Caldwell is any more interested in picking at No. 3 than he is trading down; right now, the Jaguars have enough needs that the offseason is still wide open. They need a lot of good players, and with a deep draft and free agency upcoming, there are a bunch of avenues by which to obtain them.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
I'm amazed by the similarities between Johnny Manziel and Tony Romo. They not only play alike, Johnny even looks like he could be his younger brother. My question is, what are your thoughts on Romo? If Romo was 10 years younger and entering the NFL draft this year would the Jags take him at 3?
John: If a team knew for absolutely certain that a player would be as good as Romo has been during his career then, yes, I think he would be very worth the No. 3 selection in the draft.
Jesse from Gun Barrel, TX:
I don't sit around all day watching tape, but if I could take Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel I would take JOHNNY FOOTBALL HANDS DOWN. Does he have a very large ego? You bet he does. That's a good thing. To be a star quarterback in the NFL you must have that little voice in your head that says I am the best and nobody that walks onto that field can beat me. I think that's what Gabbert lacks. Until he gets that, he will never be a star QB in the NFL. IT’S A CRAP SHOOT BUT JUMP ON IT.
John: YOU LIKE CAPITAL LETTERS AND THEY MAKE A VERY LOUD, NOTICABLE POINT. But while I agree with you that a quarterback must have an ego and that confidence works in Manziel’s favor, I would caution that it’s not intangibles or confidence that concerns teams about Manziel. Teams in general like Manziel’s leadership and out-of-the-box stuff; the concern is does all of that translate to the NFL? That’s a difficult question to answer until he’s actually playing NFL competition.
Rob from Fleming Island, FL:
At the NFL level, are the offseason workout routines, training, and expectations that much higher than college that we should expect to see second-year players like Luke, Austin, Denard ,and other rookies add significant bulk and strength?
John: It’s possible, yes.
Scott from Points North:
If the old ball coach can't pump your value up before the combine there might be a problem. I hope we don't draft Clowney. In poker, I believe, this is called a "tell.” I would rather see a Dee Ford taken. What say you?
John: I say if you’re asking would I say I want Dee Ford over Jadeveon Clowney … nah.
Clif from Maryland:
A punter?! In the 3rd?! I still can't get over it John.
John: Maybe it’s time you do.