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O-Zone: Help wanted

Posted Mar 31, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

John from Gloucestershire, England:
With talk of the Texans, Rams and Jags all looking to trade out of the first three spots, the 2014 draft is fast descending into a farce. Quality players like Clowney, Watkins and Mack – not to mention three very serviceable quarterbacks at the top of the draft – must wonder what's going on. What gives, John O?
John: Your email was the first I’d received worried about the draft becoming a farce, and after considering this concept, I must say I don’t see it. Teams talk about trading back every year for a variety of reasons. This year, the reason has nothing to do with the quality of players at the top of the draft, and the teams at the top aren’t necessarily trying to avoid those players. It’s much more about this being a deep, talented draft with not only little difference between the top seven-to-eight players but a lot of good players available through the first three or four rounds.
Jay from Port St. Lucie, FL:
I'm not one to correct people on the constant, but I think you mean, "When, not IF, he will be injured." He definitely will be. It's just a matter of when.
John: If you’re speaking about Johnny Manziel, I agree.
John from New Braunfels, TX:
Let's say we do trade with Atlanta at No. 6. What's a reasonable expectation of compensation? A fourth-round pick?
John: Moving back three spots at that point in the first round probably would bring a lot more than that – perhaps an early second-round selection or two-to-three later round selections.
Brian from New Hampshire:
Caldwell seems to prefer the prototypical pocket passer, and from everything you hear from Bradley and Fisch, they seem to prefer a quarterback that can run. Who on draft day wins out? The general manager or the coach and offensive coordinator who has to mold the offense?
John: Realistically, it won’t get to a point of someone “winning out.” Whoever the Jaguars select at quarterback, the selection or selections will come as a result of a lot of conversations between Bradley, Fisch and Caldwell. But if it ever came down to someone having to make the final call, that someone is Caldwell – though I can’t see him taking a quarterback Fisch and Bradley absolutely didn’t want.
Demetrius from Toronto, CA:
With our defensive acquisitions this offseason, does that indicate we focus on the offensive side of the ball come draft time?
John: I’d be very surprised if that wasn’t the case.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
If a team could pick Manziel 34th overall, the pick that selected Tarkenton, the team wouldn't need to be so concerned with an injury to him.
John: There’s perhaps a sliver of truth to that, but only a sliver. The team selecting Manziel there will still be hoping he eventually became the starting quarterback and will still have to deal with needing a constant backup plan in the event he is injured.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
It's pretty clear the Jags want a young quarterback to learn the role for a while - training, film study, game-planning, in-game adjustments and such. My biggest question about Manziel is that I just don't see him carrying a clipboard and being the patient teammate for eight-plus games.
John: I’m sure that would be a difficult scenario for Manziel, just as I’m sure it would be difficult for any young quarterback taken early in the draft. I don’t think it’s the biggest question about him, though. The questions about his size and potential for injury are real. But as far as Manziel being patient over any part of his rookie season, remember that there is a bigger picture at stake. When selecting a quarterback in the Top 10, you’re worried about how he’ll play over a long period of time more than how he will react to something over a two-month period.
Michael from Orange Park, FL:
MJD is no longer a free agent. Not sure whom else the Jags are interested in during free agency. Bring on the draft!
John: It’s coming, Michael. It’s coming.
Dan from Jacksonville:
How many games do you think the Jaguars need to win during the upcoming season for the fans to continue to have confidence in Bradley and Caldwell?
John: I have no idea. Such questions are impossible to answer, because every fan has a different expectation and there’s no way to measure what you’re asking. I will say that it may not be realistic to expect exponential improvement – i.e., two victories to four victories to eight victories, etc., etc. The Jaguars are still in the early stages of the build, and in the early stages of a build improvement doesn’t always mean corresponding improvement in the record. The Seahawks, for example, went 7-9 in the first year under Pete Carroll and then went 7-9 again in the second year under Carroll, with some pretty rocky times among the fan base early in Year 2. A lot of pieces have to be put together and some steep steps must be taken up the learning curve.
Tom from Katy, TX:
We often hear about players improving the most from Year 1 to Year 2. Do you think the same thing can be said for a head coach?
John: Perhaps it can, though it’s probably harder to measure tangibly. When NFL types talk of players improving from Year 1 to 2, they’re talking about physical maturity, adjusting to the NFL routine, developing awareness and knowledge of a new team’s system. Often, it’s obvious just by looking and being around a young player that he’s matured a bit and is “getting it.” With a head coach, the improvement usually will be measured in how the team performs, with the team’s results perhaps improving as the players get more comfortable with the system and as the coach gets more comfortable with a group of players.
Adam from Kingsland, GA:
A lot of times reading reports you hear a team has contacted a player’s agent or vice versa. Is there a magical phone book full of players contact information in it to refer to?
John: I wouldn’t call it magical, but yes, general managers have an agent list that includes telephone numbers.
Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I would think that the members of the Jaguars’ brain trust have spoken to Luke Joeckel about Johnny Manziel as a leader, and character on or off the field. But have YOU spoken to Luke about Manziel, the football player, and person?
John: I’m sure Bradley and Caldwell have spoken to Joeckel about Manziel, but I don’t think it was a full-scale vetting with sensors attached to Joeckel’s head or anything like that. It was probably more side conversations and I’m sure Joeckel spoke highly of his former teammate. As for me, I have spoken to Joeckel very briefly about it and it was positive. They are friends and I wouldn’t expect anything else.
John from Jacksonville:
I’ve read quotes about MJD in the Pride of the Jaguars. MJD was one of the toughest players this team has had; he played hard and owns some records. I loved watching him play. Still, I look at this like the Hall of Fame. It should be reserved for players who truly changed the team (or the sport) like Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith, or maybe even Tony Brackens and Brad Meester. I’d put MJD in the category with Keenan McCardell, Donovan Darius, or Kyle Brady. Very good, tough and memorable Jaguars but not in the Pride. Your thoughts, John?
John: I think Jones-Drew at some point will be in the Pride of the Jaguars.
Armando from Vacaville, CA:
The Texans are open to trade their first-round draft pick for more picks. Why not keep our third pick, get their first pick and trade away our two second-rounders, two third-rounders and two fifth-rounders?
John: I was looking for a sarcasm font or some indication you were being facetious. First off, the Jaguars don’t have two second-rounders or two third-rounders. Second, the Texans are an unlikely trading partner because each team is in the AFC South. But even if that wasn’t the case – and even if the Jaguars had this many second- and third-round selections – I doubt this trade would happen. There is a reason David Caldwell has been trying to accumulate draft picks. There are a lot of holes on the roster and this is a deep draft. The Jaguars want to start building the talent level on the roster, and having a bunch of selections in this draft could give them a chance to do that.
Allen from Muscatine, IA:
Is it safe to say that Caldwell won’t rely as heavily on free agency in the future as he did this year?
John: It’s certainly safe to say he would prefer not to sign so many free agents. The Jaguars ideally want to build through the draft and that will eventually be the primary means of player acquisition. But with the team still in the process of building its talent level, free agency this offseason was a way to get more competitive in the short run while maintaining its long-term vision.
David from Los Angeles, CA:
PLEASE get HELP!
John: I will. As soon as I find my pager. You seen it?

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