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O-Zone: Pity party

Posted Feb 24, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Back home.

Let’s get to it . . .

Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
I'm curious about player contracts and how general managers manage them against the salary cap. Does Dave Caldwell put a dollar amount or a percentage of the cap he's willing to spend on a certain position or position group? For example, do the Jaguars decide that they'll spend ‘X’ percent on the linebacker corps, ‘Y’ percent on the tight ends, etc? Any insight on this?
John: Teams do have percentages they want to spend on certain positions. They are based on where they value positions and it often depends on the scheme and philosophies of the team. It’s more a range of percentage than an exact number, and it adjusts a bit based on circumstances. For instance, some teams want to spend less on linebackers than they do, say, defensive lineman. They’ll draft with that in mind, rarely resigning veterans to high-priced deals there because they figure they’ll need cap space to re-sign pass rushers or cornerbacks, etc. A productive player that needs to be re-signed can force teams to adapt, but most teams have a blueprint.
Jordan from Denver, CO:
Wouldn't this be a dream scenario for the Jags? Clowney goes to the Texans at No. 1 and all three quarterbacks are there at No. 3. This could open up some great trade possibilities to move down and acquire more picks.
John: It’s a dream scenario if the Jaguars like all three quarterbacks equally – and if they like the quarterbacks better than Clowney. If you think there is no difference in the quarterbacks, then you can trade and assume you’ll get a player you like. If you like one over the other, then you risk losing the player if you trade. I don’t imagine the Jaguars will go into this draft thinking that all three quarterbacks – Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel – are interchangeable. My guess is they’ll have one or maybe two they like enough to take at No. 3, and if those players are gone they likely will go another direction.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O, the wide receivers killed it. The Jags will be able to pick one up in the later rounds or possibly free agency. If no trades occur do you see a Top 3 of Clowney to the Texans, Matthews next, and Johnny M to Jacksonville?
John: The wide receivers did run well. That just enhances the image of what already was considered a good class at the position. As far as your scenario, I could very easily see Johnny Manziel available to the Jaguars. The question then becomes, “Would the Jaguars take him if he is there?” This just a guess, and I may even feel differently tomorrow, but I’d guess there’s a very real chance the Jaguars pass on him there. This is going to be the most fascinating draft in a long time from the Jaguars’ perspective. While they had the No. 2 overall selection last year there were no Top 5 quarterbacks and the options were pretty clear-cut as the draft approached. This year, there may not be any Top 5 quarterbacks but there are quarterbacks good enough to get pushed up there, and you get the idea the minutes during which the Jaguars are on the clock on May 8 are going to feature more drama than has been seen around here in some time.
Jared from Pensacola, FL:
What do you think the chances are Caldwell will trade back to somewhere between No. 4 and No. 10 and grab TE Ebron, then use the second pick for a guard or tackle? Also, if the Jags were to trade to one of the previously mentioned slots what could we get for that trade? Another second or third-round pick?
John: I think Caldwell would like to trade, but I’d be surprised if he took a tight end in the first round of this draft, particularly that early. If the team wanted to move up badly enough, yes, a second- or third-rounder would be possible.
Mike from Jagsonville:
Do they have Culligan coolers at Lucas Oil Stadium?
John: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Papdoc from St. Augustine, FL:
I think if they could move the placement of the ball to a longer distance where the extra point isn't almost automatic it would be worth watching. What do you think O-man?
John: I think you’re right and I think there’s a chance that could happen in the next few years.
Marjorie from Jacksonville:
If Clowney is there at No. 3, how can you not take him? Out of anyone, isn't he the only can't-miss? I know Maycock likes Mack, but how can a club just buzz by Clowney?
John: This is a legitimate question, but you can pass for a couple of reasons. First, there’s no such thing as can’t-miss. Not usually, and certainly not this season. And while Clowney is phenomenally enticing as a talent, there are legitimate questions about his production as a senior and his work ethic. The answer may be that those aren’t huge issues, but they’re legitimate questions nonetheless. You also could buzz by Clowney if you believe there is a quarterback on the board who can be a franchise guy. Remember, the pre-draft hype often becomes so loud that people believe the buzz is reality. Sometimes it is, but sometimes teams feel dramatically different about players than the commonly held view.
William from Savannah, GA:
Let's suppose Clowney runs faster than 4.5 in the 40 at the Combine. How can you not take him if he is available at No. 3? This guy might be the closest thing to Lawrence Taylor since Lawrence Taylor and none of the quarterbacks appear to be the next John Elway, Peyton Manning, or Andrew Luck. When he comes to play, he will force teams to scheme to neutralize him. Even when he doesn't come to play, he will force teams to scheme to neutralize him. Gotta' take him!
John: Hey! One fer Clowney, but see the previous answer. You can “not take” him if you believe he’s not going to be a big-time player at the next level. As odd as it may be to hear amid the pre-draft buzz, there just might be teams that honestly believe that.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
Do teams reveal who they are targeting while working the phones on potential trades on draft day? I would figure that by that time Team A wouldn't shift its board around if Team B came calling asking for a trade.
John: Teams at times know who the other team is targeting and at other times they don’t. If the two general managers are close, they might know the other’s plans – or it might just be very obvious. Either way, it probably wouldn’t cause a team to change the draft board, though if the teams were close to each other in the draft order it could cause one to back away from the trade.
Ryan from Clyde, OH:
I know it's still early and all, but as of right now I really want Bridgewater bad.
John: Hey! One really bad fer Teddy!
Matt from Tampa, FL:
Is Bridgewater's size the only thing teams seem to be afraid of? I am no draft expert, but the fact is football IQ matters big-time. In college, he didn't need the offensive coordinator to help him change plays. He did that himself. He is a smart player and can be mobile if he needs to. I am just not seeing why analysts are worried about him struggling or not being a franchise quarterback.
John: General managers worry because that’s what they’re paid to do and analysts criticize for the same reason. You also worry about quarterbacks because it’s such an important position and there are comparatively few who make it. Yes, Bridgewater’s size is a concern and some wonder just how high his “ceiling” can be. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to be great, but he’s not a flawless prospect. Few are.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Looking at the Jaguars’ needs and forgetting about player names, what positions – in order of need –would you draft 1-7?
John: Let’s preface this by saying I don’t think the Jaguars will or should draft in order for these needs. That’s not how the draft works, and the Jaguars are drafting for the long haul, not the first week of next season. But for argument’s sake, I guess I’d say biggest needs are center, guard, quarterback, outside linebacker, defensive end, running back and defensive tackle – though I wouldn’t get too locked into the order.
Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Ah, the combine … such an essential part of the year. I remember when Matt Jones blew the roof off there. One of the main reasons we drafted him.
John: Yes. It is a part of the process and only a part. To look at it differently is to see it wrongly.
James from Jacksonville Beach:
Well, I just realized I'm going to miss the draft because I'll be on a seven-day scuba diving cruise on a yacht in the Maldives. Has the draft ever been delayed?
John: Way to Not-So-Subtly Subtly Brag About that Really-Awful-But-Not-Really-Awful Circumstance, James. Good form.

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