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O-Zone: Thinkin' on it

Posted Jan 12, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
Regardless of how well David Caldwell drafted last offseason, the Jaguars still find themselves with the same needs they have had since I can remember. I know the draft doesn't work in a vacuum, but how can you fix the premium positions – quarterback, defensive end, wide receiver and the offensive line – when the quality of talent drops significantly after the second round?
John: The first thing you must do is draft players at each of those positions that you eventually sign to long-term contracts. That means letting them develop, too. This is why it takes a few years to build the foundation of a franchise. Caldwell was pretty up front last year that the roster wasn’t going to get built in one draft, or even two. You must draft, develop the rookies from that class, draft again and so on and so on. You must also have some players develop that you don’t draft in the first round.
David from Durban, South Africa:
With the draft being moved back to May this year, do you see the team signing a number of free agents before the draft to avoid putting themselves in a position where they have to reach to fill positions of need?
John: The draft is two weeks later than last year. Those two weeks won’t drastically alter the Jaguars’ offseason strategy.
Rich from Jacksonville:
Can you tell me anything about that linebacker from UCLA? Is he 3-4 linebacker, or a 4-3 defensive end? He seems to have good size and speed, and good stats on sacks, but I think UCLA runs a 3-4 defense and I wouldn't risk the third overall on atweener linebacker. Your thoughts?
John: You’re talking about UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. He did play 3-4 linebacker in college, but many analysts consider him on par with Jadeveon Clowney as a pass rusher and a prospect. As far as the “tweener” tag, that’s going to get connected with a lot of 3-4 college linebackers, but LEO pass rusher is a hybrid position, so with four months to go until the draft, I’d expect to hear Barr’s name connected with the Jaguars quite a bit.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Okay, I have a mascot question. Jaxson seems to be one of the more famous and exciting NFL mascots. Locally, of course, we like him, but do you think he is viewed nationally as one of the top mascots?
John: I honestly have no idea.
Gary from High Springs, GA:
Do you think Dave Caldwell thinks that Ricky Stanzi is a better competition piece than any second- or later-round quarterback prospect?
John: We shall see, but I doubt it.
Tyler from Neptune Beach, FL:
O Man, what are your thoughts on Tajh Boyd? Do you think he can be a big-time NFL quarterback? I think his stock with the Jags will rise since he is participating in the Senior Bowl.
John: He perhaps eventually can be a big-time player, but I don’t know that he’s a step-in-and-play immediately guy. And while the Senior Bowl will be valuable for the Jaguars, don’t attach too, too much importance to the game this offseason. Coaching that game will give the Jaguars a better feel for certain players, but the relationships developed there usually won’t send a guy skyrocketing up their draft board.
Beau from the Bud Zone:
My question is not who will the Jaguars sign in free agency, but how much money do you think the Jags will be willing to spend this offseason?
John: I think they’ll spend a little more in terms of up-front signing bonuses to first- or second-year free agents than they did last offseason. It’s hard to say how much, exactly, because it will depend on what players they target and who they sign. That’s a non-specific answer, but it has to be. The Jaguars aren’t going go into free agency saying, “We must sign $80 million worth of players,” but if there are players who make sense, who fit the profile and who fit the building plan, they’ll spend the money to sign them.
@DuvalDoom fromSection 217:
Did you tell Diamond Dave we celebrated #EvenIfHesReleasedDay today, and most of us changed our Avi's to various pictures of him? It was fairly awesome.
John: It doesn’t sound fairly awesome. It sounds *really* awesome. And though I didn’t get a chance to mention this to Caldwell, I’m sure somewhere deep down he knew, and somewhere deep down, he was probably smiling.
Seth from Omaha, NE:
I heard an interview with Russell Wilson a while ago where he was asked if he could remember ever taking a big hit playing football at any level. He could not. He doesn't take hits, and that's why the comparisons of Manziel to Wilson need to stop. That said, this is not a vote against Manziel; he might be the next Favre. My question being, does he remind you of a faster, smaller Favre?
John: The comparison makes sense in that both Favre and Manziel do seem to have a knack for magic in the big situation. That’s not to be overlooked when it comes to the quarterback position. There will be questions from now until the draft about Manziel, and I’m sure we’ll answer a whole lot of them here in the O-Zone, but the bottom line on him is this: he was a magical college player with the question now being will that magic translate to the NFL despite questions about his size?
Dave from Jacksonville:
Remember the story about MJD and Caldwell on the bike and hearing a report about MJD not coming back; they looked at each other and said, ‘Where do they get this from?’ I'm sure there is still a general manager and player separation, but they are grown men, too. Do you suppose they ever talk as friends or just as grown men between the two about possible contract stuff? Just curious if that stuff happens or it's like a chain of command and those questions only go through an agent.
John: Caldwell and Jones-Drew have spoken enough that each has an idea of where the conversation about Jones-Drew’s contract will start this offseason. Caldwell knows Jones-Drew wants to be back at the right price and Jones-Drew knows Caldwell wants him at the right price. As for the specifics of that price, no – the two likely haven’t spoken anywhere near in-depth on the issue because that indeed is the role of the agent.
Mikey from Tallahassee:
Regarding the center-quarterback debate, is there concern for starting rookies at both spots? Would it be wise to have a veteran at one of the positions, at a minimum?
John: Ideally, yes. But if you can’t find a veteran in free agency that you think is a long-term fit or can’t play you don’t want to sign one just to “have a veteran.”
Mike from Jagsonviille:
JohnnyFootball2, how do players who don't go to college get into the NFL? How old do they have to be?
John: Players must be three years out of high school. If that’s the case, they can apply to enter the NFL Draft or the supplemental draft.
Nick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I don't know how someone hasn't asked this yet. Say we draft Johnny M, which I hope we do, third overall … any chance we take a note from the Redskins and draft another quarterback later, someone like McCarron or Murray who may drop to the fourth or fifth as an insurance policy against Manziel's injury risk?
John: Yes, there is a chance of that. I wouldn’t get so locked in on SEC quarterbacks that you can’t see anyone else, but that is a possibility.
Ray from Vernon:
If you get rid of all the drops and sacks, how would Henne look? The Jags have been cursed with more than their fair share of receiver drops the last few years, and our offensive line –whether due to lack of talent or injuries – haven’t been the greatest protectors. So would any quarterback really have done any better? Everyone screams “quarterback,” but with a betteroffensive line and more consistent receiver play, I think we would have won more games. Besides, our defense lost us more games last year than the offense. Your thoughts?
John: Henne wasn’t always helped by those around him as much as could have been the case. That said, the Jaguars are going to try to upgrade the position. As far as who lost more games – the defense or the offense – you can probably split “blame” fairly evenly if assigning blame is the goal. The Jaguars were 4-12 last season. A lot of areas still obviously need to improve.
John from Savannah, GA:
I did not realize so many teams finished with a 4-12 record this year. As a result, we pick so far back in the second round(seventh) compared to the first round (third). I actually think this is a disadvantage. The difference between prospects at the very top of the draft board doesn't seem to be, at first glance, that much. However with Round 2 coming on a separate day, and with the inevitable first-round talented players falling to the second day, not picking so high in Round 2 could cost us a valuable player. Am I overthinking this, John?
John: Without question.

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