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O-Zone: Two thumbs up

Posted Feb 19, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS – Combine time.

Let’s get to it . . .

Marcus from Jacksonville:
How much do the drills at the combine really matter? There must be some level of importance or they wouldn’t do it, but I kind of feel like these drills mean very little when compared to the actual game film. What is the most important thing at the combine? The interviews?
John: The most important part of the NFL Scouting Combine is the medical evaluations. All 32 teams can gather an enormous amount of hard, physical data in one location on 335 players. That would be very difficult to do in as comprehensive a manner without the Combine. The interviews have value, though many players are now so rehearsed that the interview’s importance has diminished somewhat in recent seasons. As for the drills, their importance is like so many other things at the combine: to not do well is a red flag that causes teams to perhaps further research an area, but they are simply a piece of the puzzle.
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX:
So what's the total tallies for your "one fer or one against (insert player name)?"
John: Hey! One fer finding someone else to do the math!
Becca from Tallahassee, FL:
Boselli was as dominant as they come. Is there precedent of players only playing several years and still making it into the Hall of Fame?
John: Yes, but it’s rare. Dwight Stephenson played eight seasons – and six full seasons – and Gale Sayers played seven seasons, five at a high level. Their careers, like Boselli’s, were cut short by injury. Those players set the best precedent and make the best argument for Boselli.
Ray from Quincy, FL:
I heard a knock on Manziel is he’s not an anticipatory passer, meaning the player has to be open before he throws it. Is that something that can be taught?
John: It’s something that can be developed, and usually develops out of necessity. Most quarterbacks who can’t pass with anticipation reach a level where they’re ineffective. Manziel appears to have been able to have success without being an anticipatory passer because he has been able to buy time and create opportunity with his scrambling ability. The major question will be whether or not he can do that at the NFL level.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Do you think there is at least an even chance of trading back in the first round? If so, who might be some potential partners? Thanks for what you do!
John: Sure, there’s a chance. There’s always a chance. What would probably have to happen is for some team in the Top 10-to-12 to fall in love with a quarterback and for the Jaguars to not be in love with one at all. Pick any team needing a quarterback and the potential for a trade would be there.
bob from Pittsburgh:
one day I sent ric a message asking him why it was taking so long to post he sent me an email telling me my questions suck n its my fault for not asking good questions that is why you leave your email
John: thanks bob i don’t know if ur questions r any better now as for your punctuation …
Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What do you think of Johnny Manziel from the viewpoint of how he fits with the personality of the Jaguars? All the experts that are pegging him as the Jaguars’ first pick....I don't get it. He doesn't seem to be the "live, breathe, and eat, football" type that Mr. Caldwell & Coach Bradley covet.
John: I don’t know that the public necessarily has an accurate grasp on what type of player Manziel is or is not. How a player is perceived publicly is not necessarily how that player truly approaches the game, and just because a player goes out and has a “wild side” in college does not mean his off-field goings on will negatively affect his NFL career. Manziel is high-profile enough that whenever he goes out it’s going to be news and every Tweet is a headline possibility. There is plenty of time in his life to go out and also be dedicated to football. This is not to say NFL teams won’t have concerns with Manziel’s character. Undoubtedly it will be a well-researched area in the pre-draft process, but let’s not assume that if the Jaguars don’t draft Manziel that character or unwillingness to eat, breathe and live football are reasons. I just don’t know that there’s evidence to support that.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
You learn something new every day. I recently learned that they let Shadrick have an office. I would have thought you'd be required to actually work in order to get one of those.
John: He actually shares an office, if we’re being technical.
Sam from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I'm really pleased with the direction this team is going and I'm thinking that if we continue to draft this way, we may very well be in the playoffs a few years down the road. What say you?
John: I say there’s every reason to be optimistic about the direction. I don’t know the exact time frame, but are the Jaguars doing things the right way? They are from this view.
M.S. from Pensacola, FL:
Can you name a free agent that could help the Jaguars more than Alex Mack? He's really good and young, and center is a need for the Jags and one of the thinnest positions in the upcoming draft.
John: I think Alex Mack is one of the players on whom the Jaguars have done or will do a significant amount of work in the coming weeks. He may well be a free-agency target. As for whether they will sign him – or whether or not he even will be available – we shall see.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
I am having a difficult time getting a read on what level prospect Bridgewater is. Can you provide a comparison of other recent prospects? Is he on the level of a Sam Bradford, or is he more like an EJ Manuel or other? Your scouting prowess is much appreciated.
John: I’d say most scouts would put him somewhere between Bradford and Manuel, with Bradford being a fairly clear Top 5 selection to most people and Manuel projected by most as a late first-rounder. There are many who seem uncomfortable with Bridgewater in the Top 3-to-5 but few who grade him as a second-rounder.
John from Jacksonville:
I am surprised by the emails wanting to keep Henne. He has proven to be a bottom-third quarterback in the league and a good backup quarterback. How difficult would it be to find a similar option at quarterback if Henne decides to leave in free agency?
John: It actually would be fairly difficult.
Josh from Kokomo, IN:
Do you see the Jaguars trying to sign any of the free agents from Seattle?
John: Sure. I’d say they’ll take a look at anyone who comes free from the Seahawks’ defense. It makes sense because what you want in free agency is a player about whom you’re very sure in terms of fit, motivation, effort level, etc., etc., etc. It’s safe to say the player would probably be a fit for the Jaguars’ scheme and safe to say that Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley would feel very comfortable with fit, etc. One thing working against the Jaguars signing former Seahawks is that players from Seattle are likely to be in high demand, which could drive the price up too far. You want to get better through free agency, but you also want to be careful not to overpay, and it can be tough to get players from Super Bowl champions at a reasonable price.
Silly Max from Tucson, AZ:
I really wish the Jags could focus on best available players instead of reaching to fill an obvious need. To that end, is there anything you've seen or heard that could point toward Matt Scott making a serious push for the starting spot this fall? What's your sense for how the staff sees his progress over the past 10 months?
John: I think Matt Scott has a very real chance to compete for the Jaguars’ third quarterback position, and perhaps for the backup position. The Jaguars are all about competition, so I wouldn’t want to rule anything out, but I don’t get a sense that the staff is counting on him being the starter.
Daniel from Santa Rosa, CA:
I'm reading Manziel is making threats about teams not taking him. Doesn't that hurt his chance of getting picked? I mean who wants to be perceived as being under the rookie’s thumb out the gate. I'm thinking his comments probably mean the Texans and Jags will be passing on him (at least in the first round).
John: I don’t know if the Jaguars or Texans will pass on Manziel. If I had to guess, I’d guess that he doesn’t go in the Top 3, but it won’t have anything to do with the “threats” or any other pre-combine comments.
Greg from Jacksonville and Section 147:
Have you ever seen the Clint Eastwood movie "Trouble with the Curve"? One of the subplots is the conflict between an aging baseball scout that is losing his eyesight, but hears a lot, and a front office man that loves his stats. I think it might be a good movie for the want-to-be scouts and GM's that write to you.
John: Yeah, either that or The Internship – one of the two.

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