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A pattern to avoid

Let's get to it . . . Jeanne from Palm Beach Gardens, FL:
Any idea when the 2012 regular-season schedule will be coming out? I'm hoping for more than one prime -time game!
John: The schedule will be released at 7 p.m. today. The Jaguars and every other NFL team will have at least one prime-time game. Realistically, I'd expect that to be it. And before there's a chorus about lack of respect, remember: the Jaguars went 5-11 last season. You want more prime-time games, you have to earn them.
Scott from Harlem, NY:
Can you give us a breakdown of the wide receivers currently on the roster and an idea of how the competition could shake out for roster spots? I count eight on the roster plus the possibility of drafting one-to-two more. Seems like Gene Smith and the gang are trying to create a training-camp scenario where there is fierce competition for roster spots.
John: Yes, they are. I certainly think free-agent signee Laurent Robinson is assured a roster spot (duh), but honestly, I want to give the whole group a couple of weeks before assessing the shakeout. Wide receiver coach Jerry Sullivan said a few weeks ago he didn't plan to evaluate or judge until he got on the field and started working with these guys. I have a feeling the entire dynamic of the position could change fairly significantly in the coming weeks and months.
Ryan from Ohio:
Johnny Boy, I was watching the Dan Patrick Show and he said that Jacksonville is in "dead man land with the seventh pick." Referring to the top six talents in this draft (Luck, RGIII, Kalil ,Richardson, Claiborne and Blackmon) being no-brainers. Now, I agree with him as far as the No. 7 pick being up in the air or who we would take. But that won't be the case if Tannehill is selected before seven. My question is do you agree with him if Tannehill doesn't come off the board and we stay at seven?
John: That's the storyline around the Jaguars' selection at No. 7 and will be until draft day. That's because conventional wisdom is the top six selections are far and away better than the rest of the first round. I don't know that the Jaguars agree with that. If Tannehill is still on the board at No. 7, I do believe there's a real chance the Jaguars will be able to trade the selection. If not, Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said he trusts the draft board and believes the Jaguars will get a good player at No. 7. There also is no real guarantee that the "top six" indeed will go off the board one through six, although a whole lot of draft gurus will tell you differently. Cover enough drafts and you know one thing for certain is that groups of players rarely go off the board as predicted before the draft. That's all a long-winded way of saying anything can happen on draft day, but that's the reality. A final thought on this topic is I don't know how much better off the Jaguars would be at, say, No. 5 or 6. If they were at six and a player such as Richardson fell to them people would be saying they were in a quandary because they already have a running back. You are where you are in the draft and you either select according to your draft board or trade down.
Matt from State College, PA:
What do you think the difference is with Evans that will deter fans from thinking that he will turn out similarly to Holt or Porter from previous years? To me, it looks like one of those situations all over again, although I REALLY hope I'm wrong.
John: He's different from Porter because he's on a one-year deal that doesn't hurt the Jaguars in any way because he can be released without penalties if he doesn't pan out. He's similar to Holt in that if the Jaguars get production out of him it's a bonus; if not, he's a good person who will be good in the locker room. One thing odd: I get emails such as this occasionally lumping Holt in with bad free-agent signings. He wasn't. He was just a veteran whose production dwindled late in his career, but he didn't set the Jaguars back in any way and there weren't a lot of expectations around him. I don't know how Evans will turn out, but if he's not productive it shouldn't be perceived as a bust. It's a calculated low-risk move that might bring production or it might not, but there's certainly no harm if there's not.
Gary from Vista, CA:
Since when did defensive tackle become more important than defensive end? Last time I checked, good defensive ends are a lot harder to come by. Case in point, the Jags haven't been able to find one for a long time. Jaguar Powers Activate!
John: I believe I was pretty specific that there wasn't a huge difference between some of the positions on my list. Defensive end and tackle to me are pretty much equally important in that your ends probably aren't going to be very good without good tackles and vice versa. I'd go with end a little early in the draft as a general rule, but it's a hair's difference – if that.
James from Jacksonville:
As far as your positions order, I think you ranked defensive tackle a couple spots too high. Defensive tackle is clearly not the most important position of defense and the positions' order should reflect that. In a passing league, either a shutdown cornerback or an elite pass-rusher should be the top of the order of the defensive positions. There is some truth to the strategy that having a dominant defensive tackle will stop the run and force teams to throw and become one-dimensional. However, defensive tackle is realistically not more important than cornerback or defensive end.
John: You have your opinion and you're entitled to it. Finding elite-level defensive tackles – true elite-level tackles – is very difficult and is crucial to a successful defense. I would flip a coin between tackle and end. I wouldn't flip for corner.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I've noticed that the expectation that many fans have for the players is considerably higher than the expectations they seem to have for themselves. Personally, I figure if Knighton wasn't doing anything that violates NFL policy, it's really none of our business. I hope he recovers fully.
John: You've noticed that, too, have you?
Nick from London, England:
Can we read anything into the signing of Lee Evans as to Gene's draft board? Draft BAP and use free agency to plug gaps, right? Well, with Robinson already signed for a lot of money, if you were seriously considering taking a WR at No. 7 there wouldn't be much of a gap to plug right now would there?
John: I would read nothing into the signing in terms of the draft board. The Jaguars acquired Lee Evans with the idea he may be able to help the team next year and they did so with little risk. The signing won't influence what the Jaguars do in the first round of the draft.
Jim from Meridian, ID and Section 230:
When Vic was here I named a hot dog after him, called the "Press Box Blogger," because he said he loved hot dogs. What's your favorite press-box food?
John: Chicken on a stick.
John: HUH!? WHATI?
Ivan from Jacksonville:
I'd love to see you tell Greg Jones that his position is just a little more important than the kicker.
John: I get the joke, and I'm not going to spend a lot of time telling Jones he's not valuable. One, like many players around the NFL, I am afraid of Jones. Two, he is valuable to this team. But in terms of how teams around the league invest their draft equity, fullback without question is very low on the list.
Brandon from Pensacola, FL:
Do we know how early Knighton can start his own conditioning? It's bad luck he's finally in better shape and now he has to be away from football training for three months. Hope he can keep from gaining weight while being down and out.
John: There isn't yet word on when Knighton can begin conditioning. That will depend on when he is cleared by doctors to begin such activities and we're not there yet.
Justin from Section 213 and Orlando, FL:
Maybe the cause of death being drowning, as Steve from Ponte Vedra beach put it, was from trying to make "the big splash" over the years? Carnell Lake, Bryce Paup, Jerry Porter & others in FA & Leftwich, Harvey & Matt Jones in the draft are examples that come to mind. Call me crazy, but I'm not so interested in a moves' "splash" as much as I am interested in a move "sinking or swimming." My opinion is a majority of Gene's moves so far seems to have the team learning to swim.
John: I'm not going to call you crazy.

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