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Burdens of my own

Let's get to it . . . Michael from Atlantic Beach, FL:
How do coaches and management determine a prospect's mentality, and where does this fall into the priorities of evaluation? This is an imperative factor that lacks coverage and regard by the media and public, respectively. With the draft approaching, how can we be sure that young players will share the franchise's vision, not only when the contract is presented, but perhaps after a tough season or occurrence that challenge mentality?
John: The issues you mention fall under the umbrella of character. That's an area that teams have considered more and more important over the last decade and a half, and it's one that Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith considers more important than perhaps many of his peers. Smith's a big believer that a player's character, desire and effort makes a significant difference over the course of his career, and as a result it is a major focus during the pre-draft process. Players are tested, backgrounds are checked, college coaches are consulted – all in an effort to get a clearer idea of the character of the player. It's also a reason Jaguars coaches and scouts attend the combine and Pro Days. They are there to see a prospect run, lift and throw but also how the player reacts to pressure and how he interacts with his peers and figures of authority. Getting as good a feel for players in as many situations is all part of the process of having a good feel for a player before he is brought into the team dynamic.
Edward from Jacksonville:
Here's my draft prediction: the Jaguars will trade back and select WR Stephen Hill. You can write it down. He's a Gene Smith kind of guy.
John: I'll write it down. I sense that you might be glad that you offered no guarantees such as running naked to Macclenny and back if it doesn't happen, but, yes, I'll write it down.
Ryan from Glen Oaks, NY:
In answering a question about Blackmon and Floyd, you replied: "It's very important to not draft a player you don't believe in just because you need to upgrade the receiving corps. If a player isn't destined to be a big-time player you having a need at the spot doesn't change that." Are you implying that from what you've heard from the Jags talent evaluators, they don't believe Blackmon or Floyd to be worth a top-10 pick?
John: Not at all. My sense is that the Jaguars' talent evaluators like a lot of things about both players. My sense also is that the situation with Floyd and Blackmon is the same as it is with Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples and a lot of the other players being mentioned with the Jaguars – that despite appearing very logical and desirable on paper they aren't slam-dunk, no-brainer selections. That's my primary objective with a lot of my answers on those players in recent weeks – to let people know that just because you see a player such as Floyd, Coples or Ingram name next to the Jaguars on a lot Internet mock drafts doesn't mean that it's an awful, tragic, fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants decision on draft day if they're not the Jaguars' selection. My point regarding Blackmon and Floyd is simply that there being a need at receiver that doesn't automatically mean picking a familiar, popular choice is the best way to go in the first round.
Dan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Any time I'm on my iPhone at my in-laws I get yelled at by my wife. Any way of getting around that so I can look at these lists and laugh?
John: Man up, I guess. I wouldn't, but you can try it.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Could you tell me your opinion on Wisconsin center Peter Konz? I know the Jaguars have a lot of interest in John Estes as a possible replacement for Meester but if the Jaguars choose to trade down we could get three great players within the first two days.
John: Konz is a player who from all reports is a solid bet to be a long-term NFL center. He's getting a lot of mention as a first-round selection, which for a center means he's projected to be a possible Pro Bowler at some point in his career. The question of how early to select an interior lineman in the draft becomes one of organizational philosophy – i.e., do you believe that center or guard is a position worthy of selecting in the first round? Some teams do, but many – particularly ones that are in the process of building the roster – do not. As you say, the Jaguars like Estes as a possible replacement and I just don't know that taking an interior lineman in the first two rounds is something the Jaguars are prone to do during this draft.
Andrew from Section 232:
Trent Richardson is supposedly the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson and there are questions as to whether he merits a high selection given the nature of the position in today's NFL. On that note, would Adrian Peterson be drafted in the top 10 today if he were in this year's draft?
John: Probably, but you would get the same questions. Someone would probably take him, but there would be debate and it would be questioned simply because there's so much evidence that a running back in the Top 10 doesn't give you the value it did in years past.
Scott from Woodbridge, VA:
Why does take down the depth chart this time of year? I only ask because sometimes I like to reference and compare. I'm just a crazy fan that way.
John: We take it down because there's nothing to change from the end of last season, but more than that, because there's no competition or on-field work from which to judge a depth chart. The depth chart on is unofficial anyway, and the thought is that we better serve the fans issuing one when there is at least some on-field work going on to make the projections.
Dave from Section 140:
I have heard zero, notta, nothing, on Rashad Jennings. Please tell me something good!
John: Sometimes I wonder why I try.
Adam from Brisbane, Australia:
After seeing you mention Whitney Mercilus to the Jags a few times, I thought I would do some research. After looking into him, I don't see a real weakness. He has ideal size, strength and speed. Not to mention he was incredibly productive last year. What's the knock on him?
John: The main knock is he wasn't productive over the course of time. He had a big year in his senior season and other than that, didn't do much. That often worries scouts enough to keep a player out of the Top 15. The positives are that he has a lot of upside and seems to have all of the attributes that often allow a player to be an effective pass rusher off the edge. Those attributes typically mean being a first-round selection and it's highly likely some team will take a chance on him there.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
You're our offensive coordinator, first game of the regular season. We receive opening kickoff, ball at the 20. What's your play call?
John: Fake punt. They wouldn't be expecting that.
Matt from London, UK:
With Michael Floyd's history do you think Gene will consider him at No. 7?
John: I do think Smith will consider Floyd at No. 7, because that's his job. I don't think he'll take him at No. 7 because I'm not sure he'll be the best available player there. Today, I'm thinking it's going to be either a defensive lineman there or one of the supposed Top 6 players – and I'm thinking defensive lineman if they trade down. That's today. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
Is Manning such a big baby that he won't play on a team with a developing franchise quarterback? Just be so good that the other guy won't get on the field. Then when you're not, accept it and move on. The Colts would have been better for it.
John: Not being able to have Manning and Luck on the same team had nothing to do with Manning being a baby. It has to do with Manning taking the majority of the repetitions in practice and training camp and even in the off-season on-field work. That's the way of just about any franchise quarterback, but it's particularly true of Manning. Because of that, Luck would have had little chance to develop while Manning was on the roster. Honestly, I don't think Manning or anyone else around the Colts worried that – if healthy – Manning wouldn't be better than the other guy. One's a 15-year veteran headed to the Hall of Fame five years after he retires. The other is a talented kid with a lot to learn. Who would have been the starter wasn't an issue.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
I know you hate the IF draft questions about the draft but with the latest news on Janoris Jenkins splitting up with CAA, If he slipped into the second round at pick 7, would the Jags pull the trigger on him? Or pass what could be an elite CB that has a questionable history?
John: Never say never, but I'd be surprised if Janoris Jenkins is the first- OR second-round selection of the Jaguars. Actually, I'd be shocked.
John from Kingsland, GA:
My wife made me homemade soup this week to take to work. It's usually very good, but I dumped WAY too much pepper into it and just about ruined it. She wasn't happy with me, either. As a huge Alabama fan she's really hoping Richardson falls to us, and we take him. Think you could just TELL her that's gonna happen so she'll be mad at you in a few weeks instead of me?
John: I'll have been married 20 years in July. I have enough burdens of my own without shouldering yours.

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