No Manning talk today. Promise.
Let's get to it . . . J. Spence from Utah:
Enough about wide receivers. I believe getting another TE who can really stretch the field and create mismatches would really help our young QB.
John: I do, too. It's always interesting here at the combine to get a feel for trends leaguewide and how things that occurred the previous season influence thinking moving forward. This year, it's apparent that New England's success with Gronkowski and Hernandez has pushed the already surging tight end position to a new height in terms of profile and demand. It's not exactly revolutionary. Teams have been using tight ends and two tight-end sets in their offense for a long time because balance between pass and run creates match-up problems for the defense. But yes, considering the way Gabbert can throw in the middle of the field it makes sense for the Jaguars to improve at the spot.
Eric from Boone, NC:
Boselli was good. I won't deny that, but he also got a lot of help by a left-handed quarterback who helped him look even better. The fact that Boselli wasn't protecting Brunell's blindside gave him something most left tackles don't get. Brunell could see when defensive ends were coming and that gave Brunell the time needed to get rid of the ball or to scramble. He'd see the best defensive ends where other quarterbacks couldn't. With Brunell knowing when to get rid of the ball, that certainly helped Boselli's stats. It's ok to praise Boselli and give him a lot of credit, but it's also fair to explain reasons that helped him be as good as he was.
John: Your theory may be correct, but I watched Boselli from 1995-2000. Times when he got beat were very rare. It wasn't just that he wasn't giving up sacks, but that he rarely gave up pressure and rarely got help. Theoretically, had he not been as good, Brunell being left-handed could have been an advantage, but he rarely needed the assistance. Not saying he was perfect, but he would have been as good whether or not Brunell was left-handed.
Sean from Mangaf, Kuwait:
I'm up for a 32-team mock draft, O-Man.
John: So are many others, apparently. We received some nays, but far more ayes, and the arguments against didn't outweigh the big picture – that although there are flaws in our reader mock draft, and although not everybody loves it, a lot of people like it and have some fun with it. The draft is supposed to be fun, so, really, why not?
Joe from Jacksonville:
Despite having Marcedes Lewis, do you think the Jaguars would take a tight end like Coby Fleener from Stanford? You can never have too many weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
John: No, you can't, and I do expect the Jaguars could address the position in the draft. They probably won't do it early enough to obtain Fleener, but I don't know that you have to get a productive tight end on the first or second round.
Robert from Point Grey:
When you see Gene Smith can you ask him who he is after in free agency and what the offers are? Also, who he intends to take in the draft. In order of preference. Thank you.
John: You know, I spent several days writing a to-do list for the combine. I knew there was one thing I was forgetting . . .
Scott from Jacksonville No on the 32-day draft... You're thinking too small. We should all hole up in downtown hotels for a weekend or more and rent a giant conference room that we can hang out in 22 hours a day and hold a live draft. We can even make a reality show out of it and call it "NFL Draft 2012." You think anyone would watch?
John: Apparently one person would.
Nick from St. Paul, MN:
Do you think the fact the first three rounds are supposed to be solid this year will make the Jags more likely to trade back and collect more early picks?
John: The more I think about it, the more I do think that's likely. You always have to find a trading partner, and that's always trickier than many observers realize. But the idea of trading probably will have appeal. One reason is what you cite – that the first three rounds are deep and you can get a lot of good players there. That's as opposed to last year, when the second round was particularly thin. The other reason is there seems to be a lot of talent from No. 8 to No. 20 or so. That means if there's not a player the Jaguars love at No. 7 trading back could make sense. I never, ever predict draft-day trades because it's just too uncertain, but this is a year it makes a lot of sense – with the problem obviously being that a lot of teams would like to do the same thing.
Peter from Chicago, IL:
Are teams able to trade draft picks before the draft, or only on draft day when it is their turn?
John: They can trade any time, but they're usually done on draft day. That's because trades usually happen when teams are targeting a player and when there has been a run of players at that position. It's like anything else. Action usually happens at the deadline.
Jeremy from Siesta Key, FL:
Hey O-man, why hasn't there been any discussion about Pierre Garcon to the Jags around the O-Zone? I realize how good Wayne is, but for a young team, 85 seems like a natural fit because of his ability and age. Just seems like Gene has a formula for handing big $$$ to free agents, and paying guys in the early part of their prime is part of it.
John: We haven't discussed it much mainly because not a lot of people have asked about it. I've mentioned a few times that it would make sense. Garcon is in his prime, has deep speed and can really run after the catch. He apparently also will be available, which may not be the case for a lot of the bigger names. He's no sure thing, because he has a tendency to drop some very catchable passes, but you don't get perfection at wide receiver in free agency.
Tatupu from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I don't understand the Manning conspiracy theorists. Why would an NFL organization conspire to get a QB that hasn't even played in the NFL yet? Also, I know Gabbert struggled last year but as far as I'm concerned they're both top ten QBs and it's equally likely Gabbert will terrorize the Colts the next decade as it is Luck will do that to us.
John: As for the first part of your question – nope. Not doing it. Made a vow. As for the second part, you have a valid point in that it remains as it has been since last season – just far too early to make a judgment on Gabbert. I believe that the more I talk to coaches on the current staff, and the more you talk to personnel people here at the combine. The clock will start on Gabbert April 16. Not before.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I just fell off the turnip truck, so I don't get it. Why would a QB show up at the combine and not throw? I don't think there are any tests for the intangibles (football savvy, pocket presence, etc.), so throwing is about the only physical skill a QB can demonstrate.
John: The combine is about a lot more than the on-field work. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III showed up at the combine to go through the medical examinations and the measurements, as well as to meet with teams. They know teams will show up to their Pro Days to watch them throw, so they opt to do it there. It's annoying to fans and perhaps some teams as well, but the teams really interested will go to the Pro Days, so it won't hurt the status of the prospects in the least. It's really not that unusual, anyway. While the combine being on television has caused more prospects to work out here in Indianapolis, there are always a few players who don't, and it's particularly common for the top quarterbacks to not throw.
Dave from West Jacksonville:
When are we gonna get a chance to fire questions at new Jaguar President Mark Lamping. I hope he tears down that hideous walk-thru Jag store and restores that History of the NFL section. How about "History of the Jaguars?" I used to walk everyone that had never been in the stadium thru there... Now I avoid it.
John: We should probably let him get a security code first. He starts work Monday.
Travis from Albuquerque, NM:
Please give a shout out to the No. 1 Jaguars fan I have ever known, my stepfather Charlie H., who passed away Friday. He was a great man who will be missed dearly, but we all know he will be rooting for the Jags from up in Heaven!
John: Sorry for your loss. RIP, Charlie H.