We're deep into the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine now. From beneath an avalanche of podium interviews, 40 times, heights, weights and draftniks we move into a weekend of much, much more of the same . . .
Let's get to it . . .
Greg from Jacksonville and Section 122:
How important is the combine, really? If memory serves Matt Jones was a combine wonder. We all know that it didn't translate into a good NFL player. Is it really smart to put so much faith in the combine performance?
John: That question is one that's asked every year at the combine, and it's being asked here in Indianapolis again this year. Really, though, the idea that all teams get overwhelmed by an amazing performance and scurry to shove an undeserving player up the draft board is a bit overstated. Do mistakes such as Jones occur? Sure, but more often than not, teams approach the combine as the Jaguars try now to do – that it's a part of a large process and not something that can make or break a player's draft status. Talk to a Jaguars scout or personnel official and the thing you hear most often is that you have to rely on and believe in what you see on tape because a player who can play is going to prove it on the field.
David from Jacksonville:
Hey O-Man. Definitely do the 32 days of mock draft. It's a cool way to get ready for the real thing.
John: One vote, "For."
Adam from New York, NY:
What has become of the journalism profession? I'm seeing things like, "Joe Schmoe reports Alshon Jeffrey will run a 4.6 at the combine." How is that a report? How can you put your name to something like that? That's like saying "Joe Schmoe reports the Jaguars will beat the Titans in Week 5 next year." Please tell me I'm not going insane O-Man.
John: You're not going insane. You've just entered the 24-7, internet-based, Twitter-dominated, ESPN-envying news cycle of 2012. Throw in the popularity of the NFL and this is what you've got. And besides, a lot of what you see online and on Twitter isn't journalism. It's chatter. There's a difference.
Jonathan from Fort Irwin, CA:
PREPARE TO BE OVERWHELMED! YOU WILL DO THE 32-DAY DRAFT. There, did I convince you?
John: Getting there . . .
Andy from Columbus, OH:
Here's what I don't get: the circumstances around Manning's neck surgery. The guy plays another great season in 2010, plays all 16 games, and then all of a sudden, who knows if he's going to recover from this neck issue? What exactly happened during or after the season to have him undergo so many operations? It just seems odd to me. Furthermore, I think that's why a lot of people are suspicious about the whole No. 1 pick for Andrew Luck, etc. that the Colts now possess.
John: A lot of people suspicious? That, I can't grasp. It's just not logical. I get conspiracy theories and I get that people are going to be suspicious. I just don't get how people believe someone as competitive as Manning would give up a season of his career to ensure that the Colts would get the No. 1 selection – to replace him, no less. Add to that the fact that his injuries led to a 2-14 season that got a lot of people to whom he was close fired – disrupting their lives in the process. Work your conspiracy theories somewhere else. Here, they just don't add up.
Danimal from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
We are talking about the same team that piped in crowd noise here. Just sayin'.
John: Yes, that adds up nicely now.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
With Houston announcing they are going to offer a contract to Mario Williams that he "can't refuse" and Detroit about to re-sign Cliff Avril (I think), what pass rusher left will best fit the Jaguars? I like Robert Mathis, but I would like to hear your opinion.
John: I won't consider Williams and Avril out of the picture until it's official, but if they indeed are off the market, Mathis absolutely becomes a possibility. He's entering his 10th NFL season, which is not ideal, and he's not an ideal every-down end. What is ideal is that he is a relentless pass rusher who gives maximum effort all the time and he absolutely is a threat to get to the quarterback in pass-rushing situations. I do believe he benefitted from playing opposite Dwight Freeney and I believe Freeney the superior player, but that's not a knock on Mathis. I believe each among the best pass-rushers of this era, and no question Mathis would help the Jaguars' defense.
Rusty from New Iberia, LA:
I know that one of the knocks on Boselli making the Hall of Fame is the length of his career being hindered by injuries. Are there any other players in the HOF that has played the same amount of time or less than Boselli? Gale Sayers is one that comes to mind.
John: Sayers is a good example, and he's probably the best argument for Boselli – that, and the fact that for nearly six seasons he was as good at his position as anyone who played. And this was during an era of dominant left tackles.
Neil from Mesa, AZ:
I will be sorely disappointed if the Jags don't hang on to Scobee. He is currently the second most exciting player on the roster to watch.
John: I don't think you'll be disappointed – sorely or otherwise.
Joe from Jacksonville:
ESPN - - Entertainment & Sports Programming Network. Key word here is Entertainment. Don't take ESPN and the commentary too seriously.
John: I don't.
Julian from Fernandina Beach, FL:
But aren't you supposed to get the big guys early, John?
John: Absolutely, and the Jaguars did just that in 2009 and 2010, drafting Eugene Monroe and Tyson Alualu. I also believe it's OK to get an elite cover corner early, as well as a quarterback. That's why the scenario of signing wide receiver and defensive end in free agency and drafting a corner makes sense. Corners can play at a high level more quickly than the other two positions, and they are a safer selection because they're easier to project.
Andrew from Section 433:
For me, it would have to be Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson for my No. 7 pick.
John: I'd throw Andre Johnson on that group, too. When healthy, they're the difference-making receivers that are true No. 1s in the sense that if you don't stop them you're going to lose. And if you're going to give up the No. 7 selection and free-agency money, that had better be what you're getting. But in reference to Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, the feeling around the combine is the Steelers are going to do what it takes to keep him, something that is starting to smell like a trend entering free agency.
Cameron from Jacksonville:
Regarding my question about Coach Haley talking to Big Ben, how would someone know what they were talking about? Can you please inform me?
John: No one would know, and that's why in theory teams could skirt the new CBA rules regarding coaches talking football with players. Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey has been clear from the beginning that the team was going to go by the book with the new off-season rules and I believe most teams will for the reason most teams stay pretty much within most such rules in the NFL. The league by its nature is one in which players, coaches and personnel officials change teams at an enormous rate every off-season. Break a major rule such as that and you may not get caught that season, but soon enough it's going to get out and the punishment -- $100,000 fine for the coach on first offense and $250,000 on second offense – is enough to dissuade cheating.
Tim from Jacksonville:
You know what I don't understand about sports fans in general – the lack of common sense. Yesterday somebody complained about the time off the players got yet these same people don't bat an eye about all the time off, say, an actor or musician gets. The same goes with pay. Everybody is aghast at the millions athletes get paid and the price of tickets to support it but what about the price for a movie or concert ticket?
John: You know what I don't understand about sports fans? Their lack of common sense. You know what I love about sports fans? Their lack of common sense, because it ties in with the connection, passion and intensity they have for their sport. Fans are going to complain about time off and pay just like they're going to criticize Blaine Gabbert and Gene Smith and Eugene Monroe – and just like there was actually criticism of Maurice Jones-Drew after he fumbled a few times against Baltimore this season. Those same fans will praise the successes of their team just as highly and defend them to unreasonable extremes when arguing with fans from other teams. That passion is why there are a record 750 media-types stuffed in Lucas Oil Stadium this week, reporting on heights and weights and at least one guy asking once again, "What teams have you talked to?" when everyone knows the player interviews with teams don't take place until after the media sessions. People love this game without logic. It's the job of general managers and coaches to understand the details and it's their job – and that of the players, too – to endure the criticism in the bad times and the praise in the good times. The passion is what makes it matter, and the lack of common sense? Shoot, a lot of times, that's what makes it a whole lot of fun.