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More than the measurables

Let's get to it . . . Fred from Naples, FL:
Drew Coleman's release surprised people. With Rashean Mathis coming off a knee injury, I would think they need the depth at corner. What is your take?
John: No question it took many by surprise. And no question the Jaguars need depth at corner. The problem is one has nothing to do with the other. The Jaguars saw Coleman as a nickel-only player, which meant they didn't use him on the outside. Remember, when the cornerbacks were ravaged by injury late last season they did not use him on the outside. The team thought there were other options on the outside who could play the run better and opted to keep Coleman inside, playing players signed off the street rather than move Coleman. Partly because of that, the decision to release Coleman came down to numbers. The Jaguars currently have nine veterans and four rookies at the position. I received a lot of questions on this topic, and there were many insisting there must be more to it than that, but in this case, there's not.
Jack from Jacksonville:
I saw the Jags released Brian Sexton yesterday and signed former Suns announcer J.P. Shadrick. Let me be the first to congratulate J.P. He will be a welcome addition to the broadcast booth. Best wishes to Brian in his future endeavors.
John: I'm sure Brian appreciates your thoughts, but before this topic gets wheels, let's put an end to this: Brian Sexton is still very much the Voice of the Jaguars. Shadrick has been hired in public relations.
Andrew from Section 232:
With the evolution of athletes, would it be farfetched to say one day we will have a designated punter and kicker, that those positions could be filled by guys who can play in other areas too, similar to when somebody fills in to be the long snapper? I guess you wouldn't want your starting safety getting hurt and not being able to kick, but that's not to say that your sixth cornerback couldn't handle kicking duties.
John: I would say the NFL is becoming more specialized, not less. I can't see a time when those duties are handled on a part-time basis. NFL teams consider those yards and points too valuable to be handled by a part-time player.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
John, you seem to have mastered the art of sleeping. Any tips for your readers with Insomnia?
John: You're here. That's a good start.
Caleb from Augusta, GA:
Do you play fantasy football every year? If so, do you tend to pick Jag players?
John: I played fantasy football once. I believe it was 1988 or 1989. The Florida Times-Union's sports staff put together a fantasy football league. My friend, Matt Hayes – now the college football writer at The Sporting News – and I co-owned a team. I recall meeting Matt at Hooter's at the Landing to "plan" our roster. The evening began with notebooks and pens and diligent charts and ended up something that wasn't that. The Oehser/Hayes team was competitive in Week 1, as I recall, and after that played like a team planned by two clowns at Hooters that thought they knew something about the NFL. My interest in fantasy football pretty much waned after that. I get that people are into it, and I like that they are. Without question it has increased the sport's popularity and by extension, has contributed to me having a job. It's just not my thing.
Sean from San Bernardino, CA:
The idea of undrafted rookie free agents intrigues me – guys given an opportunity to live their dreams. What really keeps some of these guys from making a team? The hunger they have to play must be immense. Is it physical tools or experience that would separate a guy like Blackmon from an undrafted rookie FA? Or is it just-flat out talent?
John: It's usually talent, but often it's that they lack "measurables" – i.e., size, speed, quickness. Many teams simply won't spend a draft pick on a player of a certain size or speed, but they will sign him as a free agent to see if he can prove himself during the off-season and training camp. There are cases, too, in which players are simply overlooked because they went to a smaller school or because they played behind someone better in college. The odds are against rookie free agents, but the idea that you can't make it if you're drafted is something of a myth. Sometimes, it's about more than measurable and because of that, every year quite a few undrafted players make NFL rosters.
Michael from Port Orange, FL:
Another Monroe fan. Did anyone see the costly errors he made all season blown assignment? Missed blocks and penalties at crucial times. He plays well until crunch time, then costs the team big-time. Move him to right tackle or guard and find a left tackle who comes through in the clutch. Find another Boselli.
John: I won't say Monroe is perfect, but he's better than you believe. That topic has been played out here in the off-season, and as for finding another Boselli, there aren't any. At least not right now. The late 1990s and early part of the next decade was a golden age for left tackles, with Boselli, Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace, Walter Jones and others playing at or near a Hall-of-Fame level. Most scouts will tell you there aren't left tackles of that level right now, but that doesn't make Monroe a bad player. He's not, and it appears he's a big part of the equation moving forward. But if you're looking for Boselli, keep looking. Everyone else is.
Alex from Panama City, FL:
Any news on how Mike Brown is doing? What are his chances looking like to make the team?
John: Brown, a former quarterback at Liberty, will try out as a wide receiver at a three-day rookie minicamp this weekend. There are 26 other player invited to work out on a similar basis, as well as six drafted players and 17 collegiate free agents. He arrived Thursday and his process essentially begins Friday.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
Other than the unique name why all the coverage of Long Ding?
John: The name actually has no bearing on the coverage. Long Ding is trying to become the first Chinese-born player to make an NFL roster. Firsts and things that are unique naturally draw more interest than stories that seem on the surface to be common.
Dan from Fort Collins, CO:
This isn't as much of a question as a statement to the fan base. I don't know why people try and pre-judge draft picks. It's ridiculous. I watched Anger highlights his freshman year and he's a beast! We need to give him a chance, and I believe he can pick up where Barker and Podlesh left off. By the way my favorite free agent signings was our entire coaching staff.
John: People try to prejudge draft picks because it's fun and because there are no games in the off-season. From everything you hear about Anger, it's not a matter of picking up where others left off. Within the context of NFL punting, he is said to have a chance to be special. If he's as good as people believe, it won't be a case of picking up where Barker and Podlesh left off. Rather, it will be a case of punting at a level the Jaguars haven't had before.
Matt from Charlotte, MI:
Out of the moves the Jaguars have made this offseason, which of the new players do you think will contribute at a significant level for the longest?
John: We haven't seen the rookies yet, and we've seen the newly acquired veterans only at a voluntary three-day minicamp. For that reason, I have to preface my answer by saying there's a lot we don't know about the newcomers. On the surface, I have to guess wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but you're supposed to make the biggest impact when you're a skill player selected in the Top 5. The rookie punter, Anger, also should contribute at a high level for a long time.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Do you think there will be any holdouts for the rookies? I know the Jaguars want to get these guys under contract, especially Blackmon, so he can get some work with Coach Sullivan, Blaine and the other wide receivers.
John: Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the salaries for rookies are slotted in such a way that there's not much to be gained from holding out. I don't expect it to be an issue for Blackmon or any other Jaguars rookies. We saw almost no holdouts league-wide last off-season, and under the new CBA, that's expected to be the norm going forward.
Casey from El Paso, TX:
What are your favorite bars and restaurants in Indianapolis? And are there any in Louisville you care to share? I really miss those two cities.
John: I never spent much time in Louisville, but there's an Applebee's in Indy I'm pretty fond of.

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