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No need to wait for MoJo

Guillaume from Paris: If Richard from Woonsocket feels bad for the list, he should read the one written by Dan Pompei of the National Football Post. Greg Olson, Sylvester Croom and Jerry Sullivan are respectively the best quarterback, running back and wide receiver assistant coach hires.
John: That sounds about right. I have written often about Sullivan since his hiring, as many around the league believed it was a coup. Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald very much wanted Sullivan in Arizona, and Sullivan opted instead to work with Mike Mularkey. Croom and Olson aren't far behind in terms of respect around the NFL. I don't get much more worked up about the lists that are positive toward the Jaguars than I do those that are negative, but I've known Dan Pompei for about 15 years and he's one of the better NFL guys around. I trust his work to be well-researched, and without bias, and judging by the names of Jaguars coaches you mentioned, his sounds like a list that's on target.
Gene from Section 411:
When talking about free agents and reasons they might come here, isn't the fact that we live in a state with no income tax also a big draw?
John: Ab$olutely.
Leo from Jacksonville:
Do you think Jaguar scouts and coaches watch Mel Kiper's board and other debates on ESPN to pick their players in the NFL Draft?
John: No. There are plenty of worthy opinions involved in debates in the media, and I personally believe Kiper does a very good job, but the Jaguars and most other teams have their own draft boards that are compiled based on a year of scouting players. Do teams ever use the services of media "gurus" to crosscheck and make sure they're not missing anyone? Sure, but teams spend millions to scout players and certainly have their own data and ways of deciding who they will draft.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
I just can't see Manning inking a deal that is heavily performance based. Like any other player, I think he is likely to go for the big guarantee and I'm guessing some team out there is willing to take the gamble. Like you, I can't see Gene getting sucked into a deal.
John: I agree with you that Manning won't sign anything close to a minimum contract. Among the difficulties he and the Colts likely will have is figuring just what the market will bear. That's just one of the reasons Manning is unlikely to work a deal to stay in Indianapolis. The starting point of his deal with another team indeed could be something very heavily incentive based, but as you say, as teams become enticed with the idea of perhaps having him on the roster, it's likely more guaranteed money gets offered for the chance to hand him what was originally planned to be an incentive-based deal.
Chris from Jacksonville:
All of these offseason rules seem a lot like college recruiting guidelines. My question is which side wanted these rules in place? In my opinion, it seems like the players would want to practice earlier to get better, and it's obvious why the team would want them to practice earlier, too. Was this the player's union that wanted these in place or was it the NFL?
John: The players' union wanted rules to reduce the number of off-season workouts, the players' argument being the off-season – though voluntary in nature – had become too extended and too time-consuming. The prevailing school of thought is that while negotiating the CBA this past summer the off-season issues became points the owners easily could concede to the players to facilitate getting a deal done. The shame of the rules isn't so much that the organized team activities and on-field team workouts have been reduced. Where it seems the sides went too far was putting rules in place that players could not be coached and that no footballs could be used at the team facility until April. That meant players who truly wanted to go to the facilities on a voluntary basis and improve couldn't. There are still ways for diligent, motivated players to improve. They just have to work harder and perhaps dip into their own pockets to do so.
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
Do you think the Jaguars' first-round selection is too high to look into signing Mike Wallace? There is a lot of talk about the Steelers just tendering him as a restricted free agent rather than franchising him. The Jaguars could out-price the Steelers' cap to match the offer. It seems like a safer use of the first-round pick on a well-proven, 25-year-old, solid No. 1 receiver rather than a boom/bust risk that often comes with a Top 10 selection.
John: Personally, I'd lean toward that being too high. While Wallace is an ascending receiver with seemingly little risk, the Jaguars – like every team – enter this off-season with a limited number of opportunities to acquire players. Signing Wallace and giving up a first-round draft choice to do it is essentially spending two of those opportunities on one player. For a team still building its roster, that's a high price. Far better to spend on a wide receiver and a defensive end and be able to use that draft selection – perhaps the last premium, Top 10 selection the Jaguars will have for some time – on an elite-level talent.
Brian from Rockledge, FL:
Do you read the fans' comments at the bottom of your articles and O-Zones? Personally, I find them quite entertaining and frequently get involved in the heated discussions.
John: I read them on occasion. I don't read them all the time, certainly, and there's no real pattern to when I do or don't, but there are times I do. It's a good way to get an idea of at least part of the pulse of the fans, although I do think my in-box is a good way to do that, too.
Mark from Jacksonville:
When looking at team needs, a lot of what we do on draft day could be predetermined based upon the availability of players such as Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace. My question is, if we land one of these receivers in free agency, would you still take Blackmon if he is available in the draft.
John: If he is the best available player, yes, but with the Jaguars selecting at No. 7, there is still some debate if – a, he will be there; and b, if he will be worth the selection that high if he indeed is there. While Blackmon is one of the more high-profile players in the draft, there are some who question if he is a Top 10 selection. How he runs at the combine this weekend could go far in determining that. The bottom line remains the same: I believe the Jaguars will have their needs addressed in free agency, which will allow Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith to do what is at the core of his franchise-building philosophy – i.e., draft best available player.
Jordan from Vienna, VA:
For come-out-of-nowhere players, wouldn't Miles Austin, Victor Cruz, Demarco Murray, Jimmy Graham, James Harrison, Arian Foster and London Fletcher be decent comparisons?
John: Sure, those players are success stories and yes, they came out of nowhere. The question to which you refer involved comparisons to Jeremy Lin, and I wouldn't put the buzz around any of the aforementioned players on that scale. My point was that in the NFL to reach the 24-7, SportsCenter, all-Twitter-all-the-time level of Lin you usually have to play quarterback.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I would like to see Rashean Mathis get a good deal from the Jaguars. He was having a great year until he was injured. I noticed that as the defense added better players he got better. There is no corner who can cover with no pass rush.
John: I was surprised last off-season with the venom fans had toward Mathis, and was even more surprised once I started closely watching him. What I saw last season was a veteran player still playing at a high level and one who – as he believes – had years left at corner. Obviously, his season-ending ACL tear last season changed the dynamics, making the already difficult prospect of signing a nine-year veteran to a long-term contract even more worrisome. As it stands now, I tend to believe the Jaguars will make an effort to re-sign Mathis – at a much lower salary and shorter deal than he might have been able to secure had he not been injured. I also believe there's a good chance Mathis will sign with Jacksonville. He wants to be here, and realizes the injury cost him money.
Box from Jacksonville:
Do current NFL players go to the combine? To watch competition or even catch up with old college buddies?
John: Very rarely. For the most part, it's scouts, coaches, agents and general managers – and, of course, the college players.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
Obviously, MoJo is a great player, but shouldn't you give him a few years before you put him in the Top 5?
John: No.

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