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O-Zone: A big winner

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Wow, Zone. The draft is basically here. Who are the Jaguars taking first? We know you know.

Wow, Gary. A couple of things: The 2022 NFL Draft begins April 28, so while it's indeed approaching fast, it's a little away from being "basically here" – and it's certainly far enough away that the Jaguars likely don't yet know who they will select No. 1 overall. And the team indeed remains in a "due-diligence" stage regarding that selection. My sense recently has been – and remains – that the Jaguars will select either offensive or defensive line first overall. I expect it to be Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson, though I also would expect Georgia defensive lineman edge Travon Walker, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal and North Carolina State offensive tackle Ickey Ekwonu to be prominently in the discussion. I don't know yet how much of a chance there is that Hutchinson indeed will be the No. 1 selection – and I'm not certain that anyone outside of a select few will know the identity of that selection before it is made. That's as it should be. I mean … General Manager Trent Baalke theoretically could tell me. And I theoretically could pass along the information. But then what would we all discuss for the next two and a half weeks?

Armand from Jacksonville

Koaf when do you see the NFL hiring full-time refs and getting them younger and in better shape?

I wouldn't expect this to be soon, if ever. Nor do I think it's necessary. NFL officials officiate about twenty-to-twenty-five games per season. They know the rules. They're in reasonable-to-good shape – and in many cases, very good shape. Many have worked a long time at many levels of football to get to the NFL – and despite public opinion to the contrary, NFL officials do a remarkably good job officiating an incredibly complex and fast-moving sport. Most controversial calls are missed because of elements officials can't control. Take, for instance, the missed offensive pass interference penalty in this past January's Super Bowl that resulted in a Cincinnati Bengals touchdown. The official happened to be at an angle at which he couldn't see what was a pretty obvious interference against the Bengals receiver with former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey in coverage. Year-round training wouldn't have helped there. The same was true of the infamous "Myles Jack Wasn't Down" fumble. That call in the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 NFL season was incorrect, but it also was incredibly difficult and it was hard for a neutral observer to blame the official for whistling the play dead. Once it was dead, NFL rules mandated that Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack couldn't return it for a touchdown. The call was wrong, but year-round training wouldn't have helped. I never have heard anything to make me think full-time officials would improve performance – as popular a discussion though this may be.

Chris from Mandarin

Poor officiating is not the same as the league having a joint effort to control the outcome of games. Good lord. Some people are deliberately obtuse.

Good eye – great eye, actually.

Keith from Saint Augustine, FL

A question recently asked how some "fans" know so much about draft prospects. After the draft, I give myself a week or two break and then I began the process again. I have already looked for players that I want to know more about and begin to read and study about them in the summer. In the fall, I know the players I want to "scout" and watch their games either live or DVR. I still read what others say about them, but at this point I really begin to make up my own mind about them. From this, Brian Robinson, Jr. emerged as the best running back in the draft in my opinion. I watch the college bowl games and playoff games live or DVR. I watch the East-West Shrine Bowl practices and games as well as the Senior Bowl practices and games. Jelani Woods in the East-West Shrine Bowl game impressed me even before he blew up the combine. Noah Ellis also impressed me from the East-West practices. The one on one offensive and defensive drills tell me a lot about the prospects especially the ones from smaller schools. This year Perrion Winfrey, Travis Jones, Boye Mafe, Jermaine Johnson and Zion Johnson stood out to me. After the all-star games, I readjust my big board with the help of my sons who also study players all year. I watch the NFL combine and track the size, speed, agility and athleticism which either confirms what I already thought or sends me back to study more film on players. That's how I discovered that Leo Chenal is a stud at linebacker. I constantly adjust my board and run through seven-round mock drafts (three to five 5) every day. All of this takes hours every day and that is why I resent being questioned about what I know from casual fans. I do not wait until after the NFL season to get myself "up to speed" on NFL prospects. I watch every single minute of all three days of the draft and then I give myself a week or two break (see above) before I begin the process again. I study a lot of players a lot and know what I know. "They watch You-Tube." John, please.

You are the rule, I am sure, and not the exception. This is why all fans are so knowledgeable about the draft.

Frank from Palatka, FL

What's the coolest email you've ever received from a fan?


_Ben from Cuba, MO _

O', the question about the 2013 draft got me to thinking. Obviously, the number is subjective or an opinion but what should the average draft produce to be a solid draft in relation to All-Pros, Hall of Famers, starters, solid backups?

I'm too lazy to do the research and math to average these things. I did check the 2004 NFL Draft, which produced 30 Pro Bowl players and – by rough count – about five or six Hall of Fame players. The 2013 draft produced 29 Pro Bowl selections, but "only" 17 made multiple Pro Bowls. Two players from that '13 draft appear to have a chance at the Hall of Fame: tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. This is an interesting question. Maybe see if Keith from St. Augustine wants to do more research. He seems to have time for such things.

Trey from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Does your head hurt sometimes?

Yes. My God, yes.

Ien from Harrisburg

I like the Travon Walker pick at No. 1 overall. My justification is because of all the quarterbacks in the AFC, you need what I call a lightning package where you can have all four pass rushers on the field at the same time. Walker can move inside to three or five technique with Josh Allen outside, Arden Key and K'Lavon Chaisson all on the field. They can chase down screens, and a mobile quarterback and you get your best four pass rushers on the field. Is that feasible or wishful thinking?

This theory makes sense and is a modern variation on a longstanding theme – that you can never have enough good pass rushers. This always has been true – and with the evolution of mobile, versatile quarterbacks it's probably going to get truer. And you're correct that Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker's versatility in this area would be a strength. I don't know that that makes Hutchinson a bad selection, necessarily, but that would be an argument for Walker.

Ray from Jax

John: Yes, you have constantly pointed out that Jaguars coaches and executives have felt better about the offensive line than do many fans. Those same coaches and executives have led the worst team in the league for two years. How good could one reasonably feel about any unit of the team?

The Jaguars must win more. A lot more. Until then, any criticism is fair.

Mike from Saint Augustine, FL

O, I know most folks want us to take a receiver at No. 33, but why not take Neal No. 1 and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum or best available interior linemen top of the second? If Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence gets more time, our current group of receivers should be able to get open. What say you?

I would be surprised – though not at all stunned – if the Jaguars select an offensive lineman No. 1 overall later this month. I don't expect the Jaguars to select an interior lineman No. 1 overall, but I would not be surprised at all if it happened.

Robert from Oneonta

I was invited to be on one of the stadium update committees. I wrote back and asked them how many times I was going to have to pay for my season tickets. ROFLMAO – no response.

Well, you certainly "got them."