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O-Zone: A few more days

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Alan from Jacksonville

After taking a gander at Kyle Brandt's AFC QB pyramid o' talent and seeing Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence near the bottom below Jimmy Garoppolo, I am starting to think media ratings – like draft grades – might not be gospel. Even the great Gene "The Truth" Frenette admitted he botched the rating of the Jags' 2020 draft. Then, to top it off, I now find out coyotes are actually faster than roadrunners. Is there anything I can believe anymore?

No NFL "ratings" or "media" grades are gospel. Nor have such things ever been gospel. It's why such things are meaningless in the NFL. That's a great thing about professional football. All teams start every season 0-0 with an equal chance. Polls don't matter. Opinions don't matter. Votes don't matter. Ever. If you win enough, you make the playoffs. If you don't lose in the postseason, you win the Super Bowl. Everything else is so much chatter. Is there anything you can believe anymore? Yes. I just can't share that information.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Who is Phil Steele and why do you care about what he says about collegiate players?

Phil Steele is a college football analyst for ESPN. He names All-America teams at all levels of college football. People who write biographies of college players include those listings. When breaking down players signed as collegiate free agents, I include those rankings. That's my level of care.

CaptBob from Jax

KOAF, your response to "Charles from Riverside" was on point about whether draftees are fully physically in shape for the pro game. I would also mention, and maybe more of a factor, the length of the NFL season impacting a player's endurance and more so their mental toughness to see it through. Back to my lawn.

When I discuss college players not being physically ready for the NFL, it's not so much about not being in shape as about physically mature. That happens for a lot of players around their mid-20s. It can take a year or two in the NFL. They have to get accustomed to the endurance and mental toughness part, too, but the physical difference often is overlooked.

Howard from Homestead, FL

Here's the real question. Edge defender Yannick Ngakoue reportedly took $6 million per year less to get out of Jax. Is he humble enough to return? Most men can't eat that much crow.

The Jaguars team Ngakoue left in 2020 is very, very different from the current version. This is now a competing team run and coached by different people than that 2022 team. He is now a free agent and a capable pass rusher. I expect Ngakoue to sign with a team that offers him the best contract/best situation now. I don't expect 2020 to have much – if any – effect on the decsion.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: For those griping about the Jaguars paying backup quarterback C.J. Beathard need only remember Chad Henne's touchdown in the playoffs when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Jaguars. Without that, the Jags might have won.

Yeah, maybe.

WJB3 from Yulee, FL

Which of the UDFAs have the best chance of making the team?

We'll find out over the coming months. I could write multiple sentences on this answer and talk about big schools, college production and intriguing traits. But if there was something about any of the 11 collegiate free agents acquired last weekend that made them favorites to make the team they would have been drafted – either by the Jaguars or another team. And history tells us that most collegiate free agents that look like they should have been drafted still fail to make the NFL. One or two of those players the Jaguars signed shortly after the 2023 NFL Draft likely will separate themselves and be on the practice squad or roster. That will play out in the meeting rooms, locker room, practice field and game fields in the coming months. Anyone predicting who they might be is guessing.

Al from Orange Park, FL

Which of our young cornerbacks can make a second-year jump and be the guy that I was hoping they would have drafted on Day 1 or 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft? Any hope of that?

There's always hope because young – and relatively unknown – NFL players often develop in Year 2. Montaric Brown played in seven games with a start as a rookie, so he showed enough to be on the field as the Jaguars searched for an answer opposite Tyson Campbell. He would have the early edge to be that guy. But this is very fluid.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, most players don't get a second contract? The NFL sounds a bit grim as a career decision. They don't all get rich and famous on the first contract right?

The average career of an NFL player lasts 3.3 years. It's a physical, brutal sport. There are players who have long careers and retire with life-changing money. Those are rarer stories than many observers realize.

Trevor from Jacksonville

Hey, John. You said, "The Jaguars selected the same players after the trades they were targeting before the trades, so there was no risk." I like what I've read about tight end Brenton Strange and am excited to see him play, but how do you know the Jaguars had him rated higher than the five players selected before him? (Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, center John Michael Schmitz, tight end Luke Schoonmaker, guard O'Cyrus Torrence and cornerback DJ Turner CB).

I don't know much. Some things, I know.

Andy from St. Augustine, FL

While I do like tight end Brenton Strange and running back Tank Bigsby as players, if we sign tight end Evan Engram to a long-term contract and with running back Travis Etienne Jr. locked in for a few more years - I'm not sure I like using our second- and third-round picks on players that will essentially be back-ups. I guess I'm old school and have always wanted to see players taken in those rounds have a chance to start if they perform up to expectations. Even if Strange and Bigsby play better than expected, I don't see them starting over, or playing more than Engram or Etienne.

The NFL in 2023 is a situational game. You need more than 11 players on an offense and you essentially have 14-or-16 starters. Seen in that way, Engram and Bigsby aren't backups as much as part of the 14-to-16 players who will contribute to the offense.

Bob from Sumter, SC

I just did a deep dive on the Kansas City Chiefs roster: Patrick Mahomes, a few big-name players and quite a few mid and late round draft picks.

That's typically how it works for teams with a franchise quarterback and a few "elite," salary-cap-eating players. You get your stars, rely on them to raise the level of play around them – and to make big plays in big moments – and you draft well and supplement those players.

Robert from Moorpark, CA

You think Jaguars philosophy is, 'Let's average 40 points per game this season?"

No, but I think they would love to be in the low 30s and I think they believe it's possible after the offseason additions – and because of improved continuity and better knowledge of Head Coach Doug Pederson's offense in his second season.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John. I don't watch film and seem to be one of the few who had never heard of Brenton Strange before the draft. I have heard, however, that Pederson is a good coach who apparently likes to use tight ends in specific ways. I have a feeling Doug has a pretty good idea of what skills Strange has and how he plans to use them. Any thoughts on where/how you see the new tight end fitting in?

As versatile player who can catch and block, and who – when he adapts to the professional game – should complement Engram well.

Colt from San Diego, CA

Gotta start to wonder about Snoop Connor. Seems like they were very hesitant to put him in the game (minus the unimportant HOU game) Doesn't look good for him at the moment looking in. Do you foresee Snoop being on the roster day 1?

The Jaguars currently have six running backs on the roster: Etienne, Bigsby, D'Ernest Johnson, JaMycal Hasty, Conner and Qadree Ellison. The drafted Etienne and Bigsby in Rounds 1 and 3 in 2021 and 2023, respectively, signed Johnson as an unrestricted free agent this offseason and selected Conner in Round 5 in 2022. Hasty played ahead of Conner last season. Those numbers and circumstances suggest Conner is the fifth back on the roster, which makes him more of a practice-squad possibility than being on the Week 1 active roster.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I meant to email you during the draft. You still suck.

Jaguars 2023 rookie minicamp will be held later this week.