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O-Zone: A lot of excitement

INDIANAPOLIS – Let's get to it . . . Joey from Middleburg, FL:
I'm confused. If an NFL team can only expect to average a little more than two quality starters per draft, how is it possible to build (or even maintain) a roster primarily through the draft? I think the average career for an NFL starter is somewhere around five to six years. If it is, a team would need to average replacing four-to-five starters every year (divide the number of starters by their average career length). Those kinds of numbers tend to make me think the job of a general manager is a lot tougher than most people think.
John: I may have been a bit misleading with my answer Wednesday. I said teams typically want to acquire maybe two quality starters per draft class, but when I said that, I meant two starters that the team wanted to maintain as long-term, second-contract core-type players. By definition, that would be a starter of very high quality. Ideally, you would have three or four players in a draft class who could start for a short time – say, two or three years – but if you're drafting well you wouldn't necessarily be able to retain all of those players into the second-contract phase of their careers.
Tommy from Wilmington, NC:
Our new logo gets no respect.
John: Who cares?
Harry from Jonesboro, AR:
Who do you see as the best bargain out there in this year's free potential free agent class? In other words, who brings the most to a team while also costing the least?
John: We can talk about bargains all we want, and we can do that in the coming weeks, but we should also take this time to reiterate something that's going to become a theme in the coming weeks: free agency is not going to be a huge part of the Jaguars' offseason. This team is going to build through the draft. David Caldwell has said it. Shad Khan has said it. And while we have continued to write and discuss ways the team can upgrade in the offseason, including free agency in the discussion, it may be time to swallow and accept that the early weeks of free agency are likely going to be quite slim on Jaguars news. This is a building process, and the plan is to build through the draft. The Jaguars are committed to that plan, and there shouldn't be any misinterpretation.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I think we all understand now that the team isn't going to go bonkers in free agency, and is focusing more on the draft, but I do have a quick question about the free-agency plan. With a few veteran wide receivers cut recently, would it make sense for the Jags to cut Robinson and sign one of those guys (Knox, Breaston, etc.)? They could potentially save money, remove an injury-prone player, and keep a veteran player in the third wide receiver spot. Thoughts?
John: My thought is if you're waiting with breathless excitement for any significant Jaguars news in the early days of free agency, you're going to be disappointed. David Caldwell has said he's going to build through the draft, and my impression is that means really doing that – i.e., very little or no early free-agent signings.
Friedrich from Hamburg, Germany:
Let's say the Jaguars go defensive end in the first round and it's a coin flip decision between Bjoern Werner and another defensive end. Could the fact that Werner is German and the Jaguars are eager to broaden their international appeal tip the scale for him?
John: I doubt it. Decisions in the first round usually aren't coin flips, and if they were, the flip would probably be decided on something other than nationality.
Another John from Fruit Cove, FL:
If someone like Barkley is around in the second round would you take a chance or pass?
John: It all depends on how you feel about him as a player. If you think Barkley has a chance to be a big-time quarterback, then you take him at the start of Round 2 and feel great about it. If you don't, then you pass and don't worry about it. Barkley has a lot of questions to answer that I'm not sure will be answered in the pre-draft period. That's because the questions are about his raw ability – size, arm strength, etc. The questions he'll have to answer probably will be answered once he gets on a team, and the guess here is that team takes him sometime before the second round.
Nathan from Richmond, VA:
O-Man, in regards to Caldwell's evaluation of his scouting staff, does he have access to the work done by the previous employees? In other words, I think that it would be helpful if he could go back and look at how a scout evaluated specific players, instead of simply who the team drafted.
John: Yes, he would have access to those notes, but I don't know how much they'll matter. Caldwell has been pretty specific that he likes this scouting staff, has known most of them for a long time and thinks most of them very capable. The Jaguars' scouting process will change far more than the people involved. That's pretty obvious at this stage.
Steve from Woodbine, GA:
Are we really that worried about noticing that we have a new logo? C'Mon Man!
John: My inbox is a place where angst and petty worry flourishes. The concern over the new logo...let's just say it ain't unusual.
Jay from Montreal, Canada:
I agree with the general manager's emphasis on building through the draft, and I know you do, too. No point in shelling out for aging or injured veterans. Some foolish team will get burned in a Revis trade. That said, what do you think of LB Paul Kruger? If the Ravens can't retain him, he could be a worthy acquisition for us. He was Baltimore's sack leader and he's only 27.
John: In a vacuum, I like the idea of Paul Kruger, mainly because his age puts him in the category of a younger player heading into his second contract. Obviously, I don't see that as the direction for the Jaguars this offseason, but that's the best time to sign a free agent. As far as me agreeing with the idea of a general manager building through the draft, I'm not unique or special on that front. Most people who know anything about the league realize that's the only prudent way to build a long-term contender.
Vince from Farmington, NM:
Will the Jaguars be posting a list of players they have invited for pre-draft interviews?
John: No.
George from Savannah, GA:
John, Ryan Mallett was taken in the third round. Is he a potential trade for our third- or fourt- round pick if the quarterbacks available in the draft at that point are felt not to have the potential?
John: I doubt it. The plan is to build through the draft. Scenarios that involve other alternatives are probably an exercise in not listening or wishful thinking more than reality.
James from Orange Park, FL:
How is this new regime with Caldwell different than the approach taken with Smith? Both Caldwell and Smith believe in building through the draft using BAP philosophies, not overspending in early free agency, and working long, diligent hours to increase chances of finding quality players. Not that I'm against this approach, but if what I describe is the case, what's different between Smith and Caldwell.
John: The broad approaches of Caldwell and Smith are the same, just as the broad approach of many NFL general managers is similar. There is an art and a feel to putting together a roster. Some of it also is dictated by circumstance and good fortune. Scouts can take the same information, look at a player and make a different decision about who to take when. Smith obviously made a lot of decisions like that that didn't work out. Caldwell never has been a general manager before, but the hope for Jaguars followers is that a lot of his decisions work out significantly better.
EJ from Jacksonville:
Please explain the need to wait until after the combine and Pro Days for a team to solidify their draft board. Is it to move guys one or two spots from their current position? Or can a prospect make such an impression - positive or negative - at these events that it supersedes the years of playing on the field? In other words, I don't care what a player does at the combine, I want a player that performs when the pads are on and the clock is ticking - that's when it counts!
John: Caldwell believes far more in how a player performed on the field as compared to a 40-time or a height and weight, and because of that, he undoubtedly has a general idea of where most of the players fall on his board compared to others. The Combine and Pro Days are about tweaking the board more than making dramatic overhauls. That's what's going on in Indy this week – a lot of tweaking, a lot of adjusting, and a lot of confirming.
Peter Maribor, Slovenia:
Are players going to the draft really excited to go as high as possible? Going first means going to the worst team in the league. Wouldn't you be happier to go as No. 23 or lower to franchises such as the Steelers, 49ers, Redskins (multiple SB winners) and yearly Super Bowl contenders?
John: Andrew Luck went first in the 2012 NFL Draft and signed a contract worth $22.1 million. Dont'a Hightower went No. 25 and signed a contract worth $7.7 million. That's a little more than $14 million worth of excitement in there somewhere.

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