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O-Zone: A master plan

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Thomas from Farmington, NY:
What is your thought on … Jalen Ramsey (if he makes it to pick No. 5) in the first round for the Jags and … Jaylon Smith in the second round? I personally feel like that would be an amazing start to the draft. Thanks, Zone and GO JAGS!!!!
John: In a perfect world, that might be awesome for the Jaguars, but the NFL Draft isn't a perfect world. Few would argue against Jalen Ramsey at No. 5. He's an elite-level talent with a good chance to have an elite NFL career. That's what you want when selecting in the Top 5. Jaylon Smith is less clear-cut because of his injury situation – and that, of course, is the only question around the Notre Dame linebacker. He sustained a career-threatening knee injury late last season and there's no way to know for sure the long-term impact of that injury. If a team's doctors believe he will definitely recover and play at his pre-injury level, then by all means it makes sense to draft him and wait a year to get him on the field. If a team's doctors don't believe this, then a team has a much tougher decision on when – or even if – to take him. I'd be OK with taking him in the second round and waiting a year because you don't always get immediate high-level production from a second-round selection. I think it's pretty close to a no-brainer in the third round. But if you can't assume he'll reach pre-injury form … well, that's a factor in this decision teams can't ignore.
Leo from Jacksonville:
Hi, John. I just want to point out that Brad Meester was drafted as a guard and was switched to center in his second season. That worked out pretty well for us.
John: Yes, it did.
Brian from St. Johns, FL:
What's the downside of picking up the fifth-year option on Luke Joeckel? His most pressing need appears to be developing strength. He's only 24 and spent the majority of one season rehabilitating an injury. There's plenty of time for him to develop. Maybe I'm too patient, but we've seen this story play out before with the Jags. Reggie Nelson, another first-round pick, went on to a Pro Bowl career after we traded him for a ham sandwich. Tony Boselli may have spoiled all of us, but isn't it possible that some tackles actually need time to develop?
John: The argument against picking up the option on Joeckel is two-fold – one, it's expensive ($11.9 million guaranteed for the 2017 season); and two, you can still retain him long-term if you opt to not pick it up. Joeckel is under contract for 2016 either way. If the Jaguars decide to not pick up the option for 2017 they can still negotiate an extension next season if he plays well enough during that season to merit it. If he doesn't play well enough to merit it, then he becomes a free agent and the Jaguars won't have to pay him for 2017.
Henry from Jacksonville:
Even though the team is long on defensive tackles, do you think David Caldwell would pick one in the later rounds given that this draft class has great depth at the position?
John: If the value merits the selection … absolutely.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
Can you help me understand not re-signing Wiz? By all accounts he was one of the better centers in the league for us and finally stabilized a position that hurt us badly a couple years before (besides a few bad snaps). Why not keep him around?
John: The Jaguars didn't feel as strongly about Stefen Wisniewski as you did – and it wasn't just the bad snaps. Also, they believe they have better options in-house – and all indications are they believe the best of those options is Brandon Linder.
Tim from Atlantic Beach, FL:
What does one home game in London mean? It means city international exposure and Jacksonville hosting the World Cup Qualifier. Well played, Mr. Khan and Mr. Lamping!
John: But! But! Conspiracy! But … aaaaarrgghhh!!!!
Paul from Jacksonville:
Some people just don't seem to get that comparing college ball to the NFL is like comparing a single-engine plane to a 747. It's a different kind of football - altogether.
John: That always has been the case because of the size and speed difference. It seems to have become even truer in recent years with the proliferation of spread offenses at the collegiate level, but yes … they are dramatically different games.
MrPadre from Kinglsand, GA:
I've been thinking about the upcoming draft (duh) and how it relates to where we are in the rebuild and our need to "win now" – and that we haven't yet really improved the pass rush as we had hoped. So with all of that … if we were to take Ramsey or Jack at No. 5 (which would be awesome IMO),wouldn't it make sense to then trade a couple picks to move back up in to the last half of the first round to get an edge rusher like Noah Spence, or even Ogbah or Bullard? I just think now that we have built this team's base we could – and maybe should – go for quality over quantity. Any chance you agree?
John: If Spence/Ogbah/Bullard are good enough pass rushers to merit giving up a mid-round pick or two … sure, go for it. The wise executive makes such moves with caution, though, because many of the worst trades in NFL history were made when teams believe they were a player or two away. I'd be surprised if Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell gives up a whole lot to move up a few spots into the first round. He values draft selections an awful lot, even mid-round ones.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
Lots of talk about this O-line mash up, and the camp battle between Joeckel and Beachum and who would end up playing where, but there is no talk of the free-agent acquisition of Mac Bernadeau … is this guy chopped liver? Who is he and he where does he fit in the plan? Is he any good? What's his favorite color?
John: I don't know his favorite color. I do know Mackenzy Bernadeau gives the Jaguars needed depth and experience on the interior of the offensive line. I doubt he starts the season at center or guard if the Jaguars are healthy, but it wouldn't be surprising if he starts at some point next season. Injuries happen in the NFL, and the Jaguars seem better prepared for that possibility than they have in the last three seasons. That's what happens as you get closer to having the roster built.
Iron John from St. Augustine, FL:
Is there a difference in revenue from Wembley if we are the away team? Why not go to a home-and-away cycle? Would a team with very strong home game revenue look at a London road trip as a money-maker?
John: There is big difference in revenue as the home team at Wembley and the away team. The away team doesn't get nearly as much. As for teams with strong home-game revenue, it may not make as big an impact in terms of the short-term bottom line, but there's a definite trend of teams wanting to establish international presences. And it's not a trend that I expect to reverse itself anytime soon.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi John, I think everyone will be curious as to the outcome of a competition between Johnathan Cyprien and James Sample. The way I hear Gus talk about how Cyp's play should be better with Tashaun Gipson at free safety, maybe it's not a completely open competition. I hope I'm wrong.
John: This indeed will be a pressing question when the offseason program begins later this month, and I don't know that anyone has a real good feel for the outcome. One reason is the Jaguars really didn't see enough of Sample as a rookie last season to know exactly what he will bring; they like his potential but he didn't play enough for them to know beyond doubt that he is ready to be a starter. Another reason is Cyprien. The Jaguars believe he played far better as an in-the-box strong safety last season than when he was asked to play back – and because of that, there is a legitimate feeling that the acquisition of Gipson could really benefit Cyprien. Will it truly be an open competition? Yes, I think it will. The Jaguars believe Cyprien can improve but they like Sample enough that if he deserves to start the coaches won't hesitate to make that happen.
Daniel from Jacksonville:
John, quick logistics question about the South end-zone project. When players come running onto the field from the new tunnel, I hope none of them get cleats trapped in the field goal net and tear their ACL. What's the plan here for the net?
John: They'll move it.

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