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O-Zone: A Midwestern guy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Tommy from Somewhere over the Rainbow:
Johnboat, I may be in the minority, but I'm not concerned with who we draft or acquire at quarterback. Recent history suggests the Jags are in good hands. I am always interested to hear others clamor about how important the franchise quarterback is right now. As if everything hinges on April's draft. What's great about the new collective bargaining agreement is if the Jags swing and miss, it doesn't kill them like it might have under the old CBA. That's not saying the Jags should take unnecessary risks in drafting a player, but all is not lost should that player not come as advertised.
John: You make good, logical and calm points and those aren't always welcome during the pre-draft furor – or any other time of year, come to think of it. But the undercurrent of your email is correct, that this draft doesn't have to make or break the Jaguars – and that the Jaguars appear to have the right people making sound decisions. That gives a team a good chance of success. That's not to say it's a guarantee, but it gives you a chance.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
"O-Zone: A real eye-opener" I thought we were talkin' about the Culligan ad again...
John: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Chris from Mandarin:
Aaron Rodgers was picked much later in the first round, so his situation was different. You have continually told us teams cannot operate based on the outcry of fans; otherwise they probably won't be employed for long, so that's out. If you draft a quarterback in the Top 5, he should start immediately barring injury.
John: I'm aware of Rodgers' situation. My point is you don't draft a quarterback in the Top 5 for what he will do in the first month of his career. You draft him for what he will do for a decade or more. Yes, a quarterback drafted that early usually will start immediately because teams drafting a quarterback that high probably are in need of one. But if a team chooses to let a player sit for a few games it doesn't mean they picked the wrong guy despite what the short-sighted observers among us might believe.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
Has any player ever read something you wrote about them in the O-Zone that they didn't take kindly to? And if so, did they want to meet you out in the parking lot after practice and settle your differences, if you know what I mean?
John: It is the reality of writing about people that those people don't always love what you write. This is part of my job – and part of theirs, as well. These situations have been relatively rare during my time writing the O-Zone, but they do occur. For the most part, players are mature and professional enough that the issue can be discussed and resolved without parking-lot altercations. There was the one time in the '90s that Boselli met me in the parking lot. He's asked me not to elaborate.
Matt from Bloomington, IN:
I do not care who we pick in the draft. I just really do not want to see Manziel and Clowney go No. 1 and No. 2, because I want us to get a chance to draft the guy we want. If it turns out not to be one of them, that's OK.
John: I wouldn't assume that those are the No. 1 and No. 2 players on the draft board, and I would say that picking third this season that the Jaguars will get a player they want.
Dakota from Dupree, TX:
Manziel's style of play may not translate with the same results it produced in college. This is true. His legs won't get him out of all of the collapsed pockets in the NFL, but he sure is fun to watch!
John: Yes, and that's the dilemma and the question surrounding him. If his skills translate, then he's magical – maybe on a franchise-defining level. If not . . .
Jason from Durham, NC:
Michael Bennett, who may know a thing or two about getting paid $5 million in the NFL, cleared up the issue on NFL Network about taking less to play for a contender: "There is no such thing as discount. This is not Costco. This is not Walmart. This is real life. There is no discount really because you go out there and you don't give a discount on effort; you go out there and you give the best effort every day and you fight for your teammates, and you want to be compensated for the way that you perform and the kind of teammate you are."
John: Michael Bennett is a wise man.
James from Wherever my Wife Isn't Watching:
John, will you be covering the ROAR auditions?
John: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Mike from East Moline, IL:
We don't want complete parity. Watching 32 teams completely even in skill and talent doesn't interest me. We do have a league where teams who scout well, draft well, develop their players well and manage their cap well will likely be consistent contenders. If you are drafting in the Top 5 every year and can't build a good team, then it's difficult to blame anyone else for that. It is almost impossible to compete without a good quarterback and a good pass rush, but drafting at the top gives teams the best chance to get those players.
John: There's really not much room for argument here. You're right that no one really wants parity. What people want is for their teams to have a chance. Generally speaking, the NFL's system gives every team regardless of market size a chance. Not every team has a chance every year, of course, but over the course of the long term all teams have an opportunity to build a strong, contending team.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
O-Man, Good show today with you and JP. But it's too short. Need an hour, not 30 minutes. Thanks, Brian.
John: You're referring to LIVE!, which begins at noon each Wednesday with J.P. Shadrick and myself. It has been a half hour in our first two editions, and that's the plan for now. As it grows and as time moves on, there is the possibility for expansion.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
I remember seeing several articles a couple weeks ago stating that the Jags were almost 50 million under cap for 2014 and now I see an article stating we're less than 30 million under. What's with the disconnect?
John: The disconnect is that there often is a wide variety of information regarding the cap. That's because the NFL doesn't really release a "cap room" statistic, and it is therefore left to different reports and different analysts to interpret information and numbers. According to, the Jaguars are projected to be nearly $50 million under the cap – roughly $30 million under for 2014 with roughly $20 million to roll over from 2013. The reality is the Jaguars won't and shouldn't spend in free agency in such a way that they'll jump themselves up against the cap. But they'll have room to do what they want to do, which is to approach free agency prudently, sign a relatively high profile player or two and continue focusing on building primarily through the draft.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Forget "intangibles." Johnny Football seems to have that in spades. But can he "make all the throws?" My eyes say yes, but I'm no scout.
John: Manziel indeed has beaucoup intangibles, the most striking of which is "escapability." When you couple that with his knack for making plays downfield after escaping, you have a pretty exciting, dangerous intangible. The questions become, "Will Manziel's speed be fast enough in the pros, and is he big enough to allow the escapability translate?" As far as making all the throws, I'd say Manziel can make a lot more throws than many thought he could when he was a freshman.
Sascha from Cologne, Germany:
Hey John, what's your personal opinion: is there a quarterback in this draft class who is worthy of a first-round, No. 3 pick? And if so, who do you pick?
John: Maybe I overthink things, but I always wonder what "worthy" means in a question like this, particularly at the quarterback position. I like a No. 3 player to be one that I absolutely know is going to be a Pro Bowl level talent. When you look at Jadeveon Clowney or Jake Matthews for example, you can see that. It's sort of the way when you watch Justin Blackmon play you see special traits that jump out at you compared to other players around him. You see flashes of that in this year's quarterbacks, particularly Manziel's playmaking ability and Bortles' raw tools, but you have so many obvious questions that it worries you. At the same time, special quarterbacks are very hard to find so you have to take a chance. I guess the best way to answer is I don't know that there's one who I am sure is going to be a Pro Bowl quarterback, but I wouldn't have a problem with Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel at No. 3, either.
Michael from Altamonte Springs, FL:
Mark me down as one fer MOODACHAY!!! Have I been heard?
John: Hey! One fer bein' heard!
Jon from Fort Irwin, CA:
How could a guy (Brad Meester) be an Iowa guy at heart? I'll take sunny beaches, sweet tea, and Krystal burger any day.
John: It's clear you've never seen a cornfield under a three-foot blanket of snow on a bleak January morning. Until you do … well, just keep talkin'.

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