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O-Zone: A pretty good read

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Alan from Orange Park, FL:
O-Man … the draft is almost here. We're a day away. Stop flopping around. What's your gut at No. 3?
John: We're indeed a day from the 2015 NFL Draft, which means it's basically here. At long last. The longer this thing goes, more you read and hear, Southern California defensive end/tackle Leonard Williams is the best player available. The consensus – if there is such a thing – is he indeed is that much better than all of the edge rushers available with the possible exception of Dante Fowler Jr. Therefore, if Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota go first and second overall, I believe the Jaguars will select Williams. I also believe the next two players in consideration would be Fowler Jr. and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, with not much of a difference between Cooper and West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White. They're apparently the players with the fewest flaws and they generally seem to be the safest players with very little chance of busting. They feel the "rightest" at No. 3.
James from Jacksonville:
I was watching the MJD retirement press conference while surfing through the various sports channels. Not one televised the event or at the very least mentioned it or his retirement. This is a slap in the face to this team and what MJD accomplished in his career. #tiredofthesmallmarketcurse.
John: Nah, not buying this one. Jones-Drew announced his retirement a month and a half ago, and it was all over the trailers on ESPN and NFL Network. He also appeared on NFL Network to discuss it. Tuesday's event at EverBank Field was a ceremony for Jones-Drew and the Jaguars. It would have been unusual for it to be covered live on a national level sports station. I agree that this team often is overlooked nationally, but Tuesday wasn't an example of that – or any sort of curse, small market or otherwise.
Andrew from Windsor, Ontario, CA:
Johno, as the draft nears I am starting to dwell more on negatives on certain players and I am usually a very optimistic person. Help! I think I am just very worried about getting let down by a player. Help!
John: Relax, Andrew .You're oversaturated with draft stuff. Go lie down. Stay off the Internet except to read this column. Nap a little. Wake up when the Jaguars are on the clock. It will be fine. Unless it isn't.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
My only question with taking Amari Cooper is he seems to be a pretty similar player to Allen Robinson. What have you heard scouts say about Cooper that you don't believe about Robinson after seeing him play for a year?
John: I don't really see them very similar at all. Robinson is a player whose size and physicality gives him a chance to grow into a very effective player and who still needs to develop as a route runner. Cooper by all accounts is a phenomenally advanced player in terms of fundamentals and route running, though he is not considered the physical specimen of a player such as Robinson.
Jon from Lost in Korean Translation:
Do you in all your O-Zoniness believe that Blake Bortles is the best quarterback prospect in the '14 or '15 class? Just curious … 'cause I do, but I'm a homer.
John: This is an impossible to question to answer until Mariota and Winston have had a year in the NFL. It's easy to grade both players above Bortles based on Mariota's and Winston's final collegiate seasons compared to Bortles' rookie season, but that's a strikingly unfair comparison. How those two will play in the NFL as rookies could and likely will be dramatically different than how they played in college. Based on NFL readiness and the skill set needed to excel in professional football, I'd certainly take Bortles over Mariota. As far as Bortles-Winston, I'd say that's closer. Winston's off-field resume raises a lot of concerns that would probably give Bortles the advantage.
Andrew from Atlanta, GA:
I listen to our sports radio show every morning on the way to work in Atlanta. One of the hosts is Randy Cross, the lineman from the Bill Walsh-era 49ers. He said there are reports from credible sources that the Falcons are going to be making a run for Dante Fowler Jr., and they have been in talks with a couple of teams to trade up. What do you think Dave Caldwell's relationship with Thomas Dimitroff will do to the likelihood of trading up to the Jaguars' pick at 3, and what do you think we would get from the Falcons if this trade happens?
John: I think the relationship between Caldwell and Dimitroff dramatically increases the likelihood of a trade between the teams. It's not that trades never happen between executives who aren't friendly, but to say it doesn't help is incorrect. The real question is how Caldwell feels about the players who might be available at No. 8 when the Falcons select. I wouldn't trade back for less than second-round selection this year, but I also wouldn't trade back if I thought I was missing out on a player I really, really liked.
Kalani from Oakland, CA:
With Caldwell stating that this offseason was about helping Blake, then looking at the state of our offense compared to our defense – and finally, considering that Amari Cooper would help us keep up (points-wise) more than any edge rusher in this class – it seems more and more like the appropriate pick. And I was all for d-line before now.
John: I'm starting at like the idea of a wide receiver more and more, too. I'd lean toward Cooper because I think he's safer, but there would be nothing wrong with White at the spot. That being said, keep some perspective on what Caldwell meant when he said the offseason was about helping Bortles. It was widely interpreted to mean putting offensive skill weapons around the young quarterback. Remember, you can help a young quarterback by putting together a dominant defense so that the young quarterback needn't feel the pressure to win games by himself.
Christopher from Health, TX:
I don't mind it when the "national media" overlooks or outright ignores the Jaguars. However, it drives me crazy when national pundits talk about the Jaguars when it is clear that they have no idea what they are talking about. For instance, Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network just mocked Leonard Williams to the Jaguars at No. 3 – a reasonable proposition, no doubt. His explanation was unforgivable, though: "The Jaguars need an end to start opposite Tyson Alualu." Made my left eye twitch.
John: I'm sorry your left eye twitched. Twitching can be … wait … what? Seriously, national guys make errors when analyzing teams all of the time. We notice it when they make errors about the Jaguars because we follow the Jaguars more closely than we follow other teams. Still, "an end to start opposite Tyson Alualu" … well, yeah.
Mark from Oviedo, FL:
Regardless of who you think the Jaguars will select, who do you think would have a greater impact this year for the Jags – a lineman like Leonard Williams or Dante Fowler Jr., or a receiver like Amari Cooper or Kevin White?
John: A wide receiver would have more immediate impact, but remember: you're not just selecting a player based on the first few weeks of his rookie season – or even his entire rookie season.
Eddie from Jacksonville:
It is awful that Shad Khan doesn't allow Mark Lamping to have a press conference to go over where we rank in local revenue and how the London game affects the local revenue. He could have pretty slides and charts. You could post it on You could even call it the State of the Jaguars or something catchy like that. Wait..what?
John: Yeah, if the Jaguars did something like that it would really clear things up. If only the franchise were more transparent.
Brian from Round Rock, TX:
I would not be surprised if we select a quarterback in Round One. It's the most important position. Blake hasn't proven himself as of now. I don't buy the not-enough-balls-to-go-around argument. Let them battle in training camp then make a call. The QB position is all that matters right now.
John: You're correct that the quarterback position is critically important. You're correct that it's the most important position. Still, buy any argument you choose, the Jaguars aren't taking a quarterback in Round One in this draft.
John from Jacksonville:
It's interesting to read all of the different reads that people and media got from Caldwell's words, body language, haircut and whatever else from the pre-draft conference last Friday. I think he wanted everyone to believe that he really doesn't want to trade down to position himself for a better return from a potential trading partner. In other words, it's like him saying "because I'm liking my #3 pick, it's REALLY gonna cost you to take it away." I guess my read is as valid as any, right?
John: I think it's very, very, very likely that your read is pretty well-read.

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