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O-Zone: About face

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeff from Anaheim, CA:
In regards to Michael's question recently about Dante Fowler Jr.'s impact to the pass rush, I think some of us are concerned the expectations are too high, especially since the last time the Jaguars selected a Florida pass rusher in the Top 10 it did not work out well. While I know you were not here in those days, do you believe Derrick Harvey would have had similar expectations coming off an injury or do you and the Jaguars see something different about Fowler that gives you more confidence?
John: This honestly is one of the oddest lines of questioning I have witnessed in five years writing the O-Zone, and I call it a "line of questioning" because Fowler and Derrick Harvey often have been linked since by readers and fans since Fowler joined the team last offseason. There's no other answer than to reiterate the obvious: that Harvey and Fowler attending the same college has absolutely nothing to do with how their respective careers will play out – or with how they should be perceived. Not only did they enter the draft seven years apart, they are … wait for it … different people with different abilities!!! As far as expectations for Fowler being too high … there's no question he is entering his NFL career with high expectations. He was the No. 3 overall selection in the draft; expectations are pretty much part of the game.
Catherine from Jacksonville:
No question today, Great and Powerful Oz. Just thanks for always being at your post. This time of year when even rumors are scarce, it is nice to have O-Zone.
John: What else do I have to do?
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
Two words on Noah Spence. Justin Blackmon.
John: That's without a doubt the concern with Noah Spence, and there's little question some teams will be wary because of that risk. At the same time, not every player with an off-field issue takes the same path as Blackmon did upon reaching the NFL. Players are people, and people handle circumstances differently. You must draft with that in mind.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
When referring to next year's starting free safety, you said "and the position is too important to enter the season with that as an unknown." Right after saying we very well may start a draft pick at the position. I'm thinking the minute you typed this you realized that a draft pick starting at free safety on opening day will be the very definition of "an unknown." #OZTWD
John: Sure, a draft selection is the definition of an unknown – and I did think about that when answering the question. But there is unknown and there is UNKNOWN. Starting Sample, a fourth-round selection who is a more prototypical strong safety, at free safety is an UNKNOWN; starting a first-round selection such as Jalen Ramsey, who is considered by most analysts to be a very good free-safety prospect, is more of an unknown. And I'm very serious about this answer, as evidenced by my use of CAPITAL LETTERS.
Tom from Virginia Beach, VA:
While Dante Fowler has been recuperating, has he been in meetings during the season, has he been studying film? Is he allowed to participate in with the team during the season?
John: Yes and yes.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Sample drafted as a free safety despite being a strong safety in college? Understanding that for a safety the official draft position isn't set in stone, any reason why you now see him exclusively as a strong safety? Do you think it has anything to do with Johnathan Cyprien not developing at an ideal pace?
John: I'm not saying there's no way Sample ever, ever could play free safety in the NFL. I'm saying the Jaguars didn't get a chance to see him play enough last season to assume he is the answer at free safety entering next season. And yes, I'm also saying that a reason I believe Sample will compete at strong safety is I believe the team will want to have competition for Johnathan Cyprien there.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
A teacher had the audacity to tell you that you were spelling your family name wrong? And you still remember this all these years later? John, you fool, contact a lawyer! There's clearly a lawsuit here! You were scarred emotionally. You've never lived up to your potential as a result. Get the money, man!
John: The issue already has been "handled." I'm not at liberty to discuss.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith ... in what order do you see these guys getting inducted into the Hall of Fame?
John: I wouldn't guarantee any of the three, although I think Boselli's chances are a lot better than I thought a year ago … but yeah, that would be the order.
Chris from San Marco, FL:
I don't believe the Jaguars are going to have a chance to draft Jalen Ramsey. The situation between the San Diego Chargers and Eric Weddle has been well documented, so obviously the Chargers will need a free safety. I'm sure they have other concerns too, or they wouldn't have been such a terrible team this season. Still, while it's in vogue to say the Jags will take Ramsey at five, it's not very likely that he will be available.
John: You're right. There are four teams selecting before the Jaguars, so it's quite possible four good players will be selected before they are on the clock.
John from Duval and Section 113:
All this talk of moving Cann to center and bringing in another guard … is there something about Cann's body type, skill set, past experience, football intellect, or familiarity with scheme that makes him better suited for moving to center than the guard we would bring in?
John: I don't know because I don't know what guard the Jaguars would be bringing in, but Cann has the skill set to play center and the Jaguars believe he can play there effectively if that's the route they choose.
Matt from Bradford, England:
Hey Zone, I'm feeling really good about the draft. I don't see how Laremy Tunsil falls past San Diego if he gets that far. If the Browns, as expected, take a quarterback, then one of Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey or Myles Jack will be there at No. 5 and I would be happy with any of them. Also, is there any chance of us considering Jaylon Smith given he's definitely a Top 5 player talent-wise; players, especially young ones, usually recover fully from ACLs these days and you keep saying you don't draft a player for the first two months of their rookie season … or is that just too big a risk for us to take that high?
John: Smith is intriguing, and you're right that you don't take a player for how you think he will perform in the first two months of his rookie season. But would the Jaguars take a player they don't expect to contribute this season? After having Fowler miss his entire rookie season last season, that would be a gutsy move. I'm not saying Caldwell wouldn't do it, but it would be a gutsy move.
DaMillion from The Mean Street of St. Johns:
"… if a team absolutely, positively beyond all shadow of a doubt knows it's releasing a player then there's often no reason to not release him early." Then what good does Johnny Manziel do on the Browns' roster right now? Why wouldn't they cut him now?
John: The Browns are keeping Manziel on the roster until March 9 for salary cap reasons. March 9 is the start of the new league year. They don't have the space under the 2015 cap to release him; they will have the room under the 2016 cap.
Austin from Jacksonville:
Is it safe to say Allen Robinson is the current "face of the franchise," or is it Bortles? I don't particularly like the "face-of-the-franchise" label due to the sport being a team game, but if we had to choose someone I would vote for him. Intelligence, perseverance and talent … just what the Jags need from Allen Robinson.
John: In terms of this question, it's OK to have more than one face. In fact, it's a good thing. Robinson, Bortles … even Allen Hurns … those are good faces for now. And Shadrick, of course.
Royce from Jacksonville:
Mr. O, we have been told all season that Joeckel is better than fans believe. Will he be one of the few first-round selections the Jags have taken to get a second contract?
John: Time will tell. Joeckel is entering his fourth season, and because he was a first-round selection, the Jaguars this offseason must decide if they want to pick up an option for his fifth season. I believe they will do that. How he develops next season then likely will determine if the Jaguars sign him to a long-term deal.

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