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O-Zone: Accurate assessment

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Clyde from Jacksonville

How does a draft board work? If you need a certain position, you should take that position. With different skill sets, is the grading based on a formula for each position group or a formula to equalize the differences by position? Why follow the board if you want a particular player when it's your turn to make the selection? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you. Keep up the good work!

Fans and observers commonly think of a draft board as a giant list that starts at the top of a large building and runs straight down the side of that building to the bottom. At the top is the absolute "best" player in the draft and at the bottom is the absolute worst player, with the prospects in between listed clearly – and very separately – in between. Were this indeed how a draft board was built, a team could do down that list and confidently pluck the highest-graded player off the board with each of its selections. The reality is needs matter in the draft, and the other reality is players are often graded in clusters rather than having clear differences between every player. When a team comes up on the clock, the team therefore usually has a cluster of similarly-graded players on the board. The team usually then selects a needed position from that cluster. The whole idea of having an absolute "BAP" philosophy and taking the HIGHEST-GRADED PLAYER is a myth. Always has been. Always will be.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

So, who is the Week 1 starter at cornerback opposite Tyson Campbell? This seems like an issue.

The Jaguars signed 10-year veteran cornerback Ronald Darby as an unrestricted free agent from the Baltimore Ravens in March. He is the projected starter opposite Tyson Campbell.

Pablo from Seville, Spain

  1. In the name of DJ Chark, why did the Jaguars overdraft guys from LSU?

Did they overdraft them?

Don from Marshall, NC

You have to wait until you see what you have before you criticize someone. It looks like they added some good players. Teams are getting pretty ridiculous with draft room celebrations. The Jaguars obviously had a plan and they stuck to it. It felt very professional and maybe we can find a star or two. Go Jaguars!

When it comes to recognizing that a team of football coaches and executives hugging and high-fiving one another after a fifth-round selection early on a Saturday afternoon might be a bit silly, Don remains "all in."

Brian from Round Rock, TX

Considering that rookies typically don't perform very well, isn't it a bad idea to fill a need for the current season with a draft pick?

This is why most general managers, including Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke, try very hard to get their starting lineups essentially complete before the draft.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, Good general managers trade down to use the additional equity to then move back up in subsequent rounds and select guys who've proven they can play, while bad general managers espouse analogies like "throwing darts at a board" to preemptively justify using added picks for more opportunities to miss. We had what we needed to move back up Day 2 and there were plenty of willing trade partners as evidenced by the many trades made, but even after all of Baalke's misses last year he continues to prioritize traits over tape while our opponents do what they need to add starters and formidable contributors. We don't need to wait three years to know that with six picks between Rounds 2-5 — where teams are built — we picked a developmental defensive tackle, got a part time slot corner, are projecting an offensive tackle to one day play guard, over-drafted a nose tackle passed on an edge who had 13 sacks last year in an attempt to finally address outside cornerback with a guy lacking the athleticism to ever be a starter, and used our last mid-round pick for a RB4/kick returner. Does that really make us better?

We'll see – and one not fer Baalke, from what I gather.

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, Fl

Hi John. Do we have scouts that work outside the SEC?



Hey O, would you agree that this draft seems aimed at winning the Super Bowl in 2025 and 2026, rather than 2024?

If you're drafting aiming to win the Super Bowl in that year's draft, you don't know much about how rookies impact teams in the real NFL.

Jordan from Mandarin

Jags west coast scout wondering what to make of the last year of his life.

Sometimes your team selects the player you scout. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you kill the bear. Sometimes the bear kills you.

Steve from Nashville, TN

ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. ranked our draft as a B-, saying our four picks Rounds 2-4 saying "D tackle Maason Smith (48), cornerback Jarrian Jones (96), offensive tackle Javon Foster (114) and defensive tackle Jordan Jefferson (116) -- all went at least a round earlier than I had them in my rankings." This tells me the Jaguars valued and targeted these players and took them a little early rather than risk losing them a round later?

It should probably just tell you that the Jaguars felt differently about the players than Kiper.

Kevin from Alone in the cold

Maybe they can convince opposing teams to put their second and third-best cornerbacks on him in the pros, too.

I sense displeasure here with the Jaguars' Round 1 selection, wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., because he wasn't the "true" No. 1 receiver at Louisiana State. That role went to Malik Nabers, who was selected No. 6 overall by the New York Giants. I guess you can knock Thomas for that. Thomas from this view looks like he has the size, speed and physical traits to be really good. How good will depend on how he develops from here. Whether he was being covered by the best corner or the second-best on most of the teams he played wasn't something he could control. Stay tuned.

Tony from Johns Creek, GA

O, with the new kickoff rule the Jags paid closer attention in later rounds to select who they thought would make good special team players. What you say?


Zach from Jacksonville

The Myles Cole draft selection in the seventh round has got to be one of the funniest things. He had the longest arms of any pass rusher in the draft. I hope he gets a shot of some sort he's got the frame and never lived up to the talent from what I read. How do you feel about his selection? Does an almost undrafted pass rusher have a chance of making the roster?

A seventh-round selection by any definition is a long shot to make any roster. Cole, like any undrafted player, is a project who must develop and overcome difficult odds to make it.

Scott from Lake Nona

How about a new moniker HWS (height, weight, speed) for draft selections? Baalke clearly seems to fit into this philosophy vs BAP.

Baalke and the Jaguars certainly drafted this year – and in past years – with an eye on prototypical physical traits. This by itself isn't good or bad. Plenty of general managers have built very good teams with the approach. Plenty of general managers haven't succeeded with it. Ensuring players fit a certain physical profile is a piece of Baalke's "puzzle." It's not the entire puzzle.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Does the projected 2024 record of the trade partner team factor into a general manager's trade value calculation. For instance, Minnesota with a rookie quarterback is not likely going to the playoffs this year and likely will have a top 10 pick in all rounds of the 2025 draft?

Teams might consider this as an aside when executing a trade. It wouldn't be the primary reason.

James from Saint Augustine, FL

Got bigger? check. Got faster? check. Got better? Time will tell but I certainly like the effort.

One fer the Jaguars' 2024 NFL Draft …

GPP from Savannah, GA

So we didn't trade up to get a top receiver and gave up on getting a top corner in the first round, then picked up an injury prone (shoulder/knee) defensive tackle in the second round. Baalke pulls another grade C in this draft.

… one not really fer …

Keith from Saint Augustine, FL

Historically speaking, the draft is littered with first-round busts and late-round success stories. So, why are so many overly confident in their negative, knee-jerk assessments? If I had to guess, most are simply regurgitating what they've read elsewhere and those who imply they could do a better job are probably underperforming in their own, undoubtedly because of all the hours of tape they must be watching. There's only fact and opinion and not understanding the difference is obliviousness.

… and one fer perspective.