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O-Zone: Agree to disagree

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Preston from Oakville, CT:
O-Man, two questions: Do you see any players in free agency who would significantly change our draft approach? For example, if we sign player 'X,' then we definitely will not draft player 'Y.' Also, would you say the pre-draft process (combine, pro days, etc.) tend to help, or hurt, any position more than others?
John: Preston, two answers: I don't think signing any particular free agent will significantly change the Jaguars' draft strategy, but that's not to say free agency won't affect the draft. If, for example, the Jaguars fail to address free safety to their liking in free agency, they almost certainly will be aggressive there in the draft. Would that mean trading up for Jalen Ramsey? Would it mean drafting the position early in the second round or possibly trading into the first round to get a player they like? Perhaps, because I can't imagine this team going into training camp – or even coming out of the draft – without having added a player Caldwell and Bradley believe can improve the position. As for your second question, I don't know that the pre-draft process hurts any position over the other. There's no question it sometimes hurts players who don't time/measure well.
Austin from Jacksonville:
With the fifth pick in the NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars select ... Noah Spence. Possible or not? Definitely worth the risk.
John: It's possible, but I doubt it happens. I say that not so much because of the perceived off-field risk – or because Spence was slower than expected at the combine last week – as the fact that I believe there will be a player at No. 5 the Jaguars like more.
Brandon from Atlanta, GA:
With the draft having such great depth at defensive line, especially the interior, do you see a lot of teams devaluing defensive lineman for the upcoming free agency? Will Malik Jackson have less value on the market this offseason because of the strong draft?
John: Defensive line indeed is as deep as it has been in recent memory in this year's draft, and that indeed could affect free agency overall. I don't think it will affect Jackson's value because many see him as the No. 1 or No. 2 player available. Players of that elite level aren't affected by general trends. But the ninth-best defensive tackle on the market? Yeah, he will be affected.
Jesse from Orlando, FL:
Do you think the Jags go after Olivier Vernon now that he has the transition tag?
John: Yes. Absolutely and positively. The transition tag gives the Dolphins the right to match any offer made to Vernon; what it does not do is force pursuing teams to give up draft selections for signing Vernon. Because of the former part, I believe some team – quite possibly the Jaguars – will dramatically overpay Vernon; because of the latter part, I believe there's a very good chance the Jaguars will be in the mix.
Ryan from Apopka, FL:
With the tag deadline passed, how would you rank the following players in which you believe the jaguars should sign: Olivier Vernon (under transition tag), Mario Williams, Janoris Jenkins, Bruce Irvin, Eric Weddle and Malik Jackson? How many off this list do you think the Jags could realistically sign?
John: Ranking: Vernon, Irvin, Jackson, Weddle, Jenkins, Williams. Realistic to sign: Two.
Andrew from Windsor, CA:
Johnny O, I'm unsure Jalen Ramsey will be there at No. 5. Any chance David Caldwell trades up to acquire him if he is there at No. 3? What would it take to trade up?
John: I doubt Caldwell will trade up from No. 5. That's because I imagine the Jaguars will fill enough needs in free agency that he doesn't feel the need to give up draft equity to acquire a particular position. As for how much it would cost to move to No. 3 … a lot. Probably too much for a team that needs second- and third-round, speedy defensive talent.
Ryan from Apopka, FL:
A few years ago, the Jags attempted to sign Alex Mack when he was tagged with the transition tag. This year Olivier Vernon has this tag and the Dolphins don't have the cap space the Jags do if offered a large contact. He is only 25; could you see the Jags making a huge push to sign him?
John: Yes.
Tim from Winston-Salem, NC:
Super Mario in Jax???
John: No.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
So ...Von Miller, a 26-year old Super Bowl MVP, seems to be available for two first-round picks and the right price. Do you go for it?
John: I might try to sign Miller except for one unfortunate truth: the Broncos used the exclusive franchise tag on Miller, which means he may not negotiate with other teams. Had they used the non-exclusive franchise tag – which allows teams to negotiate with Miller and costs pursuing teams two first-round selections if the current team doesn't match the offer – then yeah … under that scenario I might have pursued Miller.
Robert from Bellingham, WA:
Now, since the tag season is over with – and with free agency still days away – can teams make offers to those given the exclusive/nonexclusive tags right away, or do teams have to wait until the start of free agency?
John: Teams must wait until the start of the new league year. Tagged players are still under contract with their former teams until then.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
One glaring issue in our defense last year was the inability to cover tight ends. I think one of the large issues with third down was the opposing tight end was always open. How do you fix this? Corner is usually too small and a middle/outside linebacker usually is too slow to keep up. Is this a scheme-related issue or just need better talent at those positions?
John: How to get better against tight ends in pass coverage? Get better at free safety and be more aware at the outside linebacker and safety positions. Those two areas would be a good start.
Jonathan from Middleburg, FL:
So, he is kind of the forgotten man from injured reserve. Is there any chance that Arrelious Benn can make the roster this coming season? He was looking good before his injury last summer. What will become of him?
John: Benn almost certainly will be on the Jaguars' roster in training camp. If he plays as well in this camp as he did last year before his injury he has a chance to make the roster.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Highlights … nope. Full games with every snap ... yep. Of course, this doesn't work for receivers and dbacks because so much of what they do is off screen...
John: I think you're saying that watching full games on television is the same when trying to evaluate players as watching coaches film. Yes, it's better than watching highlights. No, it's not the same as watching coaches film – even for linemen and quarterbacks. Where it really falls short is the same way all tape falls short: without knowing the play calls and assignments, you don't really know the responsibility of players. You can judge player performance based on that, and many people do, but you're going to miss a lot.
Jesse from Ottawa, IL:
What position will the Jaguars go after with a more aggressive approach in free agency: edge rusher or the secondary? It seems the edge rusher has an overall more talented group, but would they risk not signing a safety/corner with hopes they land Ramsey in the draft?
John: The Jaguars have more cap space than any team in the NFL. Those are the Jaguars' two primary areas of needs. Why wouldn't they pursue both with equal aggressiveness?
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
Do the Jaguars realize what this season means? By keeping Gus a lot of fans are jumping ship. The few of us that haven't will be jumping ship after next season if it's as terrible as it seems to be. Everyone is sick and tired of losing and losing and losing and losing and losing.
John: Of course the Jaguars realize what this season means. They realized what the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons meant, too. I also tend to disagree with the implication that most fans have "jumped ship." I also find it curious that next season already seems terrible for a team that improved offensively this past season, particularly since that team should be getting Brandon Linder, Sen'Derrick Marks and Dante Fowler Jr. back – and when that team is expected to add talent in free agency in the draft. Either way, the Jaguars aren't trying to put poor teams on the field. Rather, the team is trying to build a team that can sustain winning for the long haul. The fact that many fans disagree/misunderstand/recoil at the way the team approaches that effort does not mean that winning is not the goal. Rather, it means the team is going about it in a way that not everyone likes.

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