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O-Zone: All about efficiency

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Chris from Tampa, FL

Isn't the draft still a long game? Do you think the league's success at making the draft a primetime event helped erode belief in that reality? By comparison, the MLB draft is held in the middle of the season, in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day because nobody cares. That's because it's understood a draft class won't provide an immediate impact. While I know they're not quite the same, an NFL draft class should be thought of similarly. What's the percentage of rookies who make an immediate impact in the NFL? It has to be small. In that sense, every draft is a "meh." Or at least a "We'll see".

The increased hype – and exponential growth – of the NFL Draft indeed has skewed thinking. It's not that the draft isn't critical. It is. But you're correct that it's a long game. It's also a percentage game. It's a game of projection that involves human beings. Pretty much every draft class of every team has misses. Top 10 selections miss every year. This does not mean the teams evaluating are horrible at their jobs. It means it's impossible to know the future, and it means it's difficult to project how collegiate players will fare in what is a very different sport at the professional level. It's true that the NFL Draft isn't quite the same as MLB because baseball expects its players to spend time in the minors whereas most draft selections make NFL rosters. But the reality is most NFL players aren't team-shaping players as rookies. And yes, pretty much every draft is a "We'll see."

Paul from Jacksonville

John, I loved the draft process. Scouts and coaches get paid big money to evaluate these players, but at the end of the day the draft is still an inexact science. That's why I've preferred for years for this franchise to trade back and give yourself more darts to hit on Day 3 gems. We can quibble with the player selection here and there, but I was begging for General Manager David Caldwell to utilize this approach for years and he refused. Glad to see this current front office realizes that more picks the better.

There's perhaps an element of this in the Jaguars' draft class. But General Manager Trent Baalke didn't want all 10 Day 3 selections. The Jaguars tried to trade up using some of those selections.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, two things. First, at least Baalke stuck with big schools where players have experience playing against high-level competition this time instead of trying to outsmart the draft by selecting some nobody from Northeastern Southwestern Technical School of New Jersey. Second, what's wrong with Cam Robinson? What a selfish thing he has done to this team. Could the Jags cancel his contract if they wanted to?

First, OK. Second, I don't know enough about the details of Robinson's situation to know if he was being selfish, or trying to rehabilitate his knee, or if he just erred in judgment. But I'd stop short of calling him selfish. His situation could hurt him significantly financially, so he's not unscathed. No, the Jaguars cannot "cancel his contract."

Richard from St Augustine, FL

After my long and storied career as head ball coach and manager of team personnel I have decided to retire after last year's Jaguars success. I am going to trust Head Coach Doug Pederson and Baalke unlike previous years when I disagreed with a pick or thought it was a reach. My decision isn't to say that DP and TB will be 100 percent correct with all decisions. It is based on what looks like to be the two times in Jaguars history the Jags have gone after high-character, smart, love of football guys. They have faith in themselves, each other, and their coaches. It is not to say all Jags teams didn't have this, but it seems both times when the Jags went to another level of this strategy it led to much success. Am I way off base? What say you O King of all funk? Go Jags.

The Jaguars liked their draft class. They feel like they're players who will fit the locker room and be really good players. We'll see in a year and a half or so the accuracy of this assessment.

Elwood from Chicago, IL

As a casual observer of the draft and based on media reports of this draft only having about 10 true first-round prospects, and the draft being " deep " at certain positions, my first impression of the Jaguars picks is they did not overreach for any players. With not many obvious difference-makers at key positions maybe the rest of the draft class was more or less equally graded. I'm glad we didn't pick a second-round corner that didn't really belong in the second round. Looks like the team got some building blocks for the future. FANS say pick BAP, then cry bloody murder when that's exactly what happens.


Marc from Oceanway

Couldn't Trent Baalke simply have stipulated as part of our first trade, "We will trade our Pick No. 24 for your Pick No. 25, along with your Nos. 160 and No. 240 picks, as long as you do not draft Anton Harrison?"

Baalke could have done this while trading with the New York Giants in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. The New York Giants also could have said, "OK," and then selected Harrison.

James from St Augustine

With a fullback being drafted and Doug mentioning the scheme in the post-draft news conference, do you see us bringing the fullback position back? Never understood why the NFL stopped using the position.

The Jaguars selected Derek Parish to play fullback. He was a seventh-round selection, so it's not as if the Jaguars will reshape the offense around him, but yes … if he is what they hope I could see the Jaguars using a fullback. The NFL has deemphasized the position in recent seasons because teams have leaned more toward pass-oriented, three-receiver sets. While doing this, they have employed tight ends as "H-backs" and offensive linemen as blocking backs. That has led many teams to not carry fullbacks. I don't expect that trend to change, but if a player can play those roles effectively and play special teams he can carve out a roster spot.

Marcus from Jacksonville

John, I sense this draft was a bit of a failure, not because of the players picked, but because they took a gamble that didn't pay off. I don't know enough about players to know whether their picks were good or bad, but Baalke was very clear they wanted to trade up in the mid-to-late rounds and couldn't find a trade partner. So the strategy seems like it was to trade back in early rounds to pile up picks in later rounds, then use those picks to move up in the middle rounds to target specific players. I'm guessing that going into the draft they didn't want to pick 13 players with most of them coming in rounds 4-7. So, I classify it as a failure simply because their calculated risk ended up backfiring. Is that a fair assessment?

This would be fair if the Jaguars had gambled in the first two rounds. They indeed traded back twice before selecting offensive tackle Anton Harrison in Round 1. And they traded back once to before selecting tight end Brenton Strange in Round 2. They weren't able to use the selections acquired to trade up. But they were going to select Harrison and Strange with the original selections had they not traded back, so there really was no risk – calculated or otherwise.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

Oh a fullback. Shouldn't they buy me dinner first? I'm pretty sure all of us graybeards like this one. If at the end your draft looks like a potpourri of selections, your roster has a lot of deficiencies. Good to see them go in with purpose, we do need to be better in short-yardage running situations. There's three picks that help with that among other things. I like how they have the personnel to run any package on offense for any situation.

One fer fullbacks …

Jason from North Pole, AK

I think most Jaguars fans would argue the most important thing we can do is surround Trevor Lawrence with talent to help aid his development. We spent our premium draft equity on a quality pass blocker and two guys that should help in the running game that often left us in third-and-long last year. I don't know how anyone could possibly be angry about this. Keep giving the kid talent to work with and everything else is gravy.

… and fer offense …

Boxcutter Bill from Massachusetts

All these qualifies GMs in the Ozone. My small, uneducated mind thinks we had an efficient draft, added some depth with the potential to hit on some guys. You can't win if you don't play, But what do I know?

… and fer the Jaguars' 2023 NFL Draft.