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O-Zone: Always a curve

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mark from Archer, FL:
John, loved the first two picks ... not a fan of the third-round pick. Everything I am reading on the guy says he was a fourth- or fifth-round talent. I would much rather have seen the Jags pick a guard with the third-round pick. But I suppose rarely is a fan going to love every draft pick that is made – with the exception of last year's draft.
John: I got a few emails like this late Friday – and I got a lot, too, that didn't like any of the Jaguars' selections thus far in the 2017 NFL Draft. There has been consternation over the selection of Louisiana State running back Leonard Fournette at No. 4, and there are those who really didn't like them taking Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson at the top of the second round. The selection of defensive end Duwuane Smoot from Illinois in Round 3 befuddled people because he lacks name recognition and because he wasn't a big production guy in college. I suppose the best way to sum up the Jaguars' first three rounds is in the next few sentences. They wanted a playmaking, skill-position threat offensively – and Fournette was a logical choice in that respect. They wanted to address offensive line in the second round, which they did with Robinson – a player who is going to compete at left tackle with veteran Branden Albert and who seemingly could start at guard if Albert reports to camp and plays for his current contract. I don't pretend to know much about Smoot, but I learned long ago that recognizable names with unreal college production aren't mid-round locks – and as often as not, unrecognized players with a develop-able trait or two are the better mid-round selections. But to answer your question: no, every fan is not going to love every selection – and every selection is not going to be a Hall of Famer. This draft makes sense so far and it appears there is a plan. That plan appears to be to get tougher in the running game, to get better on the offensive line and to get deeper on the defensive front. That doesn't vary much from the Jaguars' plan throughout most of the offseason. That's the team's direction and it's sticking to that direction. That's what you want to see from a draft and an offseason. How will it turn out? Stay tuned.
CD from Fleming Island, FL:
Tom Coughlin's comments Thursday regarding the Leonard Fournette pick were pretty interesting. He went beyond the actual player, saying that drafting a running back that high sent a message to the offensive line, the quarterback – the whole team, really – that this is going to be our identity. I'm not sure I'm sold on the pick personally, but I thought it was definitely interesting to hear how he described the pick in those terms – that we've invested in this, there is no confusion, this is who we are.
John: There was little question the Fournette selection at No. 4 Thursday sent that message, and there was no question Coughlin liked that being the case. It would be incorrect to say the Jaguars selected a running back No. 4 for only that reason, because they obviously wouldn't have taken the position so early had it been just any running back. But Fournette absolutely fits what Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone want: toughness, an ability to run when they need to run, an ability to impose the team's will on the other … Fournette could come to personify all of that. And yes – Coughlin and Marrone both have touched on the topic that caught your attention … that a running back such as Fournette sends a core message not just outwardly but inwardly that the team is serious about running, enforcing-one's-will, toughness, etc. Marrone talked Thursday about such a move throwing a spotlight on the offensive line. The Jaguars have made clear their philosophy. Now, they must play well enough to make that philosophy a success.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Wait, wait, wait ... didn't we make fun of the Bears Thursday for trading up one spot? Seriously? This was a poor choice in my book. I like the pick a lot … just not the move up.
John: So, the Chicago Bears give up three early selections to move up one spot and the Jaguars give up a sixth-round selection to move up one spot … yes, that's the same thing. Exactly. Way to bring it, Logan. Keep swinging.
David from Broward County, FL:
Man, Leonard Fournette is clearly a Tom Coughlin pick. I wish him all the best, but the first-round storyline for the Jags is clear. Our AFC South rival Texans took Deshaun Watson. If he develops into a legit starting quarterback/franchise quarterback and Fournette does not live up to a No. 4 pick, this is the end of the Coughlin era. Fournette cannot be a bust or a disappointment. The Jags cannot afford for this pick to be a miss. Go Jags!
John: What if Fournette doesn't live up to being a No. 4 selection and quarterback Blake Bortles turns his career around to lead the Jaguars to the playoffs the next two seasons? Or what if the Jaguars select a quarterback in the first round next season who helps the franchise turn around? What if that happens and the Jaguars and Texans end up fighting for the division every season? Look, Fournette is important because any first-round selection is important, but Coughlin's era in Jacksonville does not depend solely on Fournette's fortune. As far as Watson … same story: we'll see how he does, but there's a lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-oong way to go before he's a franchise quarterback whose success is a stain on a franchise who opted against selecting him.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
John, can you please explain to me the logic behind the Chicago/San Francisco trade? I know the foundation is if you know a guy is your future franchise quarterback you go get him at all costs. But, I'm wondering how that makes since when swapping consecutive picks ... isn't the fact that a the team ahead of you is willing to trade you their pick evidence enough that they aren't going to take your guy? If San Fran really wanted Trubisky would they have traded the No. pick? Or is this a situation where San Fran told Chicago that they were going to take him, but that they could be convinced otherwise for the right price? Please help me understand!
John: You're talking about the Bears on Thursday trading three draft choices to the San Francisco 49ers in order to get the 49ers to move to No. 3 and the Bears to move to No. 2. The Bears were widely criticized for the move, but what we don't know is what information Chicago had regarding the No. 2 selection. Were the Bears convinced that the 49ers were going to take the player the Bears coveted, North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky? Or were they convinced another team was going to trade with San Francisco with the idea of getting Trubisky? The latter seems more likely. And while it's easy to lampoon the Bears, it's a great trade if Trubisky is as good as they apparently believe. They targeted a player they loved and made sure they got him. Nothing wrong with that. Now, if he's not good …
Tommy from Jacksonville:
John, I am not sold with our first-round selection. If we didn't go quarterback, we should have grabbed a top defender. The whole coaching staff seems clueless. But what do I know?
John: Do you really want me to answer that question?
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
So, I am confused by the Cam Robinson pick. You have Jermey Parnell at right tackle and we just signed a veteran to cover left tackle. Are we going to move him to guard? I understand drafting for depth but the No. 34 pick in the draft is an almost MUST starter. Can you explain what the thinking on this is? With starters seeming to be in place why would you draft another talent for that position?
John: This is confusing a lot of people, and all I can do is explain how I see it. The Jaguars drafted Robinson with the idea that he will compete with Branden Albert at left tackle. Part of the idea of that is to show Albert that the team does not plan to renegotiate his contract – and that the team has an option should Albert decide to continue making a point about said contract. Another part of the equation is that Albert is not going to play forever and Robinson in theory can move to left tackle when Albert is no longer on the Jaguars. The more immediate part of the equation is that Robinson absolutely appears to have the skill set and body type to play guard, so it's conceivable that he plays guard for a time until he moves to left tackle. This is a fairly common career tract for young offensive lineman. I don't worry much about him not having played guard in college. The college game is so different from the NFL that there's a learning curve for rookie offensive linemen regardless of position. Robinson will have to adjust to the NFL whatever the position. There's not much reason he can't make the adjustment playing guard.

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