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O-Zone: Back to basics

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JayPee from The Vortex

I could be mistaken, but haven't you said that pass rusher is the second-most important position behind quarterback? If so, can you please explain why you keep saying offensive line, cornerback or tight end for our first pick? Josh Allen will most likely be gone after this season and Travon Walker is still a question mark.

Let me be clear on this topic if I haven't been already: When I project draft selections for the Jaguars, it is usually because I am attempting to answer the question of an interested fan as best as possible. It is not because I am remotely confident in being right, nor is it a reflection of how the Jaguars' scouting department feels – and it certainly doesn't reflect how General Manager Trent Baalke feels. Moreover: When the Jaguars are selecting in the bottom third of the draft as opposed to the top 10, any projection of mine – and really, any projection of anyone – is a guess more than a projection. There's simply too much that can happen before the selection to accurately project specifics. When asked who the Jaguars might select at No. 24 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, I typically answer offensive line, cornerback and tight end because it generally feels like value and need – both long- and short-term – could make sense for that to be the selection. Because neither I nor anyone else knows precisely who will be available at No. 24, I don't know for certain who will be the selection. Or even close. If a player is available there who Baalke believes is absolutely the best player and he thinks will help the Jaguars more than any other player, I have no doubt Baalke would take that player. Could that player be a pass rusher? Sure. It also could be pretty much any position except quarterback.

John and Jacksonville

Hi KOAGF - Are contract incentives regulated by the NFL due to how they are classified as LTBE versus UTBE for salary cap purposes? For example, can a wide receiver have an incentive to catch one pass as UTBE to move that incentive to next year's cap? Does the cap police care?

An incentive is likely to be earned incentive (LTBE) if the player reached the incentive threshold the previous season. It is not likely to be earned (NLTBE) if the player did not reach the incentive threshold the previous season. And yes … while it's not possible to do so in this case, the NFL and NFLPA very much care about anything that might circumvent the salary cap.

Brad from The Avenues

OK, John. Uniforms aren't your thing. I accept that. You be you. I also accept that change is inevitable. That said, I've chosen to be OK with the current color scheme of the uniforms, though I'm not a fan of the black. The main issue is the lighter shade of teal. If you remember, a while back I mentioned that the change had inadvertently led me to cheer a play for the Titans instead of the Jags. The memory of which sickens me to this day. I feel like the darker shade was a huge part of our identity, especially during our early glory days. But the one thing, the most important issue of all, the current shade clashes with my living room. BRING BACK THE REAL TEAL!!

So one fer teal.

Richard from Orange Park, FL

Sure, the Jags are an up-and-coming contender, but right tackle Jawaan Taylor getting an offer between the Jags and the Kansas City Chiefs … who wouldn't want to play for the Chiefs? I don't care if the Jags offer $2 million more than the Chiefs, many people would take that contract with the Chiefs for a chance at several Super Bowl rings. The odds are MUCH better for a ring in Kansas City than here in Duval at this point. Now don't get me wrong, the Jags definitely could win more rings in the next decade or so than the Chiefs, but like I said, the Chiefs today are definitely the better team. I guess I can say that I get why JT chose to leave. I don't think there are many players who wouldn't jump at the bit to play in KC.

I never pretend to be able to be inside other people's heads, so I don't pretend to know the details of Taylor's motivation to sign with the Chiefs last month rather than the Jaguars. Yes, the Chiefs are an impressive franchise that figures to contend for Super Bowls for the foreseeable future. Yes, they are a class organization. But my gut on this is that if Taylor thought the Jaguars would be able to offer the same money – or close to it – as the Chiefs he would have signed with the Jaguars. That's just my gut. I've been wrong before. (Weird, I know.)

Sal from Austin, TX

Running back Travis Etienne Jr. is a good, explosive back who was taken No. 25 overall. Running back Bijan Robinson is a legitimate Top 5 talent. If the Jaguars pass on him at No. 24 (he won't fall past 15), they would need their heads examined. The beauty of best available player is your roster is loading up with talent, as the draft keeps unfolding. Best available tackle, or nickel corner, etc., will fall to you in each subsequent round, if you just let it to happen. They passed on quarterback Russell Wilson in 2012 and took punter Bryan Anger because they wanted to build around Blaine Gabbert?


RAF from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Should I (we) be concerned that Evan Engram hasn't signed the franchise offer yet?

Not particularly. The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on tight end Evan Engram shortly before the March 15 start of the 2023 NFL League Year. That essentially ensured he will play for the Jaguars next season – either on a one-year deal under the franchise tag or on a long-term deal. The sides have until July 15 to work out that deal, and Engram has until that date to sign the tag. The Jaguars, remember, signed left tackle Cam Robinson to a long-term deal last offseason on April 27 after placing the franchise tag on him in March. Either way, Engram will play for the Jaguars in 2023 and I've seen or heard nothing to indicate that he isn't excited about doing so.

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

It seems to me that the Jags have gone from being a team that is short of decent players at almost every position to a team that is just a couple of impact players to go from pretty good to very good. If this is true, does it mean that if possible they should trade up in the first round, sacrificing depth for a real difference-maker?

Not necessarily. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jaguars trade up for a difference-maker, but you draft for the long-term not the short term. They have just as much incentive to draft players to develop as starters for future seasons as they do to trade up for immediate impact.

Sean from Orange Park, FL

Can someone discuss Jordan Smith? I know he's late-round pick, but he's also young prospect sophomore I believe coming out of college. I have no clue what is going on with him. No one talks about him. Is he injured? What is the upside … what do the coaches think?

Jaguars outside linebacker Jordan Smith, a fifth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft from Alabama-Birmingham, played in two games in 2021 and sustained a torn anterior ligament in 2022 organized team activities. Smith's in a tricky situation as a late-round selection with little NFL tape rehabilitating early in his career. The current Jaguars coaching staff realistically doesn't know that much about Smith, so the coach's opinions will be shaped as he returns. It would be terrific for the Jaguars if he can give them some production in an area in which they need it. Stay tuned.

Mario from West Kelowna, BC

Zone. Say what you want to say. Let them say what they want to say. It's all meaningless until the end of next season. The one thing you should always say is: It's good to be king!


Jerry from Yulee, FL

Johnny B. Good, to get the stadium ready for renovation the stadium has to be empty. The state-of-the-art Miller Electric Center will hold all those personnel related to football operations. The office building to be built in the shipyard area will hold the administrative people. Where do folks like you, Brian Sexton and J.P. Shadrick end up – assuming you all get to continue in your current capacity?

I entered a code upon my last arrival at TIAA Bank Field. It worked. I entered. When this happens, I am happy and don't bother concerning myself with bells and whistles.