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O-Zone: Be very quiet

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … David from Jacksonville:
You have said repeatedly that either Luke Joeckel or Kelvin Beachum likely will be the starting left guard, depending on who wins the tackle competition. Why is that? Is playing guard that much easier than tackle? Don't those positions require different skill sets? It just seems that rather than a mediocre tackle manning the guard position, the best choice would be - wait for it - a guard.
John: That's a fair question and who knows? It may play out that a "true guard" starts at left guard for the Jaguars next season. As far as your question, it's not that playing guard is that much easier than playing tackle. It's that the Jaguars will try to get their best combination of linemen on the field to make the line as good as possible next year. Yes, the skill sets at guard and tackle are slightly different but there are many cases of tackles being able to kick inside and play guard. Look, I could be wrong. Nothing is set in stone. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Mackenzy Bernadeau or Tyler Shatley could play their way into the mix. It's just that right now I'd be surprised if either Luke Joeckel or Kelvin Beachum isn't starting at guard next season. We'll see.
Jason from North Pole, AL:
I understand why the Jaguars have a competition at left tackle. My concern is if they make a decision Week 3 of the preseason, it gives the offensive line less time to gel. Continuity is important and the loser settling into left guard may take time. This is especially concerning since Beachum may not be ready to start that competition by training camp. When would you guess a decision could be made on the starting left tackle? I realize there isn't a great alternative. I guess I am just tempering my expectations for offensive line play over the first month of the season.
John: I would guess they indeed would want to make a decision around Week 3 of the preseason or so. No, it's not ideal, but neither does it have to be a tragedy. The idea is to get the best five on the field. If that happens and the line improves as a result over the course of the season, that's a better alternative than the Jaguars had last season on the offensive line.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
Mighty O Man, with the signing of rookie Jaden Oberkrom, do you think there will be a genuine battle for the kicker spot? Or is Jason Myers a lock for the final roster?
John: I think the battle will be genuine in the sense that if Oberkrom is better and shows potential to be a long-term solution, he will win the job. Remember, early last offseason no one was thinking about a battle for kicker and Myers wound up winning the job.
Richard from Jacksonville:
I guess everyone just isn't getting that Joeckel is going to start the season at left tackle. But why has no one asked who will be our center if Brandon Linder goes down with a knee injury?
John: I don't see Joeckel starting at left tackle as quite the guarantee you do, but I agree there's a very good chance that happens. As for who starts at center if Linder gets hurt, I'd say Tyler Shatley or Luke Bowanko. The Jaguars like those guys. If they didn't, they would have been more active in free agency and the draft.
Travis from High Springs, FL:
Hi John, if Davon House and Jalen Ramsey end up being the starters on the outside, who do you believe would be the best option for the nickel spot, Prince Amukamara? Or Aaron Colvin when he returns from suspension?
John: I'd guess Amukamara would be the first option, but I wouldn't say that's a given. I'd also say it's a good issue when you're not sure what pretty good player will be your nickel.
Jacob from Pullman, WA:
I liked your article recently about our third- and fourth-round guys. I was just thinking about how deep our defensive line is all of a sudden. Still, is there a point where positions can be "too" deep? I mean it's going to be hard to develop some of these young guys with all the veterans we have that can play.
John: You can't be too deep in the NFL, particularly on the defensive front.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
What position area do you see having the most competition, forcing the Jags into some hard decisions to get to the 53 man roster?
John: Defensive line.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
The rebuild is over; we should be able to win. That does not mean that roster development is done; that is a never-ending task. We are now at the draft-for-depth-and-develop phase. The position battle that intrigues me the most is strong safety. Who do you think will win the starting job, Johnathan Cyprien or James Sample?
John: You're continuing to hear a lot of positive things about Cyprien from coaches and players this offseason. The feeling around the building is that the addition of Tashaun Gipson at free safety should really help Cyprien and allow him to play close to the line of scrimmage in the box, which is where the team feels he'll excel. Given all of that, I lean toward Cyprien probably starting, but I don't see it as a lock.
Robert from Moorpark:
Do you see Myles Jack starting at middle linebacker and Poz moving to Skuta's position?
John: No.
Kent from Jacksonville:
If Yannick Ngakoue becomes a quality sack producer and Dante Fowler Jr. becomes the Leo Dave envisioned, what are the odds Head Coach Gus Bradley ditches his "Leo" defense for a Tampa Two-style defense similar to what Indy did with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney? I know it's impossible and unfair to compare them to arguably the best pass-rushing tandem ever, but is Gus flexible enough to tweak his defense to fit the talent?
John: I'd say the odds are pretty slim because Bradley believes stopping the run on early downs is important, and it's tougher to stop the run on early downs with two Leo-type players on the field. Remember, though, just because Ngakoue and Fowler don't start in the base package doesn't mean they're never on the field rushing the passer at the same time. If Ngakoue and Fowler both develop as expected, I expect they will be on the field together most of the time in pass-rushing sub packages. This sort of tweak always has been part of Bradley's system and that certainly will continue to be the case.
Fuad from Jacksonville:
John, I just wanna say I appreciate the grind you go through every day. I see you putting in those late-night hours. Stay on the grind and keep working hard, bro. #DTWD #APPRECIATEJOHN
John: I sorta, kinda wish you hadn't told me you see me putting in late-night hours.
Kyle from Ohio:
Why doesn't Hurns have his extension yet? Is Dave planning to let him leave next offseason? No reason to not reward Hurns, NOW!
John: The draft just ended, and remember: there is a difference between not signing a player at the first possible opportunity to do so and letting him leave.
Duke from Jacksonville:
You previously said the chances of winning aren't much better with a third quarterback than with a position player filling in an emergency situation. I disagree. If Brandon Allen were to start 16 games, we would win some. Obviously not as many as Bortles, but we would win some. However, if a wide receiver is playing quarterback and just handing off to the running back all day, I don't see how we aren't 0-16. Teams would just stack against the run and force us into three-and-outs, which would eventually wear out the defense. That's a guaranteed loss. You don't agree?
John: When I said the chances of winning with a third-team quarterback aren't appreciably better than with a position player, I meant winning that one game. That statement was based on the likelihood that a team down to its third quarterback had two quarterbacks injured, which indicates an offensive line struggling to protect the passer and a lot of things having gone wrong. It also rarely happens, so teams generally tend not to keep a third quarterback unless the third quarterback is a developmental player. But over the course of a season … yes, it's better to have a quarterback playing quarterback than, say, a defensive tackle.
Trae from Jacksonville:
How many of the Jaguars' drafts picks have been signed? Who hasn't signed yet? Thanks.
John: Defensive end Jonathan Woodard (seventh round), quarterback Brandon Allen (sixth) and defensive end/linebacker Tyrone Holmes (sixth) have signed. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (first), linebacker Myles Jack (second), defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (third) and defensive tackle Sheldon Day (fourth) have not.
John from Jacksonville:
Do you think those fans that used to worry about draft picks signing with the team are still around? I hope not. No need for those unwarranted worries again this offseason coming to the O-Zone.
John: Shhh. They're out there. Just please don't wake them up.

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