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O-Zone: Best of the bunch

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dan from Ormond Beach, FL

I felt we should have used this year's draft to try to help Gardner Minshew II as much as possible to see whether he can be our franchise quarterback. I wished for an offensive tackle and a wide receiver in the first round and was disappointed as defensive players were chosen with three of the first four premium selections. After reflection and considering the current social circumstances, it dawned on me that perhaps what will help Minshew the most under these circumstances is continuity. It is widely assumed that defenses come together quicker than offenses. Perhaps in a year when there are no organized team activities, fewer repetitions and a truncated training camp, the best thing for the team is to minimize new faces as starters on offense and let the defense gel on the fly. Do you think this could have played any part in the selection plan for this year?

Your cited circumstances could work in the Jaguars' favor, but I doubt that was why they approached the draft as they did. For example: Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone were talking at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in February (before the current circumstances became clear) about liking the current offensive line, and I never thought after that they would select a left tackle in Round 1. They also believed from immediately after the season they had to get better defensively – particularly against the run – if they were to be competitive in 2020. It also has been apparent throughout the offseason that the Jaguars' decision-makers like the current wide receivers and skill players more than many observers. Those decisions would have been their decision with or without the pandemic. We'll see if they're right on a lot of these fronts, but no … I don't think COVID-19 dramatically altered how the Jaguars drafted.

John from Duval

I really did like most of the draft. One pick I didn't like was the 20th overall. He seems like a great guy and will help in run support, but he seems like he doesn't have the strength needed to be an elite pass rusher. Hopefully he develops more, but right now I see him as a four-to-five sack guy per season because of effort. What did Caldwell see that he can be an elite pass rusher?

Caldwell saw speed in defensive end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson from Louisiana State University. And athleticism. And explosion. And he certainly saw more than a four-to-five sack player. Whatever he saw, he wasn't alone. I don't know that all that many around the league shared Caldwell's opinion that Chaisson was a Top 10 selection, but many certainly saw him as a Top 15-to-22 player and he wasn't going to be around very long after No. 20 had the Jaguars not selected him there.

Pat from Duval

Laviska Shenault Jr. feels like a potential steal, possibly the Lamar Jackson of receivers. If Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden gets creative with this group, I could see the Jags being dangerous in 2020.


_Adam from Wescosville                               _

Watching the Kansas City Chiefs last year, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a master at using the back- shoulder throw to get pass interference.

He's good at that.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Who benefits from the Collective Bargaining Agreement requiring teams to make a decision on a first-round player's fifth-year option well ahead of the start of Season 4. Who asked for this to be in the agreement – the NFL Players Association or the Owners? And why?

The owners wanted the fifth-year option because it gives them the possibility of having a good player under contract for a fifth year at a comparatively reasonable salary. The players wanted the option to be decided upon before the fourth season so that "un-optioned" players would know entering that fourth season they are entering the final year of their deals. Also, forcing teams to decide before Year 4 increases the likelihood that the players indeed will hit free agency. For example: The Jaguars declined the option on running back Leonard Fournette. If he has a monster season in 2020 and the team had the right to declare an option after Season 4, they might in that scenario do that. As it stands now, Fournette if he has that monster season will be eligible for unrestricted free agency with the Jaguars no longer having the option for his fifth season – which obviously would be very good for the player.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I can't get a haircut and it's a mess around here. Should I cut it myself or give a man-bun a try?


Tudor from St. Augustine, FL

How much is Fournette's fifth-year option? If it's anything under or around 10 million, I really don't understand why we wouldn't keep him and get as many years as possible out of his rookie deal. Nobody's going give up a high pick for him anyways, so why not get the most you can out of him? Not a fan of this move to decline the fifth-year option.

It would have been around $8.3 million. They're not picking up the option because he's a running back and that's a lot to pay for that position.

Tom from Section 106 and Jacksonville

Tank? What do you think about the Jags just forfeiting every game this year? Just imagine how healthy our players could get – and, we'd have the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

I don't think the Jaguars will do that.

Captain Obvious from Planet Earth

Yeah right, Jaguars fans are getting Major Leagued and the Khan family will move the team to London full time in the future.

Your boldness and confident would-be cleverness far outweigh your knowledge, but that's OK. That's not uncommon on this subject.

Steve from Jacksonville

You're answering to many questions from Steve.

Will fix.

Stephen from Jacksonville

Aside from the fact that your job allows you more access to professional sports than the general population, I imagine you are in the same boat as many of us with limited available sports entertainment due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the past, you have discussed your much-heralded high school basketball career and, I believe at least on a couple occasions, referenced your time covering the Indiana Pacers of the NBA. As someone who has had basketball featured in their life in at least several ways, I imagine you have some interest in the Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls documentary series currently being aired by ESPN. Are you watching this television series? What are your thoughts regarding Jordan's playing career and success? Finally: MJ or Lebron?

I was a mammoth Jordan and North Carolina fan when he was there, and my best Jordan story came in his final year at Carolina. I was a freshman at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. My roommate was from Chapel Hill. His parents were on the Carolina faculty, and he knew how sneak into games at what was then the Heels' home arena – Carmichael Auditorium. If you went early enough, he told me, you could go in and no one would ask for a ticket and he knew a place you could stand and watch the game – if you stayed inconspicuous the whole time. We did this one Saturday, sneaking into Carmichael hours before an afternoon home game against Georgia Tech. To my surprise, the plan worked (these were different, less-security-based times, obviously). We got into Carmichael, then roamed the halls of the arena. I assume we looked inconspicuous – or at least harmless. Jordan, then a junior, walked by us as he entered the arena and walked to the locker room a couple of hours before the game. As did Sam Perkins. And Kenny Smith. And the rest of the team. I don't recall many others details except that my roommate indeed knew a place to stand and watch the game, which we did. This was well before I had thoughts of being a sportswriter, and well before I was accustomed to being around well-known athletes. I just remember being thrilled to see Jordan – and Perkins – up close. I also remember seeing both as something close to royalty, which at that time in Chapel Hill they absolutely were. I also remember that Carolina won. And Jordan dunked. As far as your question … No, I haven't watched the Jordan documentary yet. I lost interest in him somewhat after he left Carolina. Either way: MJ or Lebron? MJ, although I think Lebron is on the starting five of players I've seen along with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (And don't be quick to rule out Abdul-Jabbar as maybe being the best of the bunch).