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O-Zone: Big spender

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Ryan from Charlotte, NC

John, I feel some fans need to understand that two things can be true at once: the Jaguars' offensive line can be less than a dominant unit stacked with All-Pros while still being a functional and relatively effective unit. Sometimes, when a team has positions all over the roster that need upgrading, a functional and relatively effective unit is good enough to warrant spending draft capital elsewhere.

This is accurate – and with draft week upon us, it's relevant. The guess here is the Jaguars will select an edge defender/defensive lineman No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, which would mean not selecting an offensive lineman there. That will draw criticism from those believing you must have first-round, premium talent at all five offensive line positions to be a good offensive line. But there is another theory that's taking hold more and more in NFL circles – and that's that in the modern era, you can build an effective offensive line with functional players at all five spots (as opposed to elite players throughout the lineup) providing you don't have a link so weak that it will cause the entire unit to breakdown. In other words: You can get by with functional so long as your weakest piece isn't so weak that it gets your quarterback hurt. This isn't to say the Jaguars' offensive line doesn't have front-line pieces. But it does help explain why a team may not need to overspend premium equity at the position to have a functioning – and winning – offensive front.

Steven from Middleburg, FL

GA DE Walker is being listed as the Jags' pick at No. 1. Why do I get the sense he is another workout player the Jags have taken in the past that is based off running in shorts? Reminds me a lot of Taven Bryan and Derrick Harvey.

I'm not sure what "listed" means, though there certainly are analysts projecting Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker could be the No. 1 overall selection by the Jaguars Thursday. The reason you get the sense he's a "workout player" is that indeed is a concern analysts express when discussing Walker – that his collegiate production didn't quite match what is very definitely an impressive skill set. That doesn't preclude a player from being good in the NFL. J.J. Watt had 11.5 sacks in college and is a future Hall of Famer. You can find historical arguments for or against any topic prospect. What you must project for every player is whether they have the skill set for the NFL and the ability/willingness to work to develop that ability against much better competition than they ever have faced. Maybe Walker will be Bryan/Harvey. Maybe he will be Watt. My guess is closer to the latter because there's a lot of special in his game. We'll see.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I read an article recently that described the draft as an anti-market anarchism created by NFL owners controlling the market value of the new NFL prospects. Is food for thought but after a while I think that article was full of baloney. Do you believe the draft is a good free enterprise mechanism?

The draft obviously runs counter to the idea of a free enterprise. The alternative would be to allow teams to pursue college players as free agents, which would be ridiculous, chaotic and spectacularly damaging to whatever parity exists in the NFL.

Robert from Amelia Island, FL

I realize that each NFL team adheres to their own particular schedule when preparing for the NFL Draft but I'm really bothered when I attempt to understand how a team knowing they have had THREE and ONE Half Months since our Number ONE picking position was determined ad three and one half months knowing they will ns to their own particular schedule when preparing for its NFL Draft but I wonder if the Jags have really done their hoI realize that each NFL Team adheres to their own Particular schedule when preparing for the Draft in preparing for its draft but I'm not very convinced that the JAGS have done enough homework during the last three and one half months since they knew that they were picking Number 1.

Well, I certainly can't argue with that.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, what is the upside of signing Cam to a long-term contract now versus letting him ride out his franchise tag contract and doing so after the next season?

One positive for the Jaguars to signing left tackle Cam Robinson to a long-term extension in the coming weeks/days is it would likely save more than $10 million in 2022 salary-cap space compared to having him play the 2022 season on the franchise tag. Another positive is that getting a player signed to a long-term extension before the season as opposed to afterward means you have the player signed and secure to your franchise; if you wait until after the season, the chances of re-signing the player typically are reduced. Not always, but typically.

Josh from Fernandina Beach (via Fort Lauderdale)

Hey Lars: Recognizing that Jaguars running back James Robinson may not be fully recovered from last year's injury by Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season, and that running back Travis Etienne Jr. may not be a three-down back, what do you believe the Jags' short-term plan to be at the running back position as we move towards the start of the upcoming season? Thanks and Go Jags!!!

Hey, Ted: I think the Jaguars will select a running back in the middle rounds this weekend with the idea that he can be an option for training camp and early in the season as Robinson and Etienne get healthier and the running-back rotation gets closer to "normal."

Don from Marshall, NC

If the Jaguars are not going to draft Aidan Hutchinson with the first pick you would think a trade with Detroit would be possible. I guarantee they want him and he should be worth something in trade. Big mistake if you do not draft him in my opinion. Go Jaguars!

I don't doubt that the Detroit Lions like Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson, and it's quite possible they would select him No. 2 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft given the opportunity. Do they like him enough to give the Jaguars enough equity for the Jaguars to move? The feeling among analysts is that won't be the case. Either way … one fer Hutchinson, I guess.

Chris from San Diego, CA

Am I the only one who wants to see the Jaguars draft Malik Willis in the first round and play him next to T-Law? Laugh all you want at the two quarterback set, but you can't deny that defenses would have an awfully hard time preparing when they don't know who the ball will be snapped to on any given play. Snap it to Lawrence for the deep pass, snap it to Willis for the quarterback option. Repeat for 18 weeks until they reach the playoffs.

Shad Khan … hire this man!

Bill from Jacksonville, FL

John, the Jaguars have had the No. 1 overall pick for months now. Why is it taking until less than 24 hours before the draft for them to finalize their board? Furthermore, fans have been told it's a collaborative effort and it never comes down to "this or that player." Well if the reports are true, it's down to three or four players and fans have no idea who's making the ultimate decision. Man, an EVP sure would be nice right about now.

I understand observers/fans criticizing the Jaguars; the franchise has struggled enough that it must earn/win its way out of that position. I guess I don't quite get the criticism of this particular issue, though. It has taken the Jaguars until this week to determine the No. 1 overall selection because – as General Manager Trent Baalke noted last week – there's no reason for it not to have taken this long. The draft begins Thursday. It will not begin before that. The timetable and process to determine the final, final, final, final decision was put into place well in advance. I don't know that an executive vice president would have changed the timetable.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, to be honest the Jags need to go the safe route here. Pick Hutchinson or Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal. If they don't have a great career everybody else was wrong on them, too. But if you reach for a player here because of the higher ceiling and it gets wrong, that's another dimension. Just go the safe way here, please.

Fair.

Mike from Orange Park, FL

Zone, Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion. What was your last "big purchase" decision and were you happy with it afterward?

I went with Dogfish 60 even though it wasn't on sale at Publix a couple of weeks back – and yes, I was ecstatic.

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