JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
David from Jacksonville:
If we were ranked sixth in the NFL on defense why not keep the same players and concentrate on offense?
John: A few reasons. First, even if a unit performs well you don't stay status quo for the sake of staying status quo. Second, the Jaguars saw an opportunity to upgrade cornerback with a potential core player opposite Jalen Ramsey and believe they did so with A.J. Bouye. Third, they felt they needed defensive leaders such as end Calais Campbell and safety Barry Church; this was a team that had a few leaders in recent seasons, but not nearly enough. The biggest reason, though, is while the Jaguars indeed finished sixth in the NFL in yards allowed last season it's hard to argue the defense actually was a Top 10 unit. It didn't force enough turnovers and didn't get off the field in enough crucial, game-turning situations. Much of that can be attributed to not having a reliable, lock-down pass rush. That's the element of a defense that most often forces turnovers. and that makes the biggest difference on third downs. Perhaps the major question about the defense entering 2017 is whether the Jaguars will improve in that area. That will be a crucial tell for the improvement of the team overall.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Deshaun Watson at No. 4 seems very real. I am all for it. If the Jaguars' brass thinks he is a franchise guy or can get there, then No. 4 is not too high. We know what Blake is and isn't and I'll leave it at that.
John: A key to the 2017 NFL Draft is whether the Jaguars' front office truly believes Watson is a franchise guy. If that's the team's view, I believe there's a real chance the Jaguars select him No. 4 overall. There are serious questions over whether he indeed is a franchise guy. He would be a risk there, but a quarterback drafted early is always a risk. We'll see if it's one the Jaguars take.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Can the draft start now? I am so sick of these never-ending mock drafts. They should be outlawed. They keep projecting the same players day after day after day to nauseum. I feel like the only thing we don't know about the potential picks at this point is what kind of underwear they run fastest in. I mean, come on! Just draft and be done with this mock draft crap!
John: For someone who hates mock drafts it sounds like you read a lot of, you know, mock drafts.
Mike from Houston, TX:
Hey, John: Here is maybe a little different perspective on Poz's move to SAM. I liken it to a move of a cornerback who has reached the point in his career when it's time to make the move to safety. Maybe this move will allow Poz's strengths to be applied more pointedly and actually prolong his career. He is the consummate professional and if anyone can do it and thrive, he can. Your thoughts??
John: There is merit to the analogy, with one obvious caveat being that Paul Posluszny played at a high enough level at middle linebacker last season that he didn't need to move to be an effective player. That said, the presence and potential of Myles Jack prompted the team to make the move – and it indeed could have the effect of prolonging Posluszny's career. I do believe he'll adapt to the new position because I think he'll approach the change professionally. I also believe that the Jaguars will enter next season secure in the knowledge that they have a very capable backup middle linebacker in the form of their starting strong-side linebacker. If I were in defensive coordinator Todd Wash's position, that would help me rest easier.
Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I think the Jaguars need to go tight end first and running back second. Last time they did that they ended up with Marcedes Lewis and MJD. Just saying those two didn't turn out so bad!
John: Well, as long as you were just saying.
Jon from Portland, OR:
What do you think the difference in the team mentality was in the wins over Tennessee and Indianapolis last year? Most games we struggle and limped through the first half, and had to play a lot of catch up. Both of those games, however, we scored a lot early and were mostly dominant all around. Did you see anything different about those games, and do you believe we'll see more of whatever that was next season? And as always, #DTWD from the west coast.
John: There's no question the Jaguars played those games with a sense of urgency. I think most of that can be credited to the team having changed head coaches, replacing Gus Bradley and having Doug Marrone in the position on an interim basis. The burning question entering 2017 indeed is will that intensity carry over with Marrone as head coach. Marrone addressed this recently at the NFL Annual Meeting, and I thought his point had a lot of merit. He essentially said he wasn't sure how much credit he could take personally for the added urgency because the reality is players, coaches – everyone involved – automatically take on added urgency when there is a change in leadership. It causes players to take notice and essentially say to themselves, "If it could happen to him, it would happen to me." There was a similar uptick in the rushing offense, remember, the week after Nathaniel Hackett took over for Greg Olson as offensive coordinator. Now, none of this is to say the Jaguars won't play with urgency under Marrone. I think they will, and I believe this team undoubtedly will enter the season responding to Marrone, believing in the message and playing as he wants. How long will that last? Can he get the same intensity week after week? That will be his weekly and daily task, and much will depend on results. My guess is we'll see steady improvement and that over time the team starts looking and playing with the intensity showed in the victory at home over Tennessee last December. It won't happen every week, and it will take time to reach consistency, but that would be a positive direction.
Scott from Jacksonville:
All of the speculation on the draft makes for great conversation, but it seems that more trades are made in recent years than in the past and that quarterbacks always go higher than anticipated. Do you think there is much chance that someone wants to move up to our spot to get a quarterback, allowing us to still get a great player and additional picks?
John: I think there's a lot of talk and speculation entering the draft about teams wanting to trade up and teams wanting to trade down. My gut is most of the talk is from teams wanting to trade down, and my gut also is that most of the teams thinking about trading up won't want to give up enough to actually trade up. I'd say there's a 30 percent chance the Jaguars get a good enough deal to actually move out of the No. 4 spot. No, wait. That's too high. Make it 32 percent. No, wait …
Bob from Sumter, SC:
Do you get the sense the Jaguars' decision-makers believe the individual talent level on the offensive line is better than most people think and that with improvement in other areas and modifications the line has the potential to play at a higher level? Seems that if they did not believe that they would have gone after free agents more aggressively.
John: It's pretty evident from the Jaguars' actions this offseason that they are OK with Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell at their spots, and that they wanted to upgrade left tackle. The team believes that happened with the signing of Branden Albert and the decision to move on from left tackle Kelvin Beachum. I also believe there's a good chance the Jaguars select a guard who could start before the end of the season. If that happens, the Jaguars essentially will have moved to change 40 percent of the offensive line. That's pretty high turnover.
The Third from Boston:
The Jags have been "linked" to 10 different players via mock drafts, rumors, pre-draft visits, and analyses of David Caldwell's and Tom Coughlin's historical tendencies. This level of uncertainty around the pick seems like the environment Caldwell relishes. No one has a bead on his guy. Will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
John: I have less of a feel for the Jaguars' first-round selection this year than in any of the past five years. That's saying something because I've missed on a lot of those selections.
Derrick from Jacksonville:
No question, just a bold prediction. Jags will win their division this year. Jags go 4-0 to start the season and 6-0 in the division. Tom Coughlin understands that a must first win its division to have a chance to be successful. I predict Jags go 10-6 for the season.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
David from Jacksonville: