O-Zone: Breaking down the receivers

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, are fans really upset the Jags stole edge defender Josh Allen of Kentucky at No. 7 instead of passing on him – and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver – to draft a tight end?! That perplexes me. This defense looks stronger than the 2017 defense and it’s also younger. Given the fact that the Jags invested greatly in quarterback Nick Foles and the offensive line on the other side, if this team has the ability to score points, I can see a huge bounce-back season! I’m getting excited for the possibilities of this offense and this defense! Might both sides be improved to the units fielded in 2017 even without a shiny new tight end?

Some fans are upset, but remember: fans gonna fan. Always. One thing on your question, though: Oliver wasn’t ever really a big possibility for the Jaguars at No. 7 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft; if they were going to go defense early, they were going to go pass rusher. I get the sense it really came down to Allen and Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 7 overall, with Hockenson being tempting – but the talent gap between him and Allen being too large to pass on Allen. I will say I’m glad you’re excited, though. Excitement can be … exciting! And while I do believe the offense has a chance to be improved, I’m curious what San Jose State tight end Josh Oliver did to you that you don’t find him shiny.

Josh from Green Bay, WI

Not sure if it has been brought up already, but this draft class feels a lot like the Jalen Ramsey/Myles Jack class of 2016. Everyone had us taking Jack in the first round, only to have Ramsey fall to us and then we were able to get Jack in the second round. Let’s hope this draft class is as good.

You’re the first one to notice. Honest.

Keith from Jacksonville

I feel we should have drafted like this: Allen, Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor at Round 2, wide receiver in Round 3, tight end in Round 3, running back in Round 5, quarterback in Round 6, don't trade away pick and still get safety/special teams player in Round 7 and defensive tackle in Round 7.

The Jaguars weren’t just drafting for “positions,” they were trying to get players they wanted at those positions. Also: The Jaguars weren’t interested in a wide receiver in the third round and they didn’t want “a special teams player;” they wanted the special teams player/linebacker they got: Murray State linebacker Quincy Williams. They wouldn’t have gotten him in the seventh round.

Jason from North Pole, AK

The sad part is I actually googled “Space City University Argonauts” in hopes of reading about an undrafted free agent.

That is sad.

Steve from Sunroom Couch

Dear John: Maybe you should take an Economics 101 class or maybe a poker lesson.

That’s an awesome idea… No, wait. I’ll just keep explaining NFL things based on years covering the game and speaking with people who work in, coach and play the game – and I’ll just continue smiling and feeling blessed when I get emails from people infinitely smarter about what I do than me.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Zone, how ya feeling?

I’m all smiles.

Chris from London, UK

Zone, What’s your gut feeling in the Telvin Smith situation?? Obviously, it’s voluntary and he doesn’t have to show – and all the media and fan speculation is just guesswork – but it does sound strange for a player to not turn up for the workouts and then become uncontactable by his employer. Is that normal in the league??

I don’t know that anyone except Telvin Smith knows enough about the Telvin Smith Situation to even know if there actually is a Telvin Smith Situation.

Reid from St. Simon’s, Island

John: Do you expect the team to offer any more insight into what's going on with Telvin Smith? There certainly appears to be an issue of some sort. I believe it is concerning that one of last season's captains has reportedly not communicated with the team in any fashion this offseason – voluntary workouts aside. Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin also appeared to be on different pages when pressed by the media in the post-draft coverage? Fans are left to speculate and wonder ... what's really going on?

I expect there will be insight when the team gets more insight, and when there is tangible insight to share. For now, yes … there will be speculation and wondering.

Renee from Duuuvall

I have a feeling that the player we got this year with a compensatory pick at the end of the third is going to make some impact plays this season. GO JAGS!

Hey … one fer Quincy Williams …

Steve from Nashville, TN

Who are the four starting linemen on our first defensive snap of 2019?

If the Jaguars are in their base defensive personnel, I would expect it to be Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue at ends with Marcell Dareus and either Abry Jones or Taven Bryan at tackle.

Duke from Jacksonville

Are you suggesting that taking Williams had absolutely nothing to do with Telvin Smith's no show?

When did I say that?

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I like what I see from Josh Oliver. Strong hands and makes a lot of catches in traffic. That is something that can translate to the NFL immediately. Will he start? Will he be an important part of the Nick Foles offense? Seems like he can move the chains on third down, which is something this offense has lacked for a while.

I don’t know that Oliver will “start,” but a tight end can be a big part of several different offensive packages and not “technically” be a “starter” if the team doesn’t happen to open the game in one of those packages. I expect Oliver to be a big part of the offense next season, which answers your second question.

Dylan from Danvers, MA

When Cody Kessler played quarterback last season, the offense was stagnant and struggled to score many points. (Although this could be said about when Blake Bortles was starting too) How would you rank the quarterbacks the Jags have? I know that after Foles, Cody Kessler, Alex McGough, and Gardner Minshew will have a chance to make the roster.

Best guess for the order by the start of the season: Minshew, McGough/Kessler, Lee – though I doubt all four will be in camp. Ask me again tomorrow, I might have a different answer because I haven’t seen Minshew or McGough play professionally.

Yoav from St. Johns, FL

Especially after the draft, fans like to assume that veterans will mentor rookies. Is that generally true? Because one might assume the new (cheap) players are there to replace the older (expensive) players.

Some veterans mentor rookies. Some don’t. Some help on some days. Some help less when they’re not in the mood. Like life.

Keith from Jacksonville

The book on Minshew is that while he has football intelligence and grasp of the game that's off the charts, his arm strength is below average; hence, that's why he fell to Round 6. Can the arm strength be improved to the point he can make all the throws easily? Why didn't WSU work on that? It’s not like they're a small school.

Minshew arrived at Washington State last summer and played there one season. It wasn’t like he had years in the strength-and-conditioning program. Even if he had, there’s a limit to how much a player can improve arm strength.

Tim from Dallas, TX

The front office moves in free agency plus value meeting need has been pretty fantastic. Do you think these changes will be enough to bring the Jags back over .500? I'm really looking forward to the 19/20 season!

I think if the Jaguars stay relatively healthy, and if Foles helps the offense improve, they can push for double-digit victories.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, enough is enough. People talk about the Quincy Williams highlights as though we are looking at Sean Taylor or something. His “unreal” speed was relative to the level of competition he played at Murray State. If he was the kind of athlete that some people are now saying he is, he’d have been with his brother in big-time college football. Fact is, he was undersized for the Power 5 and that makes him really undersized for the NFL. You don’t use a Top 100 pick for a special teams contributor. You just don’t. Regardless, though, the Jaguars had a great draft.

The Power 5 is the elite of college football. It’s not even close to being the only place to find NFL players.

Aaron from Aldie

O-Zone – good-looking draft. Realizing we can’t get everything, what are your thoughts on wide receivers?

Every team should have them.

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