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O-Zone: Brimming confidence

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Steve from Denver, CO:
Curious time to release Russ. If they had done it two weeks ago, they may have had room to offer more money to Mack. What do we gain by making the move now?
John: You're talking about the Jaguars releasing linebacker Russell Allen, a move they made Thursday afternoon. What they gain by making the move now is they don't bring a player into the offseason program they didn't plan to have on the roster next season. In retrospect, linebacker Dekoda Watson signing in free agency probably laid the groundwork for the Allen release. But while Allen's release saved about $2.5 million on the salary cap, this wasn't a cap-motivated move and it wasn't in any way associated with the recent Alex Mack situation. The Jaguars offered Mack what they offered him because to offer any more would have been too much to offer a center – not because they were out of room under the cap.
Rick from Callaway, FL:
One respected draft analyst has Mack as the top player and Clowney as the eighth-rated player. What say you?
John: I say I admire draft analysts who are willing to rate players on what they see rather than consensus and internet and Twitter buzz. I don't know how accurate his ranking is, but it sounds as if this "respected draft analysts" may be doing that.
Kenny from Rochester, NY:
With the contracts for veteran running backs being on the low side, I was wondering if the rookie wage scale takes into account a player's position? Could taking a running back early not make sense because of what you would have to pay them in guarantees?
John: A player's position doesn't factor into the rookie wage scale. The scale was put into place in the 2011 CBA, and it essentially ensures that the rookie class is paid only a certain percentage of the overall cap. It has had the effect of pretty much ensuring that rookie's salaries are slotted based on order selected – and of keeping rookie salaries under control. It's rare for certain positions to be selected early, but that's because of the perceived importance of the position, not the potential salary.
Chad from St. Augustine, FL:
If we draft Mack and Garoppolo – two small-school guys - I am going to set my hair on fire and run naked into the hills...
John: #Shadricksighting
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Most omnipotent one, help me understand why Zach Mettenberger is being talked up the draft board by some? Yes, he has the big arm and prototypical NFL quarterback stature, but the guy is a statue in the pocket and playing on bad knees. Furthermore, he stares down his receivers – typically, he locks onto a receiver and the ball is going there regardless of whether he is covered or not. I watched quite a few of his games and just don't see him ever being a serviceable NFL quarterback. Please, please, please tell me Caldwell is not seriously considering drafting Mettenberger.
John: I have no idea how Caldwell feels about Mettenberger and I don't expect I will know before the draft. The Jaguars are scouting a lot of quarterbacks and I'd expect them to take two. And no, it wouldn't shock me if Mettenberger is one of them. As for why Mettenberger is being talked up, apparently some people like a quarterback with a big arm and prototypical NFL QB stature and aren't so worried about him being a statue in the pocket and playing on bad knees.
Adam from St. Johns, FL:
Hey Knockitoff, you can turn the volume down on your computer quite easily even if the browser doesn't provide that option. Google it. I for one like the ads because I may come across something I want or need. #CulliganWater
John: I kinda sorta know what you're talking about.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
When you say the Jaguars might trade down, does that mean that when they are on the clock another team steps in or is this trade prior to the beginning?
John: It almost certainly would be on the clock. Trades involving draft selections rarely occur before the draft unless teams know exactly who they will be selecting. That's why you might see a team trade for the No. 1 overall selection – or the No. 2 selection if the team at No. 1 has indicated who it will select. A selection's value is usually based on the player the team believes it can obtain with that selection.
Willis from Jacksonville:
So what does Dave C. do from now until draft day? Tons of film?
John: That and lunch.
Amer from Odesso, TX:
Last year there was a lot of crying in O-Zone because Matt Scott was signed to the practice squad and not signed on the active roster. What are the chances he has developed enough to beat all other quarterbacks we acquire through draft and free agency and even challenge Henne for starting role?
John: Slim. That's not to say he won't do it, but right now it seems most likely that Scott will compete for a position as third quarterback rather than first.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
With all the defensive moves made in free agency, why is there still more talk of using picks for still more defensive players? Our need is more on the offensive side of the ball. Do you see Caldwell still going for defensive players? Isn't that like cutting off the nose to spite the face?
John: I think Caldwell will focus mostly on offensive players in the draft next month, but I don't think the ration will be 10-1 or 11-0. And it wouldn't shock me to see him go defensive player in Round 1. Remember, free agency and the draft are different beasts. You sign free agents for immediate needs and the short-term. You draft to build the core and develop for the long-term.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
In a scenario where Clowney were available at No. 3 ... would you rather draft Clowney or trade back to a potential Mack at No. 6 and an extra second-round pick? I think we could score both a quarterback (or wide receiver) and center in Round 2 in this scenario. Also, I may be the exception here, but I would prefer Mack on the Jags then Clowney. He plays hard every down and could run a clinic on tackling form.
John: I would rather take the No.6 selection and the second-rounder in your scenario. But that's because I'm conservative by nature and your scenario gives the Jaguars a chance at three players in the Top 50 of a good draft rather than two. That means there's a higher percentage chance of finding players who will be core players from that group.
John from Jacksonville:
Are scouts specialized in player positions and assigned to focus/rank accordingly (i.e., Joe does quarterbacks and Jim does wide receivers) or do they scout whatever players/positions they are assigned at random? Just trying to understand the organizational structure of the scouting group and if it's standard across the NFL.
John: Although the details of each scouting department vary a bit from team to team, the structures are essentially usually the same. Generally speaking, teams assign a scout to various regions of the country, with one scout being assigned Southeastern Conference and small Florida and Georgia colleges, for example, and another being assigned Atlantic Coast Conference and small South Carolina and North Carolina colleges, and so on. That's not an exact structure, but that's the idea. The scout would then evaluate all players at those assigned schools. Bear in mind, area scouts are generally looking for specifics on players' measurables, which means specific traits such as bend, strength, quickness, explosion, technique, etc. Teams usually have very specific traits they look for at each position, so it's less a matter of a scout looking at a player and saying, "I think this guy can play!" than him reporting back to his team the traits of the player. At that point, there are scouts at the next level who cross-check and assign grades on the class as a whole, with the key decision-makers – i.e., the general manager and director of college scouting – eventually making the final decisions on where players fall on the draft board.
Joseph from Jacksonville:
On May 8 at about 8:25, when the Jags don't trade their pick and select Johnny Manziel, you are going to hear an eruption of joy from the field that will double the applause in 2012 when they selected Blackmon. I can guarantee that. The more it seems unlikely and uncertain the Jags select him the more I believe they will.
John: You may be right. I personally doubt it, but so what? What do I know?
Austin from Jacksonville:
O-Man, what is your take on Dee Ford from Auburn? Not as big as Clowney, but Ford claims to be 'better.'
John: My take is that while not being quite as big as Clowney, and perhaps not being quite as athletic, Dee Ford is certainly a confident guy.

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