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O-Zone: Bump it up

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Josh from Atlanta, GA

I sure do envy the money, but the pressure that is going to be placed on (presumably) Trevor Lawrence's shoulders is going to be up there with some of the highest ever. I am glad he has been in the national spotlight for a while, because if he hadn't been there to the level he has it would be a huge concern. Can you think of a higher-pressure situation a rookie player has been placed in? Andrew Luck followed Peyton Manning, so it is definitely comparable.

There's little question there will be significant pressure on former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence – if indeed he is selected No. 1 overall by the Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft. But you know what? The reason for the "pressure" is at least in part because he has handled everything – pressure included – so well for the past three years. He appears far advanced in many areas compared to many previous No. 1 overall selections. It's that "total package" of handling all that is required of a quarterback at a high level that has football people overwhelmingly convinced he is very, very close to a can't-miss prospect. As far as a quarterback who previously has faced this much pressure … probably no one, honestly. Manning absolutely faced pressure, but he played before the instant-(over)reaction era of Twitter and social media. I remember watching Manning have an awful prime-time game for the Indianapolis Colts against the New England Patriots his rookie season; the criticism he received after that game would have been on steroids if it happened now. Lawrence's situation is perhaps more comparable to that faced by Luck with the Colts in 2012. And yes, the pressure will be enormous. But quarterback is a position of pressure. The ability to handle it is part of what is needed to excel.

Leon from Austin, TX

Zone, Orlando Brown? I'm intrigued, but I'm not nicknamed KOAF…

This is an intriguing question because Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown indeed has requested a trade – and because he's a good player who has played well in three NFL seasons. While Brown has played mostly right tackle, he played left tackle late this past season and reportedly only wants to play for a team that will play him at left tackle moving forward. And it's likely Brown will get his wish; we're in an era where such things happen. But Jaguars and NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks made a good point on this topic when speaking on this week's Huddle Up podcast with myself and J.P. Shadrick – that while Brown played well at left tackle this season, the Ravens' offense is a run-centric scheme that doesn't require tackles to pass protect as often or in as many deep, traditional drops as many offenses. And Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is perhaps the NFL's most-mobile quarterback, which certainly helps offensive linemen in pass protection. Brooks' point wasn't that Brown isn't a bad tackle, but that teams may need to be wary of paying him elite left-tackle money and expecting that level of play moving forward. That made sense. It was a good point.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

Lawrence Taylor versus Tony Boselli in their respective primes. Now that's a matchup I'd pay good money to see ...

Best versus best? Yeah, I'd click on that.

_John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL                                                       _

Given the injuries suffered by Brandon Linder over the past couple of years, do you think the Jaguars will be looking at a center either in the draft or free agency?

This is a fair question. Jaguars center Brandon Linder is a front-line NFL player at his position, but he has played 16 games just once in seven NFL seasons. That was in 2019. He also has had three seasons in his career in which he played nine games or fewer. This is something the Jaguars' new decision-makers certainly will discuss – as they will and must discuss all players at every position. There's really no reason to think Linder is slowing or nearing the end of his career; it's not as if he has sustained devastating injuries to knees or other career-altering injuries. For Linder, it has been more along the lines of nagging things that seem to occur too frequently. An ankle injury put Linder on injured reserve late this past season and ended his season. If Linder is deemed 100 percent physically this offseason, I would guess the Jaguars move forward with him at center at least for the short term. But that's a guess. We'll see.

Gavin from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Hi John, I just wanted to acknowledge the loss of Chris "Wess" Wesseling, one of the best, most knowledgeable – not just football – sports people. I listened to him on Around the NFL and read his pieces on One fer Wess, R.I.P.


Doug from Jacksonville, FL

John, the Landing was Lot J. How many times did you stay at the boutique hotel then walk to the Arena for a concert? Dinner then to the baseball grounds. I remember visiting my friends in the apartment with a view of the river at the Landing just like Lot J. The two things are exactly the same except maybe for the fact Lot J didn't have an empty food court and a toy store.

You're right. No doubt. Amen, brother. They were exactly the same. And no one should ever, ever, ever, ever try to develop anything in downtown Jacksonville again – ever – because something built three decades ago eventually failed. C'mon. Seriously.

MystrE from Westside J-Ville

What are your thoughts on drafting someone like Oklahoma's center Creed Humphrey to come into the league with "the kid" and moving Linder to guard? I know it doesn't solve the left-tackle problem – and yes, there is a problem – but a center like Creed would make the rest of the line better while still utilizing the strength of Linder.

Humphrey projects as a likely first-round selection, so there's some credence (yes, I am that good) to the theory. But remember: The Jaguars likely will be playing a rookie quarterback in 2020. The center is the key figure when it comes to communication along the offensive line, and Linder is very good in terms of line calls and ensuring the line is in proper position. A strong case can be made for having his veteran presence in that position in 2021.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O'/King of all Funk, another day and another social media frenzy of quarterback (insert random name) to be traded to the Jags for the No. 1 Pick, usually along with a package off first and second round picks both for 2021 and 2022. Was there such a frenzy over at the Indianapolis Colts when they had the No. 1 Pick and Andrew Luck was the obvious first choice?

Not really, but that was a slightly different era – one that didn't feature nearly as much trade activity in the NFL, particularly at the quarterback position. There certainly was no quarterback on the market in 2012 the equal of Deshaun Watson, whose issues with the Houston Texans this offseason have spawned a lot of trade talk. But remember: All this talk is just talk until someone around the Jaguars indicates otherwise. That hasn't happened. As of now, there's little reason to think that will change.

Aqeel from Toronto, Canada

Greg from Section 122 had it all wrong... the real question is how many players who wanted pictures with you have you had to turn down?

All of them.

Marcus from Jacksonville

John, if it were up to you, would you change the procedures for Hall of Fame voting? I understand the reason for limiting it to five each year, because you don't want to make it easy and cheapen the hall. At the same time, you have people who perhaps are worthy of being in the hall when you compare them to others already in there (like Boselli), but happen to be eligible during a time frame when there are more "home run" candidates or many others of the same position group that push them down the list. I don't think the MLB approach is right because you have years like this year where no one gets in, but maybe a hybrid of the two. If you had a system where the top five get in, but there is a possibility for a sixth if they exceed a certain (high) threshold? What do you think?

Many longtime voters believe there should be one or two more modern-era inductees each year. The limit long has been five, but many voters feel that's an arbitrary number left over from the era of far fewer teams than there are today. The 2021 season will be the 20th with 32 teams. Many candidates moving forward never will have played in a league with fewer than that number. There would be nothing wrong with expanding the modern-era class size by a player or two to reflect that.