O-Zone: Cartwheels and high-fives

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it … Yoav from St. Johns, FL:
How would you explain the huge disconnect between sports media and knowledgeable fans on one side and the Jaguars’ top staff on the other with concern to the Taven Bryan pick? Not a single professional who studies for a living even hinted we would take defensive player. And of course once we did, many were like, "OK, I get it."
John: The disconnect is easy to explain, and it essentially stemmed from people assuming that what they believed also was correct – and from not paying attention when Jaguars officials spoke. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin at the 2018 pre-draft luncheon both talked about taking best available player without regard to need. Caldwell in particular specifically discussed that the Jaguars believed they had filled needs in free agency well enough that they didn’t need a rookie to come in and immediately start. Coughlin and Caldwell largely were ignored because the general consensus among observers entering the offseason was that the Jaguars were “set” on defense and needed to improve on offense. I emphasize largely in that last sentence because while you write that “not a single professional … even hinted the Jaguars would take a defensive player,” the presumably unprofessional Brian Sexton and myself discussed quite often in recent weeks the possibility of the Jaguars selecting a defensive player at No. 29. We discussed the idea that a Jaguars defense that could face salary-cap casualties next offseason could be addressed with front-line talent in the draft. Not that I completely bought in. I did, after all, consistently mock offensive line and tight end to the Jaguars in the early rounds. But we unprofessionals here at jaguars.com did at least hint at the defensive possibility. So, three cheers for us, I guess. Hip, hip …
Gary from Fleming Island, FL:
Of the picks, I like North Carolina State right tackle Will Richardson the most. Starting offensive line talent in the fourth round.
John: One fer Richardson …
Don from Macclenny, FL:
Isn't it interesting how far the roster has come? Not long ago, picks from the first three rounds needed to be starters for the Jaguars right away and almost all picks needed to contribute. Now, it is possible that none of this year’s picks will start and some late-round guys may not make the team.
John: Your point isn’t just interesting, it’s a vivid illustration of where the roster was four or five years ago and where it is now. The Jaguars indeed needed rookies to play immediately in 2013 and 2014; while fans bristled and grew weary of hearing about the team’s youth being a reason for their struggles in those seasons, the reality is it’s very hard to win with a core of 22-and-23-year-olds playing teams with cores of 26-to-29-year-olds. That’s obviously a generalization of the Jaguars’ situation a few years back, but there’s truth in the generalization. Fast forward to this year’s draft; you’re exactly right the team won’t be relying on this class to start. Many of the draftees likely will have a chance to contribute immediately, with a few ideally developing into contributors by the end of the season and starters soon after that. That’s the sort of draft you want from a contending team that wants to stay competitive into the future. I wouldn’t be so certain about multiple late-round guys not making the team, though. It’s absolutely not out of the question that all seven draft selections and a rookie free agent or two make the team. The roster’s not so laden down with Pro Bowl selections deep in the depth chart that rookies can’t make the team. And in fact, you want rookies making the roster to assure you continue developing young players.
Romeo from 904 but living in the 619:
Why no fifth-round pick in the draft? Would C.J. Anderson be a good fit in Duval?
John: The Jaguars traded their fifth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Buffalo Bills for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. I think Anderson makes sense. The Jaguars need an every-down runner to back up Leonard Fournette. I don’t know that I’d love it if I were Anderson, though. He’s a good player and may be looking for a more extensive role than backup to a second-year workhorse back.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Why doesn't the NFL open the single-digit uniform numbers to a new position group? Many of the single-digit numbers – which to be honest, are considered prime real estate as far as jersey numbers are concerned – are left unused because only kickers and quarterback can get them; there aren't that many of them and there are rarely multiple of them on the field at once. The only reason I can think of as to why they have assigned ranges is to help the refs, but I don't think college refs have any problems with it and they are supposedly lower level refs – AFC Championship game notwithstanding...
John: The NFL standardized uniform numbers in the early 1970s as a way of avoiding confusion, preventing players from wearing 00 and preventing – for instance – a lineman from wearing No. 20 or some such number. I don’t mind the idea of loosening the number rules, but I doubt you’ll see much movement on this front. If you do see it, it will move slowly. The current system does reduce confusion not only for officials, but for all observers – and a structured system does make an otherwise fast, complex game a bit easier to follow.
Chris from Goodnight, TX:
I sure hope that Leonard Fournette doesn't get hurt this year. The success of this season hinges on it.
John: OK.
Will from Jacksonville:
Let me understand this. The NFL wants a team in London. Shad Khan owns an NFL team. Shad Khan wants to buy an NFL-caliber stadium in London. You can't connect the dots?
John: I do understand and I can connect dots. I also am a really good colorer, and am terrific with my ABCs – though I’ve reached the point in my early 50s where I’m just so-so on state capitals. Time is a cruel mistress. What I mostly understand is Khan since buying the Jaguars consistently has moved for improvements supporting the City of Jacksonville. He wants this franchise to work here, and believes it can. He never has wavered from this, and never even has hinted otherwise. He has spearheaded these moves to stabilize the franchise here, which now include major construction in downtown Jacksonville to the tune of $2.5 billion. If you’re connecting dots, make sure you connect those, too. But all of that overlooks the biggest dot: Khan doesn’t want the Jaguars based in London; he wants them based in Jacksonville. That dot is the only one that matters.
Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL:
After a three-touchdown, 200-plus-yard performance, the headline for next year's AFC Championship game will read, "Jaguars unleash Chark Attack in blowout of Patriots."
John: (Editor’s note: There will not be a headline that reads, “Jaguars unleash Chark Attack …” on jaguars.com.
Stephen from St. Augustine, FL:
Hey O! Just wanted to say I love all of the SEC Florida school picks. Not only are they great players but it also helps with our fan radius. I’ve been screaming this for years! We have the best draft admin and front office in the NFL! Go Jags!
John: Yeah, it’s very nice that you’ve been screaming, but the Florida school thing is coincidental at best.
Ryan from Orlando, FL:
With the purchase of Wembley do you think there is the potential to host a preseason game in London for the Jags? This would further increase the Jags profile in London while not giving up additional meaningful games here in Jacksonville in the regular season. I see this as a win/win situation where the Jags would be generating additional revenue while season ticket prices could go down here for one less preseason game. Additional scheduling flexibility during the preseason along with the flexibility of Shad owning the stadium makes this idea seem like a definite possibility.
John: I don’t foresee Jaguars preseason games being played at Wembley. The Jaguars have been committed to playing in the regular season there, and I don’t expect it to change. Also remember: teams generally prefer preseason games closer to home rather than further away because their priority during late July, August and early September is preparing for the regular season. The quicker the road trips and the quicker a team can return to its practice routine during that time, the better.
Edward from Los Angeles, CA:
Hey John, can you confirm that Keenan McCardell started doing cartwheels in the War Room when the Jaguars selected Chark?
John: A lot of people in the Jaguars’ draft room were happy when Louisiana State University wide receiver DJ Chark was available in Round 2 Friday. The Jaguars feel they got big-time value for a player they had rated as a first-round selection. Was McCardell doing cartwheels? Perhaps not. A vigorous high-five or two? Well …

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