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O-Zone: Coping mechanism

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Joe from Aurora, IL:
Which is a bigger risk: the draft, where a general manager is unsure about how a player's skills will translate to the next level; or free agency, where a general manager is unsure how a player will react after getting paid? The Haynesworth example and Jerry Porter come to mind.
John: Free agency is a bigger risk – and in fact, the biggest risk there isn't players losing motivation after making big money. First, you're paying big money to a player whose current team opted not to pay him big enough money to keep him. You're also paying an older player who may be more prone to injury and you're having to project him into your system. You're also probably overpaying. With a draft pick you have less injury risk and less salary paid out, so while it's risky it's not nearly as risky.
Dane from Jacksonville:
A lot of fans tend to focus on signing "big names" in free agency. I think it's safe to say these names get big because of media attention more so than their market value in the eyes of general managers. Do general managers have a different definition of "big-name" free agents? Are the truly hot commodity guys - the free agents that teams get in bidding wars over - players that the media pays and fans pay less attention to?
John: There's really no hard, fast rule in this area. There are times big names draw big contracts. There was no bigger name than Mario Williams in free agency two years ago and he drew a huge salary from the Bills. There are also cases of lesser-known players getting big contracts. Bidding wars, though, aren't as common as many believe. Usually teams and agents have a decent idea of the market before free agency begins. What often drives up the market are teams offering huge contracts to players on their first visit early in the signing period. The theory goes that if a player leaves your building he ain't coming back, so the pressure to get a guy signed before he leaves often leads to overpaying a bit.
Adrian from Englewood, CA:
Would Caldwell's job be on the line if he were to draft a quarterback that everybody is hyping up and that player ends up being another Blaine Gabbert?
John: My answer to such questions always irritates people, because it's not so simple. David Caldwell – like pretty much any general manager – needs to find quality play at the quarterback position. That probably will mean drafting a quarterback early in the draft at some point, and if that player plays poorly and the Jaguars struggle, then of course Caldwell's job would eventually be in jeopardy – as would be the case with any general manager. At the same time, if a "hyped" quarterback drafted by the Jaguars fails nobody will care much if somehow another quarterback comes along and helps the Jaguars become perennial playoff team.
Greg from Section 135:
Someone needs to let Daniel from Iowa know Derek Cox ended up being second string most of the season with the Chargers and ended up being labeled as a bust considering the $20 millioncontract. #trustindave
John: Yeah, Derek Cox wound up not being a good fit in San Diego. I've seen Cox play well too often to say he can't be effective anywhere, but his story in San Diego certainly illustrates once again that free agency is not a cure-all.
Josh from Monroeville, PA:
Choosing "Best Available Player" is not an accurate method,per se ... All teams that follow this method choose BAP according to needs. For example, BAP could be a wide receiver, but a team with a decent receiving corps will not take that position over quarterback or defensive end where a clear lack of talent is present. So describing drafting strategy as strictly best available player is not right... it should be choosing the best available player according to the needs of that particular team...right O-Zone?
John: What do you mean, "Best Available Player?" Is that a draft term? Maybe we could use this forum to discuss...
Dave from Jacksonville:
Reports were that Khan asked David Caldwell who he thought was the best player last year and who he would draft – and he answered with Joeckel. That was in January, too. I'd be willing to bet Caldwell knows exactly who he's going to take with thethird pick this year based on who goes 1-2 or barring a trade. But I do like your Johnny M pick!!
John: Yeah, I bet David Caldwell doesn't know yet who he's drafting. As for Manziel, you probably like me going that direction more than I do. There's a lot of uncertainty around Manziel, and honestly, even the team that chooses him will almost certainly be wondering how it's all going to play out.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
John, my email must not work properly, because I rarely ever get a question answered anymore. If I drive down to the stadium and give the front desk Receptionist a handwritten O-Zone question for the day, will that increase my odds of getting it answered and published?
John: Oh, I'm sure she would love that.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
The wide receiver position in this draft looks to be possibly the strongest out of all the positions. I know it's only January, but do you have a sense for who is seen as the best WR? Watkins, Lee, Evans, Benjamin?
John: Right now Sammy Watkins of Clemson is generally regarded as the best wide receiver in the draft. From what I've seen, I'd agree.
Eric from Boston, MA:
Dream Scenario: Houston Takes Clowney, St. Louis takes Jake Matthews, Cleveland trades with us to snag Bridgewater. Besides switching first-round selections with Cleveland, what would a trade like this garner in terms of additional picks? Generally speaking, what would moving several spots back in the first get a club in return? Is there a formula?
John: It honestly depends on how much a team wants to trade up. If in your scenario the Browns just love Bridgewater, and if they are concerned about other teams trading with the Jaguars, it might garner a second-round selection or even a future first-round selection. In the case of Robert Griffin III two drafts ago, the Redskins gave up much more than that to move up four spots. If it involved a player coveted less than RGIII, it wouldn't bring nearly that much.
Steve from North Haven, CT:
Does previous team chemistry translate into the NFL? I remember reading about Mercedes Lewis as a rookie during training camp; they had him block for Mojo, and he excelled more than anyone expected. Do you think this could translate well if we draft Manziel? Will Joeckel already be inclined to the way Manziel plays and be able to perform his function of protecting him better?
John: It could help a little, though I don't know if it's chemistry as much as just knowing a player's style. Joeckel did spend a year playing with Manziel, which means he already went through the process of learning how and when Manziel likes to scramble and make plays when a play breaks down. It wouldn't be much of an adjustment to play with him again.
Steve from Jacksonville:
If Caldwell continues to add quality players through the draft and free agency, and Gus Bradley keeps coaching them up to win a majority of games each year, how long could they remain GM and HC? It seems to me that they could be here for 20 years.
John: That, or 'til the end of time.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
There's a lot of talk about who to take with the third pick, but what about trading down and adding picks? With this crop ofquarterbacks you might get a sweet offer from say, the Bucs or Vikings, without falling out of the Top 10. What are the chances the Jags are impressed enough with a lesser-known quarterbacklike Carr or Boyd, to trade out of No. 3?
John: I don't think it's remotely out of the question that the Jaguars bypass quarterback in the first round. The top quarterbacks in the drafts have questions, and there are those who believe there's not a huge dropoff from the top guys to a second-tier. That doesn't necessarily mean the Jaguars will trade out of the No. 3 spot. If you're gonna trade, ya gotta have a trading partner. It all starts there.
Darius from Jacksonville:
Why are they letting MJD test the market?
John: The Jaguars have a number in mind for a contract for Jones-Drew, and there's a ceiling on that number. David Caldwell figures it's fair to allow Jones-Drew to see if he can find a team willing to pay him something above that ceiling. If Jones-Drew can't find such a team, the Jaguars would love to have him back at something around their number.
Michael from Altamonte Springs, FL:
Oh O-man The Wise, I'm going to be stuck at Disney all day until 1 a.m. with my family. Any words of advice on how to get through this alive with my sanity intact?
John: What … is there no bar?

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