O-Zone: Core issue

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mark from Archer, FL

Zone: So, the reports are the Jags want at least a first rounder and probably more for Ngakoue. That is elite player compensation – at least I think so. So, if they believe he is worth so much in a trade, why would they also not believe he is worth being made one of the highest-paid defensive ends? If you think a player is worth THAT much in trade, you must think he is an elite talent also, right?

I get that people have a tough time grasping this, but the Jaguars tried to pay Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue what they believed he was worth on the open market – more than what they believed he was worth, actually. They stopped short of signing him to a contract that set the market for his position. There's a reason they took this approach. Because he's not elite. He hasn't been one of the best two or three defensive ends in the NFL during his career; he hasn't been the best defensive end on his team since 2016. He has been good. He has been very good. He has been worth paying very, very well. The Jaguars tried to pay him that way. It wasn't enough. That's the conflict. That's the issue. What will it take for the Jaguars to trade him? They don't want to trade him. For that reason, I do imagine it will take something notable to make them change their minds – i.e., something like a first-round selection and maybe more. Why don't they take less? Because they don't have to.

Justin from New York City

Heard the reports that the Jags have had discussions about trading running back Leonard Fournette. What do you think we could get for him?

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Saturday the Jaguars were considering trading Fournette. Considering Schefter's reputation, there's no reason to believe the reports are incorrect. I would imagine the Jaguars could get a fourth- or fifth-round selection for Fournette.

Tony from St. Louis, MO

You may have to redo your analysis on the running back situation. How can the Jags compete when they are rebuilding like this and sending off all their talent? Was that winning mandate just talk to appease the fans? I know Fournette has not been traded yet. But this is beyond ridiculous at this point. Should the families of the coaching staff start packing now since the odds of them winning anything at this point are slim?

Trading Fournette wouldn't cause a dramatic redo of any analysis of the running back situation. In that scenario, I imagine they would trade Fournette before the draft and draft a running back in the middle rounds. I wrote in my last analysis of the team's running backs that I thought that was a possibility. Would that significantly reduce the Jaguars' chance of winning? We would learn that when we learn who they would select at running back.

Eric from Columbus, IN

At what point do you or did you begin to question what on earth we are doing as a franchise? Can you at least shed some light on this so it makes sense and doesn't make us fans feel like we support the most miserable organization in sports that no one seems to want to play for?

The Jaguars are going a new direction. Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell discussed this early in the offseason – that even though the faces making the decisions would be familiar, that a lot of the offseason wouldn't look the same. That happens. When it happens, familiar faces and names leave. It usually happens by bringing in young players. The Jaguars are in the middle of that process. It began in recent offseasons with the drafting of wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., edge Josh Allen, right tackle Jawaan Taylor and quarterback Gardner Minshew II. When will it make sense to fans? When there are results. Until then, there will be doubt and angst. That's how it works in a results-driven business.

Mike from Bill Murray Hill

Hi John, with the rumors of Fournette now on the trading block, this organization reminds me of a city bus station. We are just a layover to some other final destination. I am concerned that this just furthers our reputation around the league that Jacksonville is not a place to build a career. I know he hasn't always been the model athlete, but the optics of being jettisoned as you approach a life-changing contract are going to hurt this team and its fans. The Jaguars need to get this right. Fans need a core of players – i.e. Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor. Triplets that we can count on year after year. Long-term investments that make us want to buy their jersey. In short, stability. What are your thoughts?

I understand the perception, but there are no bad optics around the NFL for a team to part ways with a running back before a second contract; that's the nature of the position in this era. The Jaguars are trying to get it right, and they understand the value of long-term core talent. They have no problem signing players to big, long-term contracts. Their history shows this. The key is determining the right players to sign to those contracts, and that's what they're trying to do.

Logan from Wichita, KS

So now the plan is to dump Fournette for more FAILURE draft picks by the idiots in charge. Great plan! 0-16 or nothing for the 2020 season. I have said it before, I'm saying it again- THE JAGUARS' DECISION-MAKERS ARE WORTHLESS LOSERS THAT DO NOTHING BUT LOSE!!!!!!!!!

That's not the plan.

Pat from Duval

Is Marcedes Lewis the best Jaguars tight end ever so far?

Either Lewis or Kyle Brady. It's close.

Daniel from Johnston

KOAF, at some point doesn't the number of picks a team have in a specific draft start to have diminishing returns? Is there that much talent in this draft that we honestly think we can get 12-plus eventual starters? Especially if we pick later in the draft?

It's unrealistic to think you're going to get a starter at every selection in any draft, particularly if you're selecting more than five or six players. That's because it's not realistic to expect to hit on every selection. If you select good players, there are no diminishing returns.

Jordan from Jacksonville

Draft a couple big guys, maybe trade some spots and get more picks next year, and ride with Minshew this season. Sign a cheap backup if you want, but either we win with Minshew or we stink on a magnificent level that allows us to draft Trevor Lawrence next year. As a fan, that is my dream scenario.

You're not alone. The problem is I while I don't know if Minshew is elite, I can't imagine him being bad enough that the Jaguars select No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

The more I think about it the more likely it seems they will take a wide receiver with one of the first three picks. We have Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley and Keelan Cole to go opposite Chark/ Assuming they draft a receiver early, would that receiver play on the outside with Lee playing behind him and Westbrook playing the slot?

Who are they selecting?

Hunter from New Hampshire

So, O: I have a thought that's kinda crazy. Let's say the Jaguars don't trade Yannick for draft capital AND Yann holds out into the season. But, what if, the Jaguars play the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans in the first three games, and the Jags win all three without Yann. Would you expect to see him sign the tag and play?

I would expect Ngakoue in your scenario to sign the tag and play at some point because he won't get paid unless he does so.

Bill from Jupiter, FL

Which position group is easier to gauge talent and potential wise when it comes to the draft? I'd want that No. 9 overall selection pick to be as close to can't miss as possible.

Generally speaking: cornerbacks, offensive tackles and running backs project fairly directly to the NFL. There are exceptions. Many exceptions.

Maurice from Augusta, GA

Please tell me the Jags aren't serious about Leonard Fournette. There is a need for him if they truly want Minshew to be successful. We have to change the perception of the team's brand. Commit to some of these young players and stop seemingly letting go of our 'home's drafted talent. I think we need to establish a core of talent, show that we're committed to them and go from there. Don't you agree?

The Jaguars absolutely need to commit to keeping core talent for the long term. Very, very few running backs – if any – in the modern NFL qualify as long-term core talent.

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