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O-Zone: Critical trio

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Duane from Miami:
Please tell Dave and Gus to do whatever they do they need to sign Kelvin Beachum from the Steelers. It's an absolute must! No faith in Luke the Jocker.
John: I'm not sure what "Luke the Jocker" means, but that's fine: a lot of people don't know what I'm talking about a lot of the time, either. Beachum, a left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, reportedly will visit the Jaguars in the coming days. It stands to reason the Jaguars wouldn't have Beachum in for a visit if they weren't considering signing him. It's an intriguing move, because the Jaguars have said for the past year or so they believe in Luke Joeckel. They were right to do so because while Joeckel – the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft – has struggled at times, he honestly hasn't been much worse than many starting NFL left tackles right now. General Manager David Caldwell talked about Joeckel on Jaguars Today Friday and said what the team has said for a while – that Joeckel must improve but that overall he played OK most of last season. What would signing Beachum mean? Could Joeckel move to guard? Would this be to improve depth? This won't be an easy get; the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks are also reportedly interested. But this definitely is one to watch.
Adam from Lynnbrook, NY:
John, over/under on the total number of defensive ends and linebackers drafted by the Jaguars this year? How about 4.5?
John: That's not a bad guesstimate. I'd probably say the Jaguars draft four total linebackers/defensive ends, though I admit I don't expect that scenario means getting major impact from all four rookies. That's perhaps the biggest concern of not getting a veteran edge rusher in free agency. You might get impact from a highly-drafted rookie, but you're probably not going to get huge impact from multiple pass rushers taken deep in the draft.
Marc from the Remodeled Club Seats:
Chris Long to Jags as a pass rusher or does his skillset overlap too much with Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu?
John: Long's skillset works as a Leo rusher; the question is how much he has left. Will the Jaguars explore that as an option? It might make sense. At this point, I probably would.
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
I, for one, don't see passing on Olivier Vernon as a negative. I am glad to see David Caldwell maintain some discipline on financial parameters and not go crazy. Not getting Robert Ayers bugs me, because the money did not seem crazy. If the report is true that his concern was playing time that makes me curious, too. However, that is now in the past. So … which UFA pass rushers are left that might help fill the void and add some depth to the roster and pending draft class?
John: These indeed are the primary questions for the Jaguars this weekend: just where does the team stand in terms of pass rush; and is there anyone in free agency left with whom to address it? Is it a tragedy that they didn't sign Olivier Vernon or Robert Ayers? I don't believe so, because I don't know that those players – or any available free-agent pass rushers – were the end-all in terms of addressing the pass rush. I believed from the start that the best options for improving the pass rush were the return to health of Dante Fowler Jr. and Sen'Derrick Marks. That said, I expected the Jaguars to address the area in free agency and was surprised when they didn't. Now, it seems clear the Jaguars need to address edge rusher either by trade or early in the draft. Teams don't usually trade elite edge rushers because teams rarely have too many of them lying around. As far as the draft … stay tuned.
Scott from Amelia Island, FL:
I get it if you're over the "let's-suppose" scenarios, but if not ... let's suppose Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack are off the board: Joey Bosa, DeForest Buckner or Ronnie Stanley? Or is there a sleeper you've got in the back of your mind? I lean towards Stanley to try n right the ol' ship.
John: Bosa because pass rush. If not … Buckner because defensive line with some pass rush.
Victor from Los Angeles, CA:
The JAGS baby have made great moves in free agency so far – filled a lot of needs on both sides of the ball and mainly on defense.
John: You know what? The Jaguars have made some very good moves in free agency, and those moves may not be over yet. That fact has been largely overshadowed by the ongoing, growing, all-consuming Pass Rush Angst, but the Jaguars did get a lot done this past week that they needed to get done. They're a more a talented team than they were a week ago, and that was the biggest objective in free agency.
Jerry from Tamarac, FL:
Excited about what the Jaguars have done. Just because we almost have a blank checkbook doesn't mean EVERYONE is going to sign with us! Really? The other team gets paid, too. I don't understand why the NFL makes a big deal during the "legal tampering" period of whether teams talk to the agent instead of the player. What difference does it make? Psst, agent, put that call on Speaker! Jackson-----ville!
John: You make some good points, and what's especially silly is coaches not being able to talk to players during the tampering period. People in the NFL aren't nuts about the rule, and I'd be surprised if there aren't some serious discussions about modifying it.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Ok, so we need a defensive end really, really badly.... but I do not like the idea of Joey Bosa at all. He has a bad attitude and I foresee him not trying if the team he is on loses. Jalen Ramsey doesn't fill a need, but he is outstanding. Should we just let the pass rush continue to stink or another year and get a pass rusher to complement Fowler next year or take a huge risk on Bosa?
John: If Bosa indeed has a bad attitude and won't try if his team loses, I agree the Jaguars should pass on him. I don't know that we know this to be true. I liked what I saw of Bosa at the combine, including how he handled himself, and I haven't heard much to indicate he's a bad character guy. Now, that is something you heard from Buffalo about Williams, which may have played into the decisions some teams made about him, but Bosa? I don't know that he's the risk you seem to believe.
Rob from Janesville, WI:
With the Patriots and Chiefs losing picks, would the league ever consider a sort of lottery so those picks don't go entirely to waste? Kind of disappointing to those young men who lose out on being drafted because of others mistakes.
John: No, there won't be a lottery – and the NFL adds enough compensatory selections that there will be plenty of draft picks to go around.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
It seems our defense is built around one position (the LEO) generating a lot of pass rush. Last year, Caldwell assumed the position was fine by adding Dante Fowler Jr. to two sub-par players. Once again, Leo is woefully undermanned. I know free agency isn't over and the draft hasn't passed, but no LEO appears worth the No. 5 pick. You laughed at the idea of Mario Williams signing; how much better would the LEO be with him? I don't like the idea of Greg Hardy being a Jaguar, but the LEO is so devoid of proven talent it might be the only option. Injuries happen and one player does not fix a hole on the defensive line. Look back to last year for the evidence. The pessimist in me makes me wonder if we won't be talking in Week 10 again about "if we only had a pass rush". Guess Dave is insisting on learning this lesson twice.
John: A couple of thoughts on your points … First, I didn't laugh at the idea of Williams signing. I did say I didn't think it would happen; as it turned out, it indeed didn't happen. How much better would the Leo be with him? Based on how he played last season, perhaps not as much as many people believe. Second, many analysts believe Joey Bosa is very much worth the No. 5 selection. Third, I get the idea this defense may not be nearly as Leo-centric next season; it may have to move away from that by necessity. Look, I'm concerned about pass rush, too, but don't assume it can't improve. Even without signing a free-agent Leo, the Jaguars figure to go into next season with Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Sen'Derrick Marks up front. If those three play to their potential, the pass rush is better no matter what happens the rest of the offseason.

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