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O-Zone: Dead-end road

INDIANAPOLIS – Last day in Indy. Time to head home.

Let's get to it … Jeff from Jacksonville:
Huh, a deep talent pool in this year's draft for defense – just when we need it most. And two years ago … a deep talent pool for offense when we needed it most. It's almost as if Dave has a plan.
John: Yes, it's funny how that works. One thing that has been notable about this building process is just that – that the last two years when the Jaguars have focused on offense in the draft, the drafts have been believed to be very deep on that side of the ball. This year is considered a deep defensive draft – and the Jaguars indeed are focused there this season. All of that was by design – and a credit to Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell for having a long-term focus on the draft when it came to this build. That's not to say the Jaguars are necessarily building a dynasty. They indeed have much winning to do to prove this building plan is working. But there are signs that it's working, and Caldwell certainly appears to have set himself up this offseason with a good opportunity to address the team's biggest areas of need.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John, I'm sure Dave Caldwell has not held a meeting with the press or draft pundits stating what players he's looking at. I bet some of the players the Jags are interviewing this week are the equivalent of Peyton Manning shouting Omaha ... means nothing. I just know I wouldn't want to play poker against him. So obviously take all the mock drafts, except yours of course, with a grain of salt. No?
John: Take mine with a grain, too. Actually, take mine with a whole shaker of it.
Jeff from Anaheim ,CA:
NFL players should learn from Dante Fowler Jr.'s "trouble." That means no going out in public; do not even come within 25 feet of other human beings! Stay at home, don't even read a newspaper and definitely don't think about going back to school to finish a degree. Just go into your hyperbaric chamber until it is time to train, or until the NFL season starts again.
John: Good point.
Jerry from North Lauderdale:
Is this salary cap carryover ending this year or is this an every-year type of thing until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement?
John: Teams can roll their salary-cap room forward indefinitely.
Joe from Philadelphia, PA:
Hey John, why would it be difficult for Marqise Lee to play slot receiver? Aren't most slot receivers successful due to their speed, which Lee has? Why is it so difficult for Lee to play the position?
John: Slot receivers are typically more about quickness and working the middle of the field. That's not something Lee can't do, necessarily, though it's not something he has done a lot. It's also something that Rashad Greene and Allen Hurns do better than Lee. Lee is pretty much an outside receiver, and I expect that will continue to be his role. Caldwell this week at the combine mentioned Hurns' ability to play the slot if necessary, and I would expect more packages with Hurns/Robinson/Lee on the field developed for next season.
Craig from Jacksonville:
Do the Jags actually plan on picking up some key veteran free agents this year?
John: Yes, as they did last year.
Jeff from Wake Forest, NC:
How much can current players influence or be a part of recruiting others to Jacksonville? Thinking of Olivier Vernon – and Jared Odrick "recruiting him." Keep up the good work on that long jump and don't forget to stretch!
John: Current players can have a great deal of influence in that area. That's true not only during the actual time the player is being "recruited" during the first hectic days of free agency, but during the time the two players – two friends, if you will – might speak before that. The way it looks now, I don't know that Vernon actually will hit free agency, but sure … anything positive a potential free agent had heard from a friend or former player certainly can't hurt.
Brian from Orange Park, FL:
I recall last offseason that the Jaguars were linked to being interested in Greg Hardy. Considering the distractions he caused with the Cowboys last year, what are the chances the Jags sign him?
John: I don't recall that interest being very serious. Slim.
Rabbit from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Hey Sweaty O'man, most people are saying if we do not get Jalen Ramsey or Joey Bosa, then we should take Vernon Hargreaves III. I don't disagree, but what about Mackensie Alexander? I know he isn't the prototypical size in Bradley's scheme, but he is a heck of an athlete. Do you think he will be a better corner than Hargreaves?
John: I don't know what most people are or aren't saying, but I don't believe the Jaguars will be taking a pure cornerback No. 5 overall in this year's draft. I say "pure," because they may take Jalen Ramsey of Florida State, a player that can play both corner and safety. I think the Jaguars may try to address cornerback in in free agency, and if they don't do it there, the second or third rounds would be a possibility. It's not that corner's not important, but improving the pass rush will improve those spots, too.
Joe from San Antonio, TX:
John: I hear ya.
Armando from Vacaville, CA:
If the Jaguars draft Joey Bosa with the fifth pick, do you think he could cause the same effect as Luke Kuechly or J.J. Watt? Also, if Noah Spence falls to us in the second round by the time we pick, do you see an upgraded defense with those two on top of the good players we have?
John: Noah Spence almost certainly is not going to be available in the second round. If the Jaguars draft Bosa at No. 5 overall, I think they would be getting a good edge pass rusher who has a chance to be a very, very good player. Does that mean he turns into an All-Pro, franchise-defining player? That's the ideal, but players with that effect defensively are rare. How rare? The Jaguars never have had one.
Noel from St. Augustine, FL:
Why all the flak for the combine video?? How about a 'one fer' Mr. O for dropping a few pounds. It would have been a lot more disturbing had you done the video a few years ago while a bit more hefty.
John: Yeah … one fer 'Zone!
Alan from Maine:
I saw a few people in the comments of February 26 O-Zone saying if Jalen Ramsey, Joey Bosa and Myles Jack are all taken before the fifth pick it would be a nightmare scenario in their eyes. I personally think DeForest Buckner & Vernon Hargreaves III both would be good selections at No. 5 if somehow the other three are taken. Any of those five are worth taking and it's impossible for all of them to be taken before the fifth pick.
John: Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell is confident the team will get a big-time player at No. 5. With Ramsey, Bosa, Jack and Buckner all in the draft – and with the Cleveland Browns seemingly likely to select a quarterback – I understand that confidence.
John from Nowheresville:
I have heard and read much about the upcoming draft. I believe we need football playersl I don't care who we draft in Spot No. 5 or Spot No. 205, I want good football players that can play. Pick the best players and all the other stuff will work itself out. Thoughts on this all mighty and powerful O!
John: #DTWD.
Will from Orlando, FL:
This might go way back for you. When or what was it that first turned you to the game of football, and did you ever think it would take you this far? A silly man, but a damned good writer!
John: What first turned me on to football? That's tough. While the NFL was not nearly as popular in the early 1970s as it is now, it always mattered in my home. My parents watched it, and I have strong early recollections of the Washington Redskins mattering very much. My father was a fan, and while it wasn't discussed all of the time, it was there. But I don't remember when it first grabbed me, honestly. I do remember my first clear football memory. I was sick as a dog with what I was told later was walking pneumonia when the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V. I remember lying on the floor of our apartment in Reston, Virginia, watching that game. I can't say that made me a fan, but the memory is real. As for a recent football memory, the other day I was working at the combine and looked up and realized I was working across the table from Shadrick … so I suppose just how far the game has taken me remains open to debate.

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