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O-Zone: Different lenses

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … John from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Hey O-man, who would you have as the Top 3 running backs in the upcoming draft? I would seriously look at drafting Todd Gurley. He was at one time a sure bet to win the Heisman until the injury. If he`s that good why not take him at three? Thanks.
John: As of now, my Top 3: Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah. But however Marcus Mariota may or may not feel about you assuming he wouldn't have won the Heisman had Gurley stayed healthy, Gurley won't be selected in the Top 3 or even the Top 10. Not only is he a running back, he's a running back coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Even if a team were so inclined to go running back in the Top 10, the knee injury would preclude it.
Tym from Southside:
O-Zone, now that we have Skuta – who will presumably start at the Otto position – do you think we still take Fowler? And if we do, do you think he'd start in front of Skuta at the Otto, or do you think we'd try to play him elsewhere?
John: The recent free-agent acquisitions wouldn't preclude the Jaguars from taking any player in the draft, including Florida defensive end Dante Fowler. Jr. In fact, the only position I'd be surprised if the Jaguars select in the draft would be quarterback – unless, of course, you're talking about a player in the later rounds obviously taken to be a backup. Remember, you're not taking a Top 10 selection to start him at his long-term, permanent position on Day 1. You can use him in several situations early and let him develop into his permanent spot.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
There is currently one center on the roster. I would say that qualifies as a need.
John: Correct. You're referencing an O-Zone exchange this week about the need for a center. I perhaps incorrectly assumed the conversation was about higher-tier free agents and potential starters, but do the Jaguars need someone besides Luke Bowanko who can snap? Absolutely.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
What is your opinion of Fowler vs Beasley vs Ray?
John: My opinion is right now that's the right order, though I want to take a closer look at Beasley. The more you look, the more intriguing he seems to become.
William from Section 231:
It almost pains me to watch such a social funny guy like Odrick locked up in a car with Shadrick... Why aren't it you in there, O??
John: Did you see the way Shadrick cut that guy off on 95? Do you want to ride along?
Zain from Orlando, FL:
Zone - if we drafted a running back, especially early, how would he fit in? He becomes the starter, Toby plays third downs, and D-Rob becomes a spell back?
John: If the Jaguars take a running back sometime in the the first two days of the draft, your plan sounds like … well, a pretty good plan.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Is it theoretically possible for a team to go 20-0? Would there be any scenario that would allow for three undefeated teams in one conference and one being forced to play in the wild-card round?
John: Yes.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
What do you think our record will be at the end of the 2015-2016 season?
John: Better than 3-13 and not 20-0.
Jon from Nijmegen, Netherlands:
What do you think of Trent Richardson? If the Jaguars could get him on the cheaper side of things or to a salary-cap friendly incentive based contract would it be an OK risk? My thought is that he would be a good red-zone running back. He wouldn't be a marquee running back but part of the running-back committee.
John: Sure, the Jaguars could sign Trent Richardson. They also could sign any number of running backs on the street and draft any number of players in the draft. I have nothing against Richardson, but as of now he has done nothing in the NFL to make you think he's better than the pack.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
Is Colvin the best corner on the team? If so, why isn't he on the outside?
John: A few reasons. One, Demetrius McCray and Davon House fit what the Jaguars want from their outside corners – long, physical corners with the ability to play press coverage. Two, Colvin played the nickel very well this past season. Colvin will get a chance to complete on the outside, but I get the idea the Jaguars really like him inside for now.
Mike from Albany, NY :
I sure do like the idea of drafting Dante Fowler to play the OTTO, but something tells me the offense would improve far more than the 'D' ever would with Kevin White as the Jaguars' first pick. Even without the ball he demands safety help, which opens up the middle for a certain new tight end and makes life easier for the other receivers. Would the Jags possibly draft three receivers in the first and second rounds over a two-year period?
John: I like the idea of Fowler, too, and if I had to guess now I'd guess that would be the selection at No. 3. But that's a guess and it's still six weeks before the draft. The receiver thing is intriguing. I've written often that I believe the Jaguars go pass rusher and not receiver, but after not getting a receiver in the top tier of free agency, you wonder if Amari Cooper or White could be an option. My guess is no, and that the Jaguars might address slot receiver in a different way, but we'll see.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Do you expect the Jaguars to add a fullback in free agency, the draft, or college free agency? Do you think the team might opt to use Marcedes Lewis, Julius Thomas, Clay Harbor, or Toby Gerhart in a H-back role next season?
John: I expect the Jaguars to add a fullback through either late veteran free agency or rookie free agency because … well, because why not?
Darrell from Fernandina Beach, FL:
John, Walters does not seem to be an upgrade over Sanders as their numbers look similar. Am I missing something or was the move simply to create competition? Has Lee had any time at punt returner? Seems he could be a factor there.
John: Amazingly, I actually had people email me upset about the Walters signing. It's a move to create competition because after a solid rookie year Sanders struggled as a punt returner last season. Tandon Doss could be a factor there. As for Lee, he could return punts but he likely will spend most of his time focusing on receiver. That's where the Jaguars most need him to develop.
John from Jacksonville:
When a free agent is reviewing offers from teams, are they briefed on the net difference they will get due to taxes, etc?
John: Yes. It can be a significant factor in free agency, and as the money gets bigger and bigger, I expect it to be an even bigger factor moving forward.
Tino from Sarasota, FL:
So we get Blake one weapon out of free agency … really one weapon???
John: The Jaguars targeted two skill position players in free agency: Julius Thomas and Randall Cobb. Those were the two players they believed were worth the money and who fit what they needed. They got one, and I imagine they will add a running back – and possibly a receiver – in the draft.
Christopher from Philadelphia, PA:
I'm confused why the Jaguars are looking for a slot receiver. I understand and supported the Jaguars' pursuit of Randall Cobb because he's a premier player. However, we have Marqise Lee and his skill set seems appropriate for the slot. I think he has serious limitations in his catching ability, but I don't think someone like Stevie Johnson would be a material upgrade. Are the Jaguars now doubting Lee's long-term prospects? Or would a signing of someone like Johnson be a move for depth behind Lee?
John: You see Lee a bit different than the Jaguars do, it seems. I haven't heard a whole lot of teeth-gnashing over his receiving ability, and while he can play the slot it seems he's more of an outside receiver for now. And no, nothing that has happened in the offseason is a sign of the Jaguars doubting Marqise Lee.
Jeremy from Andover, KS:
At this point, with Free Agency at least initially over, I believe the Jags will draft the following positions. Things can and probably will change but what are your thoughts on this list? DE, RB, FS, TE, WR, C (OL), LB.
John: Good list.
Troy from York, PA:
O-man, I still can't believe all the free agents still out there that would make our team significantly better in depth across both sides of the ball Caldwell hasn't attempted to sign any of them except the few cast always from other teams besides Thomas and Parnell those are the only two signings I like. What gives?
John: I guess maybe David Caldwell sees football players differently than you.

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