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O-Zone: Don't buy a blankie

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jerry from Tamarac, FL:
After what happened with Justin Forsett, aren't the Jaguars jumping a little too quickly with Toby Gerhart considering he was injured last year?
John: I understand the premise of this question, but let us take this opportunity to address a couple of underlying issues within it. First, while Justin Forsett had a good season with Baltimore last season, there aren't any big-picture lessons to be learned from his release. It does not fit into the category of Tragic Offseason Mistake That Hurt the Jaguars On the Field. The Jaguars didn't spend last season kicking themselves for releasing him. He is a good player who produced for the Ravens behind a good, seasoned line, but it's unlikely he would have had close to the production last season in Jacksonville. As far as Gerhart, the Jaguars aren't "jumping" and haven't really done anything. There's some thought he may play a role as an h-back/fullback, but he's not being released and the Jaguars still think he can be a productive player for them.
Randy from Jacksonville:
We all know the likelihood of Marcell Dareus, Von Miller, Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn, and Ryan Kerrigan all being game-changing pass rushers is unlikely. History shows it would be surprising if even ONE of them was Pro Bowl caliber. SURPRISE !!!!!!!
John: Yes, that's why 2011 is known as an unusually good draft.
Matt from Gainesville, FL:
So the veteran combine came and passed and I saw no news on any signings for any team. Was this worth anything to the NFL?
John: The veteran combine is a fine concept. It allows players a chance to work out in front of teams and a chance to keep their names in front of NFL decision-makers. I imagine you'll see players from the veteran combine in training camps and on rosters next season, but to think it was going to lead to a rash of quick signings was unrealistic.
John from Albany, NY:
You have stated many times that Caldwell and Co. believe Bortles to be the best quarterback in the past two drafts. Of course, this comment was made a year ago and Winston and Mariota have had a year to develop since then. What about you? Do YOU believe that Bortles is better than Winston or Mariota?
John: How a player looks after a rookie season is often very different than how a player looks entering the draft. Bortles as a rookie showed areas that clearly need developing, and I anticipate the same will be true of Mariota and Winston next season. But I've written various versions of this several times: I absolutely believe Bortles right now is a better prospect than Mariota. I believe his skill set fits the NFL far better. I'm less certain about Winston, whose skill set is very, very NFL ready. Honestly, I think it'd be very close between Bortles and Winston, but I also think it's impossible to answer until the playing fields are level, which means it's impossible to answer until Winston has played against NFL competition.
Kevin from Duval:
Ok, so with Davon House and Demetrius McCray on the outside, and Aaron Colvin in the nickel, does Dwayne Gratz move to free safety???
John: I can tell you're serious about this question because you used not one, not two, but threethreethree question marks??? I think Gratz to free safety could be something the Jaguars consider at some point, but that's not the plan right now.
Jeff from Jacksonville Beach:
The question on older players and salary cap got me thinking what would the NFL be like without that and with guaranteed contracts and today's revenues. In that environment, how much do you think Tom Brady and Peyton Manning be making per year? I am guessing at least $50 million, probably closer to $75 million, per year.
John: Your question, while intriguing, is impossible to answer. The current salaries in the NFL have been driven to that point by a collective bargaining agreement that is dependent on both free agency and the salary cap. Without one, you would never have the other. If there was no salary cap, then, yes, salaries for quarterbacks such as Brady, Manning and Aaron Rodgers would spiral out of control. But the system is in place to prevent that.
Jeremy from Jacksonville:
John, I thought we picked up Arrelious Benn just after the end of last season. Even ESPN analysts seem to think he's on our roster but I see him linked to the Eagles. Did I miss something? I thought it was a decent pick up because he's pretty darn fast and he was after all a first-round selection a few years ago right? #GoJags
John: You must be looking at a broken link. The Eagles released Benn with an injury settlement early last September and he signed a futures contract with the Jaguars on December 31. He is on the Jaguars' roster and was a second-round selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010.
Seth from Denver, CO:
Wouldn't Julius Thomas be an ideal player to fulfill the role of slot receiver? That's where pass-catching tight ends seem to have the most success. So why is wide receiver considered such a need when we have two talented second-round picks already on the roster? I am concerned that if the Jaguars bring on a pricey veteran at receiver, it will delay the development of two very promising wide receivers. Why can't we be happy with Thomas, Lee, Robinson, and Hurns as starters?
John: Thomas indeed will have a role in the slot, but Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell also wanted to upgrade the slot receiver position in free agency. My understanding is he'd still like to address the slot position for the simple reason that the Jaguars view Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson as outside receivers and the Jaguars want to improve in the slot. Fear not, though: the Jaguars aren't going to bring in a "pricey" veteran at receiver. At this point, there aren't really any of those out there.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I like your "never" answer. I cannot believe that fans truly believe we would pick a quarterback when we have Bortles. At least give the guy three years and if it doesn't work, then put us through the suffering again.
John: I don't think fans truly believe the Jaguars would take a quarterback at No. 3 in this draft. I think they like talking about it and asking, "What if?" I do know the Jaguars won't take a quarterback in the first round in this draft.
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
Let's all rejoice that the Culligan girl made the Roar again! So much suspense being she was the last one on the list. They really do save the best for last.
John: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
John, I meant to ask this back when the great moments were up on the website. On a scale of 100 how would you rate the 1999 team? I remember we completely dominated some games (Divisional Round vs Dolphins), but I also remember we only played like three teams with a winning record that year and lost to one of those teams three times (#WishingIDidn'tRememberTheTitans). Were we as good as we thought we were, or were we padded from a weak record?
John: The '99 Jaguars were good. Really good. They also benefitted from playing 10 games (against Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Baltimore) in a division that was weak aside from Tennessee. That was the year they caught the New York Jets without Vinny Testaverde and the Denver Broncos in the first year of the post-John Elway era. But you can't control who you play. The Jaguars dominated most of their opponents and should probably be remembered as the third-best team in the NFL that season behind the two teams that made the Super Bowl. Could they have beaten the St. Louis Rams had they been there? Maybe, but you have to get there to prove that.
Chris from Greensboro, NC:
If the draft pans out with Jameis Winston first and Leonard Williams second, on a scale 1-10 what is the chance we trade back?
John: Six point three.
Joe from San Antonio, TX:
If Jameis Winston is not selected first overall he will certainly be taken second. Either the Titans will pick him up or some other team will break the bank trading with them. I highly doubt he doesn't go No. 1, though, because I think Tampa is more likely to trade No. 1 than to pick someone else at No. 1 besides Winston. Theoretically though, if by some Twilight Zone phenomenon he does slip to No. 3 ... well, the trade possibilities we would have are giving me the good kind of shivers.
John: You're punishing yourself, Joe. Don't worry about Winston slipping. Don't worry about shivering. Don't buy a jacket or a comforter or a snuggie or a blankie. Winston's going to go first or second, and almost certainly first. Forget about the theory. You'll sleep better.

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