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O-Zone: Don't go gaga

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … JT from Jacksonville:
O, I couldn't disagree more with the notion that drafting BAP is a luxury afforded to teams with good rosters. Drafting the best players always fills a need - one every team has, regardless of their roster. That need is talent. If the philosophy was to draft for need until we can draft for talent, that's like saying, "Let's do it the wrong way until we are good enough to do it the right way." That said, overall [General Manager] Dave [Caldwell] has done a pretty good job, especially with his value (BAP) picks like Linder, A-Rob (yes, it was a trade-up, but it was for a superior talent), Telvin, Colvin and Cann. Fortunately, this year's draft appears deep enough at the top that need and BAP should meet up nicely and Dave should be able to secure a Top 5 talent that we can all agree on.
John: You know what? I think I'm rather tired of kicking around the 'ol Best-Available-Player-versus-Draft-for-Need debate, and I think I'm going to stop doing it. I'll stop at least until I become less tired of it, which absolutely could happen sometime between now and April 28. But whatever … the reality is most teams in the top of the first round – and really, through most of the first round – draft with at least some eye on need. That's true even of a lot of the teams that trumpet a BAP philosophy. For the purposes of this answer and this draft … yes, I agree that the Jaguars appear in a position to draft a player who is the best available – or at least close enough that no one will know the difference. I think that player also has a good chance to fill what most people agree is the Jaguars' primary need: good, fast, athletic guys who can make defensive plays.
Matt from Fort Worth, TX:
When can I stop trolling about getting a round table for Jags of the Round Table?
John: Do whatever ya feel like ya gotta do, Matt.
Chad from Sinking Spring, PA:
John, a lot of people have been talking about Eric Weddle as a possibility for the Jags in free agency. He had a down year last year; I feel like he is a player descending instead of a player on the rise. Do you really think he would make a big contribution to turning this secondary around or do you think he would get a short, risk-free contract and hope we find our long-term solution in the draft? I just don't feel he is worth big money at this point.
John: Assessing what players have left -- along with how they will fit – is perhaps the most difficult aspect of free agency. That's true in Weddle's case. It's true that he didn't make first- or second-team All-Pro for the first time since 2009 this past season. It's also true that he's 31 and missed time with a groin injury this past season. Nagging injuries at that age can be a concern, so all of those things factor into a team's decision whether to sign Weddle. At the same time, Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said following the season he was much more willing to sign free agents in the 30-to-32-ish range this offseason then he would have been previously, and the reality is it's difficult to find free agents with absolutely no concerns. Those guys tend to get signed by their former teams because of the whole "absolutely-no-concerns" thing, which is an attractive thing to general managers. Weddle was consistently one of the NFL's best free safeties from 2010-2014 and he's going to be available. If you have to gamble on a free agent, he seems like an acceptable risk.
NotAKop from Duval in Spirit:
I saw Matt Miller said his gut feeling is the Jags will select Myles Jack at pick No. 5. His rationale is he could envision Gus seeing Jack as his Bobby Wagner. Tyrann Mathieu saw the tweet, and responded that they are rehabbing at the same place and he definitely sees the comparison. Do you think Jack could be a possibility if Dave/Gus see him as a Bobby Wagner type?
John: I don't suppose I would absolutely rule it out – and I see Miller's logic in the selection – but No. 5 is scary high for a linebacker. Then again, if the Jaguars see Myles Jack as a Luke Kuechly type …
Keith from the Ancient City:
Oh, great O. I know Anger and Henne, but who are the other potential free agents on the Jags roster? Do you foresee any tags this year?
John: Jaguars players scheduled to become free agents March 9 are quarterback Chad Henne, tight end Marcedes Lewis, center Stefen Wisniewski, tight end Clay Harbor, defensive end Andre Branch, right tackle Sam Young, punter Bryan Anger, running back Bernard Pierce, defensive end Ryan Davis (restricted free agent), defensive tackle Abry Jones (restricted free agent) and tight end Nic Jacobs (exclusive rights free agent). I'd be surprised if Anger, Branch, Pierce are back and I'd be pretty surprised if Wisniewski returns, too. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Lewis is back. I hope to get a better feel on the others in the coming weeks, but I do not anticipate the Jaguars using the franchise tag this offseason.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
John, I attended the Senior Bowl last week and had a great time. Mobile hosts it well, and the turnout was way more than I anticipated. But I get the sense after watching the game that the game itself is extremely secondary to the week of practices and meetings leading up to it. The game was fun, but it's an all-star game with a group of guys playing with others for the first time. Not a lot to gain from the game itself other than a good time for all involved. Am I wrong in assuming that?
John: You're not wrong at all. The week leading to the Senior Bowl – particularly the practices – are far, far more important than the game. The practices are set up for one-on-one competition and to show skills to the scouts, general managers and coaches in attendance with little emphasis on "game preparation." Many coaches and general managers leave Mobile before the game. That's not to say performance in the game counts for nothing, but practice counts more.
Emiel from Jacksonville:
Could we see more four-receiver sets? Hurns and Greene inside and Lee and Robinson playing outside?
John: I like that idea. We'll see.
Austin from Jacksonville:
Biggest needs on defense are pass rusher and safety. You get to choose one free agent and one rookie to fill either role. This is assuming you can pick anyone in the draft and anyone in free agency. I personally would pick Joey Bosa and Eric Berry. Your move, O.
John: I like the idea of Eric Berry. However, it also appears the Kansas City Chiefs like the idea of re-signing Berry – and that he likes that idea, too. That's why it's tricky to get excited about free agents in March; as often as not, the best re-sign with their former teams. If no one who is scheduled to become a free agent is going to sign with a former team, I like Von Miller. A lot. So, give me Miller and Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey to play safety, but I can't see that happening for realsies.
Dan from Duval:
Johno, I read your comment about Marqise and how the Jags will try to find ways to get him on the field, if available. My thought - what an incredibly wonderful problem to have. Now let's do that to the linebackers and ends.
John: First, let's not so overblow the issue about Marqise Lee's durability that we lose perspective. Yes, he must stay healthy, but he missed three games as a rookie and six last season. That means he has been available in 23 of 32 games, so it isn't as if he never has been available, but yes … having too many talented players at a position is a good thing, and the Jaguars could stand to have a few more doses of that problem.
Reshean from Jacksonville:
Go back to the 5th dimension where u belong.
John: Let the sun shine in.
Kyle from Ohio:
Despite a projected $70 million in cap space, I am kind of worried about the cap situation. OK. Not the right wording, but Bortles, Hurns, Robinson and Joeckel will be getting big contract extensions in the next year or two. I'm just saying everybody wants the book thrown at Von Miller or Muhammad Wilkerson, but with our key players needing extensions in the very near future, should we be cautious about overplaying the $70 million in cap space?
John: The Jaguars don't need to go gaga and sign players just for the sake of signing them, but they've been planning for this offseason for a while. They can sign impact free agents/fill needs on the roster and still have room to sign their own players over the next couple of offseasons.

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