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O-Zone: Draft-day brilliance

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Paul from Jacksonville:
So, now that the draft is finished, what do you think? Your favorite and least-favorite picks? Pick you think could make the Pro Bowl? Best-Value pick?
John: The 2015 NFL Draft is indeed now in the rear view, and in terms of your questions, there's a lot from which to choose when it comes to the Jaguars. The best value selection was Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett, though Louisville safety James Sample and Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene also were projected to be selected earlier than they actually went. That makes them prime candidates for best value. But let's go with South Carolina guard A.J. Cann as my favorite pick; it showed a lot about the state of the Jaguars' roster that General Manager David Caldwell felt he could draft a player where he already had a veteran starter. This was about improving an adequate position and not about filling a need at a deficient one; Caldwell hadn't had that luxury in his first two drafts. I have to go with University of Florida edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. as most likely to make a Pro Bowl; the Jaguars had him as the draft's best player, so a Pro Bowl is a fair expectation. Overall, at first glance it has a real chance to be the best draft in Caldwell's three years as general manager. Time will tell.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
I am ecstatic and euphoric. I am in shock and awe of what Dave Caldwell has done in the draft. We are a much better football team after Saturday. We have had one tremendous offseason. What kind of improvement do you see for next year?
John: I, too, believe Caldwell had a very good draft. I also believe the Jaguars will be improved next season, but my short-term opinions on next season haven't changed dramatically. That's because I generally don't believe a rookie class will make a dramatic impact in terms of victories and losses. I've said before I think the Jaguars have a real chance to push for .500 based on development of young players and free-agent signings. If the rookie class contributes more than I expect – and considering the makeup of the class, that's possible – then could they push beyond .500? Perhaps, although I hate to project that on a Sunday while we all continue to bask in post-draft giddiness.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
So, are we better?
John: Than what?
Paul from North Dakota:
With the draft all done is there any length of time teams have to wait before contracting undrafted free agents? Is there a limit to how many they can invite to camp? Do undrafted free agents have to go through a waiver process or is it first-come first-serve when it comes to signing players?
John: Teams can begin calling undrafted free agents immediately, and the Jaguars did just that on Saturday night. I would expect an official list of undrafted rookies later Sunday, and there also likely will be a fairly large group of players brought in on a tryout basis for the team's rookie minicamp next weekend. Some of those players could make the offseason roster. When signed, the players join the official roster, so the limit depends on the number of players already on the roster. Finally, there is no waiver process for rookie free agents. It's first-come first-serve, which makes the process pretty much a free-for-all.
Andrew from Fort Collins, CO:
John O, I was excited to see my Jags drafted Rashad Greene from my alma mater Florida State. I have seen him play for four years and believe he can be a good asset. How do you think he will contribute? I'm thinking primarily in the slot while keeping Robinson and Lee on the outside.
John: That seems likely to be the primary role for Greene. He projects as a pretty prototypical slot receiver, though wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan loves his ability/work ethic and believes he can play inside or outside. Greene also has a chance to play a role as a punt returner. He was a player the Jaguars really wanted and nearly selected in the fourth round. They were shocked he was there in Round 5, and it sounds as if he has a chance to contribute on a significant level quickly.
Angus from Oxford, England:
"We felt really, really good about our tight-end group, and why don't we just add another guy?" Does this comment suggest that Dave is now finally happy with the team, we're out of the major rebuild phase and into improving certain positions as we go?
John: Yes, to a point. He's happier, though I doubt he will say he's happy until winning starts to happen. Are they out of the major rebuilding phase? Yes, and now it's time to start seeing the results.
Chris from Jacksonville:
I like what we've done this draft, but I'm surprised we didn't bring in a free-safety prospect. Sample projects as a strong safety. Are we relying on Sergio Brown, or do we have other plans? By the way, I hear Tony Boselli was 256/256 in his 7 round mock draft. #progNASTYcator
John: James Sample will begin with the Jaguars at free safety. Brown will open the offseason as the starter at the spot, and it would be an upset if he doesn't start the season as the starter. Still, I expect that will be a close competition sooner rather than later.
Christopher from Heath, TX:
The one person who is not excited about the Jaguars picking Michael Bennett: Ryan Davis.
John: The defensive line got deeper Saturday. When that happens, it means everyone must play better to maintain playing time. But Bennett's selection probably has more of a direct impact on Abry Jones than Ryan Davis. Bennett is a pure three-technique defensive tackle and will play the role of Sen'Derrick Marks and Ziggy Hood. Davis is a Leo who moves inside in the lightning package on passing downs.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
Looks like some good value in the back half of the draft. Draftniks were high on Michael Bennett. Do you have insight as to why he fell?
John: Sometimes players just fall. Jaguars assistant director of college scouting Paul Roell discussed it and said it may have been a matter of scheme fit. Bennett is pretty much a pure three-technique, pass-rushing defensive tackle. He wouldn't fit as well in a 3-4 scheme, and when you don't fit with a good number of 32 teams there's always a chance of slipping.
Bruce from Gotham:
Dave and Gus made some interesting remarks during the Yeldon Q&A Friday – namely that there will be no fullback on the roster this year and that it will be covered between two-back sets and having a tight back there. Has Lewis become a tight end/fullback?
John: Lewis is a tight end. Now, within the Jaguars' scheme next season there certainly can and likely will be sets that put a tight end such as Lewis and seventh-round rookie Ben Koyack in the backfield. That's a direction a lot of teams are going.
John from Draftville:
Gotta love the number of guys we drafted who said they really wanted Jacksonville the whole time. Dante Fowler Jr., Michael Bennett, Rashad Greene ... really sounded sincere and not just like draft talk.
John: That was a trend Saturday and it did sound sincere. Obviously, a player is going to say they're happy with the NFL team that selects them, but there were legitimate reasons for this trio of draftees to be happy. They all had contact with the Jaguars' coaching staff before the draft and all felt a connection. They also all believed correctly that they were a good scheme fit for the Jaguars and have a chance to be successful here. A new start in a good environment is a legitimate reason to be happy.
Matt from Clemson, SC:
This is all making sense, John. DC is putting together a roster that should look like a completely different team on the field two-to-three years from now. Blake Bortles and the receivers will have three-to-four years of experience together, the offensive line will have heavy competition and experience, Fowler will have learned the defense and will have benefitted from being around Clemons, and so on. If the Jags improve as much as expected, these players are going to command lots of money...and that's why ya try and stay away from overspending in free agency. Am I on the right track?
John: Well, yeah.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Am I allowed to ask a non-draft question today? With all of the talk of needing a slot receiver, do you think the coaches have given up on Ace in that role?
John: You can ask anything you want on any day; whether I answer is a different story. I'll answer this one, though. The coaches haven't given up on Ace Sanders, necessarily, but he has to perform much better this offseason and in training camp than he did last season to remain in the role – and probably to remain on the roster.
Marty from Jacksonville:
Oehser, I don't know how much you are getting paid, but whatever it is, it's not enough. If I were Lamping, I'd give you a raise.
John: After Saturday, I thought David Caldwell was the smartest man in town. Until now.

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