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O-Zone: Draft-day Jeopardy

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Jacksonville:
More and more it feels like Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner may be the pick. My question would be: Why?!? We already have a bunch of left defensive end/three-technique defensive-tackle guys (Sen'Derrick Marks, Malik Jackson, Jared Odrick, Tyson Alualu, Michael Bennett), one of whom just got paid approximately $3.25 cajillion dollars! This and wide receiver seem like the deepest positions on the team. Edge rusher, linebacker or secondary would seem to give much more value.
John: I agree there's a decent chance Buckner could be the Jaguars' selection at No. 5 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, though honestly I don't have a stronger sense for him over, say, Myles Jack. One reason Buckner could be the selection is you don't pick a player at No. 5 hoping he's one of a "bunch" of guys; you're hoping he's "THE GUY!!!" Buckner might be that. But the biggest reason Buckner could be the selection would be that Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has a different definition of value than yours. Caldwell made clear Friday afternoon at the team's pre-draft luncheon that he believes you must look at the No. 5 selection for long-term value rather than short-term need – and by long-term he means over a five-to-10-year period. So, if Buckner – or, say, Mississippi left tackle Laremy Tunsil – is the selection, then the eye on the long term would be the reason.
Steve from Hudson, FL and Section 106:
Say goodbye to the high first-round picks! Next year we will be picking in the 25-32 slots.
John: OK.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I recently heard that David Caldwell is among the best general managers at not showing his cards. It may be hard to tell, but do you believe he places more emphasis on scouts' opinions or those of coaches?
John: I believe Caldwell and most general managers place slightly more emphasis on the opinions of scouts than of coaches when it comes to the draft. That stands to reason. Scouts study the players 52 weeks a year whereas coaches get involved in the process in the offseason and spend about half their time during that time scouting studying players.
Tyler from Duval:
Am I crazy to think that we should 100 percent take Laremy Tunsil at No. 5 if he is still available? Luke Joeckel has not proved to be anything special and Kelvin Beachum allowed a team-high six sacks in his last full season (2014) for the Steelers. I feel like a good left tackle with the potential to be great would be huge for the offense, but I'm not a general manager.
John: You're not crazy, though you might be a tad overzealous – and you're probably emphasizing the left-tackle position more than a lot of people in the NFL these days. Teams in recent years have succeeded more and more with mediocre left-tackle play, so the argument against Tunsil would be more about being able to get more value at other positions rather than the quality of players currently on the Jaguars' roster.
Tim from Jacksonville:
As we approach the draft would you think it more likely that the Jaguars might be able to trade up for a targeted player, trade back for more picks or remain where they are? Obviously it depends on what many other teams do, but do you gather an opinion one way or another?
John: I believe there is almost no chance the Jaguars trade up because I don't think from listening to Caldwell that he has any desire to pursue such a move. I think he absolutely would like to trade down, though the chances of that depend on how far he is willing to move back and whether he likes a player at that spot. I always figure there's a better chance of a team staying put than trading because trading means working with another team. Still, I think there's a far better chance the Jaguars trade back in this first round of this draft than there was in the past three.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
I'll preface this question by saying I would be utterly shocked if it indeed happened. But do you think if Ezekiel Elliott slips beyond the Cowboys, the Jaguars would take him as being the best player available? This is based on my belief in one of the greatest football men in the game (Bill Polian). He said that in his mind Zeke is the best overall player in this draft, period. It just seems like aside from need on defense, it would be hard to argue with the opinion of a Hall-of-Fame talent evaluator and team assembler.
John: I don't think the Jaguars will take Ezekiel Elliott at No. 5, and I don't think I'm completely convinced Polian would actually take a running back in the Top 5 of the draft if he were still a general manager, either. He took Edgerrin James in the Top 5 in 1999, and while James perhaps will be in the Hall of Fame, the Colts were as good or nearly as good when Joseph Addai replaced him 2006. There are simply more important positions in this era to take when you're selecting that early.
Nick from Las Vegas, NV:
How about this draft scenario?? If Laremy Tunsil is still there at No. 5, the Jags trade with the Titans, getting their 15th pick, and a second- and third-round pick. The Jags then trade back up to the eighth pick with the Browns, giving them the second-round pick they acquired from the Titans and swapping the Jags' second-round pick for the Browns' second-round pick. Then at No. 8, the Jags select Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III before the Bucs can get him at No. 9 ... and still pick up a third-round pick as well as move up like five spots in the second round. I did the Jimmy Johnson math ... it works!!
John: Can you repeat the question?
Joe from Jacksonville:
If the two blockbuster trades didn't happen, how unlikely would it be the Laremy Tunsil fell to the No. 5 overall pick? And if he did, would Dave have been crazy not to pick him? (Meaning that the thinking should be the same.)
John: (I got your meaning.) If the two trades at the top of the draft didn't happen there would have been almost no way Tunsil would have been available at No. 5. How crazy Caldwell would be to not pick Tunsil if he indeed falls to No. 5? That depends on how much better you believe Tunsil to be over, say, Myles Jack or Jalen Ramsey or DeForest Buckner. I'm not sure the difference is so great that Caldwell would be classified as insane for going one direction over the other.
Moshe from Mexico City, Mexico:
Hi John, even if Myles Jack is 100 percent healthy, the best three defensive prospects are Bosa, Buckner and Lawson. I hope the Jaguars get one of them with the fifth pick.
John: OK.
Gabe from Washington, D.C.:
If you had to speculate, who do you think Dave Caldwell would prefer to see picked by the Chargers: Jalen Ramsey or Laremy Tunsil? Would you guess he wants a chance at a potential stud defender, or does he want teams calling him with trade offers?
John: If I had to speculate? Gabe, I have done little but speculate since, oh, the Senior Bowl. As far as your question, I suppose he would rather see the Chargers take Tunsil, though the thought here is it doesn't matter too much to the Jaguars who the Chargers take. If they take Tunsil, I see the Cowboys taking Ramsey; if the Chargers take Ramsey, I see the Cowboys taking Ezekiel Elliott. Either way, that takes Ramsey off the board and leaves the Jaguars with the rest of the defensive players in the draft. That's awesome if you believe the Jaguars must take a defensive player – unless, of course, you want the Jaguars to take Ramsey. Then it's not as awesome.
Mickey from Jacksonville:
Hey O, what do you think of Jaylon Smith in the third round? If he falls that far don't you think it'll be worth the risk? How scary would it be for opposing offenses to see Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith on the field at the same time in upcoming years? Of course, it all depends on Jaylon Smith's recovery but … man, oh, man … it might be worth the risk. Your thoughts?
John: You're right that everything depends on Smith's knee when it comes to this question. There are those who wonder if Smith will ever be the same player again; if you're among those, then it's hard to even take him in the third round. If you believe he'll be OK, then the second round isn't too early. Or maybe even the first.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
Of course our scouts are good! How else would we have known to take punter in the third?!
John: Yes, Alex … I'll take "Boring Takes Leftover from Two Years Ago for 200, please …"

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