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O-Zone: Early start

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Stephen from Jacksonville

While I've mostly heard him mentioned as a pass rusher and good athlete, do you foresee a scenario where Kentucky edge defender Josh Allen plays the strong-side linebacker on the first two downs and moves to defensive end on third down? Or perhaps plays as a stand up, move-around lineman? It would seem that Allen's versatility might fit into a Dom Capers defense quite nicely. Can he be the 1999 version of Kevin Hardy 2.0?

The Jaguars don't run a "Dom Capers" defense, meaning it's not a 3-4-oriented scheme with a lot of zone-blitz elements – though because of Capers' presence as a defensive assistant you could see a few wrinkles along those lines moving forward. As for Allen, I don't think you'll see him playing strong-side linebacker soon. He's expected to begin his time with the Jaguars in a similar role to that played by former defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. – i.e., playing rush end in passing situations and subbing for Yannick Ngakoue at weak-side end in base situations. Allen is talented, but he's a rookie. There's no sense in overloading him.

Greg from St. Johns, FL

I know very little about many things and even less about our undrafted free agent signings. Which players in that group have the best chance to make the final roster?

Keep an eye on Oklahoma tight end Carson Meier, Alabama cornerback Saivion Smith, Wyoming safety Andrew Wingard, Mississippi safety Zedrick Woods and Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris – to name a few.

Gordon from Jacksonville

Do you think rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew has a chance to be a long-term starter in the NFL? And did the Jaguars draft him to simply be a backup, or as a long-term option?

Minshew is a sixth-round selection with a phenomenally high football intelligence. He has a very real chance to be the backup quarterback this season. It's folly to say a sixth-round quarterback will be a long-term starter in the NFL, but if he develops and defies the odds … it can happen.

Marlin from Newberry, FL

John, one of the most impressive things I saw this weekend was that crowd in Nashville. I know Jaguars Owner Shad Khan wants to bring the draft here one day, but I just don't see how we could duplicate that. Do you think that the draft coming to town is possible, or is it like hosting the Super Bowl again, maybe one day, but not in the foreseeable (20+ years) future?

I think the NFL Draft could be in Jacksonville at some point in the foreseeable future if the plans for developing the downtown area around the stadium come to fruition.

Terry from Jacksonville

Who is going to catch the ball, since they never drafted a WR??????

Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know the Jaguars didn't consider wide receiver a need entering the draft. If there had been a wide receiver available at some point where need met value, they would have selected one. Despite public perception to the contrary, they never believed it was a pressing need. So, who will catch the ball? Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark Jr., Keelan Cole, Marqise Lee, Chris Conley …

Dave from Duuuuuval

Dear O-Zone: Can you confirm or deny that the Jaguars have signed a player named Bunchy and a player named Papi as UDFA's? I can hear it now, Frangie on the call: "Papi taking it to the house after the Bunchy forced turnover!"

I can confirm this, and I can confirm that it's glorious.

Jim from Jacksonville

When can the newly drafted players and the UDFA's join the rest of the team for OTA'S?

The newly drafted players and collegiate free agents will participate in the team's rookie minicamp/orientation the weekend of May 11. They will then participate in organized team activities, which begin the week of May 21.

Jason from North Pole, AK

I was scratching my head over the Quincy Williams pick as well, until I watched him play. The explosiveness and suddenness of his tackles show his athleticism. I am really excited about him now. Do you think we will see him make some big plays in special teams this season?


Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, is it reasonable to think that Allen can be as "good" as our "Great" Ngakoue ?


CD from Fleming Island

It's amusing each year how much weight a part of the fanbase puts into the media's draft board. And then with such confidence can say that all 32 teams had a similar board, and that a team went "away from their board" in picking an unknown player. I've never understood why anyone would expect a team to base its picks off of what they think other teams may or may not do. There's just no way to know how every other team feels about a player, so it's irrelevant if Quincy Williams was or wasn't coveted by other teams in the fourth. If he was the next guy on your board and you want him on your team, trust your process and take him.

The annual angst and frustration many fans feel from the draft stems just from the phenomenon you cite. Fans read media reports throughout the pre-draft process and eventually believe that there's some consensus draft list that all teams consider gospel, and they seem to correspondingly believe that going away from that mythical board means a team has made an egregious mistake. The reality is teams spend money, time and resources to gather information on their own and pay as little attention to consensus as possible. That doesn't mean teams have their head in the sand. They do have a feel for how a player is perceived league-wide. But they're not all sharing the same, publicly-held opinion. It's 2019. Teams aren't bringing Street & Smith's to the draft and randomly selecting players anymore.

Daniel from College Station, TX

I can't help but wonder if this draft is the beginning of the old guard being replaced and a new era starting. Is this the beginning and do you see us holding onto some of the core players coming up?

Every draft to some degree is the beginning of the old guard being replaced and the new era starting. If it isn't, a franchise is in trouble. It's a constant churn. It's the NFL Circle of Life.

Jeff from Jacksonville

How much does a player getting drafted at No. 32 compare to one getting drafted at No. 33? The reason I ask is because, if the player at 32 gets a fifth-year option and the pay isn't that different, would a team greatly benefit from trading up that one extra spot?

If they want the player for an extra season, yes. But remember: the team that holds the No. 32 selection knows this, too, and doesn't necessarily want to trade.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: What is it about the Jags' offense that we never have standout tight ends? Kyle Brady had a couple of decent years and Marcedes Lewis was drafted to be a pass catcher but ended up as a great blocker and mediocre receiver. Is it our poor picks or offensive scheme that leads to poor production from our tight ends? Do you think that changes now?

Considering Brady signed 20 years ago, you're asking for an answer over a pretty broad range of time. The reality is the Jaguars really haven't focused heavily on tight end in the draft in recent seasons, with Lewis the only first-round tight end in franchise history. Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin discussed this during his post-draft media availability, saying the team has talked about addressing the position for a while and now it has done so with third-round rookie Josh Oliver. The third round is a decent investment for a tight end. Lewis is the only one drafted in the first round and Oliver is the earliest-drafted tight end in franchise history other than Lewis. That means the Jaguars expect him to be good for a long time.

Darren from Fort Worth, TX

"And what did you think a rookie tight end or a right tackle was going to do? Completely revamp the offense?" Revamp? No, but you can't tell me that T.J. Hockenson wouldn't make an immediate impact on the offense, both in the run and pass game.

This was a question from early in the draft, but it's worth answering a couple of days later. Hockenson probably would have made an impact. That wasn't the question I was answering. The question I was answering implied that the Jaguars passing on Hockenson meant that new quarterback Nick Foles was going to direct an offense that ran on all three downs and punted. My answer made the point that a tight end or a tight tackle was not going to completely change the Jaguars' offensive philosophy.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

So, who has the better mustache: Shad Khan or Gardner Minshew?

I'm not at liberty to say.

George from Drummonds

Zone: Let me be the first. Start the Kid!


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