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O-Zone: Ego-stroking

INDIANAPOLIS – Heading home later today.

Let's get to it . . .

Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
The Jaguars need help in so many areas. I don't want to lock in on a pass rusher, or quarterback, with the No. 3 pick. I want to lock in on the guy who is the most highly-regarded, blue-chip player who will make an impact right away, regardless of position. That being said, please chalk up one vote for Sammy Watkins at No. 3, and trading back into the bottom of the first round for Derek Carr.
John: The scenario you lay out could well happen. Perhaps not the specific scenario of Watkins at No. 3 and Carr in the bottom of the first or early second, but a non-quarterback early and a quarterback next. That would stun and anger the Quarterback Mob, but it's a realistic scenario.
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
A lot of talk from fans wanting to bring in Alex Mack. This draft is pretty deep at center. I believe we can find a quality player at the position in the fourth round. As far as free agency goes, I think most of our signings will be on the defensive line. Center is definitely a need, although I think it would be wise to draft one as opposed to signing a free agent. You feel me?
John: I'll pass on the feeling part, but you may not be wrong about Mack vs. drafting a center. Look, a lot of people want a definitive answer on the Jaguars' free agent plans. They want to hear that the Jaguars must sign Player A or Player B. In reality it will work like this: the Jaguars will research and target a number of free agents, and Mack could well be among them. If they sign one of those players – and in a competitive marketplace there's no way to know in advance if that will happen – then that's great, but if they don't, they'll work the position in the draft. Remember, the Jaguars aren't drafting or signing free agents for September 2014; they're drafting for the long-term.
Brian from Jacksonville:
I watched Manziel's press conference and just rolled my eyes after a while. He tried to hash out how he is this hypercompetitive person, one that hates to lose. He also spoke that as an NFL quarterback he is going to be expected to throw in less than ideal situations. So, could not throwing play into how Gus and David view this kid?
John: Probably not. What players do at the Combine is much-discussed at the Combine and for a while afterward, but the Combine is only a small piece of the draft puzzle. How teams feel about Manziel will depend on how they believe his skills translate to the NFL; not whether he threw or did not throw this weekend.
Brian from New Hampshire:
I really don't get the weight issue with Bridgewater. He's not too old to think he can't put on weight. Considering his career numbers – and considering his weight seems to be the biggest red flag with him – put me down as one for Bridgewater. I'd love to have a guy completing 68 percent of his passes with a 72-24 touchdown to interception ratio.
John: The weight issue with Bridgewater has more to do with his frame and potential to get bigger than it does age. The other issue with Bridgewater is how much better he can get. There's a school of thought at the combine that while Bridgewater is perhaps the safest pick he also has a lower "ceiling" than many of the other three quarterbacks. Is he a franchise guy? That's the question around Bridgewater right now.
Mr. Padre from Kingsland, GA:
I realize a general manager does everything he possibly can to win; his longevity depends on it. But it's also true that once he picks a quarterback in the top of the draft his fate is pretty much tied to the success of that player. While this may not be anything a general manager or senior writer may admit to being true isn't it possible that a general manager would benefit from building up the rest of the team "before" taking that franchise quarterback and therefore not "starting his clock" until after the rest of the team is ready to win?
John: I don't mind "admitting" it, and Caldwell likely wouldn't disagree vehemently, but that's sort of a secondary issue. While that may be true, he wouldn't pass on a player he believed was a franchise quarterback simply because doing so would "start the clock." He would pass on a player he didn't believe was a franchise quarterback because that would be the smart, prudent thing to do.
Ray from Poolers, GA:
It's Draft Day. Jags on the clock. Clowney still available. Falcons call. Their sixth pick and a second-round pick to move up. Do you make the deal?
John: Yes.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Can you tell us what college team's Pro Days the Jags' coaching staff will be attending?
John: The coaching staff as a whole won't attend the Pro Days, but if it's a player projected in the Top 10 or so, it's a pretty good bet the Jaguars' key decision-makers will attend.
Awesome Bill from Dawsonville:
What happened to Jeremy Harris? Is he cut or on the practice squad? Seems like Demetrius McCray thoroughly outshined him in the developmental seventh-round cornerback debate.
John: Jeremy Harris spent the season on injured reserve with a back injury. He is on the Jaguars' roster. McCray certainly developed into a player the Jaguars like very much, but that doesn't reflect on Harris.
Moshe from Mexico City, Mexico:
You mentioned something interesting – that college success doesn't always translate to the NFL. I totally agree. I bet Zach Mettenberger has more of a chance to succeed than Manziel.
John: You could be right. Mettenberger has the size and tools to be an NFL quarterback, and undoubtedly will get an opportunity. So, hey! I'll put you down as one fer Mettenberger!
Steve from Denver, CO:
Would the Jags consider moving Uche to center and signing one or two of the top guard free agents? They could draft Johnny Manziel, so even with a new offensive line his scrambling skills will hide the offensive line weakness.
John: The Jaguars' objective this offseason is to improve the offensive line so that the area – particularly the interior – is not routinely referenced as a "weakness." As for how they will do that, my guess is they draft one of two interior linemen and sign at least one in free agency. I do not think the scenarios in that area include moving Uche Nwaneri to center. In fact, I'd be shocked if that happens.
Eric from Long:
What about Jimmy Garoppolo? He seems like he has starting-quarterback potential and may be available when the Jags pick in the second round. Thoughts on him and his possible draft-day availability?
John: It wouldn't shock me a bit if the Jaguars drafted Garoppolo.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
So John, now that Bridgewater's measurables are in would you say your mind is a little more at ease about his durability or do his hands pose enough of a concern to give pause to a team? In my humble opinion I think he is the only quarterback worth a first-round selection and if he isn't available, pass rush all day.
John: My mind has not been in turmoil over Bridgewater's durability. I must confess that I am rarely conflicted when it comes to 21-to-24-year-old football players. As for Bridgewater, I don't get the sense that the Jaguars are yet locked in on him or any quarterback as an absolute "have to." And I wouldn't be shocked if any of the three were on the board and the Jaguars passed. That's on February 23. We'll see if that changes in two months.
Trevor from Jacksonville:
If Dave Caldwell does not feel there is a franchise quarterback in this draft, next year (Year 3 of rebuild), would he be "forced" to draft/acquire a quarterback?
John: Not necessarily. The "force to draft/acquire a quarterback" is largely a media creation, and it's one that gets discussed because it's easy to say in one sentence. The reality is there are more subtleties to player acquisition. What I'm getting at is this: in retrospect, the 49ers acquired their franchise quarterback in 2011 in Colin Kaepernick and the Seahawks acquired their franchise quarterback in 2013 in Russell Wilson. But neither was "forced" and neither was perceived as a franchise quarterback at the time he was drafted. Those teams took the approach of acquiring good players – quarterbacks included – and the result has been teams less dependent on the quarterback position than others. Now, there's little question people will say he will be forced to acquire a quarterback in your scenario; but that won't mean that Caldwell will automatically have to draft one in the first round next year.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
O-man, imagine if David Caldwell traded this year's entire draft class and next year's No. 1 and No. 3 picks for one player? It sounds insane, but it's exactly what Mike Ditka did when he traded up for Ricky William in the 1999 NFL draft! I think the National Guard would need to be called in if something like that happened in Jacksonville. Can you think of any other draft-day scenarios as "mind-blowing" as that move?
John: No.
Jess from Jacksonville:
You look like you're losing weight. You ever run the stairs in the stadium?
John: What are "stairs?"

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