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O-Zone: Error of interpretation

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Do you think some playoff team from last year will give up their first-round pick for Ngakoue? I don't think the chances are all that slim. It's a premium position and who doesn't need another good pass rusher? Even better than having plenty of ammo to move up, the Jaguars could have three first-round picks. If Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell were to have three first-round picks, do you think it's possible he goes defensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback in the first round? That could be pretty exciting to go along with edge defender Josh Allen, weak-side linebacker Myles Jack and middle linebacker Joe Schobert.

I don't doubt a playoff team from last season – or a team selecting in the teens in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft – might give the Jaguars a first-round selection for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue if and perhaps only if that was all the team had to give to get Ngakoue. But draft capital at this point doesn't seem to be as big an issue as Ngakoue's contract demands. I continue to get emails incredulous that teams aren't flooding Caldwell's cell phone begging to give the Jaguars a first-round draft selection AND pay Ngakoue the market-setting contract that the Jaguars apparently were unwilling to give Ngakoue. The reality is that's a lot to give up for Ngakoue. Probably too much. That doesn't mean Ngakoue's a bad player. It doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to get paid well. It just means that expecting a team to give up major draft equity and a contract that pays him as you would a franchise-defining player is a lot to ask. As for what Caldwell might do with three first-round selections … yes, cornerback, defensive tackle and defensive end would make sense. It also would make sense to take a wide receiver in Round 1. Or perhaps an offensive tackle. This team went 6-10 last season. Needs are not scarce.

Chris from Whatever

Would the addition of a mid-round running back be a good pick for us? The 2017 season went well with T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant (in the playoffs). A running back can be an amazing asset to a quarterback who is less than elite.

If that mid-round back is a change-of-pace player, then ... yes.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John. I figured you'd have to be closing in on Cal Ripken (2,632), but was I off. You gotta be about 3350 or so now. Chick Hearn did 3,338 consecutive Lakers games. Is this the longest streak in American sports history?

The O-Zone streak is at 3,167. So, no, this streak is not longer than Hearn's. Nor is it all that comparable. Hearn was a legend. I am the King of All Funk.

Chuck from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

What's happened to the scouting department under the Caldwell regime? Have there been changes in personnel, philosophy, process, etc.?

Caldwell is entering in his eighth season as the Jaguars' general manager. As such, there have been the normal changes in the personnel and scouting department. Just this offseason, former San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke was hired as director of player personnel to replace Chris Polian in the position. The major philosophical change was three years ago when Tom Coughlin as Executive Vice President of Football Operations was made the final decision-maker in terms of all football decisions. That's a pretty major change – though to be honest neither Caldwell nor Coughlin ever have offered much specifically about the difference in their philosophies.

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

My main concern is something that is being already mentioned on lots of media streams. With the current crisis and issues regarding the coronavirus and the impacts to the NFL, Jaguars Owner Shad Khan almost has another built-in excuse to keep Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone should they stink, again. They already are using the reasoning about not being able to effectively evaluate draft talent and the impact this is having on free-agent acquisitions. In your opinion do you think the current circumstances have given Dave and Doug a longer rope then they might have previously been afforded? All the data has been provided ad nauseam showing their ineffective results. If the season goes badly (as many are forecasting it will) I hope we finally get the front-office changes we have been desiring.

First, I haven't heard either Marrone or Caldwell say the COVID-19 pandemic would hurt the Jaguars' ability to draft – and I didn't hear them say it hurt them in free agency. Either way, the 2020 season likely will be like no other in NFL history. I haven't the foggiest idea what obstacles teams will face. To try to predict what Khan might do based on circumstances that might happen in a season still months away … I frankly couldn't begin to guess. And I don't know that I see the point in trying.

Billy from Orange Park, FL

KOAF, a final question (at least from me) about Yann. I seem to remember an incident last year when he displayed a middle finger at defensive coordinator Todd Wash. Could his beef be with coaching and/or how he was being used?

My recollection of the middle-finger incident was it was directed at the Tennessee Titans. Wash and Ngakoue are close and have been since Ngakoue joined the Jaguars. Whatever beef Ngakoue has with the Jaguars, it's not with Wash.

Fabian from Jacksonville

Hey John, let's say the Jags have the opportunity and draft Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown with the No. 9 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Do you see the Jags trading up from the No. 20 spot to try and grab a top-tier WR such as Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III? I understand this would need draft capital, or maybe trading away a disgruntled Pro Bowl defensive end … thoughts?

I think the wide receiver class in this draft is deep and good enough to make it unlikely that the Jaguars will trade up for a wide receiver in Round 1. I also think the Jaguars have enough needs – and that the team's desire to get younger and deeper is strong enough – to make it unlikely. I could definitely see the Jaguars selecting a receiver at No. 20 if the right one is available. Marrone wants playmakers, and why wouldn't he?

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone, I know you're not much for lists, but since that's all we really have right now I'm curious as to your thoughts surrounding the NFL.com post-free-agency power rankings with the Jags sitting squarely at 32, Khan having given the front office a mandate to win now. I'm thinking the smart move would've been to bring in a new general manager on a four- or five-year deal that would've instinctively known to suck it up this year by drafting Best Available Player regardless of position and take Clemson quarterback No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft as opposed to what Caldwell will now be forced to do to try to win four games instead of two this year and ultimately cause the Jags to suck unnecessarily for another decade. Wondering how the KOAF feels about the rest of the football world recognizing our perilous roster condition, and the future ramifications of an owner not willing to acknowledge what everyone else can see?

I don't see the Jaguars "squarely at 32," mainly because I don't see much reason to believe the roster is worse than it was last season. More importantly to your concern, I also haven't seen any evidence that Caldwell will draft recklessly with an eye on winning now. He has traded veterans for draft capital this offseason, which is in keeping with building for the future.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Eli Apple? We need more than a draft pick at corner don't we? If we sign an affordable vet (like we tried to) we won't have to reach for that position in the draft. I know that Dave likes to get us serviceable players in free agents so we won't have to reach for positions in draft. Do you think he is someone we might pursue before draft?

I think that's why the Jaguars signed Rashaan Melvin as a free agent.

Nathan from St. Augustine, FL

Hi John, Maybe I am being too optimistic here, and I know that goes against recent Jags' fans beliefs. But is it such a stretch to believe if we trade Yann, Dawuane Smoot can give you the same eight or nine sacks in a starting role – and probably be better against the run?

I can't in good conscience predict that Smoot would be as good rushing the passer as Ngakoue; I can tell you he almost certainly would be better and more consistent against the run.

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

I just read the latest O-Zone (I'm sorry) did you really admit you might be wrong? And where is the Culligan girl?

You must have misread. I'm never wrong. And I have no idea what you're talking about.

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