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O-Zone: Evidence to the contrary

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Christopher from Richmond, VA:
I keep seeing that Detroit really wants Sammy Watkins. If they are hoping to draft him I would assume they would need to move up for that chance. What would a team like Detroit - which has the No. 10 selection – have to offer the Jags for a trade to be able to draft Watkins No. 3 overall?
John: The Lions would probably have to pay a pretty steep price – as in a first-round selection next year and a later-round draft choice or two this year or perhaps a second- and third-rounder this year. Moving up seven spots within the Top 10 typically is costly. It's a quantum leap in draft terms – quantum enough that it would be surprising if it happened.
Chris from Englewood, FL:
Can the Jaguars counter offer for Mack? Or is he no longer a possibility?
John: It is no longer a possibility. Under NFL rules, a transition-tagged player whose team matches an offer sheet made by another team returns to his former team.
Mike from Jagsonville:
I've seen some comments to the effect that the Jags' intent with the Mack deal was to discombobulate the Browns. Why/how would the Jags gain anything with that strategy? The Browns seem to be able to do themselves wrong without any outside aid.
John: Don't pay attention to those comments. The effort to acquire Mack was about making an offer that the Jaguars deemed reasonable to try to sign a very good player. They thought that it might be enough to get Mack, and at the same time, they thought that it wasn't a ridiculous amount to pay a center. It had nothing to do with discombobulating the Browns.
Levi from Bloomington, IN:
At first I didn't like the idea of trading back in the draft. I really liked the idea of the Jags drafting Clowney or Watkins. But the more I think about it, I think I'd rather have Evans and another second rounder. Which would you rather have?
John: There are arguments for both approaches. If you believe Jadeveon Clowney or Sammy Watkins will live up to their pre-draft billing, then you can't lose taking those players. But if you believe a player such as Mike Evans is going to be close to Watkins or better, then you take Evans and the second-rounder. The Jaguars have a lot of needs and this appears to be a draft when you can fill needs very ably in the second round and later.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
John, I really appreciate your draft coverage and your patience with the fans. I know you probably get the same questions all the time. Here's mine. If Mack and Watkins are there at three, who do you feel the Jaguars will choose?
John: Right now, close to a month out, I'd guess they choose Mack. And as far as patience – no worries. Those close to me can attest to my patience and easy-going demeanor whatever the situation.
Cliff from Jacksonville:
Please don't tell me someone actually said, "Now we're stuck with Joeckel." That's like being "stuck" with the Culligan cheerleader.
John: Luke Joeckel has a chance to be a very good player. I'm not sure what else you're talking about.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Why are trades so less common in the NFL than, say, the NBA or even MLB?
John: There are a variety of reasons. One is that whereas trades in baseball or basketball are often about "dumping" players with expiring contracts, that doesn't happen as much in football. That's partly because a player often hits free agency at the end of the contract and moves on. Look at the Ravens' acquisition of Jaguars offensive tackle Eugene Monroe this year, for example. They traded a fourth- and fifth-round selection to the Jaguars for him with 12 games remaining in the season, but after the season Monroe opted to test the free agent market. The Ravens ended up re-signing Monroe, but the fact that they could have lost him illustrates the risk of trading for a player late in the contract. There are also salary cap ramifications. A player's "unamortized" signing bonus – i.e., the part of the signing bonus that would normally be stretched out evenly over the rest of a player's contract – is in the case of a traded player instead counted against his original team's next year's cap in a lump sum. That often can be very difficult for a team that is tight against the cap to absorb. It's a lot of technical, detail stuff that isn't terribly sexy to fans, but for teams trying to manage rosters the obstacles are significant enough to significantly limit trading.
Eric from Yulee, FL:
From your response to the question about trading Cecil Shorts III and picking up Watkins while bumping Ace Sanders up to the No. 2 receiver, I get the feeling that you rate Shorts above Sanders. While right now I believe Shorts is better than Sanders, given the time to develop I think there is a strong chance Sanders can surpass Shorts. Look at the rookie stats: Ace Sanders (51 receptions, 484 receiving yards, one touchdown), Shorts (two receptions, 30 receiving yards, one touchdown). I still don't agree with trading Cecil Shorts; he is a good player, but will he continue to be better than Ace Sanders?
John: It's hard to say who will be "better" between Sanders and Shorts, mainly because I'd guess the two will be different kinds of receivers/players. Sanders showed last year he has quickness and versatility that offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch likes to use in various roles; it appears he has a chance to contribute in that capacity, and he appears to be particularly strong out of the slot. Shorts is a bit more of a prototype receiver, and more comfortable and effective playing outside. I guess the big picture would be that if you put a player such as Sammy Watkins in a receiving rotation that includes Shorts, Sanders and perhaps Justin Blackmon … well, let's just say it's not a stretch to say that could be a very productive group pretty quickly.
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
I am puzzled as to why so many fans and analysts have us selecting Sammy Watkins with our first pick. I think our track record with receivers speaks for itself. I know there is a big question mark surrounding Justin Blackmon, but Sammy Watkins is the last name I want to hear Goodell read off at the podium. I would much rather we select a pass rusher or even an offensive tackle. I expect the Jaguars to do just that, and select a receiver or two in the later rounds. Thoughts?
John: My thoughts are there are many Jaguars fans who fear selecting a wide receiver because of the team's "track record" at the position. David Caldwell can't worry about the team's history because that's not remotely pertinent to the current building process. He has to worry about building the best team he can build right now, and if Sammy Watkins is as good as he projects, then that wouldn't be an awful name to hear from the podium on May 8.
Kevin from Starkville, MS:
I understand the reason for compensatory picks, but I feel like teams shouldn't be awarded anything higher than a fifth-round pick. A third just feels like too high. At times it seems beneficial to just get rid of a high-priced free agent if you'll get an almost guaranteed starter in the third for much less money.
John: Perhaps it is beneficial at times, but think about it: Most of the time – in theory at least – a player is a high-priced free agent because he is a core player who has proven productive. To get to that point, a player usually must develop and grow within a team's system. It stands to reason that the team considers that player integral to its roster. There is a relatively low percentage chance that a third-round selection will develop into a core player who eventually becomes good enough to be a high-priced free agent. If a team was guaranteed of hitting on that third-round pick, sure, it would be beneficial, but there are no guarantees in the draft, particularly not in the third round.
John from Jacksonville:
Since Mack is no longer available where do the Jags find a quality center ready to play this year?
John: It remains a priority and a work in progress. Mike Brewster apparently will get to the first opportunity of players on the roster, and Patrick Lewis could get an opportunity, too. It would seem very possible the Jaguars would draft the position, though I wouldn't expect it the first day.
Tim from St. Pete, FL:
O-man, are you anywhere near as funny in real life, or are you merely a keyboard wit?
John: My answer to this sort of question sometimes differs from answers given by others. When asked, "Are you as cool in real life as in your column, O-Zone?", "Is it as great to spend time with you as I imagine, O-Zone?" or, "Do women find you as appealing as I sense they do, O-Zone?" I try to be as honest as I can be, so I say, "Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!" But there is ample evidence to the contrary. Or, as Video Producer Patrick "PKav" Kavanagh likes to say, "there is definitely a thing as too much O-Zone."

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