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O-Zone: Fast track in the rap game

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
"The limit for the fullback position, particularly for a team in the beginning of the building stage, is probably going to be pretty low." I don't understand this. There have been multiple reports from Gus Bradley about his approach and that the running game will be key. Why would you not retain one of the most important elements for success in that approach? Greg Jones was as much as factor in run-blocking as the O-Line was. Unless he was asking for an unreasonable amount, I can't see why Jones could not be retained. Perhaps he wanted to go to a team where he would have a shot at a ring?
John: It's not a short answer, but it was a fairly simple decision on both sides. I in no way meant to diminish Jones' value. He was key to the running game. At the same time, he made it clear after signing last week that part of the reason he chose the Texans was a chance to play for a title. Starting at that point, you ask, "Was there a price the Jaguars could have paid to lure Jones back?" Sure, everyone has a price. But that almost certainly in this case would have meant the Jaguars paying Jones more of a signing bonus than the team currently wants to invest in veterans of his age, particularly to a fullback, a position that cannot consume a disproportionate amount of your salary cap. Besides, you're supposed to be able to find a blocking fullback in collegiate free agency. It's a spot where you need to draft well, play young players and do it all over again if you pull it off.
Rashon from Nashville, TN:
Who would win in an arm wrestle, you or Scobee?
John: How many arms can he use?
Daniel from Section 146 and Jacksonville:
I know everyone says there aren't a lot of reasons to trade up to the top of the first round. But the 49ers have 14 picks and a Super Bowl team. Wouldn't they be seriously considering a particular player or two that they think could start and fill a weaker position on the team or replace an older player? Would their first round, one of their two second and one of their two thirds, be enough to justify going up to No. 2 for one of the top-rated players? Someone who is likely to contribute right away at a position that they believe needs help?
John: That means the 49ers jumping from No.31 to No. 2, which is a huge leap in draft equity. I don't know that your scenario would appeal to the Jaguars unless the 49ers threw in quite a bit more. The other side of the equation is, "Do the 49ers honestly believe that there's a player at No. 2 who can help them enough to sacrifice multiple selections?" That's a tough question this year.
Matt from Jacksonville:
Do you think if the Jags were offered either the Rams' or Vikings' two first-round picks for No. 2 overall, that they would do it?
John: Yes.
Aaron from Baltimore, MD:
Will Caldwell, Bradley, Fisch and Scelfo have enough of an opportunity in the portion of the offseason program that precedes the draft to get an accurate first-hand assessment of Blaine Gabbert and how he compares to the quarterbacks they have been studying for the draft? In your opinion, will Gabbert's performance during the program, and in the veteran mini-camp, affect what the Jaguars do in the draft in regards to the quarterback position?
John: If Gabbert's performance during that time affects their approach to the draft at all, it will be very, very limited. The players can't get on the field with coaches until an April 16-18 veteran minicamp, and there is no time during the offseason program to simulate contact or true game situations. Whatever approach the Jaguars take will be based on video from last season and Gabbert's career to date. And that's OK. The approach at the quarterback position is too important to be decided in mid-April.
Jack from Hayward, CA:
Tomorrow, Mow the lawn.
John: I'm mulching tomorrow. I gotta "guy" for the lawn.
Joey from Middleburg, FL:
If/when we switch to a zone blocking scheme, which of our linemen do you see flourishing in that scheme? Eugene Monroe seems to be a given, but are there any others? Is Ratliff considered fairly agile? How much of an adjustment will it be for Brad Meester?
John: Monroe should fare well, as should Uche Nwaneri. And despite Meester's age, the zone blocking should fit his skill set. And not to be cute, but who in the heck is "Ratliff?"
Shawn from Mean Streets of Arlington, FL:
Mr. O, PLEASE settle a bet. When is the soonest a drafted player can receive a playbook?
John: Immediately. The only time that wasn't the case was two years ago during the lockout.
Larry from Section 118:
I have always wondered what happens during a free-agency visit. Aside from meeting the coaching staff and general manager, do they tour the facilities, locker room, etc.? What actually happens?
John: That's the great majority of it. In the case of the Jaguars this season, they mostly have brought in players that they know they want and they know understand essentially what the Jaguars are prepared to offer. Because of that, there often have been conversations going on with players' agents while they are here. For the most part, these visits have been about closing the deal and getting players the Jaguars have targeted pretty seriously and who have done likewise to the Jaguars. Really, the visits as a rule are pretty unglamorous, but if the player is really "cool" about things, Bradley and Caldwell reach out to my assistant, Patrick Kavanagh, and schedule time for a handshake and a picture with the Ozone. That typically "scores big" with the free agents.
Jon from Nashua, NH:
If we can trade our second pick to somewhere in the middle-to-late picks of round 2 and Barkley is still there would he be worth drafting?
John: Yes, but I preface that by saying he would be worth drafting at the top of the second round, too. If you're willing to take a guy at the end of the second round to compete, what's the difference of taking him at the top of the second? That's the spot to me that makes the most sense for a quarterback because you don't have to force him into the starting lineup if he's not ready. He would be allowed to earn it, which fits Bradley's approach.
Kenny from San Diego, CA:
Do you think it's possible that the Bills or Cardinals would part with a 2014 first-rounder for Geno? I'm not talking an RG3-type trade, just one first-round pick next season. I would be over the moon with that deal, because next year there are two great players coming out in 2014 at positions of need for the Jags: Clowney and Bridgewater. That's the type of deal that sends a team on its way to greatness.
John: That's a deal the Jaguars might take, although they might want some immediate pick this year – maybe in the later rounds. I don't know that the Bills or Cardinals would give up a first-rounder next year to move up five or six spots. Most people aren't sure Smith is worth that sort of outlay.
Allyn from Orange Park, FL:
"Regarding college free agency, do teams contact players who weren't drafted immediately after the draft? And do players actually get to choose which team they go to? John: Yes. Yes." Sounds like a better scenario for players than being picked in the sixth or seventh round, doesn't it?
John: It does. Agents and teams often will tell you that it's better for a player to go undrafted than to be selected in Rounds 6 or 7. If a player is coveted by multiple teams, he may draw a larger signing bonus as a free agent if he's drafted, and there's no question it's often to the player's advantage to be able to choose his team. You can choose the right situation and have a very real chance at making the roster.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Is anyone buying the Chiefs' sudden interest in Geno Smith? It wasn't that long ago that their GM said there were no QBs worthy of a first round selection. Then they trade for Alex they're trying to make it seem like they're genuinely interested in picking Geno Smith first overall? Sounds like classic trade bait to me.
John: Indeed it does.
Lucid from Orlando, FL:
John, know what would be really funny? If you starred in a rap video. Enter your name at Myrapnamecom to generate your rap name.
John: What you perceive as funny many, many people likely would consider simply "sad." At the same time, sad is sort of right "up my alley," so I played your little game and entered my name three times, coming up with Johnny J. Force, JP Nugget and Teflon Funk Johnny J., all of which obviously have enormous possibility. I also entered "Ozone" and got Dog Ozone O., Icy Ozone and Master Ozone Grip, so it's safe to say that if you combine these names with my enormous "street cred," I'm on the fast track.

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