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O-Zone: Fill in the blank

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Devin from Dunn, NC:
I see a playoff berth for the JAGS in 2015. I think coach has got the team identity, and the right staff around him. What is your opinion on the team as they stand at this point in the GUS & DAVE era?
John: Your enthusiasm is admirable, though perhaps at this point a b-i-i-i-t …well, overenthusiastic. But, we shall see. Look, the Jaguars are a much better, younger roster with significantly more potential to improve than two years ago. And I do think they're going to be much better next season. I'm not going to predict a playoff appearance in 2015, though, because that would mean a six-to-seven game jump – and that's an enormous jump to make in one season. I'm not saying it can't happen; I'm just saying I'm not going to predict it. I do think the Jaguars will continue to take steps forward and I think that next season those steps will be seen in victories and losses. That's a reasonable goal for now.
Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee:
I think Jon from Nijmegen thinks that Kevin Costner is the Jaguars' general manager.
John: He's not.
Chris from Greensboro, NC:
If Devin McCourty, Randall Cobb, Julius Thomas, and Bryan Bulaga all hit the market, rank in order No. 1-4 we are most likely to pursue.
John: First, Bulaga and Cobb almost certainly won't both hit the open market. It appears at this point it could be a one-or-the-other scenario with those two for the Packers. If all of the aforementioned hit free agency I'd say the Jaguars pursue all four with pretty much equal effort. Not to be wishy-washy, but those are all in the wheelhouse.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Asking for an honest Opinion, Oehs. In free agency, it looks like there may be a choice (or maybe both if the Jags are REALLY lucky) of getting Cobb or Thomas. Which do you think would be better for the team? After all I've read about the two, I'm leaning more towards Cobb.
John: I'm leaning that way, too, though not by much. The Jaguars could certainly use a veteran playmaker at wide receiver – and Cobb appears the best possibility among high-profile free-agent receivers to reach free agency – but the need for a receiving tight end without question is real. As far as how it will play out, you get the idea if they don't land/pursue Thomas, they can go the route of say, Charles Clay or Niles Paul. The receiver market at early glance seems to be a bit thinner, so that makes getting Cobb a bit more urgent.
Christopher from Philadelphia, PA:
Do you think the Jaguars will target DeMarco Murray in free agency? He had a great year. But the Cowboys undoubtedly have a much better offensive line, Murray racked up a ton of carries, and he has a history of injuries. If the Jags look to sign a running back, I hope they look elsewhere, possibly Mark Ingram.
John: I don't think the Jaguars will target DeMarco Murray in free agency. This could be the year the Jaguars pursue an elite player at the position. If so, it makes more sense to draft a running back early in the draft than it does to sign a veteran. It's a young man's position, so drafting one gets you a relatively affordable player who likely will be available to be productive for longer than a high-priced free agent.
Seabass Chon from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
The timing of Will Blackmon's release leads me to believe there's a cornerback or two in the draft Caldwell & Co. would like rather than re-sign Alan Ball or any other free agent cornerback. Sure they would like to give Will time to find a new team, but why wait till after the combine to do so? I see them grabbing a top free-agent safety after which they draft a cornerback, a position that is solidified and has two (update: one) older vets coming off injury. On another note; which TE's do you like in the draft and where do we draft one if we get Julius Thomas? I like the way Thomas, Lewis, and Williams (Maxx) sound.
John: You may be overthinking how much the timing of Blackmon's release has to do with anything. Teams typically release veteran players after the combine and before the start of the league year (March 10 this season). At that point they have had the chance to review the past season, meet as a staff and set their plan for the coming offseason. They've also had a chance to get a feel for the upcoming free-agent market. So, we'll agree to disagree on whether or not they'll sign a veteran cornerback, which I believe they will. I'm not a huge fan of any tight ends in the draft, but that's because it's said to be a pretty weak class in the area. Whether or not the Jaguars sign Julius Thomas I think a pass-receiving tight end will be acquired in free agency.
Tino from Sarasota, FL:
Two teams made it to the Super Bowl this year WITHOUT an elite wide receiver. I think we are just fine with what we have. If anything, I think we should pick up young speed and let them develop.
John: You're passionate about this topic. I know this because you used CAPITAL LETTERS, and when someone uses capital letters that's passion, baby. As far as the object of your passion, yes, you can win without an elite receiver, but you need to have something else on which you can really rely. In the Seahawks' case it's a dominant power running game and a dominant defense. In the Patriots' case, it's … well, the guy at quarterback's going to be pretty good if he keeps at it.
Test from Testville, Test:
John: It's working.
Kyle from Ohio:
I really hope Shad Khan is smarter than a lot of people in the media and our fans. Anyone with a brain can tell Caldwell and Bradley have a good image for the future and given time we can become not only a force for the short term, but for the long term. I hope this isn't a make-or-break year, because anyone who thinks we will make the playoffs even with a couple of big signings is dreaming. I think people forget just how devoid of even just C level talent this team was. Anybody who thought we would be a playoff contender this quick needs a wake-up check.
John: I can't speak for the fans, but I've spent some time around Khan and the media. Khan is worth more than $4 billion and built his wealth from nothing. The media … well, let's just say I know who I'm taking in this mental face off …
Josh from Macclenny, FL:
Hey, John, I just saw an article that (and it was hypothetical, of course) basically said if the Eagles wanted Marcus Mariota they would have to give up LeSean McCoy along with this year's first-round pick and next year's first-rounder along with this year's second round pick. If – and I mean if – they put this offer on the table, would Dave entertain this idea?
John: Yes, Caldwell certainly would consider it. It's his job to consider all trades, and he's also said he's very interested in trading back. The trade you mentioned is very intriguing and would certainly give the Jaguars significant value this year and next year. I don't know if Caldwell would take it, but I sure would.
Kyle from Clearwater, FL:
I don't think the Dave and Gus will draft a wide receiver. Why on God's green Earth would they draft a wide receiver? They picked up three rookie receivers last offseason. Can we please stop talking about Cooper and White?
John: OK.
Mark from Raleigh, NC:
Brett Hundley is available in the fourth round. Do you take him? Why or why not? Obviously, we have other holes to fill but I think the value would be there. You never know … first-rounders can be busts and sixth-rounders can be amazing. Why not take a chance? I think he would be a great quarterback.
John: I doubt the Jaguars would take Hundley in the fourth round. There's a time in the building process of a roster for drafting a project quarterback. I believe Dave Caldwell will do this, because he understands the value of the position and the potential for the player either to develop or to be traded for value. I don't think this is the season to do it. It's widely considered a weak quarterback class and the Jaguars are still building the rest of the roster.
Trae from Fishweir Crick:
John. Could you please fill in the blank here? At the end of the free-agency period the Jaguars have signed players at these positions. And the highest-profile name will be_. Love the column.
John: Five … right tackle, cornerback, safety, tight end, wide receiver … Randall Cobb.

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