JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Matt from Austin, TX:
I know Dave Caldwell is looking to make a splash in free agency this year but I don't see him emptying the bank. I'm thinking he may go for two higher-priced free agents at much-needed positions and try to get value from mid-tier guys. Everyone knows you're going to be overpaying the "big names" anyways. When you get value for signings like Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller, those are the moves that make you look like a genius and how you build a franchise. What say you?
John: I say I don't think Caldwell is looking to make a splash, or to make himself look like a genius. You don't have time to think about those things if you're trying to build a football team. I do think he's looking to sign players to improve the Jaguars' roster within the context of the building plan laid out by him and Gus Bradley two years ago. I also think the vibe around the league and among Jaguars fans that the team is going to be active – really active – in free agency is the correct vibe. What does that mean? Realistically, the means something very close to what you suggest – which coincidentally Caldwell also suggested at the NFL Scouting Combine last week. The Jaguars will be aggressive and they will pursue some high-profile name free agents. Realistically, they're not going to be interested in every "name" free agent and just as realistically they're not going to be successful with every free agent they pursue. But they will be aggressive, they will sign players and they will improve the roster. So, yes, realistically the class probably will have a big-name "splash" or two, with lesser-known players forming the core of the class.
Jack from Jacksonville:
I know you won't print this.
John: You're right.
Janarus from Jacksonville:
Hey there, Johnny O. I believe the Jags will "reach" for Dante Fowler, Jr., just like they "reached" for Blake Bortles. Gotta love Dave and Gus for their approach. They target a guy they like and they go after him. Keep "reaching" for the top guys!
John: I learned my lesson in regard to "reaching" in the draft in 2002. I was covering the Colts when they drafted Dwight Freeney. I wondered at the wisdom of drafting Freeney at No. 12 when he was generally projected to go somewhere later in the first round – around the late teens or early 20s. Colts President Bill Polian and Head Coach Tony Dungy said Freeney was the player they liked, and Dungy said something to the effect, "If you like a player, draft that player and don't worry about a few spots." I quietly watched Freeney turn out OK, and realized that maybe Polian/Dungy knew a bit more about the realities of the draft process than I did.
Jordan from Clovis, CA:
If we draft Leonard Williams where do you see him fitting in on defense? He is not a typical LEO pass rusher, but would it just change to make him the main rusher?
John: He almost certainly would play the other defensive end spot, and while he wouldn't be a prototype there, you would presume being the No. 3 selection in the draft that he would be good enough to be good without being a prototype.
Troy from York, PA:
Hey, O-man, we need a right tackle pretty bad and with the Titans cutting Michael Oher how come there's no one bringing him in for a look? He's not great but he's an upgrade over anything we have to play the position.
John: I'm not sure I agree with your second sentence and I don't know that that many around the league do, either.
Preston from Waterbury, CT:
After seeing the success we had finding wide receivers late last year and some of the failures we've had drafting them in the first round, using the No. 3 pick on a wide receiver scares me. I'm a much bigger fan of getting an offensive or defensive lineman and drafting a guy like Devin Smith in the second round. What say you?
John: I say I'm sorry you're scared. Being scared can be … well, scary. First, the Jaguars drafted Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee in the second round last offseason, and I wouldn't really consider that "late." They were two of the team's top three draft selections. Either way, I wouldn't worry about a receiver at No. 3 in April. That's almost certainly not going to happen.
James from Jacksonville:
Where will Manziel be working when his rookie contract is up? My prediction. Burger King. What say you ole wise and noble Zone?
John: I say I think your prediction is wrong.
Steve from North Haven, CT:
James from Jacksonville:
Yo, Zone … last year in the draft, me and only a handful of others predicted Blake Bortles to be our No. 1 pick. This came as a surprise to most as a risky pick considering all the talent that was still on the board. I see Dave Caldwell and the gang as the "draft-for-need" type versus the "best-available-player" type. With our biggest need being offensive line. Should we expect the same surprise this year out of the Jags early round picks?
John: If I told you that, then you'd be expecting it. Then, it wouldn't be a surprise.
Alex from Jacksonville:
John, talk about knee-jerk reactions on the John Idzik hire. Idzik was part of the front office that transformed the Seattle Seahawks and he cleaned up the Jets salary-cap situation. He may not have had ample time to turn that situation around but he sure did leave the Jets with a more talented roster than the one he had when he arrived. The Jags adding a salary-cap aficionado can only help Caldwell in a very important free agent year for this rebuilding team. Relax, Jag nation!
John: Yep. Idzik is a very smart guy who is respected in NFL circles for his understanding of the cap. His role essentially will be as an additional set of eyes, and with March just maybe, maybe, maybe a busy, busy, busy time around the Jaguars' front office, I fail to see how that's a negative or worrisome thing. Oh, I forgot … because internet.
Joel from Jacksonville:
Will Blackmon cut? John Idzik hired? Has the spirit of Gene Smith taken over Dave Caldwell's brain? This is just a stupid move. It's not like the Jags need to clear cap space and not like Blackmon was due to make a pile of money next year. Why release a proven player at this vital position. With more and more three, four and even five receiver sets, you can hardly have too many CB's on the roster. UGH!
John: I'm substantially less passionate about the subject of Blackmon being released than you. Blackmon was a good player while here, and he was popular among Jaguars fans. But I sense the Jaguars will be OK at cornerback moving forward. That's true even with Thursday's move, which I learned after that it apparently altered the course of the franchise.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
Presuming the Jags do select a LEO-type pass rusher in the first round of this draft, who do you think is the odd man out? The LEO position is pretty crowded as it is.
John: I'm not presuming the Jaguars select a Leo type pass rusher. A player such as Dante Fowler, Jr., for example, could play the Otto, and a player talented enough to be a Top 3 selection in the draft also is usually talented enough to adjust your defense around his skills.
Jerry from Tamarac:
Players not coaches! Stats or records don't define a coach. All you need to do is look at the records of the previous two super bowl winner coaches in their previous stint as head coaches. Carroll in NY and Belichick in Cleveland.
Greg from St. Khans, FL:
Thoughts on if Jags will pursue Jason Pierre-Paul in free agency and if we would land him, does that mean we look in another direction from pass rusher in draft?
John: Reports are that the New York Giants will apply the franchise tag to Jason Pierre-Paul if the sides don't reach a long-term agreement. So, I don't think the Jaguars will pursue him in free agency.
MrPadre from Kinglsand, GA:
I realize fans are gonna fan but seriously? Complaining about the person we hired to consult on financial matters now? Can any of these people complaining about this move even tell us who we have or had in this position in the past.....ever? Wow....I just can't get over the people who pigeon hole these professionals as if they are totally incompetent in every way because they failed to have success somewhere else in many cases in completely different jobs! Like the common fan knows better if Idzik can be an asset than Caldwell does. #letthemdotheirjobs
John: Never, ever, ever underestimate fans' ability to fan. It's what they do, and it must be said that they do it extraordinarily well.
O-Zone: Good at what they do
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Matt from Austin, TX: