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O-Zone: Grab a towel

INDIANAPOLIS – Let's get to it … Jonathan from Daytona Beach, FL:
Why is it so important to let really good players test free agency? It's too much of a risk to lose players like Johnathan Cyprien and Prince Amukamara. Can you explain?
John: You're referring to Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell saying this week at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine that the team will allow Cyprien and Amukamara to test free agency – and he indeed did say it was important to let them do that. This was really Caldwell's way of officially announcing the aforementioned players will be allowed to test the market. What he didn't say this week was that it's unlikely players that test the market will return to their former teams. It's not that it never happens, but it is relatively rare. So, with Amukamara and Cyprien now unlikely to return, that leaves the Jaguars probably needing to acquire a starting cornerback and a starting strong safety. Some would say that's risky, and perhaps that's true. The Jaguars obviously disagree, or they wouldn't allow them to test the market. Remember: the Jaguars went 3-13 last season. It was unrealistic to think they wouldn't change some things in the offseason, and while Cyprien and Amukamara played well, they weren't playing at elite levels. It's reasonable for the Jaguars to believe they can improve those positions.
Sebastian from Mexico:
Manziel to Jacksonville? Thoughts?
John: Eh.
Daniel from Dival:
With a report saying that the Cleveland Browns are considering taking Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 overall pick, if this did end up happening do you think the Jags would trade for No. 2 overall and select Myles Garrett? What do you think it will take to get the No. 2 overall pick?
John: I rarely predict a team will trade up in the draft, particularly if the trade is to get into the top two or three. That's because trading to get there is often prohibitively expensive and very risky considering the uncertain nature of most draftees. Could a trade from No. 4 to No. 2 happen? Sure. What would it cost? It likely would cost a future first-round selection or a combination of a second- and third-round selection. That's pricey – as in, really pricey.
Chris from New York City:
Caldwell has mentioned that Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell all played well last year towards the end of the season. That's more than half the line. Why didn't we run the ball better if that much of the line was playing well?
John: The Jaguars did run better at the end of last season than they did at the beginning, though they generally speaking didn't run well enough most of the season. I don't know that I've heard Caldwell say Cann played well at the end of last season, and Cann in fact struggled a lot of the season. He has said that Parnell played well at the end of last season and that Linder played well throughout. But, whatever: it appears the Jaguars are going to have at least two new starters on the offensive line: Branden Albert and whoever plays left guard. That's not "more than half," but it is 40 percent. That's a significant percentage and it's enough to give the line a new look.
Gabe from Washington, D.C.:
Haven't shown they're elite yet? Come on, O: Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack can be good contributors for this team, but let's not pretend that there is a chance they will ever reach elite status.
John: No one thought Julius Thomas, a fourth-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, would approach elite status after his first two seasons, either. He had one reception for five yards at that point. He then caught 12 touchdown passes in back-to-back seasons, and people started talking about him differently. I wouldn't project Sterling or Koyack as eventually being elite, either, but there's not much difference in their status at this stage of their careers as Thomas' status at a similar stage. In fact, when I look at Sterling I see a player who very well could develop into really good move tight end. As good as Thomas? We'll see.
Paul from Jacksonville:
If you were quoting "Airplane!" to be uproariously funny, then Kek has a point, but if you were quoting "Airplane!" to give us fellow old-timers a chuckle and a grin … well that's an entirely different kind of humor - altogether!
John: I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
John, with the needs the Jags have, and the players they need available later in the first round, do you in your infinite wisdom see the Jags looking at moving back in the draft to pick up extra draft picks and still get a difference maker? Thanks.
John: If the Jaguars can find a trading partner willing to give fair compensation, sure – by all means trade back. That's a significant "if" in the NFL.
Clyde from Jacksonville:
With all the talk about Jason Pierre-Paul I'm thinking we have two young pass rushers that can be really good in 2017. Both were more or less rookies in 2016. Isn't the second year when pass rushers figure out how to really play the position?
John: It absolutely is the case that pass rushers many times take a significant step from their first year playing to the second year. At the same time, you can't assume that will happen – and you therefore can't assume that Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. will take major steps. And you know what? Even if they do, it's OK to have more than two good pass rushers.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
O, what do you think the most important part of the combine is – and do we put too much stock in the combine? Isn't game film more telling of a player's abilities?
John: The most important part of the combine is the medical evaluations. That makes sense because that was the main reason for the combine when it began. Because of the importance of the medical evaluations, and because of the hype around other parts of the combine, it's vogue sometimes among personnel types to say the rest of the combine is pretty much meaningless. I don't buy that, because there are cases when a player's on-field workout dazzles or disappoints enough to help or hurt draft stock. And there are cases when a player can be impressive enough or disappointing enough in an interview situation to make teams take notice. But for the most part, the game video indeed is the most important thing for most prospects, and for the most part teams put more emphasis on the medical evaluations from the combine than anything else that happens this week.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
How do you feel about the top half of this years' draft class? Do you feel more, less, or the same amount of confidence that the Jaguars will get a player at No. 4 that is worthy of a Top 5 draft pick?
John: Than when?
Scott from Aurora, IL:
I don't know if targeting a Pro-Bowl tight end would be a surprise in free agency, but Martellus Bennett fits a particular need the Jaguars seem to have: an athletic player at the position who is adept at both blocking and pass catching. I'd be surprised if the Jaguars don't push hard for his services.
John: I wouldn't share your surprise.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
Please do something about the video press conferences. It makes it a waste of time when whoever it is being interviewed answers a question when you cannot hear the question asked.
John: I get this question quite a bit. I can tell you that my colleagues here at – aka, the Supporting Cast – work to ensure questions can be heard in the videos whenever possible. This is an NFL issue during the NFL Scouting Combine, and there's little we at can do to ensure that every question is heard. Either way, I'll alert the powers that be at to this issue, and I'll see if I can get them to provide a refund for the costs incurred to view press conferences on the website.
TS from Tallahassee, FL:
Is drafting Telvin Smith in the fifth round the best value/biggest steal in Jaguar drafting history?
John: It's up there.
Zach from Keystone Heights:
Is there any chance for a 3-4 system? I can't help but think about signing a 3-4 end like Calais Campbell, who I feel is as premiere as Jason Pierre-Paul is as a 4-3 end. Also, Dante Fowler Jr. seems made for the outside-linebacker role in a 3-4. I salivate thinking of a Yannick, Malik, Calais, Dante, Myles, Poz, Telvin front seven.
John: The Jaguars are making some changes to the defense, but they're not considered major. Switching to a 3-4 is pretty major, so I wouldn't hold your breath. As for your saliva issues, invest in towels – big, thick ones. I've found napkins and paper towels are insufficient when things really get out of hand on that front.

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