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O-Zone: Great American

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Micky from Jacksonville:
This time last year our hopes were so high and we really believed we had the talent to make some noise in a weak AFC South. So much of that "talent" has been upgraded. I don't want to be negative; I also don't want to be naïve. Is the talent on this roster as good as we seem to think? On talent alone, where would you rank us among the other 31 teams?
John: My ranking of the Jaguars' talent: no longer at the bottom of the NFL, though perhaps not quite so close to the top as many observers believe. While it has been vogue for the last year and a half or so to call the Jaguars a talented team – and while many therefore believed they were "too talented" to go 3-13 last season – it's more accurate to call the Jaguars a young team with potential. It indeed is a more talented roster than it was a few years back, but the reality is most of the "talent" remains unproven. The Jaguars enter 2017 with many players who may eventually be really good NFL players. Wide receiver Allen Robinson, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, wide receiver Marqise Lee, wide receiver Allen Hurns, running back Leonard Fournette, center Brandon Linder, cornerback A.J. Bouye and linebacker Telvin Smith all perhaps fit this description. Maybe quarterback Blake Bortles does, too. But few if any of those players have proven themselves elite over anything resembling an extended time. That makes this an intriguing season. If even most of the aforementioned players are as good as their potential, then the Jaguars are indeed an up-and-coming team. But a lot of those players must play at a high level this season to show they're indeed on the way to becoming consistent, core players.
Michael from Jacksonville:
(On the J.P. cut and paste) He's standing right behind you, isn't he?
John: I'd better not say.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
Zone, who was the last Jaguars draft pick that the team re-signed?
John: The Jaguars in 2015 re-signed defensive end Tyson Alualu – their first-round selection in 2010 – to a two-year deal. Wide receiver Mike Thomas, a fourth-round selection in 2009, signed a contract extension halfway through his rookie deal, but his trade to the Detroit Lions in 2012 makes it hard to argue that the Jaguars re-signed him as a core player in the manner teams must do with draft selections for long-term success. The team also re-signed guard Uche Nwaneri – a fifth-round selection in 2007 – to a five-year extension during his rookie contract. The last players other than the aforementioned to be drafted by the Jaguars and re-signed to core-type contracts were running back tight end Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew, the team's first- and second-round selections in 2006. And yes – that's far too few core players selected for far too long a period.
John from Mexico, NY:
Hey, I know this is usually the dead zone where football topics get thrown out for humor and we talk about who's got crappier music taste. Can we please focus on Jaguars football and topics of the like?
John: Sure, and toward that end, I'll do as I always do in the O-Zone: Answer questions.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
My point is: teams that have success build around their players' strengths rather than trying to force a square peg in a round hole. If you have a player that is good at 'X,' why would you move them away from 'X?' Every championship team uses the strengths of their players, right?
John: Absolutely. I'm assuming this email is in reference to the Jaguars possibly using Cam Robinson at guard for a short time and using Branden Albert at left tackle in the short term. Albert is indeed a good left tackle, which is why I think the Jaguars may opt to not move him away from that position.
Marc from Southside of Jacksonville:
I guess somebody should let Brandon Scherff, Kelechi Osemele, Zack Martin, La'Ell Collins and T.J. Lang know that they've been set up to fail, huh? That college-tackle-to-NFL-guard switch is pretty common these days and it doesn't have to be a permanent switch. Osemele's contract also means it doesn't have to be dreaded from a business perspective for these young men.
John: Yes, I guess somebody should be made aware of this.
Nate from York, PA:
John: Watch yourself, Nate …
Scott from New York, NY:
Staubach,.. Staubach, Staubach!!

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