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O-Zone: Happy Days

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Frankie from Ponte Vedra, FL:
How long before Jacksonville lands the NFL Draft? Isn't that the whole point behind building the amphitheater?
John: The "whole point" behind the Daily's Place Amphitheater was not to land the NFL Draft. The point was to create a dual-purpose facility that could serve as an indoor practice facility on one side and as a unique place to bring entertainment to downtown Jacksonville on the other. That verbiage is pretty much straight from a press release, but that doesn't mean it's not true. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan absolutely has said he really wants Jacksonville to host the draft. I believe that will eventually happen because what Khan really wants along these lines tends to occur – though more development around the stadium may be needed before it happens. And holding the draft absolutely would be a positive effect of having Daily's Place. But in no way, shape or form was the draft ever the "whole point" to the facility – and in no way, shape or form did the Jaguars or Khan ever portray it as such.
Ric from Jacksonville:
The coworkers and I are having the same debate as we do every year at this time of the year. What was the best Jaguars draft pick ever? We have the obvious Tony Boselli, Jalen Ramsey and Fred Taylor fans. I tend to look at performance compared to draft placement. I think maybe Telvin Smith. He was a fifth-round pick that ended up in the Pro Bowl. I could be wrong, but I think that's the latest round that has ever produced a Pro Bowl Jaguar. Also, Brad Meester … second round and played for, what, like 38 seasons? And hardly missed any games during that time. So, your thoughts on this?
John: I tend to side with Boselli as the Jaguars' best draft selection ever. He was, after all, the ultimate home run; the first draft selection in franchise history who also turned out to be the best player in the franchise's history. The odds of that are pretty low. Based on your requirements, Meester is a good choice. But if you're taking the first round out of the equation, I would have to go with Smith as the best selection in franchise history because of the how late he was selected and how much he has achieved. That probably makes him the best production/value combination in that sense.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
The Jaguars haven't drafted a tight end in the first three rounds since they drafted Marcedes Lewis at the end of the first round in 2006, I believe. I think it would be a logical decision to take one early this year. Assuming they draft a tight end in the first two rounds, who do you think would be most likely?
John: My prediction would be Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki.
Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Hi John, I hear a lot of people saying we need a wide receiver or a tight end with our first pick to help bolster the passing game. Am I wrong to think going offensive line with the first pick might get opposing defenses to focus even that much more on the run and thereby help open up the passing game?
John: The Jaguars certainly believe philosophically in running first – and running well will help the defense, the passing game, etc. That approach does lend itself to the possibility of further bolstering the line in the draft. My thought is that the Jaguars indeed will go that direction, though the right wide receiver or tight end being available in the first round would make those positions possibilities.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Not too long ago, the Jags' roster wasn't so strong and one byproduct of that was that the special teams wasn't afforded many core contributors – if any at all. This year's free agency added four guys that have excelled at special teams: safety Don Carey, tight end Niles Paul, safety Cody Davis and the resigning of linebacker Lerentee McCray. This says to me that the starting lineup is set, which allows us to load up on some specialist on special teams. Is there any position on the team that's up for grabs?
John: There isn't any position on the Jaguars entering the offseason program that's truly "up for grabs" in the sense that you look at the depth chart and have no idea who will start. Those situations in truth are pretty rare in the NFL because teams spend offseasons doing their best to fill their rosters with as many quality starters as possible. Depending on where the Jaguars go in the draft, it's possible you could see competition with A.J. Cann at right guard and/or Blair Brown at strong-side linebacker. We'll see.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
It seems there has been quite a bit of consternation among Jags fans about wide receiver. I was equally dismayed when first learning that A-Rob would not be back, but it occurred to me that most of my fears were based on the assumption that Marqise Lee can't get open consistently, that Donte Moncrief is just a guy and that Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are role players at best. In reality, Lee and Moncrief are still young and have the ability to grow, Cole outperformed Robinson's rookie year and we barely got a taste of what Westbrook can do. Letting Robinson walk seems smarter and smarter as the offseason progresses.
John: The Jaguars didn't let Robinson sign elsewhere because they thought their receiving group was better without him than with; they let him sign elsewhere because they believed the team as a whole is better for the short- and long-term with the players they can sign and retain for the foreseeable future using the cap space he would have taken. But yes … the Jaguars do believe the players you mentioned can improve on what they have done in the past. That must happen if the approach they took is to be considered a success.
Thomas from Jacksonville:
Why don't we have players sign a waiver stating it's a violent game and that they themselves take responsibilities for their actions as adults? Then just play football. I served my country with no guarantee that I would not be maimed or killed. And I wasn't fairly compensated for my service. The NFL is comprised of a bunch of panzy-ass punks. You can't have it both ways.
John: Simply signing a waiver is logical in one sense, but such a waiver doesn't absolve a league or an entity from doing what it can to protect people from life-changing injuries. The cases of alumni players currently fighting the NFL on this matter are complex – and involve many serious, legitimate questions about how much the NFL knew about concussions and whether or not teams did enough to protect players, etc. I don't pretend to know the answers to all questions in detail. I will tell you that name-calling generally speaking is an ineffective, juvenile way of making a point and has a tendency to diminish otherwise legitimate questions and statements. Just FYI.
Chris from Goodnight, TX:
What are your thoughts on Allen Lazard, wide receiver, Iowa State as a potential late-round selection for the Jaguars? He reminds me a lot of Ernest Wilford (though Lazard may be a little more athletic), and I think he may be able to provide an additional element to this offense.
John: I haven't the foggiest idea of whether or not Lazard compares to Wilford. There's a slight chance I might consider the possibility if the Jaguars happen to draft Lazard, but it's really, really, really slight and I actually probably wouldn't.
Jaguars Man from Jaguars County:
Are we going to win five championships in a row with Andrew Norwell – aka the GOAT – now on our squad?
John: No.
Jags from Jagsonville:
Still can't get over what a boneheaded move that was by Paul Posluszny. He's gonna regret it when the Jaguars win the Super Bowl next year. Can he come out of retirement just for that game?
John: So, let me get this straight … a guy dedicates his life and body to his career … the guy after much reflection and thought and self-analysis arrives at the difficult, life-changing decision to walk away from the game … you whimsically dismiss the guy's decision as boneheaded. Got it.
Hi John from Middleburg, FL:
If we truly believe that the late-round risks are small compared to the reward, how about trading back and increasing odds of finding more jewels in the rough? If there is that special player that you need, who says you can't deal out? Wait a minute ... we have never been here before. Happy Days are here again.
John: The reason you don't simply trade back to increase the odds of finding "jewels in the rough" is every spot you trade back you increase the risk of another team selecting that jewel before you. And Happy Days aren't here again. They never are.

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