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O-Zone: History lesson

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Hmmmm … T-Law sounding encouraging a few days ago. T-Baalk sounding encouraging a few days later. I'm reading the tea leaves, Zone. I think it's happening. What say you?

You're seemingly sensing good vibes regarding Trevor Lawrence agreeing to a long-term contract extension, therefore securing him as the Jaguars' quarterback of the present and future. What say I? I say it indeed is sounding "encouraging" and that there was a vibe this week that this could happen sooner than later. Lawrence during a Tuesday media availability sounded positive regarding the issue, with General Manager Trent Baalke during the 2024 pre-draft media availability Thursday saying the sides have had good conversations – and that they talked as recently as Wednesday. Baalke also said ownership and Head Coach Doug Pederson are involved in the process. I have said in recent weeks I thought there was a good chance this would get done this offseason. It continues to feel that way. That's still a guess. Considering this week's tea leaves, it feels like a pretty good guess.

Wayne from Jacksonville

Sounds like Trent wants to trade up. Who ya got, Zone?

I assume you're gleaning something from Thursday's media availability, and it's possible you glean better than I do. Baalke on Thursday said the Jaguars will be prepared to trade up from No. 17 overall in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft next Thursday if there's a player they covet, saying it would probably start being possible around Selections No. 12 or 13. He also said the team would be prepared to trade back. I took that to mean the Jaguars will be very prepared for the draft. Does that mean Baalke really wants to trade up? Not necessarily. But if there's a player there they love, it's absolutely a possibility.

Armand from Jacksonville

Koaf, would it be possible to have one of the backup players learn how to do kickoffs?

I guess anything's possible.

P Funk from Murray Hill

In your time covering teams leading up to the draft, which positions have changed the most in terms of how much they are valued and what a prototype prospect looks like?

I first covered the NFL Draft in 1995 – the Jaguars' expansion season – and the entire league has changed dramatically since then. So have positional values, with quarterback one notable change. While the position always has been the NFL's most valuable, it's now so valued so highly that no one finds it strange when two or three quarterbacks are selected in the Top 5 – even when most analysts believe that many other "premium" positions feature more highly-regarded players who will be "pushed down" by the presence of those quarterbacks. This isn't to say teams are wrong to select the quarterbacks. The position is so important teams must draft one when one's available even if they're less than sure about him. But it's absolutely a recent phenomenon and a sign of how much the game has skewed to the position. Running back is the most devalued position, with the Cincinnati Bengals selecting Ki-Jana Carter from Penn State No. 1 overall in the 1995 NFL Draft – something that never would happen now. As for what a protype position looks like now compared to three decades ago … bigger, stronger, faster at all/most positions. It hasn't necessarily made the game better, but the players do look different.

Chris UK from London

Mighty O. I have seen you write that you expect the Jags to go cornerback early in the draft but also at different points I think you have said it about wide receiver wide receiver and offensive line as well. Can I just confirm what constitutes "early" I'm taking it as rounds 1-3?

Precisely what I mean with such answers sometimes depends on the day. Or my mood. Generally speaking, when I say "early" in the draft, I mean Rounds 1-3. Maybe Round 4. But usually Days 1-2, which are the first three rounds.

Joe from Jacksonville

Is Trevor Lawrence medically 100 percent, or does he just feel good?

Lawrence said following the season he would not need surgery for any of the injuries sustained in the 2023 season. His approach to these injuries in the offseason therefore would be rest. He has rested.

Alex from Iowa

I know it's pretty low chance, but do you think the Jags will draft a wide receiver? If so, I think Xavier Worthy. That speed and decent size would draw so much attention for defenses that would help the middle open and may help the run game.

Xavier Worthy, a wide receiver from the University of Texas, has been projected as a late first-round selection by many analysts. He has special speed that indeed could help other receivers and the run game. I doubt the Jaguars will select a wide receiver at No. 17 overall, and I would expect Worthy to be selected before the Jaguars' second-round selection at No. 48 overall. I expect the Jaguars will select a wide receiver sometime after the first round, but that's just a projection. Many observers think they might select a receiver in Round 1. We'll see.

Marcus from Jax

I agree that quarterback fumbles are owned by the quarterback, but I think there is a major caveat there. Yes, the quarterback should hang on to the ball, but can you really put the full blame on him when he gets hit from his blindside before he finishes his drop? Or is it completely his fault when an edge rusher takes a swipe at his arm as he's pulling it back to throw? You have to hold on to the ball, but there's not a lot of guys out there who can secure a football in one hand with a 250-pound man karate chopping his arm as hard as he can. Trevor had some bad fumbles last year that were 100 percent on him, but he had some where the o-line has to take at least a portion of the blame.

Good point. I recently answered in the affirmative to an O-Zone question asserting that quarterback fumbles are "on" the quarterback whereas responsibility for interceptions might be shared by quarterback and receiver. Wrong 'em, O-Zone. Quarterbacks absolutely can't be expected to always hold the ball in all sack situations. Such is the nature of assigning specific blame in a team sport.

Matthew from Townsville, Tropical Australia

Hey O. You left Patrick Murtagh out of the list of Jags tight ends! He's not just an afterthought! Maybe I'm biased, as he played for an AFL team in Queensland where I live, but I think he will surprise people. AFL players are constantly striving to get open and taking high contested "marks" (catches) amidst large packs of players. With his height and strength along with this skillset, he could be the best player on the Jags roster to pull in a high ball in the end zone. Blocking will be his challenge, but he's certainly big enough if he can learn the skills. As a Queensland Jags fan, I'm really going to enjoy following his progress.

Yelp. That's on me. In a recent story on tight ends in the '24 draft, I neglected to include Murtagh – who signed with the Jaguars this week. This was not a commentary on Murtagh as much as insight into the danger of writing stories a few days before they are posted. Murtagh is an intriguing prospect. He has impressive physical ability. It would be a great story if he adapts to the NFL, develops and contributes. Good luck to him.

Don from Marshall, NC

The Jaguars paid big money to right guard Brandon Scherff because he is the smartest guy on the field. The problem with him is he is always nicked up and has not had his A game. The Jaguars have to have him in good shape or a good backup plan. I am sure they will try to address that in the draft. Can he turn back the clock this season? It has got to be a concern and I am hoping he can bring it still. Go Jaguars!

When it comes to Jaguars guard Brandon Scherff being able to play to his projected reputation and regaining his "A game," Don is most certainly not "all in."

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

I think the takeaway from Baalke and wide receiver is he thinks it is safer to get a known commodity via a trade versus draft capital. Given the Jaguars' history at the position, not a bad approach. Will say I would really love to see them take a swing at moving up and getting a legit No. 1 wide receiver at the position for the next five years.

The Jaguars' history at wide receiver will not, cannot and should not have the remotest effect on where or if the team selects the position in the 2024 NFL Draft.