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O-Zone: Hot take

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Thomas from Madison, WI:
I want to say thanks for all you do. I'm a huge Gus and Dave fan, but can you shed light on why we hired an offensive coordinator whose offense finished worse than ours last year? Just concerning because I like Gus and I want them to stick around.
John: This is a question that came up a lot when the Jaguars hired Greg Olson as offensive coordinator last month – and in a world where we often try to interpret things based on statistics and rankings, understandably so. Olson was the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator the past two seasons and the Raiders indeed ranked 32nd in the NFL in total yards last season while the Jaguars ranked 31st. But take a step back and remember there is a limit to how much coaches control their rankings. First, the league offensive and defensive rankings are based on yards per game and therefore a long way from the end-all in terms of judging an offense; there are plenty of people who believe they're misleading at times. Second, a coach can't always control how well players play. He can help them, yes. He can make them better, yes. But to think a coach by himself always should be able to push a team significantly higher in a ranking than their talent merits, no – that's not realistic. Bottom line: Bradley and Caldwell like what they believe Olson can do for a young offense, and they like his flexibility and adaptability. That came into the equation when making the hire. The league's total-yardage rankings? Not so much.
Gamble from Jacksonville:
How is a massive Shipyards development that includes a heavy focus of adding people to downtown with the significant amounts of multi-use residential, a hotel, and plenty of amenities comparable to a single commercial development? It's like comparing an apple to the produce section.
John: Yes, it is.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Everyone has Titans picking Leonard Williams at No. 2. I took a glimpse at their roster and it seems they could also take Amari Cooper at No. 2. Their No. 1 wide receiver is getting old (Washington). They do have a young quarterback and how can you really know what you have in a quarterback if you don't have wide receivers to put around him?
John: I wouldn't count on Tennessee selecting Cooper or any wide receiver No. 2. As for Cooper, it's apparent that he's going to be as hot a pre-draft topic as any in the coming months. But while a lot of people like Cooper a lot, there's not much thought that he's significantly better than last year's top wide receivers or even Kevin White of West Virginia. He'll go early, but not as early as Williams.
John from Cape May, NJ:
I'm not saying we should, but if we did draft a wide receiver at No. 3, Kevin White is the guy. At 6-feet-3, 215 pounds – and runs a 4.35-second 40-yard dash – that's the type of guy you draft in the Top 5. Amari Cooper is a nice player, but he is shorter and slower than White. Call me crazy but you're gonna draft a wide receiver in the Top 3 he better be at least 6-3 and run a 4.4.
John: I won't call you crazy, because I agree. I have nothing against Cooper and I believe he'll be a very good NFL receiver. Still, the people who think the Jaguars are making a gigantic tactical error by not falling all over themselves to get him at No. 3 … the opinions of draft analysts, etc., just don't jibe with that. And yeah, I like White's upside. It's impressive.
George from Drummonds, TN:
Sir, drafting a quarterback in later rounds isn't a bad idea. Look at Tom Brady, for example. Who in your belief is the third-most desirable quarterback in this year's draft class? Thank you.
John: Brett Hundley of UCLA, I suppose, but I'm not overzealous about it.
Ron from Asheville:
I don't understand and hope you can clarify your explanation of Julius Thomas' skill set. You mentioned what a great weapon he is in the passing game yet offers very little as a blocker. I thought the whole purpose of that position is to have a guy that can be a mismatch for a linebacker to cover and in addition be able to block. Why not just line up a wide receiver instead and save your money?
John: I'm sorry you don't understand, but there's not much to clarify. Thomas is a fairly prototypical receiving tight end in that his receiving skills and route-running skills are considered his strengths while his run-blocking skills are not considered his strengths. That doesn't mean he can't run block, but he's considered a receiving tight end and you're probably not going to put him in the backfield and ask him to lead block on fourth-and-goal from the 1. The ideal tight end is one who can do both, but there are few tight ends anymore who truly do both at a high level. Those players have names and those names often start with "future Hall of Famer" As far as just lining up a wide receiver and saving money, you could do that in theory, but most teams like to have a tight end who can at least run-block a little to force the defense to give the offense favorable matchups.
Wayne from Orlando, FL:
Hey Mr. O … I was just wondering … why does everyone want Leonard Williams so bad when Dante Fowler, Jr., seems to be a much better fit for the Jags D. Your thoughts, please sir.
John: I'm starting to like Fowler more and more as an option for the Jaguars, but I don't know that Fowler is a much better fit for the Jaguars' defense. Williams is a really good player who can possibly play three-technique defensive tackle or five-technique defensive end. He has versatility and can make plays from a lot of places. Players like that tend to fit into a lot of different schemes.
Jordan from Clovis, CA:
A lot of people are saying we are using this draft to help out our defense. But I would think our offense needs a little more help right now. Do you think that drafting a wide receiver early again would be a bad thing? The wide receivers in this draft class look great.
John: A lot of people are saying the Jaguars will use this draft to help the defense for a simple reason: they still need to get better on the front and still lack an elite-level, difference-making pass rusher. They also could still get faster all along the front seven defensively, and the draft is a really good place to do that. Look, this is going to be a weekly/daily discussion between now and the draft; because the offense struggled last season people reasonably wonder, "Why not draft offense?" The reason is because you went heavy offense last season and you believe a lot of those guys will develop into good players sooner rather than later. But it does take time to develop in the NFL, and if you're looking for immediate, impact help it's usually not going to come via the draft.
Preston from Waterbury, CT:
Zone, do general managers take into consideration the players that are still in college? For example a team that could use a quarterback, but won't get Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota could pass on a quarterback in the later rounds because they think they will get a better one in next year's draft. Does that happen much, or at all?
John: Yes, it happens. It doesn't override the entire draft process, but general managers do try to have an idea the strengths and weaknesses of the next draft class when drafting the current one.
Brooks from Duval:
Hey O-Man, it seems you've been hearing some hype about Dante Fowler, Jr. amongst scouts at the Combine. I know he ran a good 40 time, but his vertical and broad jump numbers were mediocre at best, which indicates a lack of explosiveness. I haven't heard you mention Vic Beasley (who, although undersized for a LEO put up some ridiculously good combine numbers), or Bud Dupree (who put up some great combine numbers, including a 4.56 forty). Have you heard rumblings about either being possibilities at No. 3 or their ability to be an OTTO/LEO hybrid for the Jags, a la Von Miller?
John: I haven't mentioned Beasley or Dupree because we've been talking about the Jaguars selecting at No. 3, and neither of those players appears to be a Top 3 selection. Now, if the Jaguars trade down …
Willis from Jacksonville:
Zone, while you were gone for a 100 years I was here. I watched the Great Fire of 1901 incinerate downtown and all the money the CITY sunk into it to try and keep it alive. My concern is Shad putting up these Shipyards and in 30 years seeing a mattress fire reduce them to ashes.
John: I laughed at this.

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