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O-Zone: Hunger pains

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Nate from Atlantic Beach, FL

I spent the better part of a recent afternoon watching the highlight reels of our 2020 draft selections. I'm not going to lie, they got me. I'm filled with all sorts of hope for the upcoming season. Who out of this draft class are you most excited about to see take the field?

First, I would caution against sky-high hopes for the Jaguars' 2020 season based on the '20 draft class; as talented as the group appears, the time needed for most young players to develop makes huge impact from even the most talented draft classes relatively rare. Remember, too: Rookies this season may need more acclimation time because training camp will be the first time they have been on a field with NFL veterans thanks to COVID-19. Even so, it's OK to be excited about this rookie class – and I'm particularly curious to see the impact of two of those rookies: cornerback CJ Henderson and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. Henderson was the No. 9 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, which means he's expected to play at a high level immediately. He also plays a position at which players can adapt and play at a high level relatively quickly. As for Shenault, his size and physicality at the position give him a skillset the Jaguars haven't had at wide receiver in some time. And while it often takes time for receivers to develop, Shenault's physicality could allow the Jaguars to take advantage of that as he hones his route-running skills. If Shenault can contribute quickly, he will make veteran wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. that much better. That combination should make the Jaguars better offensively overall. That's exciting stuff.

Steve from Jacksonville

DJ Chark Jr. … yearly Pro Bowler or one-hit wonder?

I don't see Chark as a one-hit wonder. The skillset he showed last season – particularly his ability to accelerate when crossing the middle and to make plays deep – isn't going to go away. But for Chark to reach his potential and be a perennial Pro Bowl player he must adapt effectively to defenses shading coverages and safeties to his side of the field. Defenses were able to better defend Chark in the second half of last season than the first, which was perhaps as attributable to defenses getting a read on quarterback Gardner Minshew II as them getting a read on Chark. The rest of the receivers – particularly Shenault – are critical on this front. It was a straightforward decision for defenses last season to commit extra defenders to take away Chark. If the rest of the receivers make that a tougher decision, Chark and Minshew will benefit.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, have you ever thought about hiring an O-Zone Quality Control Coach?

What would he control?

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

How did the act of kneeling get interpreted as disrespectful? I was raised Catholic and during the most important parts of mass they have us kneel to show the ultimate reverence and respect. Kneeling is the most respectful thing one can do during the National Anthem; it shows ultimate respect. This is something I just never understood. They chose to kneel because it is a respectful act that can still draw attention to racial inequality. So, it must not be the kneeling that is the issue because that is obviously an act of respect. It must be the idea that people want racial equality that is bothering people or they don't like players speaking up about it. Is racial equality disrespectful to the flag? I just don't understand how this quiet, peaceful, respectful act disrespects "the flag" in any way shape or form. I feel like limiting people's freedom of speech is disrespectful to the flag and what it truly stands for.

People interpret things and feel about things for many reasons, and once people decide how they feel about something it can be difficult to change those feelings. I have a difficult time explaining why people get so upset about people kneeling for the National Anthem – mainly because I tend not to worry about what other people do if it doesn't affect me. But there are people who dislike people kneeling. The act for whatever reason bothers people, and they don't care about the reason for kneeling. I expect players to kneel for the anthem this season and I expect people to remain very divided about how they feel about it. I wish I could deftly slice through the issues involved with your question and solve the division. But while I'm good, Rob, I'm afraid I'm not that good.

Paul from St. Augustine, FL

Do you expect training camp to start on time?

I'm honestly unsure what to expect on this front. I continue to believe the NFL regular season will start on time in early September, mainly because I have heard nothing to make me think the NFL doesn't plan to start then. As for training camp, I could see a slight delay there – and I could see cutting the preseason to two games. Buying a couple of extra weeks of isolation – with the added benefit of a couple of more weeks to get layers into on-field football shape – would seem to be enough of a win-win to have that happen.

Sean from Duvaaal

With all the talk about kneeling? What is the likelihood of being allowed to attend a game live if I protest paying the price of a ticket? Happy Friday!

How far would you take the protest? If you complain a little and eventually pay, I imagine you would be allowed to attend. If you refuse to pay, I imagine someone would pat you on the head, congratulate you for the little point you made and send you on your way.

Ken from Orange Park, FL

Seems like Joe Schobert is the forgotten signing. I think he could make the defense a lot better. What say you?

I say you're right. Schobert signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Cleveland Browns. Perhaps because his signing came right around the time the Jaguars traded defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye, the Schobert signing indeed seemed somehow overlooked by some observers. The Jaguars absolutely believe Schobert starting in the middle and Myles Jack moving to the weak-side linebacker position will help improve what last season was a struggling run defense.

Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi John, "Now, where did I put that bourbon?" I may misplace my keys, my phone, my wallet and occasionally my mind, but I always know where my bourbon is as well as my humidor.


Dan from Ormond Beach, FL

Would a player-for-player, straight-up trade between the New York Jets and the Jags be fair for both sides? Of course, I am referencing Jets All-Pro safety Jamal Adams once again requesting the team to trade him. Would a trade with Adams and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue be a fair trade? More importantly would it make any sense to use up the cap room it would require to sign Adams to a new contract be smartly used on a safety?

Such a trade probably would be fair for both sides. Adams is probably the more "elite" of the two, but Ngakoue plays the more premium position. One very serious issue in such a deal would be whether the team acquiring each player would believe it could reach a long-term deal for said player. That has been a major issue from the beginning for the Jaguars in possibly trading Ngakoue. Not only would the team acquiring him be giving up equity – a draft choice or a player – but it also would have to sign Ngakoue to a long-term contract. Considering that Ngakoue reportedly wants to be one of the highest-paid defensive ends in the NFL, that means a team would be giving up a premium player or selection AND pay Ngakoue a cap-altering contract. That's a lot to give up for a defensive end who hasn't reached double-digit sacks the past two seasons. Conversely, giving up a similar package for Adams may be a lot to give up for a player who plays what is usually not considered a premium position. It's a tough spot and will make a player-for-player trade tricky.

Bill from Jacksonville

Yannick Ngakoue for Jamal Adams straight up. Who says "no?"

I would imagine the Jets would say no. The entire league essentially has said no to trading for Ngakoue and his contract demands much of this offseason.

Bryan from Egg Harbor Township

O-Man, rebuilding or not we have the capital to get a trade done for Jamal Adams. Rebuilding or not, that adds the best safety in the NFL to our young secondary. Ngakoue for Adams almost makes too much sense. Your thoughts?

At what cost? And what does he want to get paid?

Richard from the 1970s

Why do birds suddenly appear any time you are near?