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O-Zone: Incredible, edible

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Everybody is wringing their hands about the pass rush, but until now, I've been wringing my hands over the offensive line. Signing Kelvin Beachum is huge. He's a quality addition. I hope he's 100 percent so he can compete for the starting position.
John: The Jaguars signing Kelvin Beachum Wednesday is huge for a couple of reasons. One, it indeed provides legitimate competition for Luke Joeckel at left tackle. While Joeckel has not played as poorly as fans believe, he has not played as well as would be ideal, so upgrading the spot would be … an upgrade! And upgrades are good things. It's also huge because whoever starts at left tackle next season the Jaguars will have added another starting-level offensive lineman. They now have three players who have extensive experience at tackle, and they have added versatility because Beachum can play guard or tackle. As for Beachum's health … we'll see. He sustained his torn anterior cruciate ligament six games into last season, so it stands to reason he won't be 100 percent in the offseason or even at the start of training camp. He should be available at some point next season, possibly early. As for when exactly that will be … stay tuned.
Jonathan from Section 216:
I like what Dave Caldwell has done. Many readers are asking why the Jags didn't go after Bruce Irvin or a number of other players, but it seems the Jags are only after young guys 26 and under, which is smart. Why overpay a guy in his early 30s? I'm glad we didn't get Olivier Vernon, even though he is young and talented. We have fixed enough holes already and can get the rest in the draft, with money to re-sign our young talent next year. As long as we don't get snake bit by the injury bug, knock on wood, I'm excited about a big season next year, and so glad we're not the Cleveland Browns.
John: The Jaguars sincerely believed Vernon the only free-agent edge rusher who represented a significant upgrade, which is why he was the only edge rusher they really pursued in free agency. And while no one around the Jaguars would be so disingenuous as to say they were "glad" they didn't get Vernon, part of General Manager David Caldwell was legitimately relieved because the price tag was so far out of the team's "comfort zone." The Jaguars overall have upgraded their roster in free agency. Not all of the signings will be home runs because it doesn't work that way, but to say the roster isn't improved overall … no, that's incorrect.
Michael from Jackson de Ville:
"I believed it would be tough to convince a starting-level left tackle to sign because of the perception that Joeckel already was the starter." It's because Beachum saw what 99 percent of Jags fans saw, that Luke Joeckel is absolutely replaceable and easy to overtake.
John: Your quote is accurate, though your take is a little off. No question there will be legitimate competition; Beachum wouldn't have signed here otherwise. But this won't be a situation where Joeckel is "easy to overtake" – and considering Beachum's injury, true competition may be a ways off.
Shane from Pensacola, FL:
I like what I have seen the past few years. The depth and competition is going to bring out the best in these young players. Which young player do you see breaking to the next level this season?
John: T.J. Yeldon, Marqise Lee and/or Rashad Greene.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
I thought Dave said there was going to be an influx of pass rushers this offseason. Well, what the heck, John? Malik is good for inside pressure, but one man hardly constitutes an "influx." I've tried to be patient, but when a guy like Chandler Jones can be had for next to nothing and there's not so much as a peep about it then I just don't understand where this influx is supposed to come from. Can you tell us that Dave at least picked up the phone and called the Patriots?
John: Jones was traded to the Cardinals for a starting guard and a second-round selection, so that wasn't exactly "next to nothing." And I don't know the definition of a peep, but there were reports that the Jaguars were among the teams interested in acquiring Jones. As far as the "influx," I agree that adding an edge rusher in free agency would have been great; the Jaguars pursued the one they believed worth pursuing and didn't get him. The offseason also isn't over yet. It's March 17, which means we're almost six weeks from the draft, which is kind of the best way to build a roster.
Tym from Southside, FL:
The Jags have a number of really disruptive inside rushers already on the roster (Marks, Jackson, Odrick, Davis, etc.). Is there a defense that you know of that basically sets the edge on the outside and relies on interior pressure to get sacks? I know edge rushing has been huge since the time of Lawrence Taylor, but can inside rushing affect the passer to the same extent?
John: Pressure off the edge was important long before Taylor, but your point is correct that it has mattered in the NFL for a long time. As for the Jaguars, I don't know that you're going to see a scheme "change," and you're sure not going to see Jaguars defensive ends setting the edge in passing situations and watching tackles pressure from the interior. But there's no question that the Jaguars see the pass-rush crisis a little differently than fans. While perception is rampant that the Jaguars' pass rush will be a disaster because they didn't sign a free-agent edge rusher, the belief within the organization is that Sen'Derrick Marks and Malik Jackson – among others – can provide pressure from the interior with Dante Fowler Jr. and others providing pressure on the edge. I don't believe they're done acquiring defensive players this offseason, and I believe the draft will be almost entirely defense. I think an edge player will be among the first two selections. Will one of those first two selections provide significant pressure off the edge? I'm on record saying that's no guarantee from rookies, but we'll see.
Michael from Longwood:
Hey, John: I just read that free-agent pass rusher Aldon Smith is now able to sign a contract. If I recall correctly, we were in the mix for him last time he was a free agent. Think that The General will make this happen this time?
John: No. For one thing, he won't be available to play until Week 11 next season. For another thing … well, there are quite a few other things …
Mike from Navarre, OH:
It's always a sad, sad day when there is no O-Zone.
John: While this no doubt is a widely-held truism everywhere except in my own home, it's not particularly pertinent. While there has been confusion in recent days because the O-Zone has not always appeared on the mobile app in recent weeks due to "technical difficulties," I assure you it has appeared daily in its original, comfortable home on
Josh from Grand Island, NE:
RIP streak.
John: Nah.
Dakota from Dupree, SD:
Zone, I see you are now leaving Jalen Ramsey off your draft at No. 5 list. While I think Joey Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Myles Jack are all very good, I think Ramsey is better. He is one of the most physical corners I have ever seen. He completely blows up wide receiver screens. If Tashaun Gipson is the man at safety, I still think Ramsey is good enough to start at cornerback. Would you pass on him if he was available at No. 5?
John: I answer a lot of questions in a lot of ways; I wouldn't read too much into one answer about my "draft list" in the second week of March. I don't think Ramsey will be available at No. 5. If he is, I certainly think the Jaguars will seriously consider selecting him.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I'm surprised at the "panic" mode of the fan base on the free-agent signings. I think Malik Jackson will wreak havoc up front and up everyone's game around him … what's your thought?
John: I'm not surprised at the panic mode. The Jaguars' need at pass-rushing end has been discussed so-o-o-o-o-o much that it has overwhelmed and overshadowed the entire offseason – and it indeed has caused something of a "topic" among a certain portion of the fan base. That's understandable, but Pass Rusher Angst has caused people to forget that Malik Jackson is indeed an upgrade, and that Tashaun Gipson and Prince Amukamara should be, too. Fowler and Sen'Derrick Marks also should provide pressure. Are there are a lot of eggs in the Fowler/Jackson/Marks basket? Well, yeah, but you have to put your eggs somewhere, you can only have so many eggs. I think the Jaguars will draft some eggs, too … or something like that.

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