JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Brett from Mason City:
Dead-zone question ... because there were so many rookies last year, what will be the free-agency signings in three years when the rookie contracts run out?? Is there going to be enough cap space to keep our team together?
John: We should have a much better handle on how this will play out by the end of this season – and certainly by the end of the next one. Although the Jaguars' 2014 rookie class appears to have potential, history/common sense tells you that not all of those players will develop into core-level, "must-resign" players. If they indeed do all develop, the Jaguars will have a very good problem in that they'll have to figure out how to keep a good, young core together. Considering their current cap situation, that should be manageable so long as they plan in advance. A lot more should be known about those players after this season. If they perform at a high level, then the Jaguars can at least start planning for how they might extend those players' contracts when the time comes.
Brian from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I don't understand the supplemental draft. Who are they? Why are they not in the regular draft? Why do teams pass up the opportunity to draft these guys? Why are there only eight players eligible this year? Do they have Pro Days? Have the Jaguars ever selected a player from the supplemental draft? Please help.
John: The NFL holds the supplementary draft – this year's version of which takes place today – to allow players to enter the NFL if they become ineligible to play college football following the regular draft in April/May. Teams usually pass on these players because they don't have draft-able grades on the players. (They pass instead of "taking a flyer" on a player because if you select a player in the supplemental draft you forfeit a selection in the same round of the next year's regular draft). The Jaguars never have selected a player in the supplemental draft. The highest-rated player in this year's supplemental draft is Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle, who many expect to be the first player selected in the supplemental draft since the Browns selected wide receiver Josh Gordon in the second round in 2012.
Nathan from St Augustine, FL:
On paper, the projected starters for the Jags look much improved over anything we have had the last few years. However, I'm not as familiar with the backup players. In your opinion, where can the team least afford injuries?
John: The Jaguars probably aren't at the point where they can afford many injuries anywhere, but that's true of the vast, vast majority of NFL teams. I'd say the Jaguars are thinnest at safety and linebacker, although with Sen'Derrick Marks returning from an anterior cruciate ligament and with Michael Bennett a rookie, the defensive tackle position will be thinner than last year at least until early in the season. One thing to note about the linebacker position is that while many observers have questioned the depth there, the Jaguars appear confident in the backups, particularly Jeremiah George and LaRoy Reynolds.
Alex from McLean, VA:
What do you think records of the Colts and Jags would be this upcoming season if we traded quarterbacks?
John: It's hard to say, because it's hard to project how Blake Bortles will play this season. I believe he will play better than he did as a rookie, though it would be disingenuous to say he's a superior quarterback to Andrew Luck of the Colts. If Bortles develops as I imagine he will, I think he'll be better than last season – good enough, perhaps, to get the Colts to 7-9 or 8-8 team with him at quarterback. With Luck at quarterback, I'd say the Jaguars would push above .500 and probably make the postseason.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
I've heard it said that if Blake Bortles fails as a NFL quarterback, it will be because he simply didn't have the talent. The implication was he will do well above what's necessary to the point of having an obsession to be great. We previously had a quarterback who had all the talent in the world, at least seemingly. Arm strength was not the question for Blaine Gabbert. Does that mean he was less willing to put in the time? Did he fail to win over his teammates and lead them? I don't at all mean to bash on Gabbert … just looking to understand what caused him to fail and gives Bortles the opportunity to develop into a franchise quarterback. We could kind of use one of those.
John: It's hard to say what caused Gabbert to not succeed in Jacksonville. He certainly had the physical talent, and I never got the impression he didn't work hard. I also didn't buy into the idea that he was "frightened" in the pocket, though that was a popular assessment among fans and observers. I do think he had a long way to go in terms of field vision and pocket awareness, and I don't know that anyone for sure knows what causes a player to excel in those areas. Maybe it's just a case of players having a knack for them, or maybe it's a matter of experience. I do think Bortles has awareness and vision, which is a very good thing. It's awfully hard to succeed in the NFL without them. As for your first point, I honestly don't see Bortles lacking talent, and I believe he'll succeed. If he doesn't … well, let's just say quarterback is the hardest position in sports for a reason. Players fail for any combination of reasons and finding the right combination that leads to success is outrageously difficult.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
Now that a 10-year agreement has been reached to continue to play games in London, what do you think are the Jaguars plans going forward? Is it a sure thing that they will continue to play one home game a year there? Is there anything in their power to either "add" a game as the visiting team or to be assured of a second visit as the visitors if they indeed do extend their commitment? With two games a year in London we could continue to be "London's team" going forward and even increase our international visibility....which would be great! What do you think?.....can we lobby for a visitors appearance?
John: I'm not sure the agreement announced this week that the NFL will play two games a year at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club's stadium changes the Jaguars' situation in London significantly. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has said he wants to play a home game a season there beyond the current agreement that extends through 2016. I believe there's a chance the Jaguars could play an "away" game followed by a "home" game, or vice versa, at some point. I think those two things were true before Wednesday's news and I think they remain true. There's little question the new agreement deepens the NFL's roots in London, but the Jaguars' roots there already have been … well, rooted.
Mark from Waverly , IA:
I was at a Q&A with Bill Dee Williams recently. He said that "Brian's Song" is one of the roles that he takes the most pride in. For what it's worth, it gets my vote.
John: I don't know … he was awfully good in "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Mahogany."
Richard from Northampton, UK:
So Mr. O, I've been to both Jags games at Wembley. Even though they lost there were signs of improvement last year. So, if you had to call it in early July, will I get to see my beloved Jags beating the Bills for their first Wembley win?
John: Predicting an October game in early July obviously is fool's game. Injuries and other factors can change dramatically during that span, but sure … why not? Let's go with the Jags in that one for now.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Public perception may be that way, but Jerry's certainly isn't. He speaks highly of Shad every chance he gets. While no one ever bad mouthed Wayne directly, that wasn't the case when he was owner.
John: Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones indeed speaks highly of Jaguars Owner Shad Khan when asked – as do most people who have been around Khan. Spend much time around him and there's not a whole lot of reason not to be impressed.
Brian from New Hampshire:
From college quarterbacks changing positions in the NFL, I haven't seen Julian Edelman mentioned yet. I could have missed it, but he is probably the most successful at the switch.
John: Edelman, a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, indeed was among the first players we mentioned in this thread. He might be the most successful current example of a player who has made the switch from college quarterback to another NFL position. I certainly wouldn't call him the most successful of all-time, though, not considering the list includes Nolan Cromwell, Paul Hornung and Cris Collinsworth.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
How about "Radio" for best football movie? It took me a while to watch it past the Christmas scene because I get all choked up, but it was a good one.
John: I guess if we kept talking about this long enough "Radio" was going to get mentioned.
O-Zone: Inevitable ending
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Brett from Mason City: