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O-Zone: Just not feelin' it

INDIANAPOLIS – Let's get to it … Chad from Yulee, FL:
Is there a scenario, possibly with the right combination of free-agent signings, that you think would give Dave Caldwell the confidence to take Jaylon Smith with the No. 5 pick knowing you need patience for him to fully recover?
John: Is there any scenario under which that could happen? Sure. Smith, a linebacker from Notre Dame, is a big-time talent who if healthy is certainly worthy of a Top 5 selection. NFL Media Analyst Mike Mayock on Tuesday said if it hadn't been for a major knee injury Smith would have been considered seriously at No. 1 overall. That's rarified air for a linebacker. The problem, of course, is that Smith did sustain that late-season knee injury. Given that, if the Jaguars hit home runs throughout free agency and felt as if they are dead-solid set at every position defensively, then maybe they take a player for whom they have to wait. And as Mayock noted on Tuesday, Smith is good enough that a team taking him could have an elite-level linebacker in a year or two; that's tempting. At the same time, for the Jaguars that would mean a second consecutive season not getting production from your Top 10 draft selection. If I'm sitting in Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell's chair – and again, I only do that when he's away from the office – that's a tough call.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Well, it happened again … before the season even starts and now Dante Fowler Jr. looks to be off the field yet again. Can we ever have anything nice???? Is this going to be Blackmon 2.0? We get a great player and then for some reason or another they just can't stay on the football field. Guess Joey Bosa just got more likely to be our pick this year if Fowler has to miss another whole season.
John: Are we serious here? Look, I'll address the Dante Fowler Jr. video incident here because I suppose we must address it. TMZ indeed posted a video Tuesday showing Fowler and two women. In the video, the two women fight. Fowler does not fight. He stands to the side very much not involved. He is not involved until the end, when he leans down to do something that appears like assisting. Life happens. This is not "disturbing." This is not Fowler doing anything wrong. This is not him being a bad guy. Being somewhere where something happens between people you know is not a crime. It's not a suspend-able offense. It's not a reprimand-able offense. Dante Fowler Jr. will not miss time next season – if he does, something is shamefully wrong – and he's not Version 2.0 of anything. Unless there is something else to this video, this is not a thing. Please let's not turn this into one. Oh, and: no, this will not influence how the Jaguars approach free agency or the draft.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
Based on the Jaguars history of first-round busts, and the recent news surrounding Dante Fowler Jr., is there any concern within the organization that Blake Bortles is going to lose his right arm in some freak accident?
John: I guess I sort of get the joke you're trying to get across, but nothing has happened regarding Fowler that would remotely have any effect on what he will do on the field.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
That Dante Fowler video is concerning, but if I was an NFL player in a post Greg Hardy/Ray Rice league and I was around two women about to get in a physical altercation, I'd back up too. There was almost certainly a better way to handle that situation, but we have the benefit of hindsight. In the moment, I'm not gonna fault a guy for reacting the way Fowler did.
John: I honestly didn't find what Fowler did disturbing at all. I'm not speaking for the team, but from what we saw in the video, Fowler neither initiated or did anything to escalate the situation. I haven't the faintest idea what else he was supposed to do.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
I can say without a doubt the player the Jaguars pick at No. 5, if they stay at No. 5, will be the fifth overall player selected in the draft.
John: I'll check on this.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
Do you think we will add enough players in free agency to trade a lot of our draft picks in order to move up and get a couple of starters?
John: I think the Jaguars will add players in free agency. I don't think that means they will try to trade up during the draft any harder than otherwise would have been the case.
Brian from Staten Island, NY:
John, as the firefighter asked George Costanza when he knocked everyone out of the way to escape the fire … How do you live with yourself?
John: It's not easy.
Neil from Gloucester, UK:
Dear Sir John of Oehser. Firstly, the video of your good self in 'combine mode.' From the back it looked like two plums in a wet paper bag fighting to get out – a fight, I hasten to add, neither was going to win. Secondly, could you please bear in mind that due to the time difference across the pond I watched the video whilst settling down for my tea … a meal wasted that I will never get back … and Noah Spence ... just no until unless the third round. Too risky. Thank you.
John: Firstly and secondly, the ladies disagree. I think I'll just leave that part there. As far as Spence, it's obviously not that simple. Spence is a pass rusher who appears to have Top 10 ability. If you want that ability, you're going to have to take it a lot sooner than the third round.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
There are reports that Alex Mack will likely opt out of his contract, but he could still stay in Cleveland on a better deal. If he gets to free agency, do you think David Caldwell will make a hard play for him? Do you think the Jaguars will be willing to overpay Mack enough to win his services?
John: I think that's a real possibility, but the reports about Alex Mack this week indicate that he likes the direction of the Browns under Hue Jackson and that he may want to stay there. If that's true, it will be tough to lure him away no matter how much you offer. Players who want to stay with their current teams seem to find way to convince themselves to do just that.
Kris from Copenhagen, Denmark:
Hey, John: first thing's first. Nice legs, dude. Second, I am fine with the Jags drafting whoever as long as that person is the best player on the board (and doesn't scream problems). I just don't want the Jags to reach just to cover a certain position. Your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are you could have stopped with your first thought. You nailed it, dude.
Jordan from Clovis, CA:
Who do you think would be a better complement to Dante Fowler Jr.: DeForest Buckner or Joey Bosa?
John: It depends if you want an edge rusher or a three-technique player; Bosa is the former and Buckner is a little more the latter.
Gary from Wesley Chapel, FL:
John, so are you saying recent Super Bowl winning teams haven't had elite left tackles? I haven't looked it up; just wondering where they all are.
John: Retired, mostly.
John from Cape May, NJ:
When Mark Dominik was the general manager of Tampa Bay, he infamously said the reason that they didn't draft Justin Blackmon was because they hired a private investigator to follow him; the PI informed them Blackmon partied all the time at clubs and bars. So, why can't the Jags hire a PI to follow Noah Spence? Have someone watch him when the cameras are off see how he lives his life. Hopefully, Spence is a homebody whose main focus is football and being a professional. This guy has the most upside of any defensive lineman in this draft; I hope Caldwell and his boys do everything they can to see what kind of person Noah Spence is off the field.
John: You can do that – absolutely you can. And maybe some teams will. And even if you did, because Noah Spence is a human being … you … just … wouldn't … know.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
I know you are not a big stats guy, but could not one of your junior writers dig up the qualitative and quantitative improvements Blake Bortles made Year 2 over his rookie season like QBR, average yards per game, average touchdowns per game, etc.?
John: I don't have any junior writers. I suppose I could go on any one of a countless number of websites, look it up, write it down and include it in this answer. In retrospect, it probably would have taken less time than it took to type this answer. Now, I just don't feel like doing it.

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