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O-Zone: Just too tough

JACKSONVILLE – The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine is in the rear view. Moving on.

Let's get to it … David from Orlando, FL:
O-Man, on Jaguars Today recently, there was some talk that the Jags feel they need a second running back to complement T.J. Yeldon. Jonas Gray wasn't even mentioned in the conversation. He's the kind of back that runs full speed into brick walls. Why is he being dismissed as our short yardage/backup back?
John: The Jaguars do need a back to complement Yeldon, and while I don't know that this is a crisis-point issue, I do expect the Jaguars to pursue one in free agency or the draft. A few thoughts on this topic … No. 1, if you need a complementary back, they aren't overly difficult to find. No. 2, the effectiveness of the complementary back is going to largely depend on the offensive line improving its run blocking – especially on the interior. No. 3, yes, Jonas Gray may well be capable of being that complementary player; I believe he will be in the mix in some capacity in training camp. Best advice: relax on this front. It's something that's addressable and the Jaguars almost certainly will do so.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
So after three years, Gus Bradley realizes he may need to adjust his scheme? Again, is it too late to fire the coaching staff and hire a new one?
John: First … yeah, it is too late to change coaching staffs. Second, it's not necessary. I agree that it's a good sign that the Jaguars are going to be more flexible and will be looking for ways to allow the scheme to fit the strengths of the players acquired next offseason. Still, I don't think the staff has been nearly as stubborn in this area as some fans believe. It's not as if the team didn't try to be flexible at the safety position last season, for example, and it's not as if players on the defensive front didn't move around in the past. It's also not as if a change in scheme was going to help the pass rushers on last year's team much. But is it good that flexibility will be a priority in free agency and the draft? Yeah, it ain't bad.
Shon from San Antonio by way of Jacksonville:
Does the emergence of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns along with a good slot receiver in Rashad Greene make Marqise Lee expendable? When healthy, he's a talent, but the injuries may have decreased his value a bit. I'm not saying we should trade him, but if a team like the Falcons or the Rams call on draft day, what would be the value?
John: First, Marqise Lee is not "expendable." What he is, though, is a player who still needs to back up his potential with consistency, availability and production. It seems as if he's going to get every opportunity to do just that next season. To hear Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell talk at the combine this past week, it's clear the Jaguars plan for Lee to be a significant part of the offense next season. Caldwell mentioned that Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson could be on the field at the same time with Hurns possibly moving to the slot in those packages. That should excite Jaguars fans, because despite Lee's injuries, he has physical skills and potential that don't exist elsewhere on the roster. He obviously needs to stay healthy – and that includes staying healthy in the offseason – but the answer to your question is, "No, the Jaguars don't need to trade Marqise Lee. His value to them is in the offense."
Jason from North Pole, AK:
You don't draft Jalen Ramsey to increase interceptions; you draft a pass rusher. Most picks are the result of a bad throw and most bad throws are a result of a hurried quarterback. His interceptions number is irrelevant.
John: With very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very few exceptions, you are dead on with your first point. And as far as Jalen Ramsey's interceptions total in college being irrelevant … well, you're dead on there, too.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
Have we learned anything new about any player's athletic skills? Does anyone stand out athletically? Are there any linemen that move quicker than scouts generally thought? Other than meeting people and learning who they are as a person, do we get any valuable information out of the combine?
John: Ah, 'tis always the question in late February … just what do we really, really learn from the NFL Scouting Combine? You do get some valuable information from the combine, though remember: the players attending are there because they have been scouted. That means nearly all NFL teams have extensive reports already on these players. The combine is about a few things: the higher-level scouts in organizations getting a close look at players who previously had been seen by only a lower-level scout or two; gathering measurables; and executing medical examinations. The close look is valuable, as are gathering the measurables, though you're probably not going to gather anything earth-shattering in either case. The medical examinations can be very telling. Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, for example, was examined by teams' physicians Friday. Many teams reportedly determined that the knee injury he sustained late last season likely will keep him out the entire 2016 regular season. This is critical information that teams needed from the combine – and, of course, that could dramatically affect his draft status. Seldom is the information gleaned from on-field workouts close to that drastic.
Sage from Orlando, FL:
I hope Caldwell doesn't plan on retaining bums Beadles, Gerhart, Clemons, Lewis and Wisniewski just because the Jaguars have plenty of cap space. They need the roster space for guys who can actually play good football.
John: I don't think all of those five players will be with the Jaguars next season, though I absolutely don't believe all will or should be gone by March 9. I absolutely believe Marcedes Lewis will be back, and I wouldn't rule out Zane Beadles or Toby Gerhart – or maybe even Wisniewski. Either way, Caldwell won't keep players because the Jaguars have plenty of cap space; he'll keep players because he believes they can help the Jaguars.
Jimmy from Jacksonville:
Call me crazy, but the more I watch film on Myles Jack, the more I think he will be the Jags' pick if Jalen Ramsey and Joey Bosa are gone. He can play outside linebacker, strong safety and running back and possibly be dominant at all three. What are your thoughts on Myles Jack?
John: I'd be surprised if the Jaguars go linebacker at No. 5; I'd be less surprised if the Jaguars select DeForest Buckner in your scenario. But I wouldn't be shocked if Jack is the selection, because while conventional wisdom is that you don't take a linebacker in the Top 5, Jack appears to be a player who can defy conventional wisdom. I don't see him dominating at running back or strong safety, but he can dominate at linebacker. As anyone who watches Luke Kuechly can tell you, that can be a good thing.
Digbert from Jacksonville:
I'm excited about all of the positive talk around T.J. Yeldon. I'm even more excited when we get a bit more help on the offensive line and that first move of his is two yards down the field – and then hot, dirty things are going to happen.
John: Yeldon like just about any back depends heavily on quality offensive line play. In the NFL, it's almost impossible to run effectively without good blocking. But in his case … yes, there's no question he would benefit from better blocking. He showed real ability to make defenders miss last season – and to see the second and third level of the defense. Give him a half-second or so and an extra yard at the start of plays and he could be very impressive.
Quinn from Tampa, FL:
Myles Jack is my favorite player in the draft. He is always around the ball, and he does everything really well. I don't think Dave will take him at No. 5 in order to try and address an immediate need, but I think he will regret not taking him.
John: You could be right. Jack is the sort of player who slips down draft boards because a non-pass-rushing linebacker often is considered a reach in the Top 5. He also is the sort of uncommon talent that makes teams regret not taking him. I'm not as convinced as you that Caldwell's not taking him. I am convinced that between Jalen Ramsey, Jack, Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner this is starting to feel like a good draft at No. 5.
Trae from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Nope! You gotta let us in on this Taylor Swift beef! Did it have something to do with the Culligan Girl?
John: I'd honestly love to talk about it. I can't. It's just too difficult.

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