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O-Zone: Keen eye for talent

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Aaron from Fairfax, VA:
The Jaguars have 11 picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. Most of those picks are in the bottom rounds, and typically players beneath the fifth round aren't expected to contribute or even make the team. Shouldn't we trade some of the late-rounders (3-4) to get one high draft pick? What am I missing?
John: A couple of things. One, of course, is that trades are two-sided occurrences and the Jaguars are just one side. Another point, perhaps more pertinent, is that the Jaguars have needs in a lot of areas. This is considered a deep draft, so there's a thought that those third-, fourth- and even fifth-round selections could contribute to filling those needs. You're also missing some cohesion in your argument. You said players below the fifth round aren't expected to contribute or make the team, then suggested trading late-rounders (3-4) for an early draft pick. Third- and fourth-rounders are really more mid-round selections, and those could have decent value this year. That's not to say the Jaguars won't deal one or two of later selections to move up, but this team is still trying to add fast, talented players at a lot of positions. The more opportunities to find those players, the better. That's the theory, anyway.
Dennis from Orange Park, FL:
Hi O, took a little break from football yesterday and watched an old episode of Gilligan's Island. It was hilarious. It was the one where they were about to be rescued, but Gilligan messed it up for them. Have you seen that episode?
John: I missed it. I was watching the Full House episode where there was a lesson learned at the end.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
As far as taking a quarterback in the Top 10, it should be a no-brainer. In fact, I would have no issue if the Jags spent every single draft pick on a quarterback to ensure that at the very least we end up with a starting quarterback of the future. You can draft Pro Bowlers in every other position and it wouldn't matter one bit because in this league, you can NOT be competitive without a quarterback. Plain and simple.... if the Jags don't leave this draft with a franchise quarterback, it's a failure on all fronts.... but then again, we're accustomed to the Jags failing miserably in the draft process.
John: Writing this column for more than three years has taught me that passion and conviction are noble traits. It's also taught me that those traits don't always walk hand-in-hand with wisdom.
Bill from Jacksonville:
Are general managers and coaches apt to use agents to negotiate their contracts?
John: Yes.
Kevin from Orange Park, FL:
How could Teddy Bridgewater have fallen from grace so quickly? Three years of really good, consistent college play, but suddenly he is no longer capable of playing the position because of an "average at best" Pro Day. Seems kind of absurd to me, but I'm no expert. What do you think is creating the problem for him, John?
John: The Pro Day didn't help, certainly, but remember: a lot of what is said for public consumption during a collegiate season is projection and not always reflective of what scouts and general managers are thinking. While Bridgewater and other quarterback prospects may have been touted as Sure Top 5 Selections last season, there also was always an undercurrent that there really wasn't a surefire No. 1 quarterback in the class. The offseason has kind of seen that play out. There's a very real chance that Bridgewater will go in the first round and he probably will get a chance to be a starting quarterback somewhere. It just appears he may not be a Top 3 pick.
Johnny from Melbourne, FL:
O-Zone... Rd-1 - Jadeveon Clowney - DE - South Carolina Rd-2 - David Yankey - OG - Stanford Rd-3 - Kyle Van Noy - OLB - BYU Rd-4 - AJ McCarron - QB - Alabama Rd-4 - Bryan Stork - OC - Florida State Rd-5 - Chris Davis - CB - Auburn Rd-5 - Jeremy Hill - RB - LSU Rd-5 - Devin Street - WR - Pittsburgh Rd-6 - Ty Zimmerman - SS - Kansas State Rd-6 - Loucheiz Purifoy - CB - Florida Rd-7 - Colt Lyeria - TE - Oregon Your thoughts....
John: I think you hit every single pick dead on the nose.
Eric from Boston, MA:
A month or so ago I posed a question to you regarding selecting Jake Matthews at No. 3 overall if he was available. You responded that you thought it would be highly unlikely that the Jags would pull the trigger on an offensive tackle at No. 3 overall. Hypothetically, if we trade back to Picks No. 7-10, is the option of taking an offensive tackle with our first selection still unlikely here, or has that mindset shifted to a good possibility?
John: I think offensive tackle is more likely if the Jaguars trade down, but I still wouldn't call it particularly likely.
Jonathan from Camp Casey, Korea (no longer stationed in Fort Irwin) :
I bet once the Browns matched the Mack offer, ol Dave just threw his hands into the air and said "We're screwed." Pretty sure he has a backup plan, right?
John: Quitting at the first sign of adversity has served me well over the years … well, it at least has served me. I'm fairly sure Caldwell has chosen another operating philosophy.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
So, if I am reading you right, the Colts were correct to lose to get Andrew Luck, but normally that is not the case. But if there were say an Andrew Luck-caliber quarterback in this year's draft then the Jags should have lost to the Texans on purpose? The Jags haven't had a great quarterback in forever; I would have been all for losing out for Luck. It's sad that that's the case, but the NFL has created the situation.
John: I didn't say the Colts were correct to lose to get Luck, though that was a situation when doing so would have had the desired result. It's just a very rare instance when there is a standout quarterback so obvious, so can't-miss and so NFL ready that it's even a legitimate discussion.
Paul from Potomac, MD:
I disagree with your argument that a general manager should continually pass on a quarterback in the first round every year. Dave Caldwell at some point is going to have to eliminate any conservatism or safe-pick mentality and take a chance on a quarterback. For all his failings as a general manager, at least Gene Smith had the guts to take a franchise quarterback in the first round.
John: I didn't argue that a general manager should continually pass on a quarterback in the first round every year. I did argue that a general manager shouldn't take a quarterback in the Top 3 if he believes to his core that he's not a difference-maker, particularly when there are difference-makers at other positions available.
Rob from Pittsburgh, PA:
These guys are killing me. If Caldwell wouldn't have tried to get Alex Mack people would have cried about it. Now that he's taken a shot at getting him people are still not satisfied, and they never will be. I just wish some of us would understand that you can't win them all. Caldwell took a shot and missed, and as we all know, "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."
John: This is a hard concept for people to grasp, and I'm pretty much done with the topic. Caldwell made Mack an offer that, truth be told, probably was a little high for a center. There was a decent possibility considering the Browns' cap situation in future seasons that they wouldn't match the offer. If the Jaguars had offered significantly more they quickly would have gotten into a range that would have been absurdly costly for the position. They made their offer and Cleveland matched it. I'm not sure what else people would have wanted the Jaguars to do short of spending irresponsibly. If you want Caldwell to do that, you may be waiting a while.
Artis from Norfolk, VA:
If you say the three quarterbacks are around the same skill level, I say Mack is around the same skill level as Barr. Therefore we have to take Sammy Watkins as the best talent on the board, if Clowney and Robinson do go one and two.
John: There's sound logic in your argument. At the same time, you're not going to get Barr if you pass on Mack and take someone else at No. 3, so he's not really a part of the discussion. The argument at quarterback is that there are some who don't think there's a significant drop-off between the Top 3 and a lot of the lower-rated prospects. If that's the case, there's a lot of logic in waiting and drafting quarterbacks later.
Conrad from Richland Center, WI:
Hey John! Who are, in your astute opinion, the top two or three centers available in this year's draft and what do you like about each one?
John: My astute opinion is strikingly similar to that of NFL Draft Guru Mike Mayock. He ranks the Top 5 centers in the 2014 NFL Draft as Marcus Martin of Southern Cal, Weston Richburg of Colorado State, Travis Swanson of Arkansas, Bryan Stork of Florida State and Gabe Ikard of Oklahoma. That's exactly my order, too. I'd tell you what I like about each one, but the link wasn't working.

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