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O-Zone Late Night: 2018 NFL Draft

JACKSONVILLE – We could call this O-Zone Early Morning. Yes, it's that late.

Acknowledging that, this will be a truncated version post-draft O-Zone Late Night: A few questions focused on the Jaguars' selecting University of Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan at No. 29 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft along with a thought on the news that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan plans to purchase Wembley Stadium (yes, that happened Thursday, too).

Let's get to it … Richard from Gainesville, FL:
This is hard for me. I went to UF and I'm all for drafting Gator players. I don't claim to know as much as the Jags' front office or anyone for that matter. There were quality players at all positions on the board at No. 29. Why take a defensive tackle? Please explain. It truly would have been my last position choice.
John: This actually is pretty easy to explain. While most Jaguars observers focused on offense before the draft, both Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell talked extensively at the 2018 pre-draft luncheon about the real possibility of best available player. The feeling was the Jaguars had addressed immediate needs in free agency enough that the best-available route could be taken in the draft. If you couple that with the fact that the salary cap could force difficult decisions on the defensive line and secondary following the 2019 season, the possibility of defense in the first round was very real. If you consider that Coughlin historically believes strongly in being talented and deep on the defensive line, the possibility was even realer.
SteveD from Jacksonville:
The Wembley Jags?
John: We'll address this quickly in this O-Zone Late Night and we'll discuss it a bit more in the coming days I'm sure, but yes … Khan has extended an offer to purchase Wembley Stadium. And yes … that has caused panic in some corners of the fan base. Twitter and the inbox blew up with questions about the issue alongside speculation that this would mean the Jaguars moving permanently to London. The reality is Thursday's news doesn't mean that. What does it mean? Many things we already knew, really. The Jaguars need London as part of their local-revenue stream and the game they play there each season is critical to the team's long-term stability. Both Khan and President Mark Lamping have said this often in recent years, and Lamping spent significant time on the topic at last week's State of the Franchise event. Khan owning Wembley would further enhance that stream, and it also would serve to protect the Jaguars' place in what is becoming an increasingly competitive NFL London market. What it doesn't do is change the Jaguars' approach to Jacksonville. The commitment to the City? The development around EverBank Field? Khan's vision for the future? Thursday's announcement changes none of that. To listen to Khan and Lamping, it only makes the Jaguars stronger in Jacksonville. That has been a huge part of the London initiative all along and that remains the case.
Mike from Mandarin:
OK, well, this has me very concerned. Thoughts?
John: Your concern is understandable. The approach Khan and the Jaguars are taking to London and Jacksonville is unique. Here's why unique approaches concern people: because they can't look at the approach, find a precedent and say, "Yes, I see where this has worked before." Khan wants to make this work in Jacksonville, but he understands a unique approach is needed. That approach is creating revenue streams that will allow the Jaguars to be competitive with larger markets. Part of that approach is Daily's Place. Another part will be the developments around Lot J and the surrounding area of the stadium. Another part has been a game in London each season. Another part now will be owning Wembley Stadium. All of those things mean added revenue for Khan and the Jaguars – and by extension all will strengthen the Jaguars in Jacksonville. It is without question a unique approach and because its uniqueness it may not be comfortable to you. But if you want the Jaguars to remain and thrive in Jacksonville, this is the path Khan believes will make that happen. And now, on to football. It's draft night, right?
Kent from Jacksonville:
I was foolishly hopeful that with Lamar Jackson on the board they'd bring in REAL competition for Blake Bortles. Is Gene Smith back and they didn't warn us? What gives, O?
John: If you were hoping they would select Lamar Jackson, maybe you were foolish. Or maybe you just didn't read the O-Zone enough before the draft. Live and learn, I suppose.
Jonathan from Daytona Beach, FL:
Big O, can you explain to me why we didn't draft Lamar Jackson? Or at least a OL or WR? This pick just reminds me of when we had the chance to get Tim Tebow but didn't.
John: If you were hoping they would select Lamar Jackson, maybe you were foolish. Or maybe you just didn't read the O-Zone enough before the draft. Live and learn, I suppose.
Jonathan from Daytona Beach, FL:
Big O, can you explain to me why we didn't draft Lamar Jackson? Or at least a OL or WR? This pick just reminds me of when we had the chance to get Tim Tebow but didn't.
John: I'm smiling through the pain right now.
Aaron from White Hall:
The NFL might just have something with this draft thing...really seems to get people's emotions going.
John: The draft is cool. People like it. Some people, anyway. Not all of them.

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