O-Zone Late Night: 2018 NFL Draft, Day 2

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it … Biff from Jacksonville:
If folks aren’t happy with what Dave and team have done thus far, I can’t help you.
John: This is a good place to start with this O-Zone Late Night because it seems the people happy with Jaguars General Manager “Dave Caldwell and team” pretty much equal the number who are sad, angry and even a bit ornery. That’s to be expected, of course; such is the rapid-reaction-speculate-and-blow-a-fuse nature of the modern NFL draft. The ultimate truth with every draft is the same now as it always has been: you don’t really know the quality for a couple of years – at least. Many observers assumed the Jaguars’ 2016 draft was good at the time, but we didn’t know for sure it had a chance to reach all-time status until this past season when cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue both made the Pro Bowl and linebacker Myles Jack emerged as a potential elite player. So, all we can do at the time of a draft is project – and the ’18 draft thus far indeed projects pretty well. The Jaguars said before the draft they would focus on best-available-player and it appears they have had done just that. They selected University of Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan in Round 1 and Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison in Round 3; neither selection could remotely be perceived as addressing immediate need. They selected wide receiver DJ Chark from Louisiana State in Round 2, and he also shouldn’t have to be pressed into starting immediately. All three were mocked by some in Round 1 or Round 2, and the Jaguars had a first-round grade on Chark. Does that guarantee a great draft? No. But it does give the Jaguars a chance and that’s a start.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Sexy. 'Fer…
John: This response arrived in the inbox shortly after the Jaguars selected Chark in the second round. It was indeed a sexy selection; considering Chark’s combination of size (6-feet-4, 199 pounds) and speed (4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash) it did feel like a selection that matched value with need. He’s a player who seems to have skill and upside. He also won’t have to start right away, but has the speed to be a deep threat quickly. And because he went to a big, Southeastern Conference school and a lot of fans had heard of him, it indeed was popular selection. A lot of people thought the selection was cool. A lot of people liked it.
Robert from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I actually thought we would go defensive line with the first pick if a good player were there. This is the identity of the team. Some will be lost next year, and we must have excellent talent ready to take their places. This isn't rocket science. Defense is largely what got us here. I love the pick.
John: The Jaguars built the defense through a combination of the draft and free agency, with a heavy nod to free agency. When they nodded heavily in the free-agency direction, it was with the accompanying understanding that they eventually would have to draft well and develop drafted players to maintain a quality defense for the long term. Keep that in mind when considering the Jaguars’ selection of Bryan at No. 29 overall, and keep it in mind with the selection of Harrison, too. Those players must develop for the Jaguars to maintain a top defense in 2019 and 2020. They will be key storylines this time next offseason.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars have well over $50 million – more than a fourth of the salary cap, tied up in defensive linemen for 2018. Now they have used a first-round pick on the position, an asset many believe is the most valuable for an NFL team. With Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, and Abry Jones all playing defensive tackle – and Calais Campbell moving inside on passing downs – what do you think that means for Bryant? Also, most people believe that either Jackson or Dareus will be cut before the 2019 season ... do you think this pick accelerates that timeline, or does nothing else change there?
John: Bryan’s selection does not accelerate the timeline for a decision on either Jackson or Dareus. That decision will come in the 2019 offseason, not before. The Bryant selection is about strengthening a strength and selecting a player who should keep that strength strong for the next half decade. Good teams usually don’t draft for two or three months into the future. They draft for two or three years into the future.
Chris from Goodnight, TX:
A bunch of luxury pics--and Bryan and Chark were drafted based on potential, not production. Bryan looks like Mike Mamula, and Chark looks like Darrius Hayward-Bey. We need linebacker and running back depth in a bad way with only one pick in the fourth and none in the fifth. I hope Dave Caldwell is calling C.J. Anderson's agent right now, and I hope we've got Micah Kiser, linebacker, Virginia or Josey Jewell, linebacker, Iowa prewritten on our fourth round draft card.
John: The Jaguars also could write Blair Brown, linebaker, Ohio, on a fifth-round draft card. That’s right: they did that last season.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Looking at what has happened to great defenses in the past, notably the Seahawks, I think the Bryan pick was awesome. Players on successful team get overpaid and move on or lose production due to age. This selection is good for now and could be great for the future/ Thoughts?
John: I think players on successful teams get overpaid and move on or lose production due to age. I think this selection is good for now and could be great for the future.

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