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O-Zone: Let there be rock

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
I haven't heard it talked about much, but I think the team's picks in the seventh round are the best indicator of where David Caldwell believes the roster is right now. In his first two drafts, he was still plugging holes late in the seventh round; this year, he took developmental guys who can have immediate special teams impact at two of the roster's deepest positions. I don't remember the last time the Jags were in a position to shore up special teams in a draft. It's great.
John: Though it's far too early to call this roster complete, there's a lot of truth in what you say. I thought the draft was significant for much the same reason beginning in about Round 3. It was there that Caldwell took guard A.J. Cann. In the next round, he took safety James Sample. He then took wide receiver Rashad Greene and defensive tackle Michael Bennett in Rounds 5 and 6, respectively. The Jaguars recently signed free agents in Zane Beadles and Sergio Brown at the positons Cann and Sample play, but Caldwell was able to draft for completion/depth as opposed to taking later-round players to fill gaping holes. The same is true of Greene and Bennett, who appear to be quality players that won't be forced into the lineup right away. If they are good enough to play they'll play, but they won't have to play. Rookies often need time to develop. The Jaguars are getting closer to being able to allow rookies to do just that.
Sam from Jacksonville:
It is obviously too early to tell anything, but I join the initial praise of the Jags' draft. With that said, isn't part of the reason that the administration was so readily able to address multiple areas of need due to the fact that it has really missed the mark on some free-agent signings? For example, the second- and third-round picks both appear to have matched value with needs. However, those needs would be much less glaring if the big money paid to Gerhart or Beadles led to any production of consequence.
John: Your question appears to fall into the trap of assuming every free-agent signing is going to yield mega-productive results. The reality is free agency is a percentage game and not every acquisition is a home run. Sure, if Gerhart and Beadles had played at a higher level, then the addition of T.J. Yeldon and A.J. Cann might have had less of a "need feel." At the same time, let's not rewrite history and let's not portray the signings of Beadles or Gerhart as if they were intended to be long-term core building blocks. While Beadles received $12.5 million in guaranteed money his contract was written in such a manner that he would be off the cap after two seasons if he doesn't work out. That doesn't mean the selection was a home run, but given the Jaguars' cap situation at the time it was a reasonable gamble. Gerhart received $4.5 million guaranteed. That's big money in real life, but not in professional football.
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, in regards to Carl from Tallahassee, Shad Khan himself stated that the selection of Dante Fowler Jr. was a good decision business-wise when he said, "It worked out nicely from a business perspective, too. We've been fortunate the last two years -- "Blake went to Central Florida, so that generated excitement, and Dante's a Florida guy. It's not (Tim) Tebow, but it's the next best thing." Maybe the comment that Fowler Jr. will "sell tickets to Gator Nation" isn't so ridiculous after all. I mean, the owner himself said it. Your thoughts? Go Jags!
John: Khan's quote portrays the situation accurately. It "worked out nicely" and the Jaguars were "fortunate" that the players selected had local ties. Nowhere in that quote did it indicate that the Jaguars made those decisions because of where the players attended college. Maybe Fowler having played at Florida will sell a few extra tickets and maybe it won't. We'll see. The point is that you don't draft based on where a player went to college, and that's not why the Jaguars drafted Dante Fowler Jr. Fred Taylor was a great draft selection who drew interest with the Jaguars because he was successful on the field – not because he went to Florida. Other former Florida players haven't drawn quite the interest because they weren't as successful on the field.
Connor from Darien, CT:
We now have five running backs on the roster with no fullback. How do you see Storm Johnson fitting in, if he does at all?
John: He'll fit as one of four or five running backs if he's one of those four or five running backs. As you mentioned, the Jaguars won't carry a true fullback.
Niaz from Orlando, FL:
Dante Fowler Jr. - what I see is a disruptive player, but unpolished pass-rusher. Is that what you see? What can the Jaguars do to make him more comfortable as a pass rusher in his first year (e.g., they way the used the read-option some with Bortles this year). Does moving him around the defense, like Muschamp did at Florida, make it easier or harder for the young LEO to adjust?
John: Almost all NFL rookies are unpolished players, be they pass rushers, pass catchers, pass defenders, pass throwers or whatever. I don't think the Jaguars are ready to start discussing exactly where Fowler will line up from play to play. What Fowler can do to get comfortable quickly is to start learning the NFL game, which means learning how to use his hands and how to develop counter moves. That's where his process likely will begin.
Bernard from Tucson, AZ:
Now that we can say the Jags have enough quality players to truly implement the "Best-Team-Through-Competition" scenario, isn't this year essentially the beginning of Gus Bradley's coaching clock? I think Shad Khan understands that Dave had to do his part before Gus could work his magic in a real way.
John: I'm never sure how to answer "clock" questions. Every fan has a clock and every media person has a clock. The only clock that matters is Shad Khan's clock. He understood when Bradley and Caldwell took over football operations that there was a lot of work ahead. He understood this probably better and on a more detailed level than most fans. Khan has expressed more than once that he likes the progress, and as long as that's the case there's no reason to start talking about clocks.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Some things transcend sports and Sen'Derrick Marks taking Khameyea Jennings to the prom is one of them. I'm a big, tough guy but this one touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I will be praying for her. With players like Marks, it makes you proud to be a Jaguar doesn't it? Lombardi was wrong, winning isn't the only thing, some things are more important.
John: Yep.
Ima from Jacksonville:
I get all the hype after the draft. It's natural for the fans to be excited. The three- and four-win seasons of yesteryear are long forgotten. I still have the sense that Lucy is going to yank the ball away just before we try to kick it again this year. I'm not listening to the sunshine pumpers. I predict a 2-5 record at the break and lots of disgruntled people in the stands. What you say, O-man?
John: I think the Jaguars need to fare well in their first couple of games, then need to play really well at Indianapolis and New England. If they can get out of that stretch .500 or better, then I think the disgruntled fans can be kept to minimum.
Jim from Jacksonville:
What kind of drills can we expect to see if we go down to the rookie minicamp this weekend?
John: A little passin', a little catchin' and a lot of runnin' around in shorts.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
Now that the draft is over, do you think there's any chance we work a deal with the Eagles to get Tim Tebow? I know he's a backup or at least in camp to generate competition but don't you think he could be effective here as well? ;
John: I'll ask Dave.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
I remember hearing that Gerhart was going to take on something like a fullback role this year. Has that been scrapped with the whole "we-aren't-carrying-a-fullback" thing? Or is it just that Gerhart will be the closest thing to a fullback the offense carries?
John: Gerhart was never going to play fullback. There could be times when he does things a fullback might do, such as block or run in short yardage, but he never was going to be a slam-the-line-of-scrimmage blocking fullback.
Jeremy from Siesta Key, FL:
Well, I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I sure saw Molly Hatchet with .38 Special and the Johnny Van Zant Band ...
John: The band that I was in played the Boys are Back in Town.

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