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O-Zone: Motivationally speaking

INDIANAPOLIS – Let's get to it . . . Austin from Atlanta, GA:
When listening to Dave in his interview, it sounds as if he and Gus basically have their board done, or are at least close. I know the combine and Pro Days will alter it slightly, but do you get the feeling they are close to knowing who they will draft with No. 3 barring a trade?
John: I think they have a pretty good idea about two or three scenarios, with the scenarios depending upon what happens in front of them on the night of the draft. That could change, but I'd be surprised if the scenarios they have in mind now aren't real close to what they'll have in mind come early May.
Vincent from Bristol, CT:
The 'Skins have said quarterback Kirk Cousins is available for a second-round pick. Do you think there's a chance Caldwell goes Clowney or Mack then pulls trigger for Cousins with a second-round pick?
John: I suppose it's possible, though I wouldn't call it "likely." The 'Skins reportedly wanting a second-round selection for Cousins isn't the same as a team actually giving up a Top 40 selection for him.
April from Cebu City, Philippines/Pooler, GA:
Let's not candy coat this. Picking a franchise quarterback is HUGE for Caldwell and the entire organization. Especially if quarterbacks taken AFTER the Jags select turn into franchise quarterbacks. As you have mentioned, when you miss at quarterback, it's hard to make the playoffs. High stakes exciting stuff!! So put me down for picking the right guy.
John: Hey! One fer the right guy! But really, from the Jaguars' perspective they're not so concerned about what quarterbacks they don't select do for other teams. They're concerned about what the players they select do for the Jaguars.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
Do the Indianapolis Colts get an advantage by having the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis?
John: It reduces travel expenses, but other than that, no.
Steve from Julington Creek, FL:
For me, I would be excited for any one of the three for our first pick – Bridgewater, Bortles or Clowney. And obviously one or more will be available at the 3rd pick. Besides Manziel, who else could be a surprise pick at No. 3?
John: If I told you it wouldn't be a surprise.
Brian from Mandarin:
Could you please forward Mr. Caldwell's current draft board, one more after the combine and another just before the draft? I'd just like to see how it changes throughout the process. Thank you kindly, Brian.
John: On it.
James from Socorro, NM:
How many current quarterbacks elected not to throw at the combine? I think it's a lot like preseason games: a week after it happens, nobody remembers.
John: I think you're right, although I'd say it's more accurate to say that after the Pro Days no one remembers. Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr have opted not to throw this week. Those decisions will be huge topics at the combine this week because the entire league is at the combine and topics are needed. Once the quarterbacks throw at their Pro Days, as long as those days go smoothly, I doubt you'll hear much about the issue.
Phil from Durham, NC:
O-Man! Wasn't Brady a 'lanky' kid coming out of college? Not to say that I'm expecting Bridgewater to be the next Tom Brady... but wouldn't Bridgewater fall into the same size category?
John: Phil! Brady was listed at 6-feet-5, 211 pounds by at least one web site entering the NFL Scouting Combine; Bridgewater is 6-2, 205. So, they are relatively similar in "size category," but Brady had the ability to put on weight and is now listed at 225 pounds. Can Bridgewater do the same? Some question it.
Strnbiker from Dothan, AL:
Why do some quarterbacks elect to not throw at the combine? Do they think all of their pro games will be played on home field?
John: It has far more to do with who they will be throwing to than the field. Quarterbacks often prefer to throw to receivers with whom they're familiar at their Pro Day than with unfamiliar receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine. Now, the argument can be made that all quarterbacks at the combine are dealing with the same issue, but … well, yeah, I wouldn't have much of an answer to that argument.
Tom from Ponte Vedra Beach and Section 106:
John, I see you shaved down for the combine. Nice look. What, did you score a discount coupon for a haircut on base?
John: No. I am not in the military.
Greg from Atlanta, GA:
Hey John, love the daily column and insight. Hearing about the Jimmy Graham situation, I was wondering why did the players union and player sign off on the franchise tag? To me it seems completely unfair for all the top players at each position. To me with the nonguaranteed contracts in the NFL, it would seem like an easy concession for the owners.
John: The players union signed off because the owners wanted something to protect their investments, and because the owners needed something to secure the identity of their franchise when they were "allowing" players to become free agents. At first, it seemed very reasonable because franchised players are guarantee a pretty high one-year salary, but players soon began balking at the tag because signing bonuses and extended contracts became the norm for the elite free agents.
Mike from Clyde:
Do you think last year's draft could be the best in Jaguars history? I believe it could be a candidate if Luke comes back healthy and strong. Cyp and Gratz both displayed the potential to be great. Ace has shown he could be a very good slot receiver, Evans could be a steal and McCray has potential to be nickel and maybe even a starter in a few years.
John: I think it has potential, but I think a lot of drafts show potential after one year. Joeckel has played a little more than four games, and while Cyprien and Gratz played well for rookies, each must develop significantly. The rookie class last year showed it as a chance to be productive, and most of the draft picks showed they are capable of playing well in the league; perhaps more accurately, they didn't prove to be immediately overwhelmed. That's what you want from a draft class, but most players go through their most development in Years Two and Three. That's when we'll get a better idea about the '13 class.
Ray from Jacksonville:
Do you think any of the so-called draft experts could get a job with an NFL team? I know McShay probably makes more money than many general managers, but I laughed recently hearing him say he had broken down tape on the quarterbacks. Do you think he could actually evaluate the footwork of a left guard?
John: Sure, a lot of draft experts could work for NFL teams. Many are capable of breaking down and analyzing specifics strengths and weaknesses of players, and they're certainly capable of being trained to do so. Scouting players is not witchcraft and there's no secret formula. It's about being taught and trained on what to see and what's important. That's not to say there's no skill to it; there is. But yes, there are guys analyzing the draft independently who would be capable of working for teams.
Royce from Jacksonville:
Mr. O, can you explain why the Jags are keeping Blaine on the roster other than he is under contract? He seems like a forgotten man in all the quarterback talks.
John: The Jaguars are keeping Gabbert on the roster precisely because he is under contract. He is guaranteed his 2014 salary, which means they are paying him whether he is on the roster or not. That means there is no reason to change anything.
J.T. from Starkville, MS:
You want to know something that is a pleasant change of pace? After the 2009 season, it seemed that nobody (nationally) liked the direction the team was going and the Jags were a punch line in nearly every corner. Now, despite a 4-12 record, most of the articles that reference the Jaguars have an optimistic outlook for the team. It's not important, but it's nice to hear. That's all.
John: There is indeed a positive national impression of the Jaguars, and though you're right that it's not incredibly important, it is indicative of what's going on around the franchise. The Jaguars had a long way to go when Caldwell and Bradley took over last offseason. You couldn't be around EverBank Field this past season without realizing it was a franchise moving in a positive direction. The more people are around the team, the more they realize it. That doesn't mean the Jaguars are going to win the Super Bowl next season; it means the foundation for future success is being laid.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
The more I think about it, the more I'm hoping Dave Caldwell gets a deal done to bring Alex Mack to Jacksonville. The center is the anchor of any good offensive line and it's a position in which veterans can excel for years (e.g. Brad Meester). Mack could be a big building block in the construction of a strong offensive line for the Jags for years to come. I'm sure Henne & MJD would be in the "fer signing Alex Mack" camp. Your thoughts?
John: Alex Mack will be a coveted player in free agency. I imagine he's a player the Jaguars will research and perhaps pursue. What the chances would be of him actually signing will depend on cost. You can covet a center, but you can't pay exorbitant money.
Alvin from Cheyenne, WY:
So what if Manziel told the Texans he'd make them sorry if they didn't draft him? Didn't MJD say that he took No. 32 because everyone passed on him in the first round? What's wrong with an attitude if the player uses it constructively as motivation?
John: Nothing.

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