JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jeff from Orange, CA
With the Jaguars seemingly having lots of needs to fill through the draft, do you see this year as being more probable than past years for a trade back in Round 1 to collect more picks? And maybe more importantly … are there quality players forecasted to be Top 10 picks that teams may be interested in trading up to get?
I'm always reluctant to call draft trades "probable or improbable" because they typically depend on having another team willing and wanting to trade. That circumstance can change once the draft begins, and it can change once teams are on the clock. But I don't see the Jaguars any more inclined to trade back in Round 1 this year than past years. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell hasn't traded out of a Top 10 selection during his tenure, partly because trading is far more difficult in real life than in speculation and partly because he believes having one great player is better than having two good ones; if you love a player at, say, No. 6 overall don't trade back for a couple of players who are just OK. As far as quality players being available at No. 9 overall that might entice teams to trade with the Jaguars, that's certainly possible – though it's no guarantee. Quarterbacks are the most-enticing trade targets, and there's a good chance the top three quarterbacks – Joe Burrow of Louisiana State, Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Justin Herbert of Oregon – will be selected before the Jaguars are on the clock at No. 9. That doesn't mean the Jaguars won't be able to trade, but it could make it trickier.
Steve from Nashville, TN
John, what would be the excitement level in the building for the Jaguars being on Hard Knocks this year?
It's possible someone would be excited. Why and who? That I couldn't tell you.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL
Zone: I have to believe that at least one of Javon Kinlaw (defensive tackle, South Carolina), Isaiah Simmons (safety/linebacker, Clemson) and Derrick Brown (defensive tackle, Auburn) trio is still available at the ninth pick. Each would seemingly have an immediate impact, and likely in a meaningful way. One fer our Jags D getting back to 2017 status?? Thanks and Go Jags!!
It seems very likely that one from the trio is available when Jaguars select No. 9 overall. The thought here is the Jaguars probably would prefer a defensive tackle there because the interior run defense struggled to a season-defining degree last season. If they don't fix that, it's hard to imagine anything else mattering much. They must do more than simply improve the run defense to return to a 2017 level, but that would be a start.
Mike from Cortland, NY
Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell plays two more seasons, regardless of where. Which most likely gets him to 100-plus career sacks as he sits at 88 currently. That, mixed in with longevity and character and impact off the field ... does he get into the Hall of Fame?
If Campbell plays at a Pro Bowl level for two more seasons, then yes … that could change how his career is viewed. If he plays those two seasons at a six-sack-per-season level, then I doubt it will change much. I think Campbell will get Hall of Fame consideration no matter how much longer he plays, but I don't know right now that he would get in without another Pro Bowl season or two. Had he played in a 4-3 scheme – the Jaguars' scheme the past three seasons – I have no doubt he would be shoo-in.
KC from Miami, FL
I think it would be ideal if the Jaguars could draft defensive and offensive line in the first round of the draft. With that said, if the Jaguars could only afford to hand out one big free-agent contract, which position/player should it be, in your opinion?
The best tight end available.
Marty from Jacksonville
John, regarding Campbell … NFL teams ask for a lot from their local communities, including having the taxpayers pay for new stadiums. They tout their value to the local community, including all their charitable works, and the players' role in the community, as justification. Well, here's a guy who exemplifies everything an NFL team likes to brag about in terms of value to the local community. If they release him it will be very bad PR. If they want the fans to buy tickets and support the team, they need to honor his contract. Agree?
No one around the Jaguars has any desire to part with Campbell. He is one of the most-respected, most-important, most-productive players in franchise history. He's perhaps the best free-agent acquisition in franchise history. It would be a public-relations issue if the team released him, and the team would love to avoid that. At the same time, Campbell's salary-cap figure of $17.5 million is extraordinarily high and he did not play as well last season as he had the previous two seasons – though he certainly played well. He was on the field too many snaps and the Jaguars must figure out a role that makes sense – and in which he can be productive – next season. They also must determine if paying him his current salary makes sense, or if it's possible to find a balance between role and salary. Some of that may be up to Campbell. My guess is Campbell will play for the Jaguars next season, and it may be at his current salary. But this is not at all an easy situation.
Sam from Orlando, FL
Former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith was released from prison barely two years ago and he's on house arrest. The NFL would never let someone under these circumstances walk across the stage and get enshrined. Jimmy Smith is the only reason Jimmy Smith isn't in the Hall of Fame.
Smith was released in 2013 and he was inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars in 2016. The NFL doesn't control who gets into the Pro Football Hall of Fame; it's the Hall and its voters. I don't doubt that Smith's off-field issues have contributed on some level to him being too easily dismissed by Hall voters, but at what point do we let a man come back from past mistakes?
Julio from South Carolina
O, let's pretend you are the general manager. You call the Cincinnati Bengals and they are willing to trade with you assuming you want quarterback Joe Burrow. Would you make that trade and what would you be willing to give up?
Both first-round selections – No. 9 and No. 20 – and probably a second-round selection next year, but I probably wouldn't bother making the call. I don't see the Bengals trading the selection for what I would be willing to give.
Scott from Jacksonville
Zone, I get that the Players Association voted to allow for the franchise tag, and that teams must do everything within established labor rules to retain talent. But do you really want to pay Top 5 money at an expensive position to rent a disgruntled player for a year? The Jags will win six games next year with or without defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Do we want to compound player perception around the league that this franchise holds players hostage in a time when no free agents want to play ten "away" games for a losing team directly on the heels of the Tom Coughlin fines scandal simply to retain a distraction while attempting to rebuild against cap constraints? I've loved watching Ngakoue and appreciate what he has brought to this team, but all things considered at this point – with management having painted themselves in to a corner – the smart move would be to trade him for a pick that has to prove himself for several years at a reasonable wage for whichever team that drafts him .. wherever they play.
You're dumping a lot of issues into the Ngakoue thing, but you may be overcomplicating it. Yes, Ngakoue appears to be disgruntled at the moment, but teams and players disagreeing over a player's value isn't exclusive to the Jaguars – and Ngakoue wouldn't be the first player to be unhappy to receive the franchise tag if it happened that way. The Jaguars can't approach this negotiation worrying about periphery issues. They must decide if they can afford to pay Ngakoue what Ngakoue wants for a long-term extension – and if the sides can't agree, I would guess the Jaguars will apply the franchise tag. Would that lead to a long-term agreement or an eventual trade? That very much remains to be seen, but the decision would be based on Ngakoue's demands and value – not anything to do with Coughlin, fines or London.
Daryll from Palatka, FL
Oz, I've been reading the zone for some time now and I've come to the conclusion that you're not a nice person.