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O-Zone: Nail on the head

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Dirk from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Since we are cleaning house, how many starters would you expect from the draft if it's good: two or three? Also, enlighten us on a realistic timeframe to compete with the better teams.
John: I'd say it's possible three or four rookies could start. There will be competition at every position, so it's hard to project positions, but a rookie could have a chance to start at right tackle, left guard, defensive end/tackle, linebacker, corner and safety. The odds at any particular position depend on the individual player drafted. As for competing with the better teams, until we start seeing how this plays out it's just so hard to project. Right now, you'd think it would be realistic to think that the Jaguars could compete with a lot of teams, though as young as they will be it certainly will be difficult to do it consistently. As for when they can consistently compete and beat good teams, that could be a year away. At the same time, it's not fair to assume it can't happen. The Seahawks went through a pretty significant roster turnover in 2010 – Gus Bradley's second year as defensive coordinator – and went 8-8 and won a playoff game. That's a model for what the Jaguars are trying to do, so who knows?
Logan from Wichita, KS:
I am going to go out on a limb and say David Caldwell will do everything in his power to trade the first and possibly even second round picks for as many sixth- and seventh-round picks as possible to get a leg up on undrafted signings. Then make sure all of the players taken in Rounds 3-5 will be as low quality as possible so they fit the rest of the team. What do you think?
John: I think your limb is breaking.
Dane from Jacksonville:
This may not even be worth mentioning considering Donte from Richmond's misconception of our linebacker situation, but I think it's also inaccurate to say "most of the fans" are frustrated by the roster moves. Just want to be heard...
John: You have been.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
Whatever happened to the running back? I do understand the rise of the franchise QB, but since when do positions like cornerback and offensive line (maybe other than tackle) garner more draft and free- agent discussion and attention than a good possible franchise-changing back? Fred Taylor was a first-round pick, and arguably may have had the single biggest player impact on the Jaguars to date! MJD is in his final year of his contract, and we have never found the real second-string guy behind him to transition up, like Maurice did earlier with Taylor. Has the game changed so much in the last 10 years that our current situation at running back is not worthy of the draft scrutiny and free-agency discussions of the past?
John: There are exceptions at every position, and Taylor and Jones-Drew are among the exceptions at running back, but generally speaking running back has become a devalued position in the NFL. One reason is that the game has geared more toward the passing offense, and the other reason is the perception that except in exceptional cases – again, with Jones-Drew and Taylor being among the exceptions – that for the most part quality runners are available in the later rounds of the draft. The running offense often depends as much on the quality of the line as the runner, and many believe that if your line is run-blocking well, there are many backs who can run effectively behind it. This can be debated, and running backs certainly see the other side, but generally speaking that's why quarterback, left tackle and cornerback are considered premium positions over running back.
Jason from Orange Park, FL:
There has been lots of talk about finding a "LEO" or "big, physical cornerbacks" that the Seattle defense uses. Yet, when I think back to the comments made by Gus Bradley in regards to Seattle, I remember him saying the Seahawks ended up going to that front based on the talent they had on the roster. If we are trying to pattern the Jaguars to the success of the Seahawks, then wouldn't it make sense to take the best player rather than settling on a scheme and fitting players around that scheme? It sounds like we're doing the opposite of what Seattle did by projecting "LEOs" and "big, physical corners."
John: In certain situations you take the best available player. At the same time Bradley said at the recent NFL Owners meetings that there are certain things you feel strongly enough about from a scheme standpoint that you say, 'We believe in this; let's find guys to get this done.' Bradley's a big believer in the need to play press coverage because that gives the pass rush a chance to get to the quarterback. He believes that that – and not necessarily the blitz – is a key to playing aggressive defense.
Jody from Piper, FL:
Do you think we have to address the offensive line? Or with new coaching can the guys we have step up? I'm just worried that if we draft Geno and he is a pocket passer without a pocket to pass in we will be in the same boat as if Gabbert were under center. It is hard to quarterback from your back.
John: First off, don't worry yet about what happens if the Jaguars draft Geno Smith. We're still three weeks from the draft, and there's no guarantee or even any real indication that they'll take Smith. As far as the offensive line, yes, it needs to play better next season. No question. The new coaching and new system could have an impact, but another factor is that the line needs to get through a season – or at least a significant part of it – healthy. That didn't happen last season, with Will Rackley out the whole season and Uche Nwaneri playing hurt much of the season. If the line can stay healthy and they can get consistency at right tackle, there's a chance for significant improvement.
Silly Max from Tuscon, AZ:
Nothing I've heard from GM Dave leads me to believe the team will use one of their first two picks on a quarterback. Fans should prepare themselves to be initially disappointed to hear the name of an "under-the-radar" quarterback, someone Frank Scelfo is very familiar with and believes in and a young man who initially beat out Nick Foles in college two years ago. This is a kid all the physical tools to develop in a year or two into a solid NFL quarterback. What are your thoughts on Matt Scott as a third- or fourth-round pick for the Jags?
John: My first thought is that fans are initially going to be disappointed pretty much no matter what the Jaguars do in the draft. There isn't a "rock star" available at No. 2, and there are enough different options that a lot of people are going to be as disappointed as excited. That matters not a bit in comparison to making sure that guy's a good player. As to your point on Matt Scott, it wouldn't be surprising if your scenario played out. The consensus is there are at least six or seven quarterbacks worthy of second- or third-round selections and it stands to reason one of two will emerge from that group and become starters. Scott seems to be a guy who has a chance to do just that.
Hunter from Drewvall:
Johann, Two years ago the school I am attending hired James Franklin as the head football coach. He took us from being the bottom feeder of the SEC, and in two years, have two top 25 recruiting classes which led to a nine-win season (including the bowl) for us. Many have attributed this success to his charismatic attitude, infectious energy, and undying passion. The real secret, as I see it, is in his lack of hair. It seems the Jaguars have gotten a coach who similarly matches all of the criteria above. Am I reading in to this too much, or could we be on the verge of an era of bald-headed dominance in football?
John: No, you're not reading too much into it. You have nailed it. Perfectly.

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