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O-Zone: Name game

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Alex from Orlando, FL

Do you expect the front office to ask quarterbacks at the combine if they are "natural throwers of the football?" As sad as it is, I'm actually being serious about this question.

I don’t doubt that you’re serious, but I do doubt the Jaguars will ask quarterbacks that question at the NFL Scouting Combine or any other time in the pre-draft process – and I don’t care if they don’t. And make no mistake: I do understand your question – just as I understand many Jaguars fans will remain bitter and bemused over the Jaguars drafting quarterback Blake Bortles with the idea that he would develop and work some out some of the mechanical issues that eventually hurt him during most of his time here. But the Jaguars can’t go into this or future drafts thinking about not selecting the “Next Bortles.” They must scout quarterbacks and all other players based on their evaluation, then select the players they believe are the best available when it is their time to make selections. If the Jaguars do this, I expect many of the prospects to work out and I expect some not to work out, which is pretty much what I expect from most NFL front offices. I do expect the Jaguars to draft a quarterback this offseason. As far as how that quarterback will fare in the NFL, I expect he will have a decent chance and it will have to do with a combination of his talent, intelligence, character, work ethic and surroundings. I’m not being dim or snarky here. I’m simply stating how things work in the NFL, what the Jaguars need to do give themselves the best chance of success and that the reality is you can do everything right and not have a player develop into what you want or expect. And yes, I’m being serious about the answer.

Keith from Palatka, FL

In free agency let the following players seek employment elsewhere: guard A.J. Cann, right tackle Jermey Parnell, wide receiver Donte Moncrief, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, and linebacker Telvin Smith. Do what it takes to get Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles: pay him somewhere between $20-to-$25 million on a multiyear deal and give up a third rounder if you have to. 'Nuf sed. What say you?

Sure.

Dan from Ormond Beach, FL

I realize this has never been done before and fans likely wouldn’t have the patience, but despite what you read and hear we have a lot of bright and patient fans. What if the Jaguars sign Foles, then trade their first-round selection this year for a team’s first-, second- and third-round selection in 2021? Then, next year trade our first-round selection for a team’s first-, second- and third-round selection in 2021. Leaving us no first-rounder in 2019 or 2020 but giving us three firsts, three seconds and three thirds in 2021, building up the ammo for when that high probability comes around like Trevor Lawrence we have the ammo to get him and solve the problem. We have no way of knowing whether our next two first-rounders will be any good, but what does it matter until we get the franchise guy? We can stew in mediocrity for a couple of years with Foles (odds are we would anyway even with using our number ones) and be prepared to be holding all the cards at some point.

Your idea works in theory, and I agree Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks like a can’t-miss prospect. But remember: if he’s that can’t miss – and he just might be – then it’s conceivable the team holding the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft may not be willing to trade away his rights. The Jaguars in that scenario still would have a bunch of draft selections in 2021, so it wouldn’t be all bad. But you wouldn’t have Lawrence.

Fun from Funland

Who is the most expensive free agent the Jaguars are likely to acquire on both offense and defense?

I haven’t the foggiest, but if the Jaguars sign or acquire a quarterback on the level of Foles I wouldn’t expect much big spending elsewhere.

Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436 Since 1995

I know you say future draft picks shouldn’t be affected by history, but if the same people who made said bad draft picks are still in the Jaguars employ, isn't that the definition of insanity anyway?

No, actually.

Mac from Jacksonville Beach, FL

I think there's a chance Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray turns out to be electric in the NFL. I think there's a greater chance he's a complete bust. I don't think there's any in-between. That being said, let's roll the dice and draft him. Why not?

Because the NFL Draft is a percentage game, and the idea is to increase your chances of success as much as possible. And because an age-old adage in NFL front offices is you absolutely don’t want to bust in the first round – that it’s better to hit a lot of singles, doubles and triples and never strike out than to hit a few home runs and strike out a lot. I’m not saying any of this means the Jaguars won’t take Murray, but that’s the “why not?”

Rusty from New Iberia, LA

So, we are getting rid of Bortles because sometimes “It’s time to move on.” Forget the AFC Championship game last year. Forget a 3-1 start and win over the Pats and a ninth-ranked offense this year before injuries crushed us. Forget all the dead cap money from releasing Bortles. These coaches want to release him because that is the league norm. I wish we had coaches that could think for themselves and not just follow the herd.

So, one fer Bortles …

Tucker from Nashville, TN

What is everybody talking about? Keep Bortles? Did you not watch a game? Fans talk about the Titans game as a turning point. Nobody talks about the fact Bortles refused to throw it past ten yards in that game. I thought he was hurt instead of Marcus Mariota. Foles or a rookie is better than what I saw last season.

… and one not fer.

AJ from Scottsdale, AZ

Why not start the rookie quarterback if we draft one? At least we can find out if he really is the chosen one, and if not then we can draft another one next year and continue the process until the franchise finally hits on a quarterback. Just weary of paying a veteran $15-plus million when the uncertainty level is the same as a rookie quarterback.

The Jaguars before paying Bortles $5 million in salary with a $15 million bonus in 2018 never had paid a quarterback $15-million plus a season. So, while your weariness is understandable it hasn’t been going on that long. As far as why the Jaguars would want a veteran to start next season if they drafted a rookie, the idea for this team is to win and contend again now – not necessarily to build for the future. Winning now is tough with a rookie quarterback, particularly if that rookie quarterback is deemed to need some time to develop. I’m not saying any of this means the Jaguars won’t start a rookie quarterback next season, but that’s the “why not?”

Paul from Ponte Vedra, FL

Mr. O, I recall the offensive line being very scrutinized during the 2017 camp ... then the season rolled around and they played collectively very well. Fast forward to 2018 with all the injuries and … well, we all know how that turned out. Do you think that a possible 8-8 season or better would have changed the dynamics of what we are all living with now? Meaning does BB 5 maintain his status of starting quarterback? LF27, runs for another 700 yards after his return? Just wondering.

Would the Jaguars’ 2019 offseason look different had 2018 gone differently? Would Bortles return as the starting quarterback next season if the offensive line had been better in 2018? Very possibly. He likely would have played better last season and the team would have performed better had the offense been healthier and therefore performed better. Here’s the best way to think about this: The Jaguars re-signed Bortles last offseason and put together personnel – and their overall plan – for 2018 based on circumstances at the time; they were sixth in the NFL in total offense in 2017 with similar personnel and a similar approach. The circumstances this offseason are different. They will make different decisions based on those circumstances. Bortles showed last season – again – that he has trouble raising the level of others around him. Based on that circumstance it would have been difficult to bring him back as the starter.

William from Jacksonville

I think the NFL should be called flag football. Because on almost every play there is a flag on the play.

Thanks for that.

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