O-Zone: New direction

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Mike from Jacksonville:
You have mentioned there is a good chance the Jags take a quarterback later in the draft. Do you think Patrick Mahomes II is a realistic pick? I think he definitely needs to sit for a season or two, but could turn out to be a solid starter. Who else besides the Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kiser do you think the Jags have a realistic chance at drafting?
John: I think there's a realistic chance the Jaguars could draft any number of quarterbacks, but I doubt they will do so at No. 4 overall. That's why I doubt players such as Trubisky and Watson end up in Jacksonville. I think the odds of the Jaguars taking a quarterback increase dramatically in Round 2, then taper off after that because it feels like there are a slew of developmental guys who could be available at the bottom of the first or top of the second rounds. I don't think Mahomes is realistic for the Jaguars, either, because all indications now are he will go in the first round – and probably too early in that round for the Jaguars to consider trading up to get him.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
Why isn't Dalvin Cook considered much of a possibility for the Jags at No. 4? Is it because he isn't considered a workhorse 25-to-30-carries-a-game type of back? Or is it the off the field stuff that has cropped up? … Allegedly.
John: I don't sense off-field issues are hurting Cook's draft stock much. My sense is analysts cooled on the idea of Cook at No. 4 because he isn't a workhorse, carry-the-offense back – and because it's a very deep running back class with a lot of value to be had in later rounds.
Eric from Yulee, FL:
With Derek Barnett getting more sacks than Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas and a half a sack less than Myles Garrett (hope my numbers are right) why isn't he being discussed as being the second-best defensive lineman or being in the discussion as a Top 4 pick?
John: Because sacks and college production are only part of the equation when considering where to draft a player. Allen, Thomas and Garrett generally speaking are considered better physical prospects with better measurables and better NFL upside than Barnett. But not by much. Barnett seems likely to go in the Top 20, perhaps the Top 10, who knows? He may end up the best NFL player of the bunch.
Tom from Keystone Heights, FL:
I heard from others that Leonard Fournette does not fit the Jaguars' offensive scheme. I'm of the belief that a good back will do well anywhere he goes, as long the offensive line blocks halfway decent. What do you think, John?
John: I think we've reached the stage of the pre-draft process when there's a whole lot of speculatin' going on. Speculatin' is fun and people like it – but in the weeks before the draft it runs very much amok. In this case, it has become vogue to say that because the Jaguars run a shotgun-based spread-style offense –and because Fournette didn't run well in college from the shotgun – he's not a fit. The trouble with that speculation is I haven't heard for certain what style of offense the Jaguars plan to run under offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and I also don't know that Fournette ran enough from the shotgun at Louisiana State to know for certain if he's a fit for the offense. I do think there's some merit to the idea that Fournette should be in a power, run-oriented system. But I think it's a bit premature to say if that means he won't get drafted by the Jaguars.
Brian from Jacksonville:
A lot of pundits have Carolina wanting Leonard Fournette badly, so shouldn't the Jags be hinting they will take him to set up a draft day deal? We'd only move down a few picks in the first round and could gain a third-to-fifth-round pick. Unless Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen are available at No. 4 on draft day, do you think the Jags may try to cut a deal with Carolina?
John: Hinting how? The Jaguars really haven't spoken much publicly about the draft, so should they install some banner ads on the website, or put Fournette's picture on the home page? Look, there's a lot of speculation about Fournette at No. 4 to the Jaguars, enough that I'm sure teams consider it an option. At some point between now and the draft, general managers will start calling around the league to explore potential draft-day trade partners. If the price is right for both sides, a deal will get done whatever amount of pre-draft hinting has taken place.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Players know their strengths and weaknesses. If they avoid doing certain drills/measurable(s), you can bet they wouldn't stack up favorably to their competition.
John: OK.
Chad from Yulee, FL:
Another defensive lineman from last year's 53-man roster is gone. I think we are much more likely to get Allen/Thomas/Barnett at four now.
John: The Jaguars indeed traded defensive end Chris Smith to the Cincinnati Bengals Tuesday. I think there's a good chance the Jaguars select Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas or Derek Barnett at No. 4 overall (emphasis on Allen or Thomas), but the departure of Smith doesn't have anything to do with that thought.
Josh from Fort Pierce, FL:
Do you think it matters at all that Fournette's production against the top teams he faced was dismal? Dalvin Cook on the other hand seemed to thrive when the lights were brightest.
John: I think it matters, but a very, very small amount. College football is a dramatically different game than the NFL. Teams put far more emphasis when studying draftable players on how they think players will perform in the NFL than what their statistics were in college. You definitely like players who were productive at the college level, but you also don't want to penalize a player such as Fournette for not being productive against, say, Alabama without considering the reasons for not being productive. Was it was because he couldn't avoid one defender? Was it because he couldn't outrun one defender? Or was it because the 'Bama defense as a whole was better enough than the LSU offense to render any runner ineffective? That's the question NFL types will consider when studying how Fournette did in such games.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
Why are we not hearing more about drafting offensive line? I realize there is no player thought to be a good value at No. 4. However, there's no real discussion about second- and third-round offensive-line candidates. I would like to see pass rusher, running back and offensive line in the first three rounds, and not necessarily in that order. Even better if we could trade back and get those first three positions with whatever turns out to be our first three picks. John, do you think offensive line doesn't get the talk from the fans because they aren't "skill" positions and touch the ball.
John: I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out why fans discuss what they discuss. I've said quite often I believe the Jaguars will select an interior offensive lineman in the draft later this month that they believe capable of becoming a starter – perhaps next season. I believe that could happen in the second or third round. There are no guarantees when it comes to the NFL Draft, but I certainly believe that scenario is possible.
Micky from Jacksonville:
I just noticed three of our out-of-division home games are against Seattle and the two Los Angeles teams. I like it. We have to travel west to play San Francisco and Arizona. I especially like the San Francisco game. I'm sure we won't be favored to win these games unless we win early, but I still like having stronger opponents at home with them having a long travel and playing a weaker team when we have to cross the country. Would you agree?
John: Sure, on the surface those factors would play into the Jaguars' favor. But I've always been of the belief that you don't know much about the true difficulty of a schedule until you get into the season – and that good teams tend to figure out a way to negotiate most schedules whatever the difficulty. Let the Jaguars win a few games and show they have a chance to compete home and away and then we can get more detailed about where and who they're playing.
Gary from St. Augustine, FL:
C'mon, Zone. Enough is enough. You gotta make some changes.
John: You're right, Gary – and I suppose this is as good a time as any to let people know I indeed am considering some changes. I'm considering becoming an inventor. I've always had a curious mind and been mechanically inclined. I've also decided to invest heavily in expensive shampoos, lotions and colognes. Not everyone in my inner circle believes this new direction will have the desired positive effect, but I feel the moves are right for me at this time.

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