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O-Zone: Nick of time

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, of all of the Jaguars' new free-agent signings, which do you predict will turn out to be the best move looking back four or so years from now?
John: My pick: Calais Campbell. The temptation is to say cornerback A.J. Bouye because Bouye is young enough at 25 he could be a core player for at least half a decade. That's unusual for a player who signed as an unrestricted free agent – and if it happens, it would make Bouye one of the top four or five free-agent signings in Jaguars history. Still, I chose Campbell because it appears he has a chance to be one of those special players who can not only make a huge impact on the field but be a real leader/example off of it. Campbell has the feel of a player who can be an immediate locker-room presence, and help the franchise far beyond his statistics and his impact at his position. I have higher expectation for Campbell on that front than I have for a Jaguars free agent signing during the last five offseasons; he just has that feel. If the Jaguars make significant strides this season, it's hard to imagine Campbell not being a huge reason. Considering how long this team has struggled, if a veteran free-agent indeed can have such an impact, that would be a remembered as a phenomenally good move.
Peter from Jacksonville:
Does Josh Scobee's retirement as a Jaguar provide us with some assurance that he will ultimately make it into The Pride of the Jaguars? (I sure hope so!)
John: No, it does not. I personally hope Scobee someday is in the Pride of the Jaguars. I say this because while Scobee perhaps wasn't a "Jaguars Great" on the level of those currently in the pride, he provided this franchise with a ton of memorable moments – and he absolutely was a fan favorite who made the Jaguars a lot of fun for a long time for fans. That matters, and there should be a place in the pride for that sort of player. But the fact that Scobee is retiring as a member of the Jaguars does not assure that he is inducted into that group. It simply shows Scobee mattered to this organization and that the team wants to acknowledge his contributions.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I'm still apparently doing this "fan" thing all wrong. I'm looking forward to the season and think we'll do better than last year – possibly by a wide margin. I'm not saying we're a playoff team, but if we get hot at the right time, it's more plausible than some other things I've read here. #Let'sSkipTheDraft? #DTWD!
John: #DTWD
Bill from Jacksonville:
I understand we are pretty much set at center. Brandon Linder I think did a good job there last year and I am OK with that move. My question is about Luke Bowanko. Is the skill set of moving from center to guard different than moving guard to center? Does Bowanko have the ability to play guard or is he pretty much set as a backup center?
John: Bowanko has the skill set to play center or guard. The question is whether the Jaguars believe he is one of the two best options to start there when healthy. That has not been the case so far, and I've seen nothing to indicate it will be the case this season.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, if you could have just one former Jaguar on today's team, as good as they were in their prime, who do you take? I personally go with T.B. because Tony...
John: I'll assume you mean Tony Boselli and not Tony Brackens – and I would agree because I believe Boselli was the best player ever to play for the Jaguars. Considering this current Jaguars' team's need for timely reliable pass rush, Brackens couldn't hurt, though. Nor could Jimmy Smith. Nor Fred Taylor. Nor Mark …
Zac from Gainesville, FL:
How concerning is the significant weight fluctuation seen in Fournette?
John: Minimally.
Micky from Orange Park, FL:
While researching Tom Coughlin's past first-round drafts, I learned a few things. Of his 10 first-round picks with the Jags, five (Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Kevin Hardy, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson) were Pro Bowlers. Since then only Marcedes Lewis has made the Pro Bowl for the Jaguars (Reggie Nelson for the Bengals, I believe) after being selected in the first round by the team. He doesn't miss often. Twenty-two days!!
John: You must hit relatively consistently in the first round to be successful in the NFL. The Jaguars indeed haven't done it close to enough since Stroud/Henderson, and it's not a coincidence that the Jaguars' last sustained strong stretch came when Stroud/Henderson formed the core of a strong defense. First-rounders need to be the core of your team, and you need Pro Bowlers there. On that front, Coughlin actually only "missed" once in the first round. That was 2000, when he drafted R.J. Soward. Aside from that, Coughlin's first-round selections were: Boselli, James Stewart, Hardy, Renaldo Wynn, Taylor, Donovin Darius, Fernando Bryant, Stroud and Henderson. That's five Pro Bowl selections and four other players who played at least nine NFL seasons. That's 90 percent hits and any general manager would take that.
Travis from St. Louis, MO:
The Texans have a serviceable-at-best-quarterback in Tom Savage. Their defense is great, but I don't see it lasting all 16 games if the quarterback situation doesn't get any better. Also, if it weren't for us playing the spoiler last year, the Titans very well could have won the division over the Texans. With Andrew Luck at the helm of the Colts, and a seemingly better front office, I could see them doing better as well. Is this good enough reasoning to warrant not making the Texans the favorite in the South?
John: No.
Jim from Section 142:
Regarding Dante Fowler Jr. … last year in training camp you (and others) were praising just how explosive he looked. Then, the regular season hits and he was pretty much a dud. I was curious as to why his training-camp dominance never translated to the regular season. I get that it's a different level going against starters each play, but I think he should have made more of an impact.
John: Fowler's training-camp dominance didn't translate because it takes more than effort, speed and athleticism to be effective as an edge rusher. It also usually takes professional-level pass-rush moves and the knowledge of how to use those moves, because starting-level offensive tackles are usually good enough to combat speed, effort and athleticism. But while I understand the tendency to refer to Fowler as a dud, the thought here is that's extreme. He didn't have impressive pass-rushing numbers last season – and he struggled with penalties – but was active in pursuit, got better pressure as the season continued and made some impact late in the season. I wouldn't portray Fowler's rookie season as successful, but neither would I portray it as so disappointing to make you think he is a lost cause. Not even close.
Mike from Palm Beach, FL:
We hear all the time we need to be able to help Bortles with a good run game. So far almost all free agency pick-ups have been on the defense and special teams. It would seem that we could use some beef in the middle of the offensive line. If you look at some of our best running backs in Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, they could run through the tackles. These guys I believe both had fullbacks like Greg Jones who could also help them bust through the line. I don't see this as a big year in the draft for lineman that could step in as a starter.
John: OK.
Chris from Goodnight, TX:
Sleeper pick: Jags take Marshon Lattimore. Aaron Colvin is in a contract year, and he reportedly wants an opportunity to play on the outside. The Jaguars are also unlikely to pay his market price for a nickel corner. Drafting Lattimore should give the Jaguars a great and inexpensive secondary for the next four-to-five years. Thoughts?
John: My thoughts begin with this: I think the odds are relatively low that the Jaguars will take a cornerback No. 4 overall, but I'm on record saying I believe it's possible. As far as Colvin, I don't know that it's particularly a secret that Colvin wants an opportunity to play on the outside if for no other reason than most NFL cornerbacks want to play on the outside. But Colvin also is aware that he is considered a very good nickel corner and there is value to that in today's NFL. I don't know that I or anyone else knows Colvin's "market price yet," so I don't know that anyone knows if the Jaguars are likely or unlikely to pay that price next offseason.
Sam from Fruit Cove, FL:
Fear not, Chris from Mandarin, I am just fine. Sam.
John: Whew.

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