JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it…
Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld
Your recent answers about draft boards and pre-draft process have me troubled. It's troubling. I have always believed that teams scouted 300-to-400 players to make their draft board and undrafted targets. Now, I'm reading that the 130-ish players on the Jags' draft board spread across all seven rounds. Are there top prospects that our team is not spending much time on? Is this what happened to Aaron Rodgers during his draft? What do you think GM Baalke would do if an Aaron Rodgers like prospect fell to us? You've already said you wouldn't draft a running back. Do NFL teams not have enough resources or time to evaluate 300 players in a year?
I'm sorry you're troubled. Being troubled is, well … troubling. But perhaps I can ease that troubled mind. First, 130 players on a final NFL draft board is not an unusual or small number. It is, in fact, a normal number. Also, when Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke said last Thursday that the team had 127 players on its draft board, he never said – or meant – that the Jaguars only scouted 127 players. He meant the team considers 127 players to be correct fits for the Jaguars across the seven rounds. Those are the players the team is targeting, NOT the number of players the team has evaluated.
Michael from Orange Park, FL
Signing DaVon Hamilton to a long-term contract? A surprise move, no?
The Jaguars on Wednesday indeed reportedly agreed to terms to re-sign nose tackle DaVon Hamilton to a three-year deal with $23 million guaranteed. I wouldn't call it surprising. Hamilton is entering his fourth NFL season, so this is the first offseason he can be re-signed. He also had a very good season last season. The move means the Jaguars have signed two defensive linemen – Hamilton and Roy Robertson-Harris – to extensions the offseason. This was the goal of the offseason, to retain players. In that sense, this move isn't surprising at all.
Howard from Homestead, FL
If University of Texas running Bijan Robinson is available at No. 24, he would actually meet a huge need for this team. Mainly the need to not have to play against him for the next decade. That alone is reason enough to draft him.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
Do you see Jax getting a similar stadium deal as Nashville just got? I asked your predecessor when the initial Lot J proposal came out for office and team space being separate from current stadium with additional proposal to fix current stadium issues. His reply was in his opinion a new stadium was needed because there were too many issues just with stadium. I guess to me stadium should not be expected to be replaced every 30-35 years at $1 billion cost to mostly citizens. Go Jags!
Nashville's Metro Council on Wednesday indeed approved a deal for the Tennessee Titans' new stadium, with the deal reportedly as follows: The team being responsible for $840 million and cost overruns, $500 million coming from the state of Tennessee and $760 million coming from private revenue bonds from the Metro Sports Authority. How similar the funding for the Jaguars' "stadium of the future" might be is tough to say because circumstances vary from city to city, market to market and team to team. But I will say this: The team contributing a portion of the funding with a larger portion coming from public funding is similar to how I see the Jaguars' deal playing out. While large-market teams can finance their own multi-billion-dollar stadiums, smaller-market stadiums must be funded using public funds because a smaller-market team can't recoup a $2 billion investment. Public funding in this situation is the cost of having professional sports – and 30-to-35 years is pretty much the life of such a project. I can't speak to my predecessors' opinion on these matters. I can tell you that if the approach to fixing the stadium issues is a renovation, it will be on a scale well beyond "an additional proposal to fix current stadium issues." When the stadium is next addressed, the result will be state of the art – and very new -- whether it is technically "a new stadium."
Mike from Azores
OK John, no ifs and or buts, you're making the choice for the Jags at No. 24. Most mocks have the Jags picking University of Alabama safety Brian Branch. Which three realistic options make you choose a different player and who are they and why?
I'm leaning Branch because of a need and value fit. Branch could be the short-term nickel and move to safety after that. Who else? Give me Tennessee offensive lineman Darnell Lockett, Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks and Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. for the same reasons because of the need for corner and offensive line and the value of the player at No. 24.
Bruce from St. Simons Island GA
O, Rumors that the Washington Commanders might be willing to trade one of their defensive ends. I don't think so, but what do you think?
Bill from Jacksonville, FL
John, a weird narrative has emerged lately with the idea that the Jaguars can't draft a tight end at No. 24 because tight end Evan Engram will eventually be signed to a long-term contract. I just don't get it. Let's say Engram signs a four-year deal, which everyone knows is three years. Taking a tight end at 24 allows you to develop him alongside Engram, then in three years you can move on from Engram's contract and slide Kincaid, Mayer, etc. into his spot. Am I taking crazy pills?
You're not taking crazy pills, I, too, have been puzzled by this narrative. It's weird for multiple reasons. One is one you cite – that you draft for the long-term future and not to fill short-term need. The other is that it's perfectly within NFL rules to have two very good tight ends on the same roster. Many offenses absolutely utilize two good players at the position. That said, I don't see tight end being the selection at No. 24. But that's because I think the Jaguars like their current tight end room of Engram, Gerrit Prince and Luke Farrell – and because I believe they believe they can find value at the position later in the draft in what many believe a very good, and deep, class at the position.
Armand from Jacksonville
Will you be doing a O-Zone Late Night after the draft on Thursday, Friday and Saturday?
No. I typically do an O-Zone Late Night after 1 p.m. regular-season games because the timing allows the column to post around 9-11 p.m. or so. With the first two nights of the draft ending after 9 p.m., the time between when an O-Zone Late Night and a regular O-Zone would post is so short that it doesn't make sense to do both.
Keith from Saint Augustine, FL
This is hard to do because I just had rotator cuff surgery. Respect is a two-way street; I no longer respect your opinion. I do not find sarcasm to be particularly funny.
I found this funny.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, Should Jimmy Smith be in the Pride)? Did my eyes fail me, or should Jimmy be in the HOF right beside, Boselli, Coughlin, and Taylor?
I think your eyes failed you. Former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith indeed is in the Pride of the Jaguars alongside former left tackle Tony Boselli, former owners Wayne and Delores Weaver, former running back Fred Taylor and former quarterback Mark Brunell. Former Head Coach Tom Coughlin is not in the Pride of the Jaguars. Yet.
Jim from Middleburg, FL
John, Got a great team already. Drafting late into the low-risk and high-reward market sees the promise land is in Jax. Bet the G.M. loves it. Go Trent!
Jim is "all in."
CaptBob from Jax
KOAF, tell me why the following isn't a good draft scenario this year and I'll get off your lawn. Not that anyone gets off mine. If the Jags have a great core group, why not spend our four-o-seven round picks to move up in the first three to grab top picks at cornerback, edge and offensive/defensive line. Is there enough cap space in this scenario? Got to run. Water the lawn.
First, I don't know that the Jaguars have a "great" core group. They have a quarterback who appears likely to be a franchise player at his position, and they have a lot of good players. Let's let them make the postseason again before we start ticking off "great" players. Second: Even if this team did have a great roster, your scenario has them selecting three players. You have too many positions and too many roster spots to fill to draft so few players and maintain a strong roster for the long haul.
Sean from Jacksonville
I thought I would be safe from the draft's smoke and mirrors, but the play must go on. What is your pet peeve(s) about the NFL draft?
People who don't like sarcasm.