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O-Zone: No surprises

Let's get to it . . . Terrance from Jacksonville:
It sounds like the "Blaine Gabbert experiment" is going to continue. We've heard all of the excuses for him, and now Peter King says that at the start he thinks they have to give Blaine Gabbert every chance to be the guy. Sure, he has the arm talent, but does he have the IT factor like guys like RGII, Russell Wilson, Luck, etc.? I don't see it, and I'm not looking forward to seeing another year of him.
John: I'm not sure King's comments on Gabbert from the NFL Scouting Combine to this past weekend change too much about this issue. It's evident to anyone who has listened to David Caldwell, Gus Bradley and the rest of the coaching staff that they like some things about Gabbert. That's "like," not "love," and Caldwell said it best recently when he said there would be no excuses for Gabbert. He'll get a chance to earn the starting job entering next season. If he does that, he'll get a chance to play. But it's also clear he needs to play well and needs to show he's capable of being the franchise guy. When Bradley says the team will be about competition, he means it.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
How can Monroe be in his final contract year? We just drafted him.
John: The Jaguars drafted Eugene Monroe in 2009. He has played four years of a five-year deal, so that makes 2013 the final year of his contract.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
I respectfully disagree with passing on Chance Warmack just because he doesn't play a premium position. Who couldn't use a guy slated to be the best guard in decades? You take a lesser talent at a more premium position and leave your competition to take him? You only expect to hit on 60 percent of your draft picks. Seems like way too much risk to pass on a "can't-miss guy," particularly a guy who plays on the offensive line, which is always critical to success in the NFL.
John: I understand this is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp, and I expect this will continue to be a point of contention and conversation until the draft. Warmack is an enticing figure, because he is indeed so good. But the reality is that teams want difference-makers at difference-making positions out of the draft, particularly when selecting in the Top 10. That means pass rushers, disruptive players or players who will produce points on offense – special wide receivers and franchise quarterbacks. This extends to left tackle, because you're drafting a guy who will protect your quarterback and prevent sacks. Personnel people with decades of experience just generally don't believe guard fits enough into that category.
Dave from Section 410 and Jacksonville:
Yeah, but Buffalo got into free agency early last year and look how it helped them.
John: Yes, and the whole Dream Team approached really worked out for the Eagles. Free agency is simply a much higher-risk approach than building through the draft with few examples of it working with any real long-term effectiveness.
Mike from St. Augustine, FL:
You know, John, it's like the logo changes every day. Every day when I come back to the web site, I like it more and more. I went on ESPN yesterday and was looking at it next to all of the other logos, and it's just fantastic. It's unique, it's new, and most importantly, there are no old feelings attached to it. I was nine when we went to the AFC Championship game, and all I could think about every time I saw the old Jags logo was the past. Now, I can finally enjoy it for what it is, and I'm so excited to watch the team move on to this new era. I finish law school in Arkansas next may and then I'll be a proud season ticket holder back at home.
John: I'm glad you like the logo. I think you may be overthinking it, but hey, go for it.
Chris from Jacksonville:
We have a Leo. His name is Daryl Smith No. 52! When he has been given the opportunity to rush the passer, he is a beast.
John: The first step is to determine if Smith returns, which remains to be seen. Smith has rushed the passer very well at times with the Jaguars, but while he has been the Jaguars' best defensive player the last few years, pass rush is not his specialty. It appears Jason Babin will start off as the Leo, and he's the right fit – a guy with speed and burst who can create pressure off the edge.
Erich from Orlando, FL:
John, would you rather be the jack of all trades or master of one?
John: I'd rather get some sleep.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Hey John, can you help me understand the math? The combine invites 300 or so athletes. There are seven rounds in the draft with 32 teams. Assuming all draft picks attend the combine that means 224 are drafted leaving about 76 athletes good enough to be invited to the combine but not drafted. Is this the "collegiate free agent" market the Jags are going to target?
John: The league also awards supplemental selections in March, so the number will be a bit higher, but the answer to your final question is, yes, the collegiate free-agent market is players not drafted.
Tim from Jacksonville:
The draft Joeckel question is what I've been saying all along barring a trade offer too good to pass up. I remember when Coughlin went and signed a great LT in Leon Searcy even though we had Boselli...that seemed to work out pretty good for us.
John: Leon Searcy was a right tackle, and with it being free agency, the circumstances were a bit different. Joeckel and Eugene Monroe together long term would require one of them playing right tackle, and it's difficult to imagine either fitting into the salary structure long term at that position.
Joe from Orlando, FL:
"GET OFF THE PHONE!" Don't you miss those days?
John: Mom! Get out of my room.
Perry from Jacksonville:
Let me get this straight. Dr. James Andrews, the doctor who made a big fuss about RG3 going back into the game without his approval, is the same guy who talked up Adrian Peterson's miraculous recovery and is now using much of the same rhetoric around RG3? Isn't he also involved with Lattimore, who is also "way ahead of schedule"? With the much-discussed, rarely seen, emphasis on player safety maybe the doctor who threw a (from what I could tell) legitimate fit about it should refrain from talking about the, frankly, unbelievable, progress these players have made. Doesn't it just raise expectations for them to return before they're really ready?
John: Maybe. I don't know. If the players don't care if someone talks about their injury, why do we?
Trey from Jacksonville:
What team would possibly want to trade up to the two spot in a draft that has no obvious superstar? Looks like we are staying put.
John: That's indeed the consensus thought as we leave the combine. People who study and discuss the draft have a hard time seeing a Top 10 heavy with trades because of the perception that there is no obvious game-changing player near the top. David Caldwell said this week he believes the No. 2 selection will be coveted, and that the team will get a very good player if it uses the selection. The thing to bear in mind as we prepare for two months of pre-draft speculation, angst and general noise is that a team doesn't need the overall draft to be great, just the players it selects. David Caldwell isn't picking 10 players in the Top 10 in his first draft. He's picking one, and there undoubtedly are good players in that group. It's his job to find one of them.
John from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Hey O-man, I sure hope the front office will hold off on quarterback this year and not draft one. Use the picks to bolster the offensive and/or get that premium defensive end we most certainly need. I think the quarterback crop next year will be much better and heck, even if they have to go through another year with the quarterbacks on the roster it couldn`t hurt. Blaine Gabbert is still young! Too early to throw in the towel on him just yet.
John: I think you'll get your wish, at least in part – and at least for a while this season. By that, I mean I don't think the Jaguars will select a quarterback in the first round – and I think Gabbert will get every chance to compete for the job. Now, would it be surprising if the Jaguars took a quarterback in the second or third round? No, it would not. Is it surprising when I ask a question and answer it in an O-Zone answer? Again, no, it is not.

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