O-Zone: Not even close

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it … Dug from Jacksonville:
Had the players fallen differently, I'm pretty sure the Jags would have drafted a tight end, but they didn't – and I believe the Jag brass did a great job of drafting the best available player. However, I was somewhat surprised we didn't sign an undrafted tight end. Seems like Jax would have been a good place for an undrafted tight end to want to come. That said, is there a chance that Allen Lazard can bulk up and make the team as a tight end (not that he can't make it as a wideout)?
John: The Jaguars indeed were interested in selecting a tight end in the 2018 NFL Draft – and it seems they considered one throughout the first three or four rounds. Annual draft reality: you rarely draft all positions you want; it didn’t work out for the Jaguars at tight end last weekend. So, why didn’t they take one late – or sign an undrafted free agent? Remember: the Jaguars have several tight ends, and players such as James O’Shaughnessy and Ben Koyack – while not glamor names – are capable young veterans. Put another way, the Jaguars weren’t in the market in the draft or undrafted free agency to acquire just any tight ends for the sake of acquiring them. They only wanted one that would have upgraded the position. As for moving undrafted rookie wide receiver Allen Lazard there, I suppose it’s possible. His size (6-feet-4, 227 pounds) and productivity at Iowa State would seem to make it an option, though I don’t sense that’s the first move. Either way, maybe it’s best to let him get here and take a physical before deciding anything.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
I have always thought that generally fans do not appreciate the value of a competent punter. Punters typically do not score a lot of points and only get attention when they shank one 15 yards down field. Punts inside the 20 is an often-overlooked statistic. Last year the Jags were near the bottom of the league in that category as well as net yards.
John: Fans don’t appreciate the value of a competent punter. Coaches do.
Jake from Philly:
Hey Mr. O, I'm a longtime reader but this is my first time writing in. First, I want to thank you for the great job you do answering our crazy fan questions and providing a fun, interactive place for us to voice our opinions. (Aside from the comment section, I'm terrified of that place). My question is if you would be surprised by Taven Bryan taking over Calais Campbell's role as the big end in the future? Many fans are projecting Bryan to take Malik Jackson's place but given Campbell's age and price tag I could see the front office parting ways with him sooner than expected. After seeing Bryan's freakish size and athletic ability it seems like he would be a better replacement than Dawuane Smoot and would allow us to keep Jackson (who is still in his prime).
John: This answer will play itself out in the coming year, but I agree that it’s a long way from decided who will or won’t return along the Jaguars’ defensive line in 2018. The Jaguars likely will have to decide the future of three defensive tackles – Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell – next offseason because of their contract structures. It appears unlikely they will be able to keep all three, but the way they rotate players along the line they will need both Smoot and Bryan to develop into front-line players. (Bryan, by the way, is supposed to appear the better option than Smoot; Bryan was a first-round selection and Smoot was a third-round selection). Both will be important over the coming seasons. If I had to guess between Jackson and Campbell being more likely to return in 2019 … honestly, it’s too close to call. If they both play as they did last season they probably would choose Campbell over Jackson. Or they may have to figure out a way to push money forward and pay all both. There’s a lot to work out on this front. I understand that this is a world in which we want answers RIGHT NOW, but I just don’t expect clarity until late in the season.
Nathan from York, England:
The Jags’ London game against the Philadelphia Eagles sold out in record time. Tickets were so scarce that I’m going on my own. Bring the Super Bowl Champs and Future Super Bowl Champs together and everyone will want to come! How cool is being a good team?
John: A lot cooler than the alternative.
Erik from Knoxville, TN:
John, as a regular reader here in the O-Zone, I have noticed something the last few weeks. Every time you have answered a wide receiver question you seem to discount Dede Westbrook while mentioning Keelan Cole quite consistently. I understand Cole had a really good season last year for an undrafted free agent. However, Westbrook missed half of the season with injury and would have been an early Day 2 pick if not for character concerns. Do you see Westbrook as the fifth option behind Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Cole and DJ Chark going into training camp?
John: Right now, I see Lee and Moncrief starting with Cole the likely third player in that group. Where Chark will fit in the group will be determined by how he performance once he arrived. A lot can change between now and the regular season.
Chris from Columbia:
Save the commemorative footballs for a Super Bowl victory. Until then, it is just a gimmick to recoup money that Shad Khan spent on attaining Wembley. If you are going to charge $125 on a made-in-China gimmick, at least let them pick the players they would like the signatures from, not some bench-riding bums that just happened to have availability that day.
John: I’m trying to find the fine print that said purchasing was mandatory. No such luck.
Chris from Niagara Falls, Canada:
Hey, Zone: Do you think if the Jags’ front office could go back in time and re-draft last year would they pick Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson instead of Leonard Fournette?
John: I’m sure they would discuss it – not because they are unhappy with Fournette, but because of the value of the quarterback position. If Watson had played the entire season and given a better idea of how he will play over the long term, the question would have more merit. Watson in six games showed some good signs as a rookie last season, but we’re really early into his career. Would they select Watson given another opportunity? I’ll say right now that I doubt it, and I’ll say at this point the Jaguars don’t regret selecting Fournette. Could time change that? Sure.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Will there be another running back added to the roster before opening day in your opinion?
John: Perhaps, but I don’t sense a mad rush or panic on this.
Steven from Memphis, TN:
O, I imagine in the next few weeks teams will be releasing some veterans as we did with Brad Nortman. Do you think the Jags will look closely at tight ends and linebackers in particular to bring in to compete for those positions?
John: The Jaguars always watch the waiver wire and they don’t hesitate to sign a player who can help them. Linebacker seems a more likely place to seek help on the waiver wire than tight end, but I don’t sense an overwhelming urgency to replace current players at these positions.
Frank from Ponte Vedra, FL:
I don't believe the Steelers will keep four quarterbacks on their roster. What are the chances the Jags pick up the odd man out?
John: If the Steelers release Ben Roethlisberger, you would almost have to consider it. Though age would have to come into the discussion. Big Ben’s not as young as he once was.
InquiringMinds from Duval:
Why haven't the Jaguars traded for Ereck Flowers yet? Could use offensive depth.
John: Every team in the NFL could use offensive line depth. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Jaguars were at some point interested in trading for New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers. He has a connection with Coughlin and Jaguars offensive line coach Pat Flaherty that would make it a logical move. But your question seems to imply that such a move is overdue or that it would be ridiculous if they don’t do it. Remember: a team can’t trade for and sign every “available” player. The Jaguars drafted Will Richardson Jr.  in the fourth round to be the swing tackle behind Jermey Parnell and Cam Robinson. Considering the current roster, a trade for Flowers feels like a long shot.
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX:
Sir John: I missed two weeks of O-Zone and finally just caught up. The one question that I saw asked over and over again yet I never saw a definitive answer; “Are you happy yet?”
John: Goodness gracious, no.

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