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O-Zone: Not necessarily a need

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Johnathan from Indianapolis, IN:
Game film 90 percent – and combine … 10 percent? I read that a scout should never change a grade based on the combine performances.
John: That percentage is about right. The best way to think about the NFL Scouting Combine – and the way the vast majority of football people attempt to think about it – is to view it as a secondary tool. The same is true of Pro Days, measurables, interviews, character investigations, etc. – anything, essentially, that isn't game footage. Those things are used to gather detailed information on a player, and information from those sources should be considered red flags – areas to be investigated further and possibly used in the evaluation, but not as the primary judge of a player. Now, there are certain measurables that many teams use to eliminate a player. For instance, there are teams who will not draft a lineman if he is below a certain weight, or who will not draft a cornerback if he can't run a certain speed. Some teams do believe in certain baselines below which a player won't be able to perform no matter how impressive his college game performance. And, of course, players do get taken off draft boards for character issues. That's essentially a "red flag," and if a player doesn't pass that recheck, then he's probably not getting drafted by said team. But for most teams and most players, scouts try to judge based on what they see on the field. Not that it always works out that way. This is not an exact science.
Chaun from St. Louis, MO:
I'm very excited about the direction we're going, but what are we going to do about our tight end position? Will we draft or use what we have?
John: Yes.
Dave from Atlanta, GA:
Do you hear any whispers of the Jags locking up any of the 2014 draft class (mainly Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Brandon Linder, Aaron Colvin or Telvin Smith) this offseason to prevent losing them in free agency next offseason? Will they pick up the fifth-year option on Blake Bortles? That's a pretty strong, deep class. Who do you think they should lock up now?
John: I don't know that you'll see news on the Jaguars re-signing players from the 2014 NFL Draft class in the next few weeks or even necessarily before the summer. I don't know that we'll even hear all that much whispering. The reason isn't that the Jaguars don't like those players; they do – and as you say, there are players such as Lee, Robinson, Linder, Colvin and Smith that may well merit second contracts. But remember: Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin has been back with the organization less than two months, and much of the coaching staff – particularly most position coaches – have been with the team less than that. Those people know the roster by what they have seen on video and by a few non-football conversations with the players, but they don't have the intimate, first-hand knowledge that working with the players on a daily basis brings. That familiarity will start developing in April. I expect the Jaguars to re-sign several of the players you mentioned before the end of next season and perhaps a few more than that before the start of the 2018 League Year. But there's no pressing need to do so before then. As for Bortles' option, Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said during the recent NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that the team likely will wait until closer to the May deadline to decide on that issue. There again is no hurry – and I suppose they might pick it up. But it's not a major issue. If they decide to move on from Bortles after the 2017 season they still can do so. If he plays well in 2017 and they decide he's the guy they can work out a deal for a long-term contract once they know. It's fine for people to discuss and worry about these issues, but the team has ample time to address them.
Nick from Fort Pierce, FL:
Assuming we enter the season with just the running backs on the current roster (which isn't a terrible scenario), based on scheme, fit and ability, who gets more touches? T.J. Yeldon or Chris Ivory?
John: This answer realistically depends on how well the Jaguars are running the ball – and by extension, how well they are doing in terms of victories and losses. If the Jaguars are running well and controlling tempo and down-and-distance scenarios, then I imagine that means Ivory is getting a lot of touches throughout the game. If they are behind the chains and behind the opponent a lot, then that probably means more looks for Yeldon.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
You probably know me by now from the dumb questions. I hear often about these draft prospects from good football colleges expressing how they have to work on techniques, as simple as not planting their feet, etc. My question is: Why don't these college programs groom a future quarterback better? Don't they have, like, 20 coaches evaluating simple throwing/posture techniques?
John: You probably know me by now from the dumb answers, but first … no, college programs don't have, like, 20 coaches evaluating simple throwing/posture techniques. College staffs have nine coaches with offensive coordinators often also serving as the quarterbacks coach. Also, college practice schedules are limited to 20 hours a week, which includes practice, meetings and conditioning and usually is not dedicated to hard-core work on throwing fundamentals. The mission of college programs, remember, is not to develop players – quarterback, or any other position – for the NFL. College coaches don't get hired and fired based on how many NFL players – quarterbacks, or any other position – they produce. They're hired and fired based on how many games their teams win and lose. That might mean producing NFL prototype quarterbacks, but not necessarily.
James from Duval:
Since we both agree that defense will be the Jags' most likely first pick, who do you think it might be?
John: I suppose I agree with that. Some days I do and other days I don't. On the days that I do, I'm torn between Jonathan Allen and Solomon Thomas.
Travis from Saint Louis, MO:
Almost anywhere outside of this website, I hear grumblings about possibly getting Tony Romo. I think it would be great to get someone like him, but at the same time what would his motivation be to come here? Do these other reporters and NFL pundits know something we don't? Or is this the case of wishful thinking on the part of fans leaking into the news.
John: I've heard grumblings, too – and while I thought at first I had skipped breakfast, I soon realized it indeed was fans and media speculating about the possibility of the Jaguars acquiring Romo. I've discussed it on several occasions in this forum, but I'll recap: I wouldn't mind the move because I like Romo and I do believe the Jaguars would be a better team if he played 16 games for them next season. Would health permit him to play all 16 games? Who knows? I don't have a vibe that the Jaguars are trying to go in this direction, and my vibe for now is that the Jaguars are being mentioned as a "dark-horse" team for Romo because dark-horse teams are cool and media types/fans love to talk about them in March.
Mr. O, are the Jags set at linebacker with Myles Jack, Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny? It seems like the Jags have done very little to address the position. The best that EVP Coughlin would say about Poz was his work and locker room presents all stuff that don't happen on the field, who are the backups?
John: Unless I'm reading it wrong, there's an undertone to your question that there was something about Paul Posluszny's play last season that was unsatisfactory. That's an odd undertone regarding the person who may have been among the team's top three players last season. I certainly didn't get the idea when Coughlin addressed Posluszny recently that he remotely was saying he was a liability – and in fact he praised him as exactly the sort of player the Jaguars need. Either way … yeah, I think Posluszny, Jack and Smith will start in some capacity at linebacker for the Jaguars next season. As for depth, I could see a couple of draft selections along with recently-signed Audie Cole. If you're going to be a backup linebacker on this team and most others next season, you better be able to contribute pretty heavily on special teams.
Jim from Detroit, MI:
Nice to see defense strengthened but what happened to all the left tackles available? Everyone else is signing offensive linemen, but where are we???? We may be able to stop almost anyone, but Blake needs PROTECTION.

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