O-Zone: Old ground

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Josh from Pensacola, FL:
I know it's not likely, but I wouldn't be mad if the Jags took a defensive back early in the draft – preferably a safety. We need depth there and I've always felt like a hard-hitting enforcer at safety is one of the most important things to have on defense. Rule changes may change that. Still, do you think there is any possibility that the Jags take a defensive back early?
John: Projecting what the Jaguars will do in the first round or two of the 2018 NFL Draft is as tricky as projecting any Jaguars draft in recent memory – more so, actually. One reason is they are selecting more than 20 spots lower than they have selected in seven years, but the biggest reason is their approach in free agency this offseason made it possible they could go just about any route early in the draft. Most teams want to enter the draft without a glaring need at any position because it frees them up to make decisions without feeling desperate to fill a particular position. The Jaguars put themselves in that situation early in free agency, and they solidified that position last week by trading with the Cleveland Browns for reserve quarterback Cody Kessler. I continue to believe offensive line, tight end or wide receiver are the most likely selections for the Jaguars in the first and second round because those positions could be immediately strengthened for next season. But because of the need to look to the future and build a roster that can withstand future departures, defense also makes sense. That's particularly true at safety.
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Bill Belichick trades Brandin Cooks and a fourth rounder to move up to the 23rd pick. Looks like Belichick has a wide receiver in mind for the first round. Wide receiver is a likely target for the Jags at No. 29. Will the Jags seek to move up or do they just go another direction?
John: The Patriots indeed traded Cooks for the Los Angeles Rams' No. 23 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, but it's certainly not safe to assume you know what Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick will do based on a perceived need. Even if the Patriots are targeting a wide receiver, I doubt the Jaguars would seek to move up seven spots in this draft for the position. Enough positions make sense for them to draft that it's hard to see them giving up the equity needed to make such a move.
Derrick from Jacksonville:
You have stated that you don't believe the Jags will draft a quarterback in the first round. You also have stated that you don't think Blake Bortles is a placeholder at quarterback. Removing your stated opinions, if the Jags were to surprise and draft a quarterback, how low would No. 8 from Louisville have to drop in the draft for the Jags to be willing to move up and draft him? Just asking your opinion.
John: I don't believe the Jaguars will draft Lamar Jackson or any other quarterback in Round 1 and therefore certainly don't believe they will move up. To know how far they would be willing to move up would depend on knowing how much they wanted to do something they don't want to do. Or something like that.
Gary from Fleming Island, FL:
"Happiness … Happiness runs in a circular motion; life is like a little boat upon the sea. Everybody is a part of everything anyway; you can be happy if you let yourself be." –Donovan
John: "Shut up." –Oehser
Chris from Goodnight, TX:
It was reported that the Jaguars are meeting with Orlando Brown as part of the pre-draft process. If the Jaguars ultimately draft him in Round One (Sexton has been high on him), would he immediately unseat Jermey Parnell at right tackle? Seems to me that the Jaguars' weakest spot along the line is right guard, but I think that Brown and Parnell both lack the skill set to kick inside to guard. What do you think? Could Parnell or Brown play guard for a season?
John: Both Brown and Parnell theoretically could play guard in a pinch, but neither has played the position extensively in their careers. It probably would be a reach to think they would play there for an entire season. (Who's "Sexton?")
Herb from MidState Office Supply :
I have heard from different sources that the Jags let Chad Henne walk because they were afraid of another quarterback competition. Can you confirm?
John: Please. Stop. Talking. #heardfromdifferentsources
Jay from Beulaville, NC:
I've seen the talk of the "conditional seventh-round pick" for Kessler being contingent on him making the roster. If the Jags want to be shady, is it legal for them to release Kessler, let him clear waivers (assuming he does so) and then bring him back to the roster? Would they still give up the pick then?
John: The condition of the 2019 seventh-round selection for Kessler is he must be on the Jaguars' active 46-man roster for six games for the Jaguars to give up the selection.
Damian from Outer Space:
What do you think about Dawuane Smoot in his first year with the team and where do you see him getting involved in the future? Is he competing with Dante Fowler Jr. Is he just depth in case of injury? Is he the future at defensive end when the salary cap becomes an issue next year?
John: Smoot played well and was reliable as a rookie, playing more extensively later in the season when the Jaguars tried to reduce repetitions a bit for Calais Campbell. He played all 19 games, got some pass rush and proved strong at the point of attack. He absolutely was not a liability, and that's a good start for a rookie. He plays mostly as a reserve on the strong side whereas Fowler plays mostly as an end opposite Yannick Ngakoue in nickel situations. The team considers Smoot more than "just depth" with hope being that he will develop into a front-line player/starter in the coming couple of seasons.
Paul from Temecula, CA:
I don't understand certain people's concepts of needing (wanting?) a No. 1 wide receiver. The model I reference is the New England Patriots. Aside from Randy Moss, I can't think of too many "No. 1's" Tom Brady has had over the years. The Patriots have always had a collection of secondary guys that do one or two things well enough so that Tom Brady can get them the ball. Can you please explain this obsession to me, oh wise O'man? Is it name recognition?
John: The obsession is understandable, and it generally speaking is better to have a true No. 1 receiver than to not have one. The reason for this is true No. 1 receivers are often elite players who dictate defenses, draw double teams and are capable of winning matchups even when defenses are focused on stopping them. If that makes true No. 1 receivers sound rare, it's because they are. There is a school of thought that you can get by at receiver with a lot of good players at the position as opposed to one great one. The Patriots clearly believe that, and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin won that way with the Giants. That appears to be the Jaguars' approach now. Stay tuned.
Nelson from Cowford:
I don't get all the Blake hate, man. It's a stretch to say he was the only thing holding this team back. The whole team had issues and a young quarterback can only do what the coaches allow him to do. From what I saw last year this new regime has figured out how to help Blake manage the game better and I suspect he will take a major leap in production this year. If the football people on this team believe in the man, maybe the fans should too, at least for another season at a minimum.
John: You know why it's really a stretch to Bortles held the team back? Because they played in the AFC Championship Game and came within minutes of the Super Bowl.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
With the 29th pick in the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars take … Lamar Jackson … as a wide receiver? Bill Polian, who I consider a fairly smart football guy, thinks it's a possibility. Thoughts?
John: Unless I'm way behind – always a possibility – Polian hasn't said specifically that Jackson to the Jaguars at wide receiver was a possibility, though he did make news earlier this offseason by saying that the former Louisville quarterback was perhaps more fit for the NFL at receiver than quarterback. Whatever the specifics of Polian's opinion, I doubt the Jaguars go that route – and I doubt they take Jackson at No. 29.
Paul from Atlanta, GA:
Are you happy?
John: We've covered this ground already. No. I'm not happy. No one is.

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