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O-Zone: Old habits

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Once again, I am "cautiously optimistic." This year feels different, however. We have a Super Bowl-winning head coach who can truly be the adult in the room. Some solid free-agent acquisitions. New culture that seems (thankfully) radically different from last year's. Players who seem to actually want to be in Jacksonville. Still, pending the draft, there are apparent needs. Edge rushers, offensive linemen (especially center and one guard position), linebackers and at least one cornerback position still feel like weaknesses. Do you have any feel for how many of these "weaknesses" will be addressed in the draft and how many may still rely on some late free-agent signings and/or trades?

I agree that there's reason to feel optimistic; though I expect it will be difficult for the Jaguars to truly contend for the postseason in Head Coach Doug Pederson's first season, I do think you will see significant improvement and real reason for hope by the second half of the season. I also agree that Jaguars have needs, which is not unexpected. It's difficult to fill all needs from a 3-14 roster in one offseason. The Jaguars could use another front-line edge rusher, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them select interior offensive line somewhere between Rounds 2-4 next weekend. I would expect most weakness addressed in the draft, in part because areas such as interior offensive line and linebacker can be addressed in the middle rounds. I'm not so sure I agree with you about corner, though. The Jaguars have Tyson Campbell, Shaq Griffin and Darious Williams there. That may not be the NFL's best cornerback trio, but it doesn't feel like a weakness.

Jarret from Crosby, ND

What traits or abilities does Tyler Linderbaum lack that make him a good center but unable to play guard? They seem like basically the same position to me.

They're not the same position. NFL personnel people like guards to have more size and longer arms than Linderbaum (6-feet-2, 305 pounds; 31.1 inches). He is considered a player who can develop into a Pro Bowl center, but the major negative is that his arm length – about three inches shorter than, for example, those of Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal – probably will preclude him from playing guard.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. Regardless of how we opine, for all of us that are diehard Jaguars fans, and those of us that have been loyal since the beginning, part of the membership is eternal optimism. We all believe the Jags will get a Ring; the big question is when. So, when you mentioned the possibility of an "Era," not capitalized, maybe it should have been. That would really be so awesome for all of us to be part of the start of an era of excellent NFL football here in Jacksonville. In a way, 2017 came out of nowhere, not really what we would have predicted at the start of the season. But for all the reasons you have pointed out, if it keeps building, maybe we will all be experiencing the start of an Era. Here's hoping!

Charles is "all in."

Mike from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

It's finally draft week, so although it appears as the Jags won't get the usual offers to trade the No. 1 pick, don't you think there could be plenty of offers for the number 33 pick? There will be for sure multiple teams who covet players they had first-round grades on available at the start of Round 2. What is your acceptable trade value in that case? Would you want additional picks in Round 2 or 3 this year or would you take a lower second rounder this year and a first-round pick next year if it were offered?

The No. 33 overall selection in the NFL Draft absolutely historically is a spot where teams holding the selection can trade – and there's no reason to think that won't be the case for the Jaguars this week. And I absolutely would take a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft if offered – particularly if it was from a team I thought might struggle in 2022. That's probably not realistic, though. I probably would need a third-round selection in this draft if I were dropping more than five or six spots.

Jim from Neptune Beach, FL

How best would you define "upside?" It's a term used all the time, but if you've got any better description of it, I'd like to hear it. To me, it means that a player hasn't yet performed to the level he could be expected to get to. How many players with "upside" never get there? After all, if a player has a lot of "upside," hasn't he, in some way, been a disappointment?

Upside is potential to improve, and it indeed is heard a lot when discussing draft prospects. While it can mean a player has been disappointing, it also can mean scouts and personnel people simply believe the player has the athletic ability and physical traits to continue to improve. How many players with upside never get there? Some. A lot. And a lot do get there. Two-hundred sixty-two players will be selected Thursday through Saturday. That's more than enough to fit myriad descriptions.

Doug from Jacksonville. FL

Sir O, We all know how much you love hypothetical questions. Understanding you couldn't be sure who all would be available, but having a pretty good idea … if you were in the New York Giants' situation where you had two picks in the first seven of the first round, who would – or rather, what positions – would you draft this year? By the way you have been talking, I would guess defensive end and wide receiver – if a defensive end you like was still there at No. 5. Is No. 7 too early for center? Safety? I am just trying to figure out how that mind of yours works.

I would lean toward defensive end/edge defender, offensive line and wide receiver with those selections. If I were selecting for the Jaguars and had those selections, I probably would lean edge defender and receiver.

Kevin from McGavock High School

JO - Is it too soon to talk about the 2023 draft?

Wait a week or so.

Matt from Houston, TX

With a 53-man roster for the fall, what is the benefit of having 12 picks in the draft? Doesn't that equate to too many rookies/young players to be impactful? Twelve seems like a high number...

Twelve is a high number of draft selections in any year – and it is unlikely that 12 draft selections all make an impact as a rookie. But even in a "normal" year of seven-to-eight draft selections, it's unlikely all draft selections make an impact as a rookie. If you get "impact" – i.e., difference-making, make-you-better in multiple games – from three or four rookies that's a hell of a good draft. I would expect the Jaguars to actually select eight or nine players. General Manager Trent Baalke likes to trade on draft day. I expect him to package some of those 12 selections and move around in the draft.

Dan from Munich, Germany

Hi Zone, since the dead zone is around the corner would you mind doing research on the success rate of the top five picks versus the rest of the first rounders let say in the last 5-10 years? Thanks!


John from Jacksonville

Hi. It looks like the 2022 NFL schedule will be released in early/mid May after the draft talk subsides. Do you expect only one prime-time slot again for the Jags this season? I guess they consider the London game also somewhat of a prime-time slot, as well. Do any teams ever get the distinction of having no prime time matchups at all?

I expect the Jaguars to get one prime-time game – likely on a Thursday. That's typical for a smaller-market team with low national expectations. Yes, teams sometimes get no prime-time appearances, though it's rare. The 2017 Jaguars, for example, did not appear on prime time.

Camilo from Barranquilla, Colombia

JO- Will any true No. 1 receivers be available when we get to the first pick in the second round?

This is one of the key Jaguars questions/storylines to watch during Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft Thursday. It is expected that six-to-eight wide receivers could be selected in the first round – which obviously would depleted the receivers available at No. 33 significantly. Many analysts believe productive receivers will still be available at that point. NFL and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks believes there will be receivers available there who could develop into big-time receivers. That doesn't mean there will be a receiver available at No. 33 who will be a True No. 1 as a rookie. It doesn't mean there probably will be a receiver available there who could develop.

NFL fan 30 teams

I still hate Tom Brady.