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O-Zone: One fer Boselli

ATLANTA, Ga. – Let’s get to it …

Sean from Jacksonville

I hope I'm really wrong and I'm sure you'll point that out, but I feel a bit nervous about Tony Boselli's chances of getting into the Hall of Fame this year. I'll be watching closely Saturday and I hope he gets a knock at the door instead of that debilitating phone call.

It’s OK – and correct – to be nervous given the circumstances. Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli certainly will be nervous Saturday, and with reason: He’s a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that’s a nerve-wracking, life-changing process if you’re not a guaranteed, first-ballot selection. To break it down: Boselli, who played for the Jaguars from 1995-2001, has a very good chance to be one of the five modern-era players named to the 2019 Hall of Fame class when it is announced Saturday. There’s also a good chance he won’t be in the class. That’s reality. Voters with whom I speak overwhelmingly believe he will get in the Hall eventually. Many believe this will be the year. But remember: Tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed are considered locks, and cornerback Champ Bailey is considered close to a lock. That leaves two modern-era positions. The positive working for Boselli is that most voters believe there will be a successful movement to get one of the four offensive linemen who are finalists – Boselli, Steve Hutchinson, Alan Faneca and Kevin Mawae – in this year. The voters believe that four-lineman backlog must be unclogged – and that by unclogging it, it will start a trend that gets all four enshrined in the next few years. My sense from talking to voters is it’s between Boselli and Mawai as to which lineman will get in this season. I believe Boselli’s chances are better than the last two years – and he was in the final 10 the last two years. So, yes: I’m guessing this is the year. Still, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Boselli wasn’t enshrined this year. The reality is there are double the worthy candidates as spots. That means even the most deserving candidates have every reason to be nervous.

Nate from Granby

If Boselli doesn't get in the hall this year, how many years does he have left as a modern-era candidate?

Seven.

Sam from Winter Park, FL

Dante Fowler Jr. is a good player. It’s not his fault we overreached. Fowler was never a "sack guy" at Florida. There were plenty of players taken after Fowler that had more upside than him. Fans are mad because we made a seven-to-eight sack defensive end the third pick in the draft. The fingers should be pointed at General Manager David Caldwell. Again.

Point all you want, and it’s fine to criticize Caldwell’s draft record. But let’s not rewrite history to suggest that Fowler was a dramatic reach at No. 3 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Would defensive tackle Leonard Williams have been a better choice? Sure, and a lot of people thought so at the time. But Fowler widely was considered one of the three or four best players in the draft and it wasn’t much of a surprise when he was the first non-quarterback selected that year.

Trent from Jacksonville

John, what do you think of this? Have all players who declare for the NFL Draft play for a random NFL team for one year. That way, we know who is good and who isn't – and then the bad teams can draft the star players and it would balance the league. This would take the risk/guessing element out of the draft almost completely. What do you think?

I think you’re right that it would eliminate a lot of the risk. It also would be the silliest, most-mockable move in the history of the league.

Big on Blake from Philly

John, I’m losing my mind over here. That’s why I turn to you: a reasonable, well-articulated senior editor of the people. Can you please tell me what the big deal surrounding Nick Foles is all about? He comes with a gigantic price tag, a history of spotty play mixed in with flashes of brilliance, and has proven to be a system-dependent quarterbacks. Why would he make any sense in this iteration of the Jaguars? Wouldn’t it be worse than if the Jags had gone all in on the Kirk Cousins auction last season?

The big deal about Foles is he has had remarkable late-season success with the Philadelphia Eagles, and that he is perceived as likely being the best available quarterback when unrestricted free agency begins in mid-March. Those two factors make him a relative rarity – i.e., a quarterback who is perceived as having a chance to be really good being available in free agency. The risk is Foles has struggled in his career as often as he has succeeded, and there are those who believe a lot of his success has stemmed from the playmakers around him in Philadelphia.

Brian from Portlandia

Yo Funk! Given the difficulty evaluating quarterback prospects, shouldn’t teams simply learn from past mistakes? For instance, seek out a “natural thrower of the ball” (not Blake Bortles), with pocket awareness and toughness (not Blaine Gabbert), with a quick release (not Byron Leftwich)? For my money, David Garrard checked all the boxes and is the most underrated of all Jags quarterbacks. Too bad injuries caught up with him.

Of course teams want natural throwers of the football with unbelievable pocket awareness and quick releases. They also should steer clear of inaccurate passers and favor quarterbacks with phenomenal work ethics, high football intelligence, ability to read defenses and process information and prototypical size. They also should make sure the player has the intangibles that will translate to the NFL, including leadership ability. Every team has past mistakes at quarterback. Everyone tries to learn from them. You still have to project young players into a game far advanced from anything they have experienced and hope they can adapt to it. It’s not impossible, but it’s phenomenally difficult.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Do you have a sense of how many players were drafted by the Jaguars and then went on to win a Super Bowl with another team? I suspect it is not that many?

There have been more than a few. Keenan McCardell (Tampa Bay, 2002). Desmond Howard (Green Bay, 1996). Andre Rison (Green Bay, 1996). Ferric Collons (New England, 1996). Dave Thomas (New York Giants, 2001). Mark Brunell (New Orleans, 2009). Kyle Brady (New England, 2007). Those come to mind. There are almost certainly more.

Richard from Jacksonville

O'Man, why aren't we talking about who will win the Super Bowl this week? GET OFF MY LAWN! As long as the offensive line contains Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Tom Brady gets another one. 34-27.

I agree.

Ross from Jacksonville

The other day when you said Kyler Murray was your second quarterback behind Dwayne Haskins, was that because of what you saw of Daniel Jones and Drew Lock at the Senior Bowl?

It was because Murray is one of the most-dynamic players in the draft and because there was a buzz about him the week of the Senior Bowl. I also said often during January that I imagined my opinions on the quarterbacks would change quite a bit early in this process. My guess remains that all four of the quarterbacks in your question will be first-round selections – perhaps even Top 15 selections. Jones in particular is being discussed very positively among NFL types, and my guess is he’ll be seriously in the conversation for the Jaguars in coming months.

Jon from Jacksonville

If we were looking at each team’s all-time rosters, would the Jags be decidedly the weakest at quarterback?

They would be low on the list. They also have a shorter history than most NFL teams. But take a look at the last 25 years – the amount of time the Jaguars have existed. I don’t know that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ history is that much better during that span. Or the Houston Texans. Or the Chicago Bears. Or the Washington Redskins. Or the Cleveland Browns. Or the Miami Dolphins. Or the New York Jets. Finding a franchise quarterback is hard.

Kenny from No. 17 in Section 408

Mighty O: If No. 71 gets in the Hall of Fame this year, do you think there is a better chance for the Jaguars to get that coveted fifth preseason game in Canton? I would rather be there during August.

I wouldn’t describe a fifth preseason game as “coveted,” but yes … Boselli getting into the Hall of Fame would increase the chances of the Jaguars playing in the Hall of Fame game.

Tim from Jacksonville

Seriously, one fer Boselli. Make it happen.

I couldn’t agree more. As much as we joke in this forum about Boselli, he deserves for this to be his year. So … one fer Boselli? No doubt.

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