O-Zone: Onward

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

Some will say you’re better off letting a rookie quarterback sit and learn rather than start before he is “ready” and get too mentally (or physically) beat up to recover. If a rookie can’t recover from that sort of thing, however, is it fair to doubt whether he has the fortitude to be a franchise quarterback anyway?

This is an annual debate around any franchise with an early-drafted quarterback and there’s no hard, fast rule that applies to every situation. While Peyton Manning started every game in his rookie season and quickly developed into one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, other Day 1 starting quarterbacks have been overwhelmed by the process – or simply weren’t good enough – and failed. And while some young quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes benefitted from not playing and developing as rookies, others “given time to develop” have been just OK or failed. Remember, too: there are different reasons for having a quarterback sit. One reason is protecting the player and giving him time to acclimate and develop, but in other cases it’s because he’s not yet ready and a more experienced quarterback gives the team the best chance to win. Mahomes, for example, sat as a rookie in 2017 behind veteran Alex Smith. The Kansas City Chiefs made the postseason in Smith’s final season while Mahomes sat and prepared for the 2018 season. Would the Chiefs have made the postseason in 2017 with Mahomes starting? Would he have had anything close to his 2018 season as a rookie? We’ll never know, but the Chiefs had success in both seasons – and they appear destined for a bright future with a developing quarterback. Bottom line: most teams ideally want a veteran good enough to allow time for the rookie quarterback to develop for a season, but most teams with early-drafted quarterbacks aren’t in anything resembling an ideal situation.

Emiel from Texas

If we get a vet QB, should we go running back in the first round?

Goodness gracious, no.

Unhiptcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John. I'm wondering if you remember any thought-provoking questions of mine from previous years on which you'd like to compliment me.

I can’t remember any. Considering I am well-known for my photographic memory, this is concerning for either me or you. I’ll guess the latter.

Otto from Ponte Vedra, FL

John, I have read that one of the problems last season was the lack of leadership in the locker room. In your opinion is that true and who do you think the leaders of the team really are?

I do think the Jaguars needed better leadership last season, and I did think the team missed veterans such as tight end Marcedes Lewis and linebacker Paul Posluszny on that front. Defensive end Calais Campbell is an obvious leader, and is a rare combination of leadership, experience and production. Was any other Jaguars players close to him on a leadership level last season? I would have to say no.

Kenny Section 408

Mr. O, In May of 2018 I bought a “new-to-me” car that is “sweaty teal” in color. I asked my 11-year old daughter what we should name it. She replied “Blake.” I, like my fellow Canadian fan, felt that Blake is not a good name and suggested BB5. She liked that, so we drove into the season very excited. Now that it is time to move on, NF6 or KM12 just doesn't have a good ring to it, so what name do you suggest for a 2014 Nissan Sentra? Thanks for what you do.

I would say to name it after Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles if the Jaguars acquire him, but I don’t know that he has a nickname. Maybe Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray do.

KC from South Florida

I'm not one of those “Wait-‘til-next-year" types when it comes to drafting quarterbacks, but could you see a possibility where the Jags actually do sign Nick Foles for the foreseeable future and then maybe draft a tight end like T.J. Hockenson of Iowa in the first round and wait until 2020 to draft a quarterback?

I have said often and I continue to believe that there’s no way the Jaguars will draft a quarterback in the first round if they sign Foles as an unrestricted free agent or trade for him. If you’re acquiring Foles, you are acquiring him to be your quarterback for at least two and perhaps three seasons – and you’re signaling that you believe you can contend immediately. The belief that they can contend immediately is why I believe there’s very definitely a chance the Jaguars could select Hockenson in Round 1. The Jaguars need help offensively, and tight end may be behind only quarterback when it comes to key positions of need. Hockenson would seem a perfect fit.

Travis from North Dakota

I know a Lisfranc injury is concerning for a running back, but do you think the Jags will bring back Corey Grant? His speed adds another element to this offense but if they do move on do you think they draft a running back similar to him?

Much will depend on Grant’s prognosis. Any Lisfranc injury indeed is serious for a running back, and Grant’s injury absolutely was serious. I could see a scenario under which he was re-signed with the idea he can continue rehabilitating and have a chance to move forward with the team as he gets healthier. Stay tuned.

Bruce from Owensboro, KY

How do you "move on" without a quarterback waiting to take BB5's place? Won't we have to lock a free agent in before the draft?

If the Jaguars move on from quarterback Blake Bortles around the start of free agency in mid-March, they almost certainly would sign a veteran quarterback around the same time. What role that player would play could depend on – or dictate – what the Jaguars do at the position in the late April 2019 NFL Draft. If it’s a “bridge” quarterback, then they likely will draft a quarterback early. If it’s a front-line guy, they likely will select one later.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

What is the Jaguars' scouting report on Taven Bryan after one year? Was that about what was expected for a rookie defensive lineman? I didn't see a lot of disruption, or even standing out much. He seemed to get swallowed up in the crowd often. I think with a year into an NFL strength training program and maybe learning technique and practice from Calais Campbell he will be better. What's the expectation of him in Year 2?

Bryan as a rookie this past season showed potential, strength and athleticism – and he absolutely improved in the second half of the season. He will be expected to start in his second season, likely at the three-technique position that likely will be vacated by the expected departure of Malik Jackson. He also will be expected to play better overall – with more consistency and more production – than he did as a rookie.

Ron from Jacksonville

As we get closer to the combine I hope you pay close attention to the 40 ... when the runners “toe the line” ...

Why wouldn’t I?

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Lots of discussion about a high-priced free-agent quarterback (e.g., Foles, Tyrod Taylor of the Cleveland Browns). More discussion about drafting a quarterback to be developed while a “bridge” quarterback fills the gap. Not much discussion of the possibility we could draft a quarterback to be our starter on opening day. Do you see any of the quarterbacks in this draft being “NFL ready”? Daniel Jones (Duke)? Drew Lock (Missouri)? Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)? Other?

It depends on what NFL-ready means. Do I see a draft-eligible quarterback ready to play immediately at a high level and with the intelligence you would want from a bridge quarterback? Not particularly, but I’m not sure there’s a veteran other than Foles that gives you a particularly secure feeling.

Brad from Orange Park, FL

Adam Rank put together a Top 16 list titled “G.O.A.T. of G.O.A.T.s” Ranking the best of the best in sports. Dude has Ric Flair and Lindsey Vonn on, whilst Roger Federer didn't crack the list. Ever feel like it's wild that anything still surprises you anymore?

I’m old and rapidly getting older, so nothing surprises me. But leaving Federer off a G.O.A.T. list is silliness to the point of wondering why you would even have a list.

Ryan from Farmington Hills

I feel like mock drafts prior to the NFL Combine are useless. Even final mock drafts released right before the actual NFL Draft from the top "experts" are rarely accurate. So my question is how much stock should we actually be putting into mock drafts, if any at all?

Of course mock drafts before the combine are worthless. That’s because mock drafts any time – months ahead of the draft or minutes before – are worthless. Had we not covered this already?

Stoic from Stoneville

Carry on, demented soldier.

Carry on.

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