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O-Zone: Out of the mainstream

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Boxcutter Bill from Mass

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! O, please tell Mr. Khan to chill out. I get it. It's exciting around the Jags these days, but let's not crown them yet. We had a magical season last year. It felt good, growth was witnessed, but the big bad wolf still plays in Kansas City. JOE COOL is always on mission. We got some guys in the AFC to get through. We could be a four seed every year for the next ten years and lose in the first round, and it wouldn't surprise me. Let's watch this play out. Hearing our owner say that kind of sounded like Vince Youngs famous "Dream Team" in Philly. Everybody calm down. Please. It's going to be fun either way, but we haven't won anything yet. Let's get that first one before we start acting like Patriots Fans. Trust me, I know them.

This email in a sense speaks to the perils public figures face whenever they speak publicly, the primary peril being that everything said – no matter the intent – will be picked apart, criticized and misinterpreted. It seems to this old man that this phenomenon has grown worse in recent years, but perhaps it just irritates me more than once was the case. As many things do. Either way, Jaguars Owner Shad Khan didn't guarantee anything during our conversation last week at the 2023 NFL Annual Meeting – and he wasn't channeling his inner Vince Young. He simply made the point that having a quality general manager (Trent Baalke), head coach (Doug Pederson) and quarterback (Trevor Lawrence) is the formula for success in the NFL – and that he believes the Jaguars at last have those pieces in place. He crowned nothing, and didn't speak outlandishly. Had he said nothing, he would have been criticized for that. He simply gave his opinion, speaking as honestly as he could as the organization's most important voice. That's supposed to be OK. Even these days. Get off my lawn.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

How are we talking about biggest draft busts in Jaguars history and not taking about Derrick Harvey? He was selected No. 8 overall and had eight sacks in three years. And that was basically the sum total of his NFL career. That also was the Jaguars worst draft ever, 2008. They pretty much got nothing out of that entire draft.

Fair, though the Jaguars' 2011 draft also wasn't all that great.

Anthony from Washington

Hello, O-man. I read a few days ago where someone stated that wide receiver Justin Blackmon (2012, No. 5 overall) was our biggest draft bust. I have to disagree. I think the 2005 draft of Matt Jones (No. 21 overall) was the biggest bust in franchise history. Not so much because of the way Jones played, but because three selections later, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. The Jags selected a quarterback that they attempted to turn into a wide receiver instead of taking Rodgers. To me, that was the biggest draft bust.

People interpret concepts in different ways. It's what simultaneously makes the world wonderful and discussions frustrating, and this is certainly a case where opinions can differ. Was the biggest disappointment Blackmon, who showed so much unfulfilled potential? Or wide receiver R. Jay Soward (No. 29 overall, 2000), who was – like Blackmon – so troubled off the field that it derailed his career essentially before it began? Or Harvey, who – as they say in Trevortown – never came close to validating his No. 8 overall selection in 2008? Most people would focus on those sorts of players. I tend to not consider late first-round selections "busts" because late first-round players have far more pre-draft risks than, say, Top 5 or 10, players. Not all first-round selections are created equal. But I'm not the norm in that area. As for assessing busts based on who could have been selected … I get the temptation. But remember: If you judge every draft selection that way, most selections can be criticized. Perhaps not as much as not selecting Rodgers, but they can be criticized.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

Hi, John. After a bit of thought, I can say with confidence you did NOT write about the J.J. Watt/Andrew Norwell incident. This causes me great distress, because I had believed you when you claimed to be open and honest with us. But now I see that the loyal readers, and they both know who they are, were correct in saying you're simply a company mouthpiece working for the man. It is a sad day. Thank you.

I assume your referencing the infamous Whirlybird block by Norwell on Watt during the 2021 season in a Jaguars loss to the Arizona Cardinals. I recall discussing it and writing about it. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps I'm confusing it with other ill-fated plays from that and other Jaguars seasons. Perhaps my memory fades as I age. Perhaps I'm not the king of all funk after all. Perhaps we are all just pawns in this game we call life. Perhaps…

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Does running a 3-4 defense change the way you look at your secondary as far as body type, size and speed? For example would you look for more athletic smaller safeties in a 3-4?

Not necessarily.

Richard from OP

I have seen numerous mocks and projections for the No. 24 pick, but personally, I think the Jags go offensive tackle. If we give Trevor more time in the pocket, I think he will flourish with the sky being the limit. Last year when he did have time to let a play develop, that man was on point firing bullseyes on intermediate and deep shots. Imagine if he had that kind of time on let's say 70-plus of his drop backs. Boy oh boy would that be disastrous for our opponents.

There's a decent chance the Jaguars could select offensive tackle No. 24 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. The sense here is that player likely would push for time – or a starting position – at guard and eventually slide out to tackle in the next season or so. It could have a double positive effect of improving the line in the short term and giving the team options moving forward. And it's never bad to add good offensive linemen.

Marcus from Southside of Jax

Do you think the odds are favorable that the Jags draft and start a rookie at the nickel-back position this season?

Yes, though I don't know that the player has to be selected in Round 1.

Brandon from Omaha, NE

Hey, O. Right now there are three possible tight ends being projected to go in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft: Dalton Kincaid of Utah, Michael Mayer of Notre Dame and Darnell Washington of Georgia. Most Jags fans including myself, and some senior writers, expect Jaguars tight end Evan Engram to get a long-term contract. Would a first-round selection of one of those three tight ends change your opinion? Mayer and Washington seem like complements to Engram's style of play. Kincaid is more of a pure pass catching tight end, and seems like a direct replacement. How do you see it?

Your assessments of the projected first-round tight ends in the '23 draft seem accurate. I don't think the selection of a first-round tight end would change the Jaguars' approach with Engram much. A "long-term" contract for a veteran player these days often is a two-or-three-year deal. A drafted tight end could play alongside Engram for two seasons, then assume a role after that as a primary tight end. That would make sense considering Pederson's ability to get production from multiple tight ends.

Dan from Jax

Former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin deserves to be in the pride. Former Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer, probably not.

Good eye.

Samuel from Philadelphia, PA

What do you think the chances of us drafting Texas running back Bijan Robinson, Texas Christian wide receiver Quentin Johnston, or Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba if they are available at 24?

So many specific draft questions depend on knowing the decision-makers' specific opinions on players. This is something Baalke keeps quiet as drafts approach – as do all savvy general managers. I would be a little surprised if the Jaguars select a running back in Round 1 of the draft, but Robinson's talent would make him tempting. I also would be surprised if the Jaguars select a wide receiver in that position. As is the case with Robinson … if Baalke believes there is a player with special abilities …

David from Chuluota, FL

KOAF - When you say, "It's important to be nice," it feels like a challenge not to be? It's almost as if you're using reverse psychology to promote rebellious behavior, a real rabble-rouser! You pretend to be mainstream, but you're a real punk at heart!

I am the king of all punk.