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O-Zone: Quick fix

JACKSONVILLE - Let's get to it. Quinn from Tampa, FL:
Convince me the Jags will take Leonard Williams if he's on the board at Pick No. 3. There's so much depth/investment in the defensive tackle and elephant with Odrick, Alualu, Sen'Derrick (who we all hope comes back healthy this season), Miller and Abry. On the other hand, the Leo and Otto positions are relatively thin with Clemons at 33, Andre Branch, Ryan Davis and Skuta. Along with the need for a slot receiver, I feel like Leonard would have to be head and shoulders better than Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley, or Amari Cooper. What does everyone else see in Leonard that I must be missing?
John: A very legitimate question. First, I don't know who the Jaguars will take at No. 3, and with the draft a little less than a month away, let me offer a reminder/hint: only one person knows. That's General Manager David Caldwell. Remember last offseason? Caldwell and the Jaguars heavily scouted quarterbacks for an entire offseason yet very few people anticipated the Blake Bortles selection. So, while all "indications" point to the Jaguars selecting pass rusher … really, who knows? Cooper does make sense on one level, as do Fowler and Beasley. The argument for Williams therefore comes down to something pretty simple: if you think he's clearly the best player on the board at No. 3 – and a lot of people do – then you take him. Right now, I think that's the route the Jaguars will go because I'm assuming the Jaguars think that way. That's speculation, and until Draft Night that's all anyone can do when it comes to how the Jaguars and Caldwell are thinking.
Nate from Visalia, CA:
Two questions. First, why do we alternate third- and fourth-round picks per round with the Raiders? Second, do you believe we will secure a running back with our second pick, regardless of where that second pick takes place? Also, does it surprise you that fans still believe that "reports" from anyone, you included, are anywhere near valid in the month leading up to the draft? Ok, that was three questions. And I'm sure very little surprises you regarding fannin'...
John: Three answers. The Raiders and Jaguars finished tied at 3-13, so they alternate selections throughout the draft. Two, while it wouldn't surprise me if the Jaguars drafted a running back in the second round I don't believe they'll force it if the right one isn't there. Third, most "reports" leading to the draft are "speculation" and I think most fans realize that.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
Steve asked about aging players with great skills being a feasible resource in building your roster. That reminded me of George Allen, the head coach of the Redskins who went all in on that strategy by building the roster with the best, but older players, available. He only wanted proven veterans. One year the Redskins had seven picks, and traded them all on veteran players! Called the "Over the Hill Gang," they went from the cellar to the best record in the NFL in two years (and did well for seven)!! Often wondered if a franchise fully committed to Allen's strategy could work again in the NFL today? The polar opposite of building through the draft?
John: The Redskins never had the NFL's best record under Allen, but that's just me being argumentative and nitpicky; I know that's not the point of your question. I don't think it would work in this era, mainly because of the money and salary-cap space involved. To build Allen's way you are acquiring a lot of salary and presumably overpaying for a lot of players. In the early 70s, there was no salary cap because there was no free agency, so that didn't come into play. You could try to do it Allen's way for a year or two, and teams indeed have gone the route of signing a whole bunch of veterans. But in the salary-cap era, it typically has fallen apart pretty quickly and left teams going back to trying to build with youth.
Mike from Middleburg, FL:
With this year's draft it seems like we hit it just right with drafting our quarterback last year. What do think?
John: I think the Jaguars think that.
Chris from Greensboro, NC:
John, when Ken Whisenhunt said he would start Marcus Mariota right away, doesn't it mean that they are NOT taking him because I never remember a team that knows the guy they are getting and says that he will start. The Redskins didn't do that before they picked RG3. We didn't do it when we got Bortles.
John: Titans Head Coach Whisenhunt said this week at the NFL's Annual Meeting that if the Titans draft Oregon quarterback Mariota he would start because he would be the No. 2 selection and he figures if you take him that early he will start. That's not necessarily true, of course, but I wouldn't read too much into what Whisenhunt said at the meetings either way. He was asked a question, and he answered; I doubt it's a blueprint to Tennessee's draft plans.
Geoff from Orlando, FL:
When will people get that London is about brand awareness, not changing the brand.
John: Honestly? A lot of people get it. And just as honestly? A lot of people don't. Those who get it probably will enjoy watching the Jaguars grow into a more solid organization in the coming years. Those who don't get it … well, maybe they'll never get it and they may not enjoy things as much, but they'll see the same thing.
Ryan from Fleming Island, FL:
On the topic of expanding replay to include any play or questionable penalty, I have heard a lot of push back that this would make the games longer. Would it really, though? If the number of challenges allotted to each coach remained the same, the potential stoppages in the game would remain the same as well.
John: Coaches don't use all of their allotted challenges in every game, so it stands to reason if you added challenge-able elements you would get more plays challenged – and therefore also get longer games. But the biggest reason for not expanding replay to include any play or questionable penalty is that that's not the spirit of replay and it wouldn't solve all problems. The idea of replay is to correct obvious calls, not to correct every call. You can't correct every call and you can't "correct" judgment calls. If, say, you expand replay to include interference penalties, what's to say the replay official's interpretation of the penalty/non-penalty is any better than that of the official on the field? There's a human element to officiating just as there is a human element to playing sports. If you want something without a human element, go play a video game.
Greg from Section 122/Jacksonville:
While I get your optimism, I believe it would be best to wait until we have seen more victories before declaring we have a better roster/team. Coach Bradley, you, and anyone else can believe the team is better. But as the last two seasons have made abundantly clear, you are what your record says you are.
John: I'll go ahead and declare what I feel like declaring, but thanks.
Dave from Jacksonville:
I'm glad you didn't say "absolutely" or something along those lines when you asked yourself the question, "Will they be better in terms of victories and losses next season?" Good to see you have some kind of restraint, because until this team starts to win some games, they are still one of the worst three teams in the league.
John: And thanks to you as well, sir.
Vincent from Bristol, CT:
John, say the Browns call on draft day and offer both of their first round picks for our pick at No. 3 … do you think Dave would take that deal and if so who would be your picks in those spots?
John: I think he'd think seriously and I think he'd really like to get one more later-round selection out of it, but who wouldn't? I also think if the Jaguars could get one of the four or five pass rushers being discussed and one of the two or three top receivers … well, that would give them the chance of an impact player. Maybe two.
Ed from Winston-Salem, NC:
Do you think we will get a C in the draft or free agency? Have we brought any in?
John: I think I'm not big on draft or free-agency grades, but I'd give the Jaguars at least a B so far this offseason.
Andrew from Windsor, Ontario:
Johnny! I need some advice. I have been dating my girlfriend for a while now. She is awesome. We like all the stuff, including sports teams and what not. I want her to take the next step and have her become a Jaguar fan instead of a Bears fan... I need some advice? I was thinking traveling to Duval and making her see a game in person. How can I solve this problem?!
John: Marry her. That always fixes everything. Honest.

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