O-Zone: Reasonable odds

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Big on Blake from Philly

With all these free-agent offensive line signings and Head Coach Doug Marrone’s faith in new offensive line coach George Warhop, do you still see the Jags positioning themselves to use the No. 7 overall selection on offensive line? It just doesn’t add up right now, especially with all the defensive-line quality and the possibility of getting richer at quarterback or resources via a trade down.

The Jaguars indeed have heavily addressed offensive line in free agency, particularly the unit’s depth; re-signing tackle Josh Wells (Tuesday) and center/guard Tyler Shatley (Friday) was critical in that area. And re-signing guard A.J. Cann means they enter 2019 with four 2018 Week 1 starting offensive linemen: Cann, left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder. The major question remains right tackle, where 2019 unrestricted free agent Cedric Ogbuehi figures to compete with 2018 fourth-round selection Will Richardson. Will that be enough for the Jaguars to go defensive line, tight end and other positions early in the draft? That will be a critical draft-day storyline, but yes: Right tackle absolutely remains a possibility at No. 7.

Sean from Owing Mills, MD

With Wells and Shatley re-signed are we still looking at offensive linemen at No. 7? It feels like quarterback or tight end is more of a possibility now.

Wells and Shatley indeed are good depth. Their singings don’t change the starting right-tackle dynamic, nor do they make me think quarterback and tight end are greater possibilities at No. 7.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Shatley and now Wells. Would you agree that those have been the Jags’ two best backup linemen of late? These seem like good depth signings.

Yep.

Ryan from Jacksonville

Is it normal for a team to sign so many running backs in free agency? The Jags now have five running backs and counting.

The Jaguars have signed two running backs in free agency – Benny Cunningham and Alfred Blue. Cunningham was signed primarily for special teams, and Blue has been signed as a reserve behind Leonard Fournette. Their signings indeed bring the total of running backs on the Jaguars’ roster to five, including Dan Williams and Dmitri Flowers. The latter two will compete for positions, but they in no way guaranteed to be on the team. I expect the Jaguars to draft at least one running back – possibly a fast receiver out of the backfield because that still appears to be a major need for this offense. So no … nothing the Jaguars have done at the position this offseason is remotely unusual.

Marc from Oceanway

Would you not be even a little tempted to take Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver at No. 7 should he be available?

Of course I would be tempted. He’s a good player and a big-time prospect.

John from Jacksonville

How do you (The King of all Funk) and Gene (Icon) Frenette co-exist? Is there a mutual unspoken understanding that resulted from a long-ago triple dog dare?

You don’t “co-exist” with longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette. You stand back, let “Gene” be “Gene,” and be thankful you’re around to see it.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I am perplexed when fans say we need to pick an elite/franchise quarterback at No. 7. Don't they realize elite quarterbacks could be anywhere between Nos. 1 and 300? Brady was picked in the 6th round. Am I wrong?

Sure, elite quarterbacks theoretically can be found anywhere in the draft, but your chances increase dramatically the earlier you select them. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the ultimate outlier. Will his story be repeated someday? Perhaps, but don’t depend on it to build your franchise.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Speed, Zone. The Jags must draft speed, especially on offense. RPO, don’t work very well at the pro level without it.

The Jaguars have signed and drafted speed lately, particularly signing of wide receiver Chris Conley and drafting of wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. Running back Leonard Fournette also unquestionably is fast. I expect the Jaguars to select speed at running back somewhere in the draft, with an emphasis on a player who can utilize that speed as a receiver out of the backfield.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi, John: I applaud Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians for getting more women into coaching. However, most – if not all – position coaches or coordinators have played the game in the pros or college. Do you think the women coaches of today can be effective and accepted despite not having played?

Players and other coaches respond to people who can make them better. Will there be some resistance? Perhaps, because there always is resistance to something new. But I have little doubt that the league over time will follow Arians’ lead on this.

Keith from Palatka, FL

I think the Jaguars are doing a masterful job in free agency considering the salary cap constraints. Did I misunderstand or did General Manager Dave Caldwell leave the door open for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to return?

The Jaguars after signing quarterback Nick Foles indeed appear to have operated with savvy, re-signing players such as offensive linemen Cann, Shatley and Wells and tight end James O’Shaugnessy and signing reasonably-priced UFAs from other teams such as Blue, Ogbuehi, linebacker Jake Ryan, tight end Geoff Swaim, Cunningham and Conley. They have reshaped their depth offensively with what seem to be safe free agents. As for Seferian-Jenkins, you heard right that Caldwell left the door open for him to return. I would still be surprised if he returns given his injury issues, but it wouldn’t be the biggest shock of the offseason …

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

Any chance we bring running back T.J. Yeldon back? I'm surprised he hasn't signed anywhere yet.

… now that might be the biggest shock of the offseason.

David from Chuluota

O - In High School, Leonard Fournette rushed for 7,619 and 88 touchdowns, which culminated in him being named the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2014 senior class according to ESPN, 247Sports.com, and CBS Sports. In 2015, at LSU, he rushed for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. I note this to establish that he has a long history of extreme success in toting the rock. Since the end of last season, I’ve noticed a tone of negativity in relationship to Fournette – as if he were a liability or a disappointment. Some have suggested trading him and cutting your losses. One senior writer wouldn’t be surprised if we drafted two running backs, as if the cupboards were bare. It is fair to say that he has not performed as well as expected so far in his NFL career. However, it’s important to note that he’s had some injuries and defenses had little fear in our passing game, which led to few running lanes. With Foles at quarterback, defenses will have to play us honest, which will lead to Fournette’s. I think, this year naysayers will happily eat their words, as Fournette delivers on his promise. Thoughts?

Monday’s free-agent signing of Blue changed my thinking on the Jaguars selecting two running backs in the draft; now, my guess is it will be one. But my thinking along these lines has nothing to do with my thoughts on Fournette. It has everything to do with the Jaguars having lost both Yeldon and Corey Grant as unrestricted free agents and having released Carlos Hyde. That leaves Fournette, Blue, David Williams, Thomas Rawls, Cunningham and Dimitri Flowers on the roster. Blue’s signing means the Jaguars may not need to draft an every-down backup, but a third-down back still appears to be a need. As for Fournette’s naysayers, Fournette will have every chance to prove them wrong. But it’s up to him – and he has a lot of improving to do to live up to his status as a No. 4 overall selection.

Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124

Here’s my problem with the whole crowd screaming for T.J. Hockenson at No. 7: Go back over the last 20-or-so years of drafts and find the transcendent tight ends. And then look at where they were selected. Obviously, there HAVE been a few incredible tight ends selected – but almost none of them have been selected (anywhere) in the first round. I love the idea of having a game-changing tight end. But even when you identify those guys, they almost always come from somewhere later in the draft.

You’re correct that big-time tight ends over the last few decades mostly have been selected after the first round. Some of that is due to the position perhaps not being valued on the same level as other position. That value is changing a bit, and I expect the demand to change accordingly.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

Zone, when you assign percentages that something will happen, what are the chances that you'll be correct?

Minimal.

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