O-Zone: Roll me away

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Thomas from Williamsburg, VA

What do you think is going to happen with the backup quarterback spot? Who is someone you could see holding it down next year?

This will be something to watch in the coming weeks and months. I asked Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone last week at the 2019 NFL Annual Meeting what he thought about the quarterback room behind new starting quarterback Nick Foles. He said he was fine with the position, and listed backup Cody Kessler, 2018 practice-squad player Tanner Lee and 2018 Seattle Seahawks practice-squad quarterback Alex McGough as reasons. He didn’t elaborate, so it’s hard to judge the comfort level with the reserves. Kessler struggled in four starts late last season, and the other two have no NFL experience. This feels like an area that still could get addressed this offseason – perhaps with a free agent. The issue: More experience here will be a relatively big expense – quite likely a bigger expense than the Jaguars will pay right now.

Jaginator from (formerly of) Section 124

Thirty-two starting quarterbacks: One undrafted (counting Case Keenum as the presumed started in Washington), one each from Rounds 4-6, two third-rounders and four second-rounders. All the remaining starters – 22 of them – drafted in the first round. So, the whole idea that “elite quarterbacks could be anywhere” is … vastly overblown.

Very vastly.

Mason from Palm Bay, FL

O-Zone, Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack’s draft stock in 2016 dropped because there was fear that he might need microfracture surgery on his knee at some point in the future. Is there still a concern regarding his long-term health? Obviously, the team won't give us constant Myles Jack's knee updates, but do you think they view him as one of the core players with Jalen, Yann, etc.?

The knee issue that caused Jack to slip in the ‘16 draft won’t magically disappear. It doesn’t mean he for sure will need surgery soon, but it also doesn’t mean the issue no longer exists. My expectation is he will be treated as a core player when it comes time to re-sign, but the knee must be a factor.

Rick from Franconia, VA

You’ve indicated you believe pass-rushing defensive line and offensive line are the positions the Jaguars are most likely to draft in the first round – with tight end also a possibility. My question is whether this reflects your view of the positions of greatest need on the roster? In particular, I’m interested if you feel safety is as big a need overall as the other three positions you mentioned. I can’t see the Jags getting to the end of Day 2 of the draft having not drafted another safety.

The Jaguars appear very comfortable with Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson starting at safety next season, so I don’t think they’ll address the position early in the draft. I easily could see them addressing safety in Rounds 4 or 5.

Hill from Denver

All of these running back signings likely tell us what the team thinks about this year's draft class at the position. Also, do you think we ever see Jaydon Mickens get another opportunity in Jacksonville?

The Jaguars signing running backs Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham this week reveals essentially nothing about what they think about this year’s draft class. Blue was signed to back up starter Leonard Fournette – and to ensure the team doesn’t feel the need to draft a backup early. That approach is in keeping with what the Jaguars have done at all positions under Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell – i.e., signing veterans in free agency to avoid reaching for need in the draft. And no … I don’t think Mickens will return to the Jaguars.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

You're so right about the print news business fading out being a bad thing. Traditionally people got their info about current events from trustworthy places where people took time to ensure accuracy so their readers would be well-informed. Peer review/editorial boards made sure stories were tethered to reality. The rise of 24-hour news, "entertainment news," and the internet has people seeking places that give them news they want to hear and ignoring news from places that report things they don't like. Is there a way out of this hurricane of misinformation? Is there a future where we get back to people getting good information tethered to reality?

I don’t see a way back to the days when careful, measured reporting dominated the landscape, because I don’t see the hunger for instant reaction and instant sound bites going away. We’re down that road for better or for worse – and I don’t know that enough people care about thorough reporting and accuracy for those attributes to drown out all competitors. I also sure don’t see social media’s hurricane of misinformation slowing. But good information is still out there. People who want it will just have to try harder to find it – and be discerning in determining the definition of “good information.”

Chris from Houston, TX

O-man, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Cam Robinson drafted to be the backup at left tackle and possibly start at right tackle? The reason he got the starting job was because Brandon Albert retired before the season. Just a reminder that Cam wasn't drafted to be the opening day starting left tackle when drafted.

OK.

James from Salt Lake City, UT via Jagsonville

O -Man, I have heard rumors that Gene Frenette has been spotted entering the war room on draft day. True or false?

I have no idea if longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette ever has been in the Jaguars’ war room. My guess is he has not. But if he was, he wasn’t seen. No one “spots” Gene unless he wants to be spotted. He is stealthy.

Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL

Hi John: You're again keeping interest at a respectable level during another offseason. Nice work. My question is hypothetical. If Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson and Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor are both on the board at even, who do the Jags take and why? GO JAGS!!

Taylor, because right tackle is harder to find later in the draft – and because this is said to be a very deep tight-end class. That means value could potentially be found there in the second or third rounds.

Dave from Duuuvaaall

Dear O-Zone, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was performing well in the preseason and then suffered a freak abdominal injury when he fell on a football during joint practice with the Minnesota Vikings. He tried his best to play through the injury, showing toughness and dedication to the team, but was unable to and was placed on injured reserve and underwent season-ending surgery. The Jaguars need a tight end and ASJ is still a free agent. If he re-signs with the Jags, it would set the team up to be able to make value picks in the draft instead of reaching for need. I’ve got a hunch he’ll be a Jag again!

If you say so.

Neil from Cheltenham, UK

Dear Mr. Oehser: Are you a pick-by-need or best-available-player person? I can’t help thinking that there is going to be an extremely talented pass-rusher available at the Jags’ top pick who will be deemed as a vastly superior player compared to the top offensive available. What are your thoughts? On another unrelated matter, if you had the choice of any NFL quarterback currently playing who would you select as the Jaguars’ quarterback?

Best-available-player versus pick-for-need is something of a mythical debate. The reality is few NFL teams truly pick best available player with every selection and few teams reach purely for need. Most selections are a mix of need and value, with every team “needing” its draft selections on some level and every team wanting to feel constricted by major needs as little as possible on draft day. As far as the Jaguars’ decision at No. 7, if there is a pass rusher so good that he’s considered a can’t miss-elite talent available, then I believe the Jaguars would take that player. But they also have a need at pass rusher as well. You always need them. And oh … I would take Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers because he has more time left – theoretically – than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

As a member of the communications team, you obviously interface with players in a variety of interview formats. I’m curious, though, as to how much you chat informally with players. I’m also curious as to whether players ever give you feedback regarding interviews and/or the O-Zone.

I talk on and off the record with many players. As far as feedback, when I want someone’s opinion on something, I tell them what to think and have them repeat it back to me verbatim. That’s how Zone rolls.

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