JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
James from Jacksonville:
Would we really be losing much if we let Branden Albert go considering we only gave a pick that doesn't mean that much? I'm not a big Albert fan and I think Cam Robinson will win the left tackle job anyway. Been watching film on him and he's a beast – Robinson, that is. Albert in my opinion has seen his better days. Thanks and just want to say you're awesome.
John: You buried the lede – and you can write anytime, by the way. But, yes … the Jaguars potentially would be giving up a lot if they released Branden Albert. They would be giving up a starting-caliber left tackle – at minimum, a starting-caliber offensive lineman. They also would be giving up an experienced player who has proven he can play at a Pro Bowl level – not to mention a player Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin clearly thought he fit what the team wants to do offensively next season. But the biggest reason for not releasing Albert is there's no reason to release him. There are, incidentally, reports that he will attend organized team activities this week; if he does so, then the holdout that wasn't in fact a holdout will seem meaningless in a hurry. And even if he doesn't attend OTAs, there's no reason to release him. It's the offseason. While the goings on at EverBank Field are undoubtedly of great importance, they are nonetheless voluntary. VOLUNTARY.
Jaguarrior from Duval:
I wish I could behave like a Texans fan, but unfortunately, my team loses. Geez, even the so-called fans wanna coddle Bortles.
John: OK. I guess.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
John, we open against the Texans who are either going to be starting a rookie quarterback, or will not have their shiny new first-round quarterback ready to go. Either way, seems like an advantage for us. Plus, it's the Texans; you know we'll be up for that game. I predict our first season-opening win in a very long time!
John: A rookie quarterback indeed adds uncertainty to any game, particularly the regular-season opener. While I caution against people assuming the Texans will struggle this season because of their quarterback situation, there's no question that situation will be a major storyline Week 1 – and it could work to the Jaguars' advantage. But don't forget: the Texans have overcome such uncertainties against the Jaguars in recent seasons. Don't assume they can't do it again.
Will from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Zone, you recently said something to the effect that Caldwell has drafted well, if not "spectacular." Saturday you gave his efforts, which per the reader's question generously omitted the dismal 2013 draft, a "C." As much as I would have loved growing up in the Oehser home where I was told my C-grades were borderline spectacular, the fact remains that if we have to re-draft the quarterback position in 2018, Caldwell scores a D-minus at best. Carson Palmer and Alex Smith were both available in 2013 free agency. Derek Carr will be a ten-year Pro Bowler, while Jimmy Garoppolo could have commanded a king's ransom in trade; both from Blake's class. And, even though Dave claims the Bills never called with the same offer they gave the Browns to move up for Sammy Watkins at four in 2014, common sense dictates they did. It wouldn't have been the first time a GM has said what he thought he needed to say after the draft in order to both alleviate further scrutiny of his pick, and not allow for additional pressure on his rookie quarterback resulting from such high opportunity cost. That trade ammunition would have moved us up for Winston or Mariota in 2015. Any of those moves would have been exponentially better than reaching for Bortles. I take it back; if we have to re-draft the quarterback position in 2018, the grade is an "F."
John: I don't know that I ever said Cs were borderline spectacular, and my answer wasn't meant to imply that Caldwell's draft record has been anything close to spectacular. And while Carr indeed appears on his way to a very good career, it might be a sliver early to anoint him a 10-year Pro Bowl selection and I don't know that I'd recommend preparing the bronze bust that goes along with such a career. Look, right now Bortles absolutely looks like an iffy pick. I won't dispute that, and I'm on record saying I don't know his end game. Did Caldwell miss on Garoppolo and Carr? Perhaps, though I'll let Garrappolo start for an extended period for a team other than New England before determining that – and no way, incidentally, were Carr and Garoppolo going No. 3 overall that year, either. Bottom line: Bortles hasn't been good enough yet, and it's easy to say in retrospect he was a reach. But I'm not one to base a general manager's entire grade on a quarterback, though considering the importance of the position I understand the tendency to do just that.
Dallas from Jacksonville:
Some people seem upset that we didn't draft a quarterback in the late rounds. Did they forget that we drafted a quarterback in Round 6 last draft in Brandon Allen? Is it possible for Brandon Allen to potentially develop into a decent NFL quarterback?
John: Yes, it's possible, but his situation also reflects the difficulty of solving your Quarterback Issue through the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. You might solve it there, but it's tricky trying to solve it immediately with any rookie quarterback – particularly one selected in the later rounds.
John from Jacksonville:
The biggest answer to ... why didn't we draft a quarterback in the late rounds? I think it is because we did that last year; he is still on the roster, and appears to have more (if not at least as much) upside then anyone that was around later in this year's draft. Do you think Brandon Allen is one of the most forgotten players by the fans?
John: I think a lot of fans remember Allen because I get a lot of questions about Allen. It's understandable he's overlooked because the media and the team doesn't talk about him a whole lot. He didn't play after the preseason last season, so no one outside the team has seen him play. It's easy to get forgotten in those circumstances. As of now, I honestly doubt Allen will push Blake Bortles significantly for the starting position –primarily because there hasn't been much chatter around the team about that. Maybe that will change during organized team activities. We'll see.
Paul from Orange Park, FL:
Stranded island movie? Monty Python and the Holy Grail....Ni!
John: What's your favorite color?
Kent from Jacksonville:
Now that T.C. is back, I noticed the minicamp was closed to everybody, even the media. Will this continue during training camp? Or will some of the practices be open to the public?
John: Many of the practices at the beginning of training camp will be open to the public – and to the media.
Daniel since Day One, Jacksonville:
I didn't mean to say that a great quarterback isn't important, but there aren't that many great quarterbacks selected in the top 10. The success percentage isn't that much higher than it is farther down the draft... maybe it's one of the most difficult to project? I think you should take a low second-to-fourth-round pick every year or two – and your chances of finding one are as good or better than anything else you can do. You pretty much got to give the guy two years on the bench to see if he's got it. If you don't see it by the second year, grab another one until you've got two that are outstanding! Every first-round pick needs to be a solid starter on the team long-term. Dig through the haystack looking for quarterbacks ... just keep digging!
John: Drafting a quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft every year is a theory that is floated a lot – and many people I respect a great deal are among those doing the floating. Though it's a theory that indeed makes sense, that's where it usually stays – very much in theory. The trouble with implementing it is that teams value second- and third-round selections and expect those players to be on the field. Most draft selections these days contribute on special teams and they often add speed/depth while keeping the roster young and comparatively inexpensive. There are also a lot of realities similar to the one currently facing the Jaguars – that while Blake Bortles hasn't proven himself as a front-line NFL quarterback, he is a more appealing option to the team than playing your typical rookie fourth- or fifth-round quarterback. That prevents the late-round selection from getting extensive repetitions, and reduces at least somewhat the chance that the later-round selection will win the job.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Hey John, do you want to get matching rompers?
John: Of course.
O-Zone: Romper room
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
James from Jacksonville: