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O-Zone: Setting the board

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Chris from Palatka, FL:
Hey, John: Of the many interceptions thrown by Blake Bortles last season, how many were potential "complete passes" that were turned into interceptions by being bobbled by wide receivers and subsequently taken by defenders? Not making excuses for Bortles by any means, but are these plays taken into consideration by the brass?
John: Several of Bortles' interceptions last season indeed were deflections off receivers' hands, with a couple of the most notable being one in the regular-season opener off wide receiver Marqise Lee and one in a Week 5 victory over Chicago off wide receiver Allen Robinson. There were certainly others … and yes, the Jaguars' front office considers pretty much every factor when evaluating Bortles – deflections and catchable passes very much included. But remember: while some of the interceptions that caromed off receivers should have been caught, others – such as the one off Lee in the opener – were caused by inaccurate passes. The bottom line: Bortles needs to throw more accurately and play better. Counting an interception or two differently on the Blake Blame Monitor isn't going to change that.
Greg from Section 223 and St. Johns, FL:
John, given the lack of premium-position players projected at the top of the draft, might we be in for a major surprise? I could see this one being a shocker … I'll just throw Reuben Foster out there as food for thought.
John: This indeed seems like a year in which there could be many surprises near the top of the draft. Such is often the case when there aren't clear-cut highly-rated players at premium positions. I, for instance, would be surprised if the Jaguars don't select either Solomon Thomas of Jonathan Allen if one or the other is there when the Jaguars select at No. 4; their talent level and the fact they are defensive linemen indicates either would be worthy. If Allen, Thomas and defensive end Myles Garrett are all gone at No. 4 … well, there are a lot of scenarios that could follow. I don't think it's a lock that the Jaguars will select Louisiana State running back Leonard Fournette in that scenario, but if he's not the selection, I have no idea what will happen. So, yes, I think there is a possibility of a major surprise for the Jaguars on Draft Night – and yes, Foster is a possibility that would qualify as a shocker.
Jen from Jacksonville:
What do you think of this starting defensive front seven: defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, defensive tackle Abry Jones, defensive end Calais Campbell, strong-side linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., middle linebacker Myles Jack and weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith? That's all your speed, strength and bulk. Fowler is the weak link but with his speed they can't run to that side at all. Thoughts …
John: My first thought is people this offseason throw out a lot of scenarios for the Jaguars' defense that don't include Paul Posluszny, and my thought on that scenario is it overlooks him being perhaps the Jaguars' best defensive player last season. Another thought is that all indications this offseason are that Fowler is going to stay at defensive end.
Chris from Clemson, SC:
I've seen reports saying if Solomon Thomas is on the board at No. 4 the Jaguars will take him. How do you think the front seven would look if they take him, he's good, Fowler lives up to his No. 3 selection and Ngakoue keeps getting better?
John: I think the Jaguars' front seven in that scenario would look like you want your front seven to look: like one that has a bunch of players who can rush the passer effectively. As for who starts where in that scenario, I have no idea. You couldn't start all three players, but if they are all three as good as your question indicates, the Jaguars would be really good in passing situations. That would be a good problem and one the Jaguars haven't had in a long while. I do think if Fowler lives up to his potential he will be in the starting lineup, though.
Chad from Saint Augustine, FL:
Fowler is a bit of an enigma to me. Do you think he could play middle linebacker?
John: Could he? I suppose. Will he? Not for the Jaguars and likely not for any team in the NFL.
Rob from Brunswick, GA:
I keep hearing the Jaguars mentioned as a possible landing spot for Richard Sherman from Seattle. I personally don't see it. Of course it'd be great to have him, but I can't see why we'd trade draft picks or talent for him. Our need doesn't seem to be that desperate for a cornerback, even a good one. Am I missing something?
John: No.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
The NFL honors a Man of the Year for off-field work in the community. Why don't teams draw more attention to players that go above and beyond anything required by contracts? Perhaps there should be a Pride of the Jags for off-the-field accomplishments and giving back to the community.
John: Teams talk about and promote their players' off-field accomplishments a lot. Whether media and fans always pay attention to that conversation is another question.
Neil from Gloucestshire, UK:
Are mock drafts are purely for fun – or, due to my newness to the game, should I be taking them seriously? Looking back at past mock drafts they appear to be unbelievably inaccurate. Why is that? Thank you.
John: Mock drafts are for entertainment purposes only. Then again, that's the case with most NFL analysis – and with the NFL, for that matter. But specifically to mock drafts, they're OK when used to get an idea of how early certain players might be selected, but a good projection will get a few correct and a lot more right than wrong. Why is this the case? Because beyond the first two or three selections, no one really knows what teams are thinking before the draft. Come to think of it, few people usually know all that much about the first two or three selections, either.
Steve from Denver, CO:
If TC goes with Allen from 'Bama with our first pick, isn't he telling BB we are done with your lack of progress? When healthy he has three experienced wide outs, a former Pro Bowl tight end and an offensive line that is showing progress. Put up this year Blake Bortles, or you are history in Jacksonville?
John: I think if Tom Coughlin and the Jaguars select Jonathan Allen from Alabama at No. 4 overall they are saying they believe Allen is the best player available there. I don't think it has anything to do with Bortles one way or the other.
John from Jacksonville:
Has any team ever held its selection on purpose as time expired so it can select this player it needs and likes at a more favorable spot? Say a running back, offensive tackle or tight end?
John: No. That would result in a team dropping back one spot in the draft. The benefit of that wouldn't be worth the risk of losing the desired player.
Greg from Virginia Beach, VA:
Funny story. So, back in the day an ex-girlfriend of mine called and asked to help her move a couch. Halfway down the stairs of the apartment building she can no longer grip the couch anymore, so I'm just holding my end up with no end in sight while her end is resting on the building stairs. We don't know what we're going to do when all of a sudden this black Benz pulls up, Rashean Mathis jumps out like he's freaking Batman, and with a bandaged knee helps us move the couch. That's Hall-of-Fame worthy in my book.
John: That is Hall worthy, and it's pretty much in line with just about everything I experienced from or heard about Mathis. I never found him to be anything but classy, friendly and helpful. None of which answers the obvious question of why you agreed to do something nice for someone. Never get involved in the struggles of others. It's inconvenient and usually doesn't bring you financial reward.
T.I.C. from Jacksonville:
Do you suppose all them Tebow fans care more about baseball now?
John: I imagine so, and you know what? Tebow is faring better early on with the New York Mets' minor-league team than many expected. He has been lampooned, criticized and doubted a lot – and I, for one, scoffed a bit at the baseball idea. Here's hoping his success continues. If it does, good for him.
Trae from Jacksonville:
Hey John. I'd be really interested to know how your personal draft board would bet set at this point if you were in charge of making the Jaguars' No. 4 overall selection.
John: One, Myles Garrett. Two, Solomon Thomas. Three, Jonathan Allen. Four, Leonard Fournette. Or maybe O.J. Howard, or maybe Derek Barnett, or maybe – but not likely because of position – Jamal Adams. Or maybe – but not likely because I just can't bring myself to do it – Deshaun Watson. So, for today: Fournette. For today.

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