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O-Zone: Setting the standard

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Brian from New Hampshire:
I love what David Caldwell has done the last two drafts. Marqise Lee, Ace Sanders and Allen Robinson could be one of the best young wide-receiver groups in the NFL. Dwayne Gratz and Aaron Colvin could be near the top in young corner groups. The future is looking really bright.
John: It is, and for more than just the reasons you list. I'd throw Cecil Shorts III in that group at receiver and it seems the selection of Colvin could be one of the keys to this draft. He's probably not going to be as good as a rookie as he will in Years Two and Three, but most rookies need time to develop. He likely would have been a first- or second-round selection had it not been for the injury. For a team trying to build a strong roster for the long haul, that's a reasonable risk. If he develops into a high-level starter, then drafting him was a master stroke.
Shane from Jacksonville:
Let me get this straight: People who had no idea the team they are a fan of was going to draft Bortles are now assuring us the Jaguars could have traded back from No. 3 to (?) and drafted him because they are certain none of the teams between (which, presumably, they are not fans of) would have? Sounds logical. Actually it sounds … well …I'll just say I choose to reject their premise.
John: Well said.
Doug from Jacksonville:
I am a Jags fan, season-ticket holder and I suppose some could say a "homer." Still, I am critical of the team when it does stuff that bothers me. All of that said, I love this draft. Some of the regional blindness may deter some excitement from everyone, but when they see them on the field they will be as excited as me. The future is looking great!
John: I agree. All we have right now is the first glance and at first glance, this appears to be a very good draft. The Jaguars got their quarterback (Blake Bortles) and seem to have selected two wide receivers (Lee, Robinson) who could contribute quickly. They perhaps found a future starter at corner (Colvin) and a more immediate starter at right guard (Brandon Linder). It's quite likely not all of those players will be home runs. It's the nature of the draft that that's probably the case, but if three of those players are really, really good then that's a really good draft. If Bortles is great, it's a great one.
Sage from Orlando, FL:
How was Bortles higher than Clowney on the Jaguars' draft board, but not the Texans? Jaguars scouts evaluate differently than Texans scouts?
John: Well, yeah.
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
This really felt like a Patriots-type draft for the Jaguars. We moved around and kept picking second-round players clear in to the fifth round. We drafted players for the future. There was no sense that we were ever picking just to fill a need, yet all our needs were met with value. The last 16 months this roster has been turned upside down and it seems to be loaded with young talent. It is a glorious time to be a Jaguars fan!
John: The process is indeed continuing, and it seems to be continuing according to the plan David Caldwell laid out last offseason. That's really the only thing you can ask of a general manager and a franchise – that they make sound decisions for sound reasons and then develop the players obtained through those decisions and reasons the best they can. The reason that's all you can ask is some of those players will succeed and some will fail; that's the reality of the draft. But if you make enough good choices and develop enough good players the percentages should play in your favor and give you a chance to win. Through two offseasons that is the feel you get from Caldwell – that he has a plan and is executing that plan with the support of ownership. That gives the Jaguars a chance.
Tommy from Jacksonville Beach:
Touché to your coverage this draft and the "Work is done" column, O-man! I'm stoked to watch these playmakers make this draft the best in our history.
John: Touché!
Richard from Woonsocket, RI:
Some of the mock drafts I saw had Houston picking Blake Bortles at No. 1. All of a sudden, the Jags picking him at three is a reach. Can you explain this to me?
John: I can try, but it will take a second. One reason Bortles was perceived as a reach was he didn't get the pre-draft buzz players such as Jadeveon Clowney did. One reason he didn't get buzz was because media covering the draft didn't think a team was taking him in the Top 5. One reason media didn't think a team was taking him in the Top 5 was general managers and teams' officials didn't whisper to media and friends on other teams that they thought might take him. One reason the team officials around Jacksonville didn't do such whispering is no one around the Jaguars outside David Caldwell and Gus Bradley and people named Khan knew about the selection. Therefore, there was nothing to whisper. That's a little four-sentence synopsis of how pre-draft buzzing starts, and Caldwell took measures to make sure his thoughts on Bortles weren't a part of it this year. Had Caldwell been more loose-lipped about his choice mock drafters would have had him higher and the selection wouldn't have surprised so many people. None of that matters now. What matters is Bortles is Caldwell's guy. He's the Jaguars' guy. He's the future at the position. All else fades away.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
Hey, O-Man, can we get one fer the jacket?
John: Oh, yeah.
Tim from Crescent City, FL:
I believe this was, if not the best, one of the best drafts in team history. Only time will tell. Which draftees do you see having a major impact from jump street?
John: I believe Linder has a very good chance to start at right guard very quickly, and it would be odd if Robinson and Lee weren't laying huge roles very quickly. I don't get nearly as worked up about major impact from "jump street" as a lot of people because I'm a believer that the first year for nearly all rookies is pretty close to a rough draft of their careers. If you look at these nine players, it's reasonable to project half or more fitting in very well and contributing significantly. That would make it a very good draft.
Jarrett from Crosby, ND:, I'm puzzled: After the seventh round of the draft the Jags now have four running backs on the roster, but I can't imagine them carrying four running backs on the 53-man roster into the season. Gerhart is obviously safe. I can't imagine D. Rob would be let go, and I feel Todman showed last season that he will earn a spot as well. What am I missing my man?
John: #competition
Daniel from Santa Rosa, CA:
It's bugging me how the national media kept saying during the draft, "Jacksonville is drafting weapons for Bortles." I think Caldwell has made it clear Bortles won't start and has made it very clear that he (Dave) says what he means and doesn't lie to people. Why can't people understand this? I think if the national media read the O-Zone at least once a week they'd get a good feel for the real "Jaguars."
John: Well, sure the national media would know more about the Jaguars if they read the O-Zone once a week. Society as a whole would be better emotionally, intellectually, physically and perhaps even spiritually if they worked the O-Zone into the daily routine, but … one step at a time, I say. First, let's work on Shadrick. Remember this about the national media: it has to phrase its draft jargon somehow, and when a team drafts a rookie quarterback and two rookie receivers the national media is going to interpret that as a team giving the quarterback weapons. But you know what? In this case, the national guys aren't so wrong. Robinson and Lee may not have been drafted for the purpose of helping Bortles early next season, but to have three skill players of such ability on the same career clock? Well, let's just say they may work together at some point relatively soon.
Scott from Wichita, KS:
I'm sure you'll be able to pick from many of these but thanks so much for the draft coverage. Simply fantastic and great work! Sometimes I feel like I'm still there. I can't stop smiling.
John: Thanks. I do a great job.
Shawn from Honolulu, HI:
Aloha, JO … As worthless as it is; It is nice to finally see national analysts speaking highly of the Jags. Fans have been waiting a long time to finally hear positive comments. Mahalo for the work you and the staff do for us daily. Now ... go take a nap.
John: Hey, one for the staff! Kidding aside, the supporting cast does a great job.
Keith from Summerville, SC:
It makes my day to see one of my stupid late night comments or questions get answered here. Keep up the good work. I'll keep reading!
John: You and your low bar are welcome here anytime.

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