JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Jim from Middleburg, FL
Dear John, "To Neal or not to Neal, that is not a question." So many times you told us that using a first-round pick on a lineman is not likely. Must I mention that only Gold Jacket on this team is for a great left tackle? Several very good years for quarterback followed. We need it to protect our quarterback. Are we going for the goal or are we going to trade back for multiple picks that you throw against the wall to see if any of the crap sticks? This team need basics to build. Go tackle. Thanks. That feels better.
I've indeed written often this offseason that I don't expect the Jaguars to select an offensive tackle No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. That doesn't mean it absolutely won't happen; that means it's not the vibe I'm getting. Now, that doesn't mean that selecting the position is philosophically the wrong move at No. 1 overall. If Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal indeed were a can't-miss prospect on the level of former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli, my guess is he would be the Jaguars' selection at No. 1 overall. All indications are that that's not the case. It also would be surprising if the Jaguars trade back in the draft. Few analysts believe there will be a market for a trade. A month remains before the draft. I expect this conversation to continue throughout the month.
Don from Marshall, NC
Quarterbacks energize the fan base and you have to have one. Detroit needs one and if they want to keep it, the Lions might want to swap with the Jaguars. Someone will trade up with Detroit picking second if they want a quarterback bad enough.
I'm increasingly receiving questions about some team wanting to trade up with the Jaguars for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. And there has been some more talk among national analysts about the possibility. My sense as of now – March 27 – is that it's still unlikely. Perhaps Quarterback Panic will set in enough for some team to make such a trade. Weirder things have happened.
Sean from Jacksonville
I've read plenty of articles where the most hand-wringing aspect of Christian Kirk is his non-1,000 yard seasons. Well, I'm guessing having a 982-yard season is close enough for most folks. Are they saying that him being 18 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season is a detriment? *Sigh*
Kirk, a wide receiver who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent earlier this month, spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. The "knock" on him is that he hasn't had a breakout, Pro-Bowl-type season despite the Cardinals' offense being really good and despite the presence of quarterback Kyler Murray the past three seasons. An argument for Kirk, perhaps, is that he has been consistently productive despite the presence of a lot of other weapons such as wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald and tight end Zach Ertz. The people I've spoken to about Kirk like his explosiveness and think he's going to be a weapon to help quarterback Trevor Lawrence. I don't get the idea that the plan is to have Kirk be the only weapon.
John from Cape May Court House
Fair is foul and foul is fair.
And a day without sunshine is like … night.
Bill from Schenectady
I heard one general manager was upset with what the Jags were doing in free agency. It seems to me a bad team with cap space like the Jags were would benefit from doing exactly this. If they "overpay" at one or two key positions, it creates a problem for top teams who have players they need to re-sign (see what happened with KC and wide receiver Tyreek Hill). The Jags and teams like them benefit from disrupting the "status quo" if they are at the bottom. This approach seems to make sense on its own, but maybe they don't want to create ill will to the degree no other team will work with them.
You're perhaps overthinking this a bit. Teams that have struggled typically have to overpay in free agency. This is because if all things are equal, players often will choose to play for a team they believe is closer to the postseason over a team that's perceived otherwise. A struggling team therefore must ensure that all things are not equal, which means paying more than the contending team. How other general managers feel about this shouldn't be a factor.
Kevin from Jacksonville
I think trying Cam Newton out at left tackle has some merit. He is big, strong and athletic. Plus he played quarterback at a high level so he should know where the rush is coming from and react quicker. Furthermore, I think that … wait … what the hell am I talking about? Let's just stick with Cam Robinson.
Perhaps that's for the best …
Bradley from Sparks, NV
A variety of NFL insiders and experts are reportedly enamored at the velocity at which Cam Newton backs up. Should the Jags sign him to a one-year "prove-it" deal ?
… and perhaps that's not.
Mark from Jacksonville
Tom from Jax is right on the money and I disagree a bit with your response. Is there a clear-cut number one prospect in this draft the level of say, for example, Trevor Lawrence? No. But it is almost a statistical certainty, at the very least an extremely probable outcome, that there will be multiple Hall of Famers produced from this year's NFL draft and multiple/many pro bowlers, All-Pros, etc. This idea that there is not Elite Talent at the top of the draft is an absolute joke and is almost like a "pre-built in excuse" if they fail to identify a true stud at number one. That's just my opinion. And to suggest that it's a bad draft to be at the top simply because there isn't elite level talent at certain premium positions (i.e. that they have to draft Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson because he's the best available defensive end) completely contradicts the idea of drafting best available player.
Tom from Jax asked about difference-makers at the top of the draft. My response was that analysts overall don't consider this a great year at the top of the draft. I have spoken to multiple analysts throughout the offseason and that's pretty much a consensus. That doesn't mean there won't be Hall of Famers in the draft. It doesn't mean there won't be Pro Bowl players. Your perfectly entitled to your opinion about the draft. When writing and discussing football-related matters for the website, I will continue to talk to experienced analysts/football people and share their opinions when appropriate. Perhaps there's a better approach. I'll stick with that one.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
John: In a recent article about Xavier Crawford signing as an unrestricted free agent, you didn't mention Rudy Ford on one of the team's roster cornerbacks. He did a pretty good job in the slot last year. What do you think the Jags will do with him this year?
Probably do what they did with him last season: Play him at safety and special teams, then play him as a nickel safety if needed.
David from McAlester
To me, the Urban Meyer move was one of many moves by Jaguars Owner Shad Khan to get 1) a high profile; 2) winning; and 3) a coach with a local connection type of person in Jacksonville. It was a chance to get someone who will stay and keep on winning. Meyer was risky, but how often do you have a chance to get all three? I believe Khan's ideal hire is a local hero, a guy is from here, who loves it here, wants to stay and wants to win. I think it sums up the fact that he cares about local fans and he wants to stay in this town. If he was wanting to move, why would he even care? And if you just say all he wants is money, well, ticket sales (prices) go up with wins ...
People have examined Khan's decision to hire former Head Coach Urban Meyer from all sides, and there's a tendency to examine and re-examine – and perhaps over-examine – such things. Khan wants to win. He wants to find a head coach and leadership that know how to do that, and who will do that. That was why he hired Meyer. It's why he hired Doug Pederson. Whether his hires are good or not, whether they prove successful or not, that's the objective. All else involved in the hires is periphery.
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
I read you every day, or almost every day. I don't find you interesting, informative or funny. You clearly think of yourself this way. Remind me, again, why I bother reading you.
My cool clothes.