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O-Zone: Skill guys

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Zone, whatcha think?

I'll assume you mean what do I think about how the Jaguars fared in the 2024 NFL Draft, which ended early Saturday evening. Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows he is – probably can guess that the first thing I think is that it will be at least sometime during the 2025 season before we know too much about this class. That won't stop people from drawing conclusions about the class in June, but it takes a rookie season – and then some – to really know much about a player. As for the draft overall, we have a few days/weeks to parse through all seven rounds and all nine selections. My initial post-draft thought is the Jaguars would have liked to have traded up on Day 3 and found it difficult to do so because the final few rounds were considered unusually shallow compared to many years. This makes it difficult to trade up because teams don't want more late-round selections. It's also why the Jaguars wanted third- and fourth-round selections from the Minnesota Vikings in the Thursday trade that sent the No. 17 selection to Minnesota for the No. 23 selection – because selections figure to be more valuable in that draft. What did I think overall about the draft? The Jaguars addressed offensive skill when they selected wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. in Round 1, and they made a real effort to get bigger and stouter on the lines after that. I think they would have liked to have addressed cornerback earlier, but I also think they're fine with defensive tackle Maason Smith in Round 2. I think the fact that they chose Thomas and Smith over corners in those spots shows they placed great value on Thomas and Smith. After Round 2? I think they found players with traits they like, and they'll need to develop those players. Stay tuned.

Tom from The Mean Streets of Nocatee

Thank yeaux, John.

Yeeaux're welcome. Yeaux were welcome after Friday and even more welcome after the Jaguars selected defensive tackle Jordan Jefferson from Louisiana State in Round 4 Saturday.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, don't take this the wrong way because I love the Brian Thomas, Jr. pick. But wouldn't the team always say the player they picked is the player they targeted? If they'd selected a backup fullback at 23, they'd say, "He was who we would have taken at 17." Am I wrong?

Probably not.

Kevin from Section 214

We snagged a potentially premium wide receiver. Yay us! Now how long will it take for said receiver to adjust and make a difference this season? You have said in the past it takes a year or two for the rookies to really adjust. But this is an important pick we need to get an impact from immediately (because fanning…)

I expect Thomas to make an impact as a rookie. When I say impact, I say he will make some big plays at key moments. I say he will be productive and help the offense. I do not necessarily mean he will be a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown receiver as a rookie. The good news for the Jaguars is they have a deep, veteran receiver corps and they therefore don't need Thomas to be a 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie. He appears likely to have some time to adapt and adjust to the NFL, as should be the case for a rookie.

Captain from Fernandina Beach, FL

John, I think we got the draft backward. Our greatest need was cornerback, and at No. 17 we could have the top cornerbacks, but no … We trade out of there for a fifth-rounder and two picks next year (none of which help us win this year)! Then at No. 23, we still could get a top cornerback, but we choose a wide receiver, which I argue is down the list of players needed to win this year. We finally take an unknown cornerback in the last part of the third round. He is rated as the 28th cornerback, a special teamer and reserve. Way to go Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke!

The Jaguars did not select all the players Captain had heard of. This often leads to frustration.

Chuck from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

So much for good fortune! The draft board looked great at No. 17. We had the opportunity to draft the third-best defensive player in the draft – the No. 1 cornerback, the No. 2 defensive end/edge or the No. 2 defensive tackle. All those are positions of need. Instead, we picked the 16th offensive player and fourth wide receiver drafted. Also, presumably the fourth receiver on our depth chart. But let's not forget about also getting an added pick around No. 150 this year and 80 and 150 next.

The Jaguars did not select all the players Chuck had heard of. This often leads to frustration.

Jim from Middleburg, FL

John, if a team drafted the best player available in all seven rounds is there any team who could get that done under the cap? IDK, but maybe we fans want free bubbles and rainbow stew lol.

All teams could get this done under the salary cap. It's the reason the league has a rookie wage scale.

Brian from Round Rock, Texas

I heard a local sports radio host yesterday say that "Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke has hit on Round 1 picks and free agents, but we didn't get any production from our late rounders, so that's where he's failed." It seems like this team's followers are so used to having a bad roster that they expect production from rookie fifth-rounders. Personally, if you have a good roster, late rounders should have trouble making the roster. Am I wrong?

You are not wrong.

Fred from Naples, FL

Even though we will never know for sure, you would have to think that the Jags would have taken Quinyon Mitchell with their pick at No. 23 had the Eagles not beat them to it. All in all, it was a good move for the Jags and gives them extra picks next year as well.

I don't know that the Jaguars would have selected Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell at No. 23. I believe they would have selected Thomas there and that if they hadn't selected Thomas, there is a good chance they would have selected Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold there.

Charles from Savannah, GA

Did the Jaguars' scouts go anywhere other than LSU this year?


Chris from Roseville

Is Jaguars owner Shad Khan changing the team name to the Tigers?


Matt from Section 133

After seeing how many people were at the NFL Draft on Night 1, do you still think it's possible for Jacksonville to host it in Daily's Place? It now seems like the venue would be tiny compared to the crowds the event draws. I felt depressed watching on Thursday night and thought to myself, "Dang, this now looks like it's gotten too big for us to have here."

It would be difficult for Jacksonville and the current Jaguars facility to host the NFL Draft. The current facility is not going to be the facility for the long-term.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

If you sent Baalke to the store for milk and bread he would come back with a frozen pizza and two-liter of soda.

I agree. It's very difficult for a general manager to select players all fans like. No doubt about it.

Zach from Jacksonville

We should all just remind ourselves that there is no way to tell what players will truly be successful in the NFL. Many analysts will talk about the draft and grade team drafts. But no matter all the metrics, statistics, analytics or personality tests these players do, it won't be known until Sundays in autumn. There are players who grade poorly at the combine, players who never shined in college, and even players who are personally bad people who will succeed. And there are those who will do everything right and still fail.

Little in the NFL is more overblown in the short-term than the NFL Draft, just as nothing is more important in the long term. What I mean is this: A team in this era must draft well over the long term and they must develop players over the long term to have a strong roster. At the same time, one player – even an outstanding early-drafted player – rarely decides the team's fortunes the following season. Even a great rookie class usually isn't the core of the franchise the following season. Following the "overblown" theme … we love as collective NFL fans to grade drafts and make quick-trigger analysis. People will grade this year's draft. Fans will digest those grades. As a collective, we'll obsess over them. And they will mean nothing for two-ish seasons. Boy howdy.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Is a cornerback considered a "skill position" player?

It is if you're a cornerback.