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O-Zone: Smoove operator

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Strnbker from Dothan, AL:
Did we really get Leonard Fournette without giving up two third-round selections and a fourth-round selection for one spot?
John: The Jaguars did get Fournette without trading up in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft Thursday – and the Chicago Bears indeed gave up the selections you listed to move up one selection to take North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky No. 2 overall. The trade raised eyebrows, and even Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin laughingly and enviously noted he never had gotten a deal quite so sweet. But that trade along with the entire first round Thursday spoke once again to the nature of the quarterback position in the NFL. Few NFL types considered Trubisky a Top 3 prospect, and few considered Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson Top 15 talents. Yet, in a draft in which many analysts repeatedly said there were no first-round quarterbacks all three went not only in the first round but in the first 12 selections. The need for quarterbacks pushes the position far too far up the draft board in many years. This feels like one of those years. We shall see.
Shannon from Brunswick, GA:
O-Zone Carnac, you are.
John: I suppose you're referring to me predicting the Jaguars would take Fournette No. 4 overall. I suppose I did predict that in the sense that I wrote Thursday that there was a 30 percent chance they would take him there. But I didn't know much that others didn't. I had a feeling shortly before the draft that quarterback wasn't going to be the selection, because it just felt like the team didn't believe there was one worthy of being selected so early. Once that was the case, and once Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas went off the board, it just felt like Fournette was the logical selection. But a lot of that's hindsight. No one knew this selection for sure, which is exactly how it's supposed to be – and how the Jaguars very much wanted it.
Tim from Jacksonville:
It bugs me that Mixon, Cook and Kamara are all still available at running back because it makes me feel like the Jaguars reached on Fournette. Does the management really think he's that much better than those other guys, or was it a matter of having to take their guy when they could because you never know what will happen?
John: Management thinks he's that much better than the rest of the running-back class, and the Jaguars also think he's the right style of back and the right fit. The Jaguars clearly want to be a physical team and they clearly want to be able to establish the running game and take pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles. They also clearly want to be able to play offense in a way to take pressure off the defense, and running in a physical way can achieve that. General Manager David Caldwell also mentioned multiple times when speaking about the selection Thursday that the team had lost multiple close games late last season when being able to run effectively might have changed the outcome. Fournette may not have been the only quality back available in the draft, but he best fit the idea of a player around whom an offense could be built. He also was the one who appears best physically able to handle a large number of carries per game. He quite simply appeared to be the best workhorse back, and a workhorse back apparently was very much what this franchise wanted from this draft.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
John: Obviously not.
William from Brunswick, GA:
If he is good, then good – and if he is bad, then bad. He doesn't have to be Fred Taylor but hopefully he is at least late in the 1996 season Natrone Means.
John: I'm not sure I'll ever expect a running back to be as good as Fred Taylor, but I'm biased because I believe Taylor in his prime was about as good in many areas as is possible for a running back. He not only had rare size and speed, he had legitimate big-time miss-ability. Let's face it: only the elite backs have that combination. Is it fair to expect Fournette to be elite? Sure, because it's fair to expect players selected No. 4 overall to reach that status – even though most fail to do so. Bottom line: I'd be surprised if Fournette is as good as Taylor, and him reaching Means' level will depend in large part on the team also improving around him. If that happens I'd be surprised if he's not really good. Really, really good.
Adam from Lynbrook, NY:
He's big, fast, strong, makes sharp cuts without losing speed and has a little jump cut where he barely leaves his feet. I think I'm happy with it.
John: For a moment there I thought you were talking about Shadrick, but Shadrick elevates impressively on his jump cut. Either way, enjoy your happiness.
Frankie from London, UK:
I can't believe it's a year since we walked away from the 2016 Draft with Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue from the first three rounds. My question is on the fourth-round pick, Sheldon Day. When picked, I was pretty excited and although he's a little undersized for defensive tackle, I still am. I look forward to seeing him get more snaps with (as we speak) just Malik Jackson and Abry Jones ahead of him. I think he has that crazy motor that can be a pace-setter for a team and a nice boost later on in matches, too.
John: Sheldon Day still figures in the Jaguars' plans. He did last season what fourth-round selections in drafts are expected do – contributed at times, struggled at times, flashed at times. The Jaguars like his athleticism, suddenness and ability to get into the backfield. This will be a big season for him – just as Year 2 is big for the vast majority of NFL players.
Preston from Oakville, CT:
I'm sure that our performance in our lone prime-time game last year had a lot to do with us not having one this year. Do you agree?
John: It didn't help. Then again, the performance in the Jaguars' other 95 regular-season games the past six seasons didn't help much, either.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
I agree with "Travis from High Springs." Why would you move Poz out of his natural position this early? I understand that they want to get Jack on the field, but why not wait until camp to see who is better, instead of making that decision now?
John: The positive of moving Jack now rather than waiting is to get him needed reps at the position rather than waiting. There are perhaps other reasons, but that's one.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV:
I agree with a lot of blame on Blake Bortles from last season. However with Doug Marrone as the coach, I saw a different guy. Allen Robinson moving around the formation helped, the running game was much better and Blake was more efficient. I don't blame Gus for all the miscues on offense, however they became very predictable. With Marrone, Blake did go 51/77 (66 percent) for 626 yards and two touchdowns with no picks the last two games – and Blake had a 103.5 and 96.2 quarterback rating in those games, respectively. They were his best two games of the season. Why should we not expect the coaching staff to like what they saw with Hackett and Marrone running things?
John: Fair point.
Debbie Downer:
Guess this means we have a good enough o-line.
John: I don't think the draft is over yet. Hold on. Let me check. No, it is not.
Ray from Monroe, CT:
Please tell me we will go after Forrest Lamp in the second round!
John: I would be shocked if the Jaguars aren't seriously considering drafting Forrest Lamp. He reportedly is far and away the best guard in the draft, and he would fit value and need at No. 35. I will be surprised, frankly, if he's there at No. 35. I also would be a little surprised if the Jaguars don't try to move up to ensure they get an offensive lineman Thursday. Remember, Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson is still on the board as the day begins, too. Those aren't the only players to watch early in the draft Friday, but logic would dictate they would be of interest. I would be surprised if teams aren't trying to move up into the top of the round. Will the Jaguars be one of those teams or will they let what appears to be a strong group of players at the top of the second sort itself out? Ah, intriguing draft questions …
Michael from Jacksonville:
O Great Satirist! You honor us with your consummate knowledge of the draft, and your smoove looks on Jags Live! Fournette will be a great addition, and I leave you to your unenviable task of sorting the night's yays and nays. Lead on, Wordsmith!
John: There were indeed a few more nays than yays for this wordsmith to sort through Thursday night. But that's OK. Fans gonna fan. Even when it comes to the draft – maybe especially when it comes to the draft.

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