JACKSONVILLE – O-Zone readers:
It has come to the attention of yours truly that the form to submit O-Zone questions is not working properly. This seems to only apply to the app and not the form on the website.
The supporting cast is working to resolve what is being termed in league circles as "the O-Zone Crisis." In the meantime, please use the app on the website or email at JOehser@gmail.com. Thank you.
Let's get to it …
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
John: We signed a lot of good-to-serviceable free agents for depth, and we have a lot of draft picks. Do you see a lot of our draft picks on the practice squad or are the free-agent contracts written so that the veteran player can be cut if a rookie is playing better?
I'm getting many versions of this question lately, but I don't know that it's as much of a concern as many questioners seem to believe. The Jaguars over the last three weeks signed a lot of free agents and acquired defensive tackle Malcom Brown in a trade from the New Orleans Saints. I expect all those players to make the team next season and contribute because the Jaguars signed those players to play specific roles; they didn't sign those players to release them months later. I also expect the Jaguars to use most of their 11 selections in the 2021 NFL Draft. Perhaps you read this and say, "Whoa!!! That's a lot of new players!!!" If you said this, I would know you are seriously excited because of the six exclamation points. But that would be about 23 new players for the Jaguars next season with perhaps a few more added in collegiate free agency – and one or two more added via veteran free agency or waivers. That's upwards of 30 new players. That's a lot, but it's a team in transition. Some number in that area is certainly possible.
Tim from Chattanooga, TN
In this year's draft class, is there more value at safety, D-line, or another position based on position grades?
This isn't considered a great draft for either safety or interior defensive lineman. Trevon Moehrig of Texas Christian is widely considered the best safety and a first-round talent, with four safeties – Jevon Holland of Oregon, Andre Cisco of Syracuse, Hamsah Nasirildeen of Florida State and Ar'Darius Washington of Texas Christian – considered second- or third-round selections. Defensive tackle is generally considered perhaps the draft's weakest position, with Christian Barmore of Alabama the only player considered a first-round talent.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
Two days in a row you made me spit out my coffee at my desk. I don't know if it's something in my water or yours, but we know you aren't this funny. Stop.
I'm actually funnier than that. I don't waste my best stuff on you people.
Greg from Jacksonville Beach, FL
I don't think losing Alualu should be overlooked. That one hurt.
Agreed. The Jaguars tried to sign defensive lineman Tyson Alualu for a reason. They believed he would add needed depth and stoutness to the defensive line. When he returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jaguars re-signed Adam Gotsis. That's a good signing; Gotsis was reliable and consistent last season. But this still feels like a position the Jaguars will further address – either during the draft or shortly thereafter.
Robert from Elkton
Instead of asking what position to draft with No. 25, how about this: Outside quarterback and kickers/long-snapper, what would be the worst position the Jags could draft at No 25? Is there one?
While some NFL people believe certain positions – safety, tight end, running back, interior offensive line, middle linebacker – simply shouldn't be selected in, say, the top five, there's really no such "mandate" for any position in the back half of the first round. What you want when selecting around the mid-20s is to select a really good player who slips out of the teens. The Jaguars appear in great position to do just that. I might take linebacker and edge player out of the equation for the Jaguars at No. 25. Beyond that? Wide receiver. Offensive line. Tight end. Safety. Corner. All are decent possibilities.
Kyle from Orlando, FL
Zone, I know you and Lamm say, "Don't wish your life away," but I'll be honest: I'm bored. The draft can't get here soon enough. Mostly, I am nervous that somehow the Jaguars might screw this up.
Kyle, I fear at this point you may be just slightly guilty of worrying over nothing, or at least overworrying. First, there has been nothing throughout the pre-draft process to indicate that Head Coach Urban Meyer and/or General Manager Trent Baalke don't love Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Remember: The Jaguars have had the No. 1 overall selection for going on four months now. That's ample time for something to leak about – or at least for there to be hints about – the Jaguars going another direction with the first selection. That hasn't happened and there hasn't been the slightest indication that it's a possibility. Remember, too: Meyer last week told Peter King of Football Morning in America that the Jaguars were leaning toward taking Lawrence. That's not guaranteeing Lawrence will be the selection, but it's about as close you get without a guarantee. So, here's what to do, Kyle: Hold on to the Meyer/King podcast. And relax. Or take up a hobby. Knitting. Fishing. Hula Hoop. Whatever gets you through the night.
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
Zone, bear with me on this question. Imagine a world in which Trevor Lawrence did not exist. You are now the general manager of the Jaguars and hold the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Who ya taking?
What kind of sick person are you?
Jason from North Pole, AK
Do you think if Patrick Mahomes didn't exist that Zach Wilson would still rated as high as a prospect? It seems that the comparisons and search for the next "Mahomes" are fueling the hype train a bit.
Many questions today involving existence. This reminds me of Woody Allen saying he cheated on his metaphysics exam by looking into the soul of the boy sitting next to him. To your point, there's little question that many scouts and analysts who love Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson use Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as a comparison. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and it doesn't mean Wilson's not good. The NFL is constantly evolving, and there likely will be quarterbacks with traits similar to Mahomes who increasingly thrive as the game's rules continue to gear more toward favoring passer. The worry, of course, is obvious. Mahomes is special and it's hard to duplicate special.
Steve from Nashville, TN
Can you go into greater detail as to why some defensive line players (ends) do well standing up compared to a three- or four-point stance?
Defensive end/linebackers who excel standing up typically have the athleticism to drop into coverage to complement their pass-rushing/pursuit ability. Defensive end/linebackers who excel in a three-point/four-point stance typically don't have the athleticism or pass-coverage ability.
Biff from Jacksonville
Should I enjoy a beer at a local brew house and watch the NFL Draft? It all starts with good planning. Join me? #pouritforward
Just take off the last five words of your question and answer yes. You will never be wrong. As for watching the draft, as much as the concept of enjoying it at a local brewhouse may appeal, I do alas have responsibilities for jaguars.com. These entertaining observations and opinions don't write themselves.
Fred from Naples, Florida
You're FRIENDS with David Lamm? Geez … I used to like you!
The curious thing, I suppose, is not that you no longer like me but that you ever liked me at all.
Bob from Ponte Vedra, FL
When the Jags to a 3-4 what are the chances of moving Jack to the defensive end/linebacker and putting a run stopper at the inside linebacker? This would put amazing speed at defensive end run-stopping and drop-back coverage. He excelled on the outside in the 4-3.
It remains tricky to know exactly how the Jaguars envision all returning players fitting into the defensive scheme; the team understandably is keeping some details silent, and the coaches remain in the process of determining roles, approach, etc. Remember: Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen emphasizes versatility and flexibility enough that traditional roles may not fit as neatly as some fans and observers might hope. As far as Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack, he is really versatile and really athletic. And he can rush the passer. But if the Jaguars are gearing toward a 3-4 scheme, his best fit almost certainly will be as an off-the-ball linebacker as opposed to an edge/defensive end/outside linebacker. The challenge for Cullen and the staff will be determining the best role. He's too good to misuse.
Mitch from Jacksonville
I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record?
Did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?