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O-Zone: So long ago

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Marcus from Jacksonville

Whether you like all the picks or not, it is encouraging to see such a clear direction with the overall draft class. I can't remember a time when you could look at the entire class and see the big picture. Whether that leads to long-term success is still to be determined, but it is encouraging to see forward progress in a particular direction. Head Coach Urban Meyer has a vision, and it is clear in the way they used their draft picks. Now, let's hope that vision turns into wins!

Meyer and the Jaguars clearly wanted to acquire players in the 2021 NFL Draft with whom they were familiar – and they wanted players with NFL measurables, a blue-chip background and big-time pedigrees. Their nine draft selections as a result were mostly players who had been highly recruited and who played at big schools. They were also mostly players Meyer had recruited and/or players who the Jaguars were able to research extensively to ensure they were the types of players/people Meyer wanted in this program. That was important because Meyer is reestablishing the culture here and it was important because it was difficult to get to know prospects face to face during this draft season because of COVID-19. It remains to be seen if that will be the philosophy in future drafts. There may be circumstances in the future that change the approach. But for now, given the circumstance, it was understandable.

Neil from Jacksonville

Running back was the one position (obviously we weren't going quarterback/kicker/punter) I didn't want us to draft in the first round, but at least it helps our new quarterback out. How much upside do you see running back Travis Etienne's pass-catching ability giving him if he turns out to be another Leonard Fournette (meaning good but not great and not greater than James Robinson)?

I don't know that it's all that accurate to compare Etienne to Fournette because of Etienne's miss-ability and explosiveness, and this wasn't a selection about Etienne or James Robinson. It's more about Etienne AND Robinson. Either way, Etienne's pass-catching ability absolutely gives him upside. It's that ability to play both running back and receiver that makes him a matchup advantage against opposing defenses, and it's a huge reason the Jaguars selected him.

Tom from Jacksonville

With 17 games now and James Robinson getting the sixth-most touches in the league last year, wouldn't you say the ETN pick was wise? No reason to have a tired back on the field.

Yes. True.

Marcus from Jacksonville

Do you find it as ironic as I do that on one hand you criticize fans who are upset because the team didn't draft players according to the internet mock drafts, yet, when the team is questioned about a bad pick (Taven Bryan) you cite those same internet mock drafts as evidence for why it isn't as bad as it seems? Both arguments certainly have merit, it just made me laugh.

A reader made the point recently that "everyone" could see that the Jaguars drafting defensive tackle Taven Bryan No. 28 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft was a mistake. I noted that Bryan was projected in the first round by many analysts, and that was evidence that not "everyone" saw that his selection as a mistake. That was what I meant by the answer. No more. No less.

Dan from Varna, Bulgaria

So, Tyler Eifert wasn't good enough to stick around as tight end and all the tight end prospects in the last week draft wasn't worthy of the spot on the roster, but Tim Tebow is? I hope I'm wrong but so far Urban has shown a lot of favoritism in his few months on the job so far.

Meyer certainly has shown a desire to get people around him that he believes in and who fit his vision for the organization. That alone doesn't make him all that unique among NFL coaches.

Jeffrey from Middleburg, FL

I feel like Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke's approach to this draft has changed my thinking of how drafts should be managed. I've always thought, because of the other staffs and teams, the goal was to upgrade a "position." This draft seemed to be purposely geared towards upgrading the team as a whole with the mindset of how you want the team to play. It was about speed, strength, man-to-man coverage plans, etc.... Not just a better running back or a better corner. Is that way off?


Chuck from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I'm good with Coach Meyer up to the point he gives a fatherly spot on the team to Tim Tebow. Tebow doesn't measure up as a tight end to most in the league. How does this help the team? Tim belongs on a 1-16 team and represents where we've been; hopefully not where we're going.

The Jaguars worked Tebow out before the draft. He might sign with the team. If he does, he would have to earn a spot on the team. If he does, good for him and good for the Jaguars. If he doesn't, is there really that much harm?

Keith from Palatka, FL

Anyone grading the Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 NFL Draft less than an A- is an idiot. Here is my reasoning-WE GOT A GENERATIONAL FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK with the first pick. We waited 25 years, but it finally happened. Some teams never find him because generational franchise quarterbacks are rare. To those who say weakly, "Well, we just don't know yet if he is a generational franchise quarterback (add milk-toasty to get the full effect)." Are you kidding me? We knew when we watched the following quarterbacks play college football that they were generational franchise quarterbacks: Dan Marino, John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. These quarterbacks were so talented that only someone blind could not see what they would become. Trevor Lawrence is in that rarified air-pundits be damned. Back to my opening statement: If you liked the picks after Trevor Lawrence, then the grade should be an A+. If you were OK with the players after Lawrence, then the grade should be an A. If you hated every pick after Trevor, then the grade should be an A-. Why? See above. We filled nearly every need in free agency and the draft except tight end. The anal retentive will only focus on that (sigh).

Keith is "all in …"

Jerell from Columbia, SC

What's a reasonable win total for this upcoming season? I say 10 games if Trevor is all he has been cracked up to be.

… and it appears Jerrell also is "all in." I would say it's reasonable for the Jaguars to push to be close to .500 – somewhere between five and eight victories. Double digits will be a tough get.   

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Are you sad to see any of the four execs who were *reportedly* let go leave?

Of course. The four executives to which you refer are Andy Dengler (assistant director of player personnel), Chris Driggers (director of pro personnel), Mark Ellenz (director of college scouting) and Paul Roell (assistant director of college scouting). I have known all of them for at least 10 years and some I have known far longer. They are good football people – and more importantly, good people. The NFL is about change and anyone who works in coaching or personnel understands that, but it doesn't make change easy. They will be missed.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Is it locked in that Tampa Bay will start the season at home on a Thursday night to open the NFL 2021 season?

The defending Super Bowl champion usually opens the season at home on Thursday night. That's not always, but it's close.

Billy from Shreveport, LA

Mr O. I'm confused. I know that can be confusing, but I was under the impression that we released Tyler Eifert. But when watching some media outlets they have him in the lineup next year. Is he still on the team?


Mike from BillMurrayHill

Hi John! What are your thoughts on the Ja'Wuan James story out of Denver? That was one EXPENSIVE workout.

I think the story of James sustaining a potential season-ending injury while working out on his own will be a huge story moving forward. The NFL wants players to work out in team facilities in the offseason. The NFL Players Association as a group appears to have been discouraging this, and there is a chance James won't get paid for this season because him being injured away from the facility makes it a "non-football injury." This will be big.

JR from The Squatchlands

Zone, remember when a bunch of people were criticizing the Jags' decision makers for letting Josh Oliver go because he had potential, but was hampered by injuries? Now a bunch of people (likely the same people) are criticizing the Jags' decision-makers for drafting two players with potential, but were hampered by injuries? Good times.

I do remember that.