Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

O-Zone: So unknown

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

James from Jacksonville

I keep hearing about Ikem Ekwonu going to the Jaguars with the first pick of the draft. I was unaware that his stock has rising so fast and over all other options. What do you think about this player possibly being selected by the Jaguars with the No. 1 overall pick?

A couple of thoughts. First, as Jaguars Media and NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks discussed this week on our Huddle Up Podcast, the idea of draft prospects' stock "rising" and "falling" is more myth than reality. Some prospects certainly "fall" as drafts approach, but that usually stems from character or off-field concerns being uncovered or magnified. Most rising and falling stories/Tweets are more about media types or analysts hearing something about a player and moving the player up or down on his own rankings; teams' boards typically have far less movement in either direction in the months leading to drafts. As for Ekwonu … the North Carolina State offensive tackle hasn't been mentioned nearly as often as offensive tackle Evan Neal of Alabama as a possibility for the Jaguars at No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he has been mentioned. That's because some analysts view Neal as the No. 1 tackle available and some view Ekwonu that way. A few rank Charles Cross from Mississippi State there. I would expect to continue to see Ekwonu there occasionally as the draft approaches. My personal gut feeling today – February 26 – is the Jaguars will select edge rusher at No. 1 overall. That's because I just wonder if they won't let Walker Little or Cam Robinson stay at left tackle and address other offensive line needs in free agency and later in the draft. That's today's gut. I expect that will change often. The draft is still more than two months away.

Anthony from Stephens City, VA

I agree where you want to take the best talent, but even with the "potential" of Neal he is still an unknown – as is Michigan edge defender Aiden Hutchinson. However, we know Robinson had a solid year as well as Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot. I would rather get a game a changer in Hutch with Smoot being rotational and know we have a solid left tackle in Robinson protecting quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Agree?

Here's the reality: Every draft prospect is an unknown. I theoretically agree with keeping Robinson and I imagine that would be the Jaguars' direction if he was under contract moving forward. But with Robinson scheduled to become a free agent in March – AND with the Jaguars already having used the franchise tag on him in 2021 – it's not simply keeping Robinson. It's also determining if you want to pay the increased franchise tag for doing it a second time. Then there's the matter of whether the Jaguars believe Neal a significantly better prospect than the two edge rushers – Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon. Bottom line: This is going to be a tricky draft to analyze from the Jaguars' perspective. It will become a bit clearer when they announce their plans with Robinson, but it will still be tricky.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

One can easily trace the downfall of the team to when they got rid of the original uniforms. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan might change his mind when he realizes that. Will you let him know?

How much ya got?

JR from The Squatchlands

Can you give us a rough outline of how important you think each position is in today's NFL in terms of value? I assume a quality quarterback is at the top of the list, but what about the rest of the team? What position is next most sought after? The least? Your wisdom is appreciated.

First, every position obviously important. Second, quarterback is clearly at the top of the list – enough to realistically be one, two and three. For the sake of discussion, and in the interest of being again called idiotic by readers, here's a list: Quarterback, pass rusher, interior defensive line, offensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback, interior offensive line, tight end, safety, linebacker, running back, kicker, punter. That list undoubtedly sucks. I can't wait to hear why.

Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL

People that say the refs handed the Los Angeles Rams the Super Bowl conveniently look past the facemask on Jalen Ramsey that led to the Bengals scoring a touchdown. Human error is part of the game.

Always has been – and on some level, always will be.

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

So are we actually hiring an Executive Vice President of Football Operations?

Absolutely. Just as people not hearing about something doesn't mean something isn't happening, something not happening yet doesn't mean it won't. Or something like that.

_Jonathan from Jax         _

Anyone looking at this draft that does not understand Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton is by far the cleanest and most likely to succeed big and immediately, is a fool. He is the best defensive prospect to come out in years. He can change a defense because he can be a single high safety, has closing speed like nobody else and is a ball hawk. Not some diva with two picks his entire career like Jalen. Pick him.

Hey, one fer Hamilton …

Jim from Neptune Beach, FL

O, ok just a complete theoretical question. I could envision a scenario where a coaching staff puts together a virtual meta-playbook and a coaching staff makes it available to a team's players. The players, without contact with the coaching staff, then could have access to the playbook, via the "metaverse" to educate themselves to their position assignments and plays. There wouldn't necessarily be any contact between the coaching staff and the players. is that a possibility? I mean, if the players are now probably playing virtual games in virtual reality with goggles, why couldn't they use this technology to upgrade their knowledge of their own team/game? Just curious.

Players can't interact with coaches in a way in which the coach is coaching until the offseason program begins in April. And yes … in theory there is a way to get around that rule. There are ways to get around most NFL rules. In theory. The reason teams typically don't try to break offseason rules is players and coaches talk to each other – and they talk to players and coaches on other teams. Words gets around. Stuff gets discussed. These guys gossip just like you do at your office. When "stuff" gets reported to the NFL or NFL Players Association – as "stuff" inevitably does – there are penalties.

Elvis from Port Charlotte, Florida

How is a team like the Saints allowed to be negative $75 million for their salary cap number?

They're not, though it's easy to understand why people believe this. When people refer to teams being "over the cap," what they actually mean is they're projected to be over the cap at the start of the ensuing League Year if they make no moves to rectify the situation. Teams technically cannot be over the cap because the NFL won't allow it. The New Orleans Saints and all other teams therefore will either release players, not re-sign them or restructure contracts to be at or under the cap by the start of the 2022 League Year, which begins March 16 at 4 p.m. If the Saints were over the cap at that point, they would have to release players until they were under the cap. It won't happen.

Mike from Nocatee, FL

Regarding the question on taxpayers funding the Jaguars recently, the team and city have split the cost of improvements like the scoreboard and Daily's Place. The city's share came from bed taxes, so unless you spent a lot of time in hotel rooms you didn't feel a thing. Now funding major stadium renovations may be trickier.


Steve from Brentwood, TN

JO - Can you discuss what our scouts are doing this time of year? Cross checking other scout's player evaluations, watching higher-rated players versus other elite players, speaking with the front office about diamonds in the rough?

Different scouts have different roles. Area scouts – i.e., the front-line scouts who work colleges in specific areas of the country – are typically already working heavily on next year's class. They already have scouted and found the players who will be drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft. Higher level regional scouts, cross-checkers, general managers and personnel directors are meeting with coaches to parse through this year's prospects, rank them, double check, call contacts about them and package them to prepare for the three-day draft. That's April 28-30 this year.

Richard from Lincoln, RI

In Friday's O-Zone, John from J-ville asked a question that referred to the Culligan girl. In your answer, I saw nothing that indicated you had no idea what he was talking about! What's up with that, John?

I have no idea what you're talking about, and I'm not convinced you do, either.