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O-Zone: Sound advice

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get it . . . Michael from Statesboro, GA:
The funniest thing I have read about this draft so far is people stating there isn't a player worth the No. 2 pick in regards to moving up. There are seven rounds in which 32 teams will get a pick (mostly). They will all put values on each player. All teams will have players worth taking in the Top 5/10. This talk of players not being worth it is misleading. Teams will covet certain skill sets differently, but since they are conducting the draft this year there certainly will be a player worth picking at No. 2 as there will at No. 255. Why is this hard to understand for so many people?
John: What you say is accurate to a certain extent. The problem with your theory isn't necessarily how people feel about the Top 5, but how they feel about the top 125 or so players. The general consensus is although this draft does not have a star at the top, it is a very deep draft. To be specific, the consensus is that the talent level is very similar from, say, the No. 2 or 3 player through the No. 25 or 30 player. There also is a belief that there are a lot of very good players until about the end of Round 4. That's where it gets difficult to trade out of the No. 2 spot. If teams believe there are good players in Rounds 3 and 4 that can help right away, they are less apt to give up players in those rounds to move up to select a player at No. 2. That's particularly true if the belief is that the player at No. 2 isn't significantly better than a player at the same position who might be selected at No. 25. Bottom line: if all 32 teams believe the draft is deep through the first round and through the third or fourth rounds, then, yes, trading back will be tough. Not impossible, but tough.
Brian from Greenwood, IN:
Ten inches of snow here in the Indianapolis area. Don't you miss it, Johnny-O?
John: I drove to work this morning awash in sunshine. I opted against shorts and sandals not because it would have been unpleasant, but because it would have been frowned upon by certain influential people with whom I work. I do not miss the snow. I do not miss it at all.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
The Jaguars don't seem to have worked out or gone to the Pro Day for many of the mainstream top talents, mostly defensive line and quarterback. Is who a team invites to work out or visits on Pro Day a good indication of who they'll draft, or are teams just as likely to draft a guy they haven't worked out?
John: ??? The Jaguars attended West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith's Pro Day en masse, and Gus Bradley and David Caldwell also were at the Florida and Georgia Pro Days, among others. While I don't have the complete roster for every Pro Day, they have had a scout attend just about every major Pro Day, and Bradley and Caldwell are scheduled to be on the road much of the rest of the week at Pro Days. Summing up, the Jaguars are well-represented on the Pro Day circuit, but to answer your second question it's really not much of an indication about who they'll draft, particularly in the first round.
Dave from Ida, OK:
It seems we have a lot of candidates who could potentially be major contributors to the team available at No. 2. To me, David needs to be the one who understands the kind of players Gus is looking for, and not just get good players, but get good players Gus has a role for, with skills that would be highlighted in his system. Then Gus, on the other hand, has to develop those guys to their full potential, which would then make both guys look good to Khan. How important is the GM/HC relationship in finding success for the long term?
John: Critical.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
In regards to the possibility of having a partner to trade with at No. 2, doesn't the rookie pay scale increase the potential of other teams to trade up? Previously, a team trading up wouldn't want to spend the money that is quite different from, let's say, a No. 2 draft slot, compared to a No. 12. The negotiations were also more challenging with the agents. It seems now the only downside to trading up is the loss of a draft pick, which is big but compared to previous years is less of a mountain to climb.
John: The rookie wage scale could increase the potential a bit, but teams still have to give up picks to move up. Picks are valuable enough that there needs to be someone worthy of trading the selection to entice the trade.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
John, if you stated that the sky was blue and that water is wet, how many emails would you get the next day saying you are wrong?
John: Quite a few. People often ask if that fact bothers me. I can honestly say it doesn't. I answer questions about football for a living. A lot of people like what I do. Some people don't. The first group I can only assume consists mostly of beautiful, wise, intelligent people with glorious taste, but both groups are entitled to their opinions.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I am on board with the current direction for a rebuild. But, to say that fans should just look at the lack of success in free agent signings as proof that building through the draft is the right way is a little too simple a solution. We fans are also looking at the draft history and seeing good reason to find a different approach (B. Leftwich, R. Nelson, M. Jones, R. Williams, D. Harvey and that's just first round picks). I know that has no bearing on the current staff, but neither do the failed free-agent signings of the past. I think the team is heading the right direction in their approach, but fans have good reason to be skeptical of that approach because the draft, like free agency, hasn't always been good to us.
John: You're right, Marcus, and that's a reason I rarely if ever answer the why-aren't-we-signing-free-agents? questions with a simple list of past Jaguars failures in that area. The reason you don't build through free agency is historically it is rare for ANY teams to successfully build that way; not just the Jaguars. Now, when it comes to the draft, while the Jaguars have had their issues in that area, history does show that it's the far better way with more teams having long-term success with that path.
Richard from Starke, FL:
You can't miss on many of your first-round selections and be competitive. Every year you take a quarterback that doesn't work out, you are deeper and deeper into a hole that is very hard to get out of.
John: Yes, that is the dilemma.
Tyler from Tallahassee, FL:
If E.J. Manuel were to fall into the second or third round I think they should grab him. He has great accuracy and even through some inconsistency has been a winner at FSU. Is there any reason Jacksonville shouldn't consider picking him up as a viable competitor to Gabbert?
John: People sometimes get irritated with my answers on questions like this, but no, there's no real reason the Jaguars shouldn't consider it. Manuel looks like a player with potential, and although he was inconsistent at times at Florida State, he apparently has performed well in most of his pre-draft interviews and workouts. At the same time, considering a player and selecting him are two entirely different things that depend on so many variables that it's almost impossible to predict what a team will do with a selection on the Top 5, much less any time after that.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
So Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are apples and Geno Smith is kumquat? What has this world come to??? I feel sorry for you, John!
John: I thought Joeckel was the kumquat. Or was Caldwell a pear? Sigh, it's only March 26.
David from the Island:
I wish I had a crystal ball.
John: I preferred, "Equinox."
John from St. Augustine, FL:
Are you aware of any OA support group(s)? (By OA of course I mean Ozone Anonymous) Starting at 10:15 each morning I pull up the homepage. Then, on company time, I refresh the page, hundreds, if not thousands of times until I see the next O-Zone column. I get that adrenaline high, hanging on every word, sipping my coffee no matter how hot, warm or cold (because I've waited). By the end of about the third question and answer I've reached the pinnacle of readership! From there on, I must admit, it's a pretty abrupt fall, and by your last answer I'm asking myself, why do I read this cr@p? But then, the next day, the whole viscious cycle starts over again. Any advice?
John: Keep doing what you're doing. Compared to me, it sounds like you lead a pretty full life.

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