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O-Zone: Special dinner

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville

This is probably way too early, but looking at all the rookie class quarterbacks of 2021, which do you think has the brightest future from the body of work we have seen so far? The kid in Patriotville has been impressive at times, but I believe he has a lot more to work with than most. Justin Fields has been electric in moments, but relies too much on his running. Zach Wilson, I think, could be good, but he will be ruined by an underwhelming O-Line which will never protect him. Out of all the rookie quarterbacks, I think Trevor has the highest ceiling in front of him. Even though we only have one win, we have a lot more building to do around the kid.

I understand people wanting an answer on this now, but I probably don't have a satisfying one. One reason for this is I cover the Jaguars, so I study their rookie quarterback – Trevor Lawrence – far more than I examine the other quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class. I have seen New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones play a couple of times, and it appears he's playing well considering what the Patriots are asking him to do – but I don't know that he's being asked to do nearly as much as Lawrence. I have seen only highlights of Fields (Chicago) and Wilson (New York Jets). Even had I seen more of any of them, the reality is all these rookie quarterbacks only have played six-to-seven games. That's far too early to write the book on a quarterback's career. What's pertinent to the Jaguars is this: Lawrence has a high ceiling. Really, really high. From what I've seen through six games, he appears to have every tool needed to be an elite franchise quarterback – to not only reach that level quickly, but to stay at that level for many years. He has improved his decision-making at a remarkable rate in the past three games, and he appears to have high-level football intelligence. He has elite pocket presence, elite awareness and his reading of defenses is at a high level already. He clearly has remarkable physical ability – hence, his status as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. There's every reason to believe the Jaguars won't have to worry about quarterback for a long time. I don't know that you necessarily will see Lawrence put up staggering numbers as a rookie because the Jaguars don't have elite, play-making talent around him. But I have less doubt by the week that he will be everything the Jaguars hoped he would be when selecting him.

Mike from Jacksonville, FL

Why don't we just trade the sixth-round pick we got for Sidney Jones for a corner as good as Sidney Jones? Oh, that's right … no front office in the league (other than the Jags) would be stupid enough to make that trade. Your vague responses to questions surrounding whether we have the front office to successfully build around Lawrence are almost as bad as those defending Caldwell over the years; before then simply saying you wouldn't discuss anyone who was no longer with the organization. This is your opportunity to get ahead of the story, John!

I don't know that I ever said I wouldn't ever again discuss anyone no longer with the organization. I'm relatively certain I didn't. I think I recall saying at one point it might be time to limit an ongoing discussion about former General Manager David Caldwell because it felt as if the discussion had analyzed and re-analyzed all pertinent points. But loyal readers of this column – and he knows who he is – will tell you past and present regimes get discussed essentially whenever readers asked about them. Now, will you always like the answers? Or will you always be satisfied with how I approach this column? Probably not. That's all right, though. Not everyone has to like or be satisfied with everything. Welcome to life, Mike. And to this free website.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, I noticed you posted a story after 5 p.m. during the bye week. Since when have you resorted to "showing off."

Since I realized it worked. And since I became "awesome."

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Good morning, John. I asked this same question before the season started. Do you think we move on from center Brandon Linder after this season? He is once again injured and unfortunately this is the norm during his career. He is a fantastic player, but as is often said, "the best ability is availability." Center feels like a definite position that we will go after either in the draft or Free Agency. What do you think?

This doesn't feel like a definite to me. This does feel like you might draft a player capable of playing both guard and center next offseason because you always can use those players – and it feels like you might try to develop that player to eventually play center. But I don't see the Jaguars in a rush to move on from Linder.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

Thank you for your comments on Russell Wilson. He is not only a lock for the Canton, he is the biggest reason short, athletic quarterbacks are no longer drafted in the third round but in the Top 10.


JR from The Squatchlands

It sure would be cool if Shaq Griffin got his first pick of the season against his former team.

It wouldn't suck.


Do you think people talk about speed in wide receivers way too much? They are all FAST. The .2 second difference in a WR's 40 time and a DB's 40 time doesn't make much of a difference in pads and bump-and-run coverage. I'd trade speed for hands and route-running ability any day of the week (and twice on Sunday).

I don't think people talk about speed in wide receivers too much. They're all fast compared to, say, me – but they're not all fast compared to one another, or to defensive backs. The Jaguars aren't particularly fast at receiver right now. It shows up. It matters. It hampers offense. I, too, believe that outstanding hands is the first thing you need as a receiver; nothing else matters at the position if you can't catch. And I want multiple good route-runners on my offense. But without speed, the offense becomes compressed – and a compressed offense is far easier to defend than one that scares you with deep speed.

Reuben from Pikesville MD

Regarding the public not attending in season practices: any session open to the public can be attended by scouts of another team. That issue came up during training camp for the Washington Football Team in Richmond a couple of years ago.

Well, yes.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Zone, how come other teams can grab a quarterback and completely turn around - while with us it feels like we are going to have to rebuild too many position groups to be competitive in the next three years.

I suppose it feels like that because the Jaguars were 1-15 last season and had a lot of holes on the roster. But your question implies the Jaguars won't be competitive until … 2025? No. If Lawrence continues to develop, reaching competitiveness absolutely shouldn't – and won't – take that long.

Jeff from Jacksonville

"Really, only one [knock-out first round pick] comes to mind outside rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence – and we'll never know how that player's career would have turned out if not for a debilitating back injury." I know you like to joke around about your readers and sometimes other writers, but it's so rare to see you throw shade at a player. But when you do, it's so coy and non-assuming that I'll admit I missed it the first time. But, that was *chef's kiss.*

Pucker up.

Robert from Elkton

Going with "best five" player theory and guard A.J. Cann out for season, do we ever see left tackle Cam Robinson or Jawaan Taylor at guard and Walker Little at tackle? It seems a strong run blocking guard doesn't need the elite foot work of a tackle. Maybe that's a better fit for Taylor.

I would be tempted to try Taylor at guard, though Robinson is playing too well this season to consider moving inside. I don't get the idea the Jaguars are close to moving either Taylor or Robinson. Could that change later in the season if the Jaguars are out of contention and need to figure what they have in Little? Yes, it could change then. Probably not before.

Red from O-Zone Comments Section

Hey John, you got any special dining plans while you're in Seattle this weekend? Enquiring minds want to know!

If by "special" you mean dining alone in a strip-mall Mexican restaurant and drinking beer(s) from those huge mugs and watching Spanish-language soap operas without subtitles, then … YES!!!