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O-Zone: Splish, splash

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Liam from London, England:
So, they've gone all in with Blake Bortles, John. The only thing left is picking up the fifth-year option, which looks inevitable at this point. My question is: after the abysmal last season, does it make sense to not bring in any legitimate quarterback competition – not only to push Blake, but at the very least as insurance in case last year wasn't an anomaly? I'm scratching my head here, mate...
John: I'm surprised in retrospect the Jaguars didn't bring in competition for Bortles. At the same time, at no point during the offseason or draft did I see an option that screamed, "This player is a much better option that Bortles." There will be those who scream, "But Deshaun Watson …" in response to this, and I'm sure there may be fans who wish the team would have brought in a free-agent quarterback. And yes, I do wonder if a player such as Jay Cutler might make sense. But the veteran route to me is the only one that really made sense if you're looking for real competition in 2016. I like Mitch Trubisky's potential, but starting him as a rookie would have been difficult, and Watson brought far too many questions about his ability to adjust to the NFL game. So, what does that mean? It means Bortles indeed almost certainly will get one more season to show he can be the guy. And yes, I imagine the Jaguars will pick up the fifth-year option. But don't lock in on that as meaning Bortles is assured of being the guy going forward. All the fifth-year option does is assure the Jaguars can keep Bortles under his current contract for 2018 if they so desire. If they don't so desire, they can release him after the 2017 season. Whatever the Jaguars' decision on the option, Bortles must show he's the franchise quarterback this season. If not …
Dallas from Jacksonville:
One thing surprised me in the draft, and I'm pretty sure it surprised everyone. We didn't draft a single tight end in a very favorable draft for tight ends. The only logical reason I can think that we didn't draft a tight end is Neal Sterling or Ben Koyack has been developing nicely. No offense to Michael Rivera, but he isn't a starter-worthy tight end. Why didn't we draft a tight end?
John: I was surprised the Jaguars didn't draft a tight end, and while it clearly wasn't a high-priority area, I think the Jaguars would have liked to have addressed the position. When you select seven players, you don't always hit every area you want to hit. The Jaguars do like Sterling and Koyack, but you may be reading Michael Rivera wrong. Is he a Pro Bowl tight end? Perhaps not, but the Jaguars expect him to be a key part of the offense next season.
David from Atlanta, GA:
All draft picks are risks from a football perspective, but the selection of Dede Westbrook goes far deeper and is testament to how the NFL still hasn't learned its lesson on domestic violence. Understanding he hasn't been convicted, where there is smoke there is fire. Getting drafted in the fourth round only reinforces the fact that so long as you can make big plays, NFL teams will give you a chance to make millions. Would David Caldwell, Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone draft someone accused of domestic violence against their daughters? Is there anyone who believes Westbrook has more credibility than Todd McShay, who revealed Westbrook was kicked out of a Combine interview less than three months ago? And then he responded absurdly Saturday he had no knowledge of it! No, he hasn't matured or learned much from his transgressions. Jaguars leadership can't change Westbrook; he must WANT to change ... but if he can score touchdowns, all is forgiven. How can "the big three" of Jags leadership justify this move? Do you, John, truly believe that Westbrook's demons are behind him?
John: You're very emotional on this issue, which isn't uncommon. And I know from experience people get pretty dug in on this topic. But I have no idea if Westbrook's demons are behind him. That's because I try to not be intellectually arrogant enough to believe I can predict the future actions of another human being – or to believe that I know the inner workings of a person who I've only read about on the internet and watched play football on television. I learned long ago that the National Football League is professional sports – not a place where only people who have never made mistakes are allowed to perform. The bottom line: if a player is legally permitted to work – which pretty much means if he is not in the criminal justice system – he probably is going to be permitted to play providing he can help a team. This bothers some people. It makes others phenomenally angry. It might even make some people not watch a team for signing a certain player. But in my 23 years covering the NFL, it has been a common thread that never has proven untrue. I don't know how Caldwell, Marrone or Coughlin would handle the situation had they been involved on a personal level. That's not their job. Their job is to win games. If they believe Westbrook gives them a chance to do that, then there's nothing wrong with them investing a fourth-round selection in him. This is a talent-driven league. It may not seem right, and it may not be fair. But neither are a lot of things in life.
Mike from Albany, NY:
I think you are missing the point on Westbrook. We all understand risk versus reward. What Westbrook did was hit, multiple times, the mother of his child. Charges were dropped because the victim did not cooperate with the investigation. That alone needs to remove him from every NFL draft board. Why is professional sports the only industry that stands on a pedestal and says "so and so" deserves a second chance? Outside of minimum-wage paying jobs, no other industry that I know of would ever take that stance. I played football for ten years and love it just as much now as I did then, but the NFL needs to do better, and my two daughters deserve better!
John: I'm not missing the point. Professional sports is the industry that does that because it's … professional sports – and ability and performance outweighs what goes on off the field. There is a demand for this ability, and the demand trumps a lot of other things.
Keith from St. Augustine, FL:
I am loving the Cam Robinson pick regardless if he plays tackle or guard. My question, though, is after trading for Brandon Albert and with the fact he is holding out, how likely is this situation going to resolve itself? Who is likely to play tackle and would the other be a back-up or fill the guard position?
John: First, it's important to remember that Albert – a left tackle acquired in a trade from the Miami Dolphins in March – really isn't holding out yet. That's important to remember because the reason he isn't holding out is he's only missing voluntary activities, which means he's not missing practices or minicamp or training camp. At the same time, there's little question the team is disappointed that there has been no communication with Albert – and I don't foresee much movement from the team in terms of renegotiating Albert's contract. My guess is Albert will play under his current contract because you don't walk away from starting NFL left-tackle money. In that scenario, I see Robinson playing guard in 2017 and playing left tackle for the Jaguars at a later date. This is the most plausible scenario, and until I see Albert announce his retirement or not show up for mandatory minicamp or training camp, I won't consider any other scenario more plausible.
Brian from New Hampshire:
Everyone needs to relax on Westbrook. Give the kid a chance to redeem himself. It was four years ago and we have all done stupid stuff as a teenager. I believe he's on a really short leash, so if messes up he's gone.
John: True.
Nathan from St. Augustine, FL:
Some of the best highlights of Cam Robinson are against Myles Garrett – consensus almost-can't-miss-No. 1-pick Myles Garrett. I know that doesn't guarantee anything, but it does make me excited to see what he can do as a Jaguar!
John: I learned long ago that college success – even success against what many believe the best conference in college football – doesn't guarantee NFL success. That's because the talent, experience and strength of NFL players is so much greater than college players that it makes the two levels almost different games. But Robinson indeed played very well against a lot of good college players in the Southeastern Conference. To the degree that it matters, that's a good sign. It's certainly better than getting owned week after week in Division III.
Tom from Charleston, SC:
No splash in this class. I guess back-to-back good drafts are too much to expect. Better luck next year.
John: #draftsplash

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