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O-Zone: Still in

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Zone, the draft is almost upon us. Give me your seven-round mock.

Loyal O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know well by now I'm not a huge seven-round mock draft guy. While I harbor no ill will toward those who find such efforts entertaining, I have covered 29 NFL Drafts and therefore know that projecting seven rounds of selections is folly. The reality is you can barely project 18-to-20 selections remotely accurately – and predicting anything after the first round is akin to throwing darts at a board. With a blindfold. After being spun around. What I can provide are some thoughts conceptually on how the draft might play out for the Jaguars. I expect them to select a cornerback in Round 1, and I would be surprised if they trade up more than a selection or two for that player. I would put offensive line, wide receiver and defensive front as Round 1 possibilities – perhaps in that order, though not necessarily. I expect they will select a wide receiver somewhere in the first four rounds because it's considered a deep receiver draft with quality players available through four rounds. I would be surprised if they don't select offensive line – probably tackle – somewhere early with the idea of developing that player for the 2025 season because left tackles Cam Robinson and Walker Little are entering the final years of their respective contracts. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them select a second corner and a defensive lineman somewhere relatively early. These aren't specifics, because the presence of 31 other teams makes specifics impossible. Either way, I would be surprised if this is dramatically wrong.

Dave from Los Angeles, CA

Is Luke Fortner any good? We've spent a year euphemistically blaming "interior offensive line" weakness for many of our offensive struggles. I haven't heard any concrete plans for upgrading the center position.

The Jaguars earlier this offseason signed center Mitch Morse as a free agent from the Buffalo Bills. He is a tenth-year veteran who started at center for four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2015-2018 and for the Bills the past five seasons. While Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson on multiple occasions has discussed Morse and Fortner competing in the coming month, I expect Morse will start next season. He's about as "concrete" a plan for upgrading center for the 2024 season as can be expected.

Jim from Neptune Beach, FL

It seems like every year or so, one player in the draft drops far below where most of the draft experts project he will be drafted. It could be for any reason, or just simply the luck of the draw. Just as a matter of curiosity, who do you guess could be that player this year?

I haven't the faintest idea.

Will from Orange Park, FL

Why not edge rusher?

I assume you're asking why the Jaguars will not select edge rusher in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. This isn't particularly etched in stone. Perhaps they will go that direction. If they believe one of the players available at No. 17 – perhaps Laiatu Latu of UCLA or Jared Verse of Florida State – is an elite, difference-making edge rusher, I could see them making the selection. My sense is that the addition of defensive lineman Arik Armstead along with the presence of edges Josh Allen and Travon Walker will mean a more formidable, consistent pass rush than last season. But adding a special player as a pass rusher never is a mistake.

Richard from St Augustine, FL

Advice for all the heavy-panting Jaguars fans for this or any year's NFL Draft. In looking at the draft in general, and specifically the first round, the NFL Draft is a scientific wild guess! In looking at fifth-year option on many NFL drafts over the past 10 years about 50 percent of first-round draft picks get the fifth-year option exercised. Considering that option is usually cheaper than a negotiated fifth-year that is not a very high rate of success for the top 32 players drafted. What say you, King Funk?

I say Round 1 of the NFL Draft is not "darts at a board." I say the scouting, projection and analysis done to select players is necessary. I also say it's not remotely an exact science and that an argument could be made that the aforementioned elements are sometimes a bit overdone. A successful general manager once told me that the draft is a percentage game, and that even the best personnel people will have their share of misses. The idea in Round 1 therefore is to "hit" as many as possible with as few misses as possible. No home runs, no strikeouts and as many doubles as you can hit … that's success in Round 1 over the long haul.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

O, I stopped caring about mock drafts the first year I played fantasy football with 12 guys I've known all my life. They completely took different players, players that we knew every possible stat about. How anyone could think they could predict what 32 separate teams are going to do during the real draft is beyond me.


Scott from Lake Nona

Hi, John. Looks like the trade machine is having a little trouble starting. Did you remember to push the primer bulb three times and open up the choke? Mabye you just lack the upper body strength to give it a good pull?

Also fair.

Bill from Jacksonville, FL

John, cornerback Quinyon Mitchell out of Toledo has been linked to the Jaguars. In the last 60-plus years though, Toledo has had 81 players take a snap in the NFL and just three have made a Pro Bowl. If he makes a single Pro Bowl, it would go against every statistical probability we can measure. Do you believe the history of success for players from certain schools should factor into the draft process?

Absolutely not. Teams consider school size and competition when selecting players. This is the reason players from smaller schools/conferences are invited to postseason All-Star games such as the Reese's Senior Bowl. But teams shouldn't avoid selecting a player from Toledo in 2024 because a player from Toledo failed in the NFL in 1992. One has nothing to do with the other.

Nicole from East Hampton, CT

O, as a follow up to the response on the NFL schedule release to Crash from Glen Saint Mary yesterday, can we expect to see the Jaguars Media Team release another masterpiece that is equivalent to the "It Was Written" video last year? Hoping for another gem.

Stay tuned.

Sal from Austin, TX

Maybe whoever is telling Jaguas owner Shad Khan that lame holdover Jaguar from those wack helmets is a good idea should reassess.

Some people like the old Jaguars helmet logo. Some like the new one. I honestly get about as many opinions on both sides. So there's that.

JK from NY & Fernandina Beach, FL

John. Before we get fully involved in draft week madness, I have been thinking about the following question: During his recent press conference, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence referred to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen as a "friend." Assuming Trevor has saved the contacts for both the Buffalo and Jax Josh Allens in his phone - how does Trevor tell the difference when he wants to send a text to one or the other?

One says "this" Josh Allen and the other says "that" Josh Allen.

Chuck from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

The 17th pick looks like a good spot to me. We're in line for a No. 2-3 corner; No. 2-3 edge or No. 1-2 defensive line. With the run on quarterback and offensive line, the ones I mention can't all be gone. So why give up draft picks to move up? College talent doesn't always translate to pros. Neither does building a team around a defensive coach's scheme. By my count, we've had more bad first round choices than good in the last 10 years. Let's just cross our fingers and take the best available at 17. Please!

You capably and accurately have outlined the reasons for not trading up from No. 17 overall. In theory. Where theory sometimes leaves reality in the draft is if a team believes a player is special. Remember: The rankings we see on paper and online can make it look as if say, the No. 1 player at a position is "one slot" better than the No. 2 player. When scouting and assessing the player, the difference can be more eye-catching and cause teams to want to be more proactive acquiring that player.

Scott from Jacksonville

Has Don ever asked you to shut the hell up with that "all in" crap and answer one of his questions for once?

When it comes to staying in his lane and realizing what this forum is, Don remains "all in."