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O-Zone: Still striving

Let's get to it . . . Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
If there isn't a premium player worth the No. 2 selection you still have to pick someone. Now the "Best Available Player" has to be your pick, even if he is a guard.
John: I don't plan to spend the whole pre-draft lead-up arguing this point, but I don't see a scenario in which a guard is taken with the No. 2 overall selection. Break it down however you want, and argue whatever points you want, but it'd be shocking to see it happen.
Kevin from Section 106:
Oh John, it was the MAX!
John: Dude, let's go to Kona.
Bryan from Rancho Cucamonga, CA:
Re-sign Pot Roast. Re-sign Derek Cox. Re-Sign Daryl Smith. Go after Cliff Avril. Go after Rodgers-Cromartie. Trade down and get Te'o to roll with Poz and Smith. In the second round and so on, start drafting offensive linemen!!!
John: I like your approach of selecting offensive linemen from the second round down. You can get quality players at that spot after the first round so long as you have a left tackle in place – and from what David Caldwell has said, it sounds as if he believes Eugene Monroe fits that description. As far as your free-agency plans, I'd be surprised if all three are back. The gut feeling here is Knighton will be moving on, and that Cox and Smith will be back if their price is right. Concerning the free agents from other teams, you probably don't need to spend the next month and a half thinking the Jaguars are going to be huge players in the first round of free agency. I'd expect very much a draft-and-develop philosophy with free agency filling holes down the road.
Chris from Sarasota, FL:
We always hear Blaine Gabbert has superb arm talent, yet I still have not seen a game where his throws consistently look like Aaron Rodgers', Flacco's, or especially Kaepernick's. Does Gabbert make those throws in practice? I know this may seem petty in the grand scheme of things, but show me game film where Gabbert throws a pretty 50-yard bomb or a 30-yard bullet like we saw Kaepernick and Flacco do in the Super Bowl. I know his intermediate throws, 15-20 yards, got it, but beyond that I am very skeptical. You heard Simms mention several times that those throws make a difference for the entire offense.
John: Gabbert indeed has looked most impressive on the intermediate throws, but while the deep ball was widely considered his weakness coming out of college, he actually threw that relatively accurately last season when healthy. To answer your question, yes, there are cases when Gabbert looks very good and very accurate in practice. I wouldn't say his accuracy is at the level of the elite quarterbacks yet, and this is an area that needs work. The Jaguars' new decision-makers – especially David Caldwell – have mentioned multiple times that they believe Gabbert has ability and that he is still the second-youngest quarterback in the NFL. It sounds as if he will get a very real chance to continue developing here in Jacksonville.
Drew from Gainesville, FL:
I just watched the clip about Poz's Thank You ad. Perhaps you can thank your loyal readers and you can surprise us by jumping out of a box. Or better yet we should surprise we can jump out of a box! Just a thought but I guess I'm just thinking outside of the box!
John: Oh, I don't know. There are many, many around here who believe the Ozone is best kept very much in the box, wrapped up and contained where he can hurt no one but himself.
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
All I can think about after watching the Super Bowl is how everyone kept saying that Justin Blackmon's ceiling is to be an Anquan Boldin-type player... How is that bad, again?
John: It's not. Blackmon still has a lot of growing to do and a lot of experience to gain to reach Boldin's level, but Boldin is a veteran who is as NFL-savvy as any receiver. If Blackmon reaches that level, he'll have had a very productive career. There would still probably be people who wondered if that's enough to be worth the No. 5 overall selection, but that doesn't matter nearly as much as the productivity he would bring the Jaguars' offense.
Nicholas from Anchorage, AK:
So is it pretty safe to say that Flacco will not be available for the Jaguars now?
John: It's as safe to say that now as it was last week and the week before and in October. Flacco long has been a quarterback capable of leading a team to the postseason, and now he's a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. You don't find either easily, and the Ravens weren't going to let him go in November any more than they are now.
Andre from Ocala, FL:
I had to set up a new computer network at home. I had to find a name for the network. My last name starts with an "O." So I hijacked your column name and named the network OZone. Thanks!!!
John: I hope this email I have for you is accurate. You can expect a message from our attorneys any time.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
All the talk on how to draft (best available player or needs or fit the pick, etc.) misses the key point - however you draft, you must pick the right players. You could have the most solid fundamental draft philosophy in the world, but if you draft guys who aren't that good you won't win. I'll go a little further to say: what do all the successful teams in the NFL have in common? They have their guy at quarterback. Once we get that guy, we'll be able to talk 4-3/3-4, BAP or needs, coaching philosophy, etc. Right now, it's all just noise until we get a guy who can play quarterback. I hope it's Gabbert.
John: This plays into what I've been saying for several weeks about BAP/needs, but says it more eloquently. There is no blueprint. There's no guaranteed plan that you plug in and say, "Well, here's our plan. Let's make Super Bowl reservations." You have a philosophy, set a course and do the proper work within that philosophy. The correct decisions still must be made, and good fortune is still a factor. And, oh yes, quarterback. Get that right, and as you say, you're far down the path.
Terry from Smithville, TN:
Don't you think that people just need to chill out and let this new staff do its job? I'm totally excited for the Jaguars each and every season as I have been from Day 1.
John: Sure, people need to chill out. Absolutely. Do I expect them to? Well . . .
Herb from Jacksonville:
Clarify the following. After the safety at the end of the Super Bowl, the Ravens elected for the free punt. Inasmuch as the rules allow the 49ers to receive the kick, then have an unimpeded free place kick at this point in the game, where was the punt received. I'm thinking that if kickoffs sometimes go out of the end zone would this not be a possibility for a field goal? The runback of the punt ending the game never had a chance.
John: The punt was received at the 19 with four seconds remaining, so while the 49ers theoretically could have fair caught the kick and had the free kick, it would have been out of field goal range. A couple of factors have made the free kick field-goal attempt following safeties rarer than ever. One was the moving back of the goal posts to the end line in the early 1970s. That added 10 yards to the prospective field-goal attempt. The other has been the improved ability of punters and kickers. In the 1960s, punters were less consistent with less distance, so it was conceivable that a 35-yard punt to the opponents' 45 would result in a 55-yard field goal attempt. Now, you would need a 33-yard punt to be fair caught at the 47. That would result in an NFL-record tying free-kick attempt. It could still happen, but it's more unlikely than ever.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV:
Nobody mentioned Poz being in a Super Bowl commercial. It was great to see the NFL get the Jags in the spotlight even if it was only for a few seconds.
John: It's hard to grab the spotlight with a losing record. My sense is as the Jaguars improve under Gus Bradley the profile will improve, too.
Ken from Jacksonville:
No question, just a story. My squad in the Army had a saying "strive for mediocrity." If you are the best squad, you get more work as everyone thinks you can handle anything. If you're the worst, you get yelled at and more crap work because you suck. But if you're right in the middle everyone leaves you alone. Mediocrity rules!
John: I'd say I would have fit right in on your squad, but I wouldn't want to insult anyone in the armed services by implying I could reach their level of work ethic.

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