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O-Zone: Sudden realization

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jason from Dallas, TX:
O-Zone, amidst the great reviews the Jaguars have been getting, I'd like to temper everyone's expectations. Our 2008 draft also got very positive reviews, and we all know how that turned out.
John: You're talking to the king of tempering expectations, particularly when it comes to the NFL Draft and immediate expectations. Not that the draft isn't important. Not that you don't need to draft well. Not that it's unfair to expect drafted players to be good players. It's the speed at which people expect drafted players to make a significant impact that has become skewed. Because of the megahype, seemingly endless pre-draft buildup and multitude of round-by-round analysis that accompanies each draft, there is a perception that the players people see on YouTube and read about on the internet are going to be the same as NFL rookies. The reality is most are not. Heads will spin. Learning curves must be negotiated on and off the field. Strength and size must be added. By Year Two, I'd expect this rookie class to be contributing in a pretty big way; maybe even in the second half of Year One. But immediately? Like most rookies, most of these guys will need some time.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
Hmm … is it me or does it seem we didn't get much return on our Senior Bowl coaching gig this year?
John: The Jaguars signed cornerback Nick Marshall from Auburn as an undrafted rookie free agent. They became familiar with him at the Senior Bowl, when the coaching staff coached Marshall on the South team. They were impressed with how he responded and performed in his first few days at cornerback after two years at quarterback. No, the Jaguars didn't draft three players and sign a bunch of free agents from the South team as they did a year ago, but what they wanted from the Senior Bowl was information and a feel for those guys. Remember, it's possible they learned what players they didn't want. That can be just as valuable as finding a guy you do want.
Ian from Anderson, IN:
John, I know the rookie minicamp will be held Friday and Saturday. And I know that – shockingly – it is for rookies; but is there any chance of Blake being out there, tossing the balls to the newbies? Or do they have to make due with coaches and other rookie quarterbacks during that camp?
John: No, Blake Bortles – because he is a veteran – cannot be at the rookie minicamp. Some first-year players who didn't play last season or who played a limited amount can be there. It's my understanding quarterback Stephen Morris will be there and a handful of other practice-squad players from last season.
Tom from Section 141 and the Mean Streets of Nocatee:
Onefer "at night I drink myself to sleep and pretend that you're not here with me..."
John: I believe you'll be coming back before too long. (and it's pretend I DON'T CARE if you're not here with me…)
Mike from Julington Creek:
Can you please explain to all the idiots that MOST QBs don't enter the NFL and become instant superstars? Bortles was picked No. 3 in the draft because the Jaguars were a bad team in need of rebuilding. You can plug in Aaron Rodgers into the Jags lineup last season and we still wouldn't make the playoffs. Bortles may or may not be "the guy" but let's give him a shot.
John: People not understanding this topic isn't what makes them idiots, and in fact, it's an understandable misconception. People see Andrew Luck succeed immediately and believe all quarterbacks should be able to step into the league and have instant success. It just doesn't happen very often. Add in the fact that Bortles was in an offense surrounded by an unusual amount of youth and it would have been unusual had he had different result. I won't say that the current version of a quarterback such as Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady wouldn't have had different results had they been in Bortles' situation last season. Experienced decision-making behind center can have a dramatic impact on a team, but putting those players as rookies on last year's Jaguars team probably would have yielded pretty similar results.
Chad from Jacksonville:
Do you think Allen Robinson can develop in a true No. 1 receiver?
John: I think it's possible, yes. I'm not guaranteeing it, but I think it's possible.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436:
Saw Journey in Fresno in '83. The place was crawling with chicks. I gotta go.
John: I saw Blue Oyster Cult with the Rockets and the Johnny Van Zandt band at Seattle Center Coliseum in August 1981. I was the one in in the audience who knew the words to, "No More Dirty Deals" and "Only the Strong Survive."
Zain from Orlando, FL:
This is the best draft in the history of... well, that's not accurate at all. Really well-drafted, I thought. But come the preseason/season, the negativity will abound again when we realize how unpolished (like most rookies) some of these prospects are. O-Man, who do you think are the three rookies most likely to make an impact this season, and what part of their game will they have to make a quick improvement on to do so?
John: Dante Fowler Jr., T.J. Yeldon and Rashad Greene have the chance to make an immediate impact. Let's let them get on the field for an NFL minicamp practice before we try to analyze where they need to improve. All will need to adjust to the speed and complexities of the NFL, but Fowler and Yeldon play positions where you sometimes can contribute quickly.
Vincent from Bristol, CT:
Hey, John … let me start by saying I like what we did in the draft. However, I still see an area of concern with linebackers, mostly in pass coverage. What say you on this?
John: I say weakside linebacker Telvin Smith is about as talented a young linebacker as you'll find when it comes to pass coverage. Paul Posluszny and Dan Skuta aren't as strong as Smith in coverage, but your middle and Otto/strongside linebackers usually aren't. Finding linebackers who can cover is a challenge for every team in the NFL these days; actually, finding quality linebackers is a challenge for everybody in the NFL. That was particularly true in this year's draft.
Jason from Falling Waters, WV:
Seems safe to say the Jaguars' 2016 first-round pick will be based on the performance of Luke Joeckel this year.
John: Joeckel must improve, but there are a lot of positions that could be worthy of a first-round selection. Cornerback, safety, wide receiver and so on …
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
OK, can we please slow down the excitement and hype until we actually see if these picks can PLAY? I have seen the same excitement before and more times than not the picks don't live up to the hype. Until we see something on the field we are still a 3-13 team. It seems premature to get all excited about picks that may or may not be the goods. Wait and see, that is my approach.
John: Cool.
Steven from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What is your opinion about Stefen Wisniewski? If he was really good, why didn't Oakland attempt to retain him? That is why I think the real competition for A.J. Cann will be as a center. How do you see the center position developing?
John: Wisniewski and the Raiders discussed a contract extension during the season last season. He sustained a torn labrum near the end of the season, and when the Raiders changed coaching staffs they opted to go in a different direction. But he started four seasons for the Raiders and the competition between he and Luke Bowanko will be real. Cann can play center, but he was drafted as a guard and I expect he will play there.
Carl from Tallahassee, FL:
I saw a draft grades video on that probably annoyed me more than it should. Jamie Dukes, while talking about the Fowler pick, mentioned one of the reasons it was a good pick was because Fowler hails from UF, which will help the team "sell tickets to Gator Nation." The comment didn't upset me as a Jaguars fan as much as it bothered me as a fan of football in general. Do analysts really believe a general manager would make personnel decisions based on ticket sales? It just bugs me that someone with any real football knowledge would actually believe that a general manger would weigh ticket sales over picking the best player to help improve his team. The idea is just ridiculous to me. Am I crazy, John?
John: You're not crazy, and that's admittedly a pretty empty, false statement, but remember: talking heads, analysts and the like have 32 teams to discuss and a whole lot air time to fill. Sometimes, they're going to say insightful things. Sometimes, they're going to say things that make sense. Sometimes, they're going to say silly things. It's just how it is.
Riley from Edmonton, Canada:
John, I've been off the grid for the last week and was wondering if I missed anything major?
John: Nah. You're good.
Walter from Yulee, FL:
Your sense of humor is cool. I like it.
John: Maybe I should have married you instead.

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