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O-Zone: Sweet home

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
How could anyone be disappointed in Taven Bryan? This guy is going to be a beast. I just do not understand how 28 teams would let this guy go by. He has the size and the skill to be a great player. The combination of Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager Dave Caldwell is serious stuff. You got to have the big guys. Wow, what a great pick! Go Jags.
John: Of course people can be disappointed in the Jaguars' first-round selection. They can be disappointed in University of Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan at No. 29 overall in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft for pretty much the same reason they get excited or disappointed about any selection in any draft – because they spend months reading, Tweeting and debating with a mountain of ill-informed opinion and speculation cleverly disguised as "facts" and "reliable analysis." The reality is most draft information fits better into the former group than the latter, but because we see so much of it we tend to forget that teams actually pay little attention to it and therefore often do things that shock, surprise and anger fans and observers. Why were Jaguars observers so shocked, surprised and even angry this year? Because the majority of pre-draft speculation focused on the Jaguars' "need" for offensive line, tight end or wide receiver in Round 1. There also was a lot of excitement over quarterback Lamar Jackson – this despite the fact that anyone listening closely should have known they were not taking a quarterback in Round 1. All of this contributed to the selection of Bryan being very surprising to some. Guess what? None of what I just wrote mattered to the Jaguars when they were making their selection – and none of it should have mattered. What we speculate about the draft does not – and should not – have one shred of influence over what the team actually does. Bryan may be a great pick or it may be an awful pick. But there's no reason to think it won't be the former and we won't know for a while.
Michael from Orange Park, FL:
Buying Wembley Stadium also means Shad Khan (and possibly the Jaguars) get a part of every rent check given to Wembley, including the NFL games. Pretty smart business move.
John: I don't know Khan's exact worth. I know it's measured in billions. I also know that's not how your worth is measured if you make a lot of dumb business moves.
Rob from Pace, FL:
I see other teams getting better in areas of need: mainly the Patriots, Rams, Vikings. I'm concerned we are not improving. We are not even picked to repeat in the AFC South. We are better on the left side of our offensive line but what about receiver, right side of line and corner depth? Quarterback goes without saying we need at least competition. Surely you have a clue what the plan is? The schedule is harder and we aren't sneaking up on anybody; if the plan is to run over everyone, then why not lineman? Please enlighten me on what the plan is besides preparing to lose people in 2019?
John: I'm sorry you're concerned. Concern can be … well, concerning. As for those concerns, I don't recall if the Jaguars were "picked to win" the AFC South or make the AFC Championship Game last season. If not, things worked out OK. (Editor's note: John does recall; he's being sarcastic.) As for the plan, I do have a clue because it has been pretty-well laid out: They want to run, play defense, play smart and mistake-free and win games. That's why they signed All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell in free agency and it's why they drafted Bryan in Round 1. They also want to play better special teams, which is why they emphasized the area in free agency. And while you say "it goes without saying" the Jaguars at least need competition at quarterback, the Jaguars have been clear throughout the offseason they believe Blake Bortles is this franchise's quarterback. Not every offseason has to be about splash and drama. Sometimes the offseason is about adding wise selections that make you better without headlines. For the Jaguars, this is such an offseason and that's OK.
John from Jacksonville:
Hello, John – and thanks for your long hours. I was sure you hit it when you thought offensive line or tight end first and second in some order. You have to get the big uglys early. The fourth, sixth or seventh round is not early. Who is going to block when the left guard gets double teamed?
John: We shall see.
Ron from Jacksonville:
Aside from Fred Taylor, we haven't had much success with players from Florida. Should we maybe not select Gators so high in future drafts?
John: Yes, by all means the Jaguars should downgrade talented players from major conferences who likely were blue-chip recruits who they perhaps like a lot because a player who no longer is playing in the NFL happened to go the same school. I'll pass this theory along. I'm looking forward to Tom Coughlin's reaction. I'm positive it will go swimmingly. (Editor's note: John will not pass this idea along as it is not a good idea. As such, passing it along would not go swimmingly).
Johnny from Europe:
Will Taven Bryan make a difference this year or is he mostly an investment in the future?
John: I expect Bryan to be in the defensive-line rotation as a rookie. Whether he makes a difference or not will depend on how quickly he adapts to the professional game. Most NFL players are far better in Year 2 and beyond, and I expect that will be the case with Bryan.
David from Jacksonville:
I loved reading the comment about "Coughlin and Company - Round 1 - a swing and a miss." Seriously? Does that person live under a rock? If you know and follow Coughlin he rarely misses any swings.
John: I don't know if the emailer lives under a rock. I try to avoid knowing or thinking about where readers of this column live. I don't want the visual.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Which players do you think will be playing their last year in Jacksonville considering who we have to make decisions on and who might get cut?
John: I'm wondering if it might be possible to let the Jaguars play a game or two in the 2018 regular season before we start releasing players and deciding their fates. I only wonder this because this what the Jaguars will do.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John how or why in the world would the Jags take Bryan when Hernandez was still available?
John: They thought Bryan was better. (Editor's note: This is true).
Josiah from Jacksonville:
STUPID!! I know you are gonna sugar coat the Bryan pick but it is STUPID, nonetheless. We needed an offensive lineman or tight end. Why would the best defense in the NFL grab a defensive tackle as a first rounder? We have no immediate need for a defensive tackle. Stupid pick...
John: There's no reason at all to sugarcoat the selection of Bryan. If you believe the draft must be about filling an immediate need for the ensuing season, then it's probably a bad selection. If you understand how the NFL works, and that immediate, franchise-altering impact from a rookie is rare – particularly at the end of Round 1 – then you perhaps see it in a less reactionary way.
Alan from Jacksonville:
Let the fanning begin! I, too, was disappointed by the selection of Taven Bryan...for about five minutes. But after checking him out I realized this is the kind of pick good teams make. We were so used to glaring needs that must be filled to win next year I think the fans have forgotten what it's like to see a team being built for the long haul. I suspect two years from now, with coaching from Hobby and learning from other great DL players, people will be wondering how this guy lasted until the 29th pick.
John: Yeah, but try telling that to Josiah.
Gary from Fleming Island, FL:
O-Man, O great Seer … you totally called it the day before: If Taven Bryan slides we take him. Amazing.
John: Yeah, well I also mocked tight end and offensive line to the Jaguars for two months, so we can probably pump the brakes on my parade.
Will from Jacksonville:
If Brad Meester is going to continue to announce Jaguars draft picks, can someone get him a new tailor?
John: Former Jaguars center Brad Meester announced the Jaguars' third-round selection Friday in what only can be called one of the more glorious wardrobes in NFL Draft history: a blazer over a "Lynyrd Skynyrd" T-Shirt. This wasn't admittedly on a par with Meester's epic camouflage blazer a couple of drafts ago, but it was darned good. As colleague and fellow fashion guru Brian "the Hitman" Sexton pointed out, the only thing that went wrong Friday was Meester missing the opportunity to announce the Jaguars' third-round selection Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison by opening the blazer and shouting, "From Sweet Home Alabama …" As far as Meester changing tailors … goodness gracious … I hope not. #skynyrd #sweethome

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