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O-Zone: Sweet slumber

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Thomas From Section 125 from Jacksonville aka DUUUVAL

O-Zone, do you have faith in the secondary with the wide receivers they will be facing? I think the front office didn't draft off the most needed position. And the secondary is going to be the weakest link of the defense. Hope you have your butter ready because they're going to get toast!

I'm not big on building a roster overly worrying about the teams in one's division. I am big on building the best team possible and letting other teams in one's division worry about beating you. Remember: You have to beat all teams in a conference to get to the Super Bowl, not just the ones in your division. Remember, too: All NFL teams these days have capable wide receivers, so the Tennessee Titans adding Calvin Ridley and the Houston Texans adding Stefon Diggs means those teams have good wide receivers – like pretty much all NFL teams these days. The Jaguars must defend division teams as they defend all teams – by pressuring the opposing quarterback and covering receivers long enough for pressure to be effective. If the Jaguars remain healthy in the secondary and up front, and if they get consistent pressure in big situations, they should be able to adequately defend the pass to compete in a pass-oriented league. This doesn't mean they'll set all-time defensive records in 2024. It means they should be good enough in the secondary if all other parts of the team are functioning.

Richard from Duval

We all know fans fan, it's what they do. With that being said, Jaguars fans need to be reminded that we were one of the league's worst teams for the better part of two decades. General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson have fielded us teams that generated a winning season two years in a row. Remember, we had to crawl before we walked. Sure, we all have raised expectations, but we also need to be realistic in our assessment of our general manager and remember what he was handed when he got here. I think our team is much better after the draft than they were at the end of last season. Let's give Pederson time to work his magic, because I think we may be in for a nice treat for the foreseeable future in terms of season success. That doesn't mean Super Bowls necessarily, but we will contend yearly which is what you want. It feels like we are very close to reaching the same status the Kansas City Chiefs were in during quarterback Patrick Mahomes' second season.

The Jaguars indeed have progressed in 2022 and 2023 from their status as the league's worst team in 2020 and 2021. This is not debatable. What Jaguars fans understandably debate is whether they have progressed enough – and that's what fans are supposed to debate. What is enough? If the only measure of success is winning the Super Bowl, then … no, they haven't progressed enough. If success is competing and contending for the postseason, then they indeed have progressed significantly in two seasons. Bottom line: The 2024 season will show if the team is still making progress. We'll know soon enough.

Randy from Jacksonville

As far as undrafted free agents to watch … Oregon right guard Steve Jones was a first-team PAC-12 selection, the second-highest graded guard in FBS and didn't give up a sack last year. He played five games at left tackle as a rookie and was highest graded tackle with no sacks or penalties: 340 pounds doesn't hurt.


Woody from Dunlap

KOAF: Have been reading multiple comments on-line that appear to question the selection of Florida State cornerback Jarrian Jones. When examining his profile prior to the draft, I noted his quarterback rating when targeted was 31.2. Became interested as to how this number compared with other cornerbacks' ratings. I went through the top 20 or so cornerback in the 2024 NFL Draft. The closest to Jarrian's 31.2 rating I could find was Quinyon Mitchell's 44.3 and Khyree Jackson's 44.2. I then went back to previous drafts (2021 to present). The only cornerback with a lower number than Jarrian's was Ahmad Gardner in 2022 at 27.2. Jarrian Jones' ability to disrupt a quarterback's completion has been elite. If Jarrian maintains close to this level of success in the NFL, he will be a truly great one.

Jones appears to have a chance to be a very good nickel corner. If you select a very good nickel corner in Round 3, it's a good selection. It's quite possible that there are "online comments" that don't think he's a good selection. All hail "on-line comments." Long may they reign.

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

I bet there are a lot fewer good players drafted each year than you would expect. I'll guess around five future stars, 25 getting to second contracts. Am I close?

This is not a horrible guess, though it's admittedly difficult to define "future stars" and it even can be tricker defining "second contracts." It's likely more than that most years. It's not as many as observers and analysts tend to believe.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Wow. Even with the draft over, you still suck.

Of course.

Scott from Jacksonville

Nobody ever seems to front-load contracts anymore. I mean it certainly sounds good on paper, but I think the fact that teams can roll unused cap space into the next year may have made that concept obsolete. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I confess I don't study every contract of every NFL team. But your thought has merit overall, and most NFL second contracts are strikingly backloaded. This is because general managers must field teams to win now – to appease the fan base, to protect their jobs and to … well, win. Does the ability to roll unused cap space into future years contribute to this? It would seem so. I suspect the phenomenon is born more from the tendency to push cap ramifications in the future to open space for the present. It's easier to assume a debt for two years in the future than deal with having to pay that debt tomorrow.

Richard from Jacksonville

Wasn't the reason the back end of this draft was "weak" filled with project players, special teamers and kickers two-fold? This was the last draft that was affected by COVID combined with staying in school with your guaranteed NIL money is now a safer bet than trying out for a NFL roster not making it and getting nothing? How is this league wide issue our general manager's fault again? The fact he picked up mid-round picks in a draft that is projected to be stacked, next year, was excellent. I don't get it.


Carol from Jax - Section 36

No question, just a comment: loved the John Stewart/Bombs Away Dream Babies reference last week. One of the best ever and I still listen to it regularly. Unfortunately, most of your readers are probably too young to ever heard of it.

When the lights go down in the California town, people are in for the evening. (Insider tip: Don't do or worry about what "most O-Zone readers" do. Just don't.)

Scott from Jacksonville

All teams, aside from a few core stars have pretty much the same rosters... A trained monkey could do Baalke's job - he still sucks. The improvement in our record is 100 percent all Doug Pederson's doing. That said, last season's collapse is on him too. So, #FireDougPederson!! Am I doing this right? Would it be more fun for you if I was serious? you can cut those last two sentences and pretend if you'd like :)

When did "fun" enter the discussion?

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

John, I laugh when I read that general managers and draft "experts" state they got bigger, longer, stronger and more physical. How many general managers say they are drafting to get smaller, shorter, weaker and less physical?

A precious few, one would think.

P Funk from Murray Hill

Let's say you slept through the off-season. You wake up and are told the Jags drafted Brian Thomas Jr., signed defensive lineman Arik Armstead and lost Ridley. Someone else tells you the Jags drafted cornerback Terrion Arnold and resigned Calvin. Who do you believe and which one makes you feel better for their chances.

I expect I would be a bit short-sighted and emotional at first about losing Ridley but like a lot about the first scenario. I suspect I would wonder what the Jaguars did to improve the run defense in the second scenario. I probably would eventually settle on liking the first scenario – and feel like that scenario would give them a good chance to improve and compete for the postseason. That's if I'm a Jaguars fan. In my real life, I probably would just go back to sleep.