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O-Zone: Taco Thursday

JACKSONVILLE – Same drill. Different day.

The O-Zone submission form on the app continues to not work. We continue to ask that you submit questions through the form on the website or via Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

Let's get to it …


I've heard you place significant value on pass rushers – i.e., 1B versus a franchise quarterback of 1A. The New England Patriots have won six Super Bowls since 2002. In only one of those years did they have a player with more than 10 sacks! Overall defensive talent and balance versus one Pro Bowl pass rusher is much more successful. You've heard the expression of a coverage sack, right?

You know what? I have heard that expression. I also have covered the NFL for more than two-and-a-half decades, paying enough attention during a few of those seasons to know how many Super Bowls the Patriots won. And although I indeed have heard the expression "coverage sack," I also know if you can pressure the quarterback – and affect the backfield – it disrupts everything about an offense. No one's saying the secondary and other defensive players don't matter. No one's saying a balanced defense is bad. But if you're asking what defensive position can most help other defensive positions, and therefore what single defensive position is the most valuable, the answer is a disruptive player who can affect the quarterback consistently – which is usually a dominant edge player. Second most valuable would be disruptive defensive tackle who stuffs the run and disrupts the passer. But those are so rare that it's hard to keep them in this conversation.


In 2016, cornerback Jalen Ramsey was the Jags' first pick. Linebacker Myles Jack fell in the draft that year due to medical concerns. The Jags were extremely fortunate with this choice. Given that kind of situation could happen again, what prospect could fall into the Jags' lap this year with either the 25thor 33rdpick?

The Jaguars indeed were fortunate to be able to trade up in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft to obtain Jack, who had slipped from a potential Top 5 selection because of concerns over his knee. One example of a player who could face a relatively similar situation this year is Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, who underwent back surgery this offseason. The issue is expected to cause Farley to slip in the draft. That doesn't mean he will reach No. 25 – or that the Jaguars automatically will select him should that occur. But Farley is considered perhaps the draft's top corner – and some team will take a chance that his back will stay healthy and that he will play to his potential. If that happens, a team selecting him outside the Top 20 may have received a big-time bargain.

Josh from Atlanta, GA

Have you locked in who you think is the best pick for the Jaguars at 25 (based on where you see the teams ahead of us mock draftin')?

I like the idea of safety Trevon Moehrig of Texas Christian because he is said to be the best player at his position in the draft – and it's a position of need. But ask me tomorrow and I may like the idea of an offensive linemen or speedy offensive skill player.

Marcus from Jacksonville

After Wednesday's presser it was very clear that the vision of the Jags is to draft the best overall player, regardless of need. Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer said he agrees with that approach, although he admitted that he always thinks need first as a coach. My question: how far is it reasonable to deviate from your board to get a position of need? Obviously if two players are graded the same, you're going to take the one at a position of greater need, but what if a position of need is graded slightly below a position of strength? What is more than slightly? How far is too far?

I asked Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke essentially this question Tuesday when he joined the O-Zone Podcast. He said the answer is where an objective-based process essentially becomes art – and indeed that is the point where draft decisions must get made in real time as opposed to a pre-draft process that is based on long conversations and consensus-building. The best answer is if there's a significant gap – i.e., if one player is in another level of tier than the other – it's best to stick with value. If it's closer than that, then need can win out. How far is too far? That's for the general managers to decide, and it's where they earn their salaries.


Hey, brother John. Do you read other people's stuff? It seems like since Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence was basically named the first pick in the draft, we started seeing these dumb articles with fake headlines about him. He doesn't love football all of a sudden. I don't know if people are that hateful, desperate or stupid. So that's my question. Thanks.

I read what national analysts say about the Jaguars and I read what writers write about the Jaguars, but I admit I do so mostly when these things are mentioned to me by readers or colleagues. This is not because of a lack of interest in the Jaguars. Rather, it's because a career spent covering sports has taught me that while national perspectives are interesting fodder for short-term talk-show discussion and Twitter debate, they're not all that fact-based or pertinent to reality. Yes, there are times analysts pick teams to be good or bad and get those selections correct; this happened last offseason when many believed the Jaguars would struggle mightily in 2020. There are also many times when national analysts miss details because they simply aren't as tied into a team as much as those who cover the team locally. As far as the recent articles about Lawrence and whether he's competitive or dedicated enough, I found them silly and misinformed. I also found them above all else predictable. Lawrence has been the top prospect in this draft since his freshman season, and that has given analysts three years to find flaws. Finding few, something was going to be found to criticize about Lawrence. The competitiveness stuff turned out to be it. It appears to already being forgotten and I can't imagine it will be something many people think about much longer.

Don from Marshall NC

After watching The Goat last year, it's clear that the way to win is with the long ball. Most famous words in sandlot football are Go Deep! Some things never change. Go Jaguars.

You go, girl.

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

Maybe I missed that O-Zone, but why are we looking to get rid of Gardner Minshew II? Is C.J. Beathard an upgrade at backup over Minshew?

The Jaguars have not officially said they are seeking to trade former starting quarterback Gardner Minshew II. Considering they likely will select a quarterback No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, and considering they signed veteran C.J. Beathard as an unrestricted free agent, it wouldn't be surprising if they went that route. Would Beathard be an upgrade over Minshew? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Would Minshew automatically be a better option as a backup than Beathard? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That would depend largely on how Meyer and Baalke view each player's strengths and how each fit into the roles they envisioned. Stay tuned.

Jim from Neptune Beach, FL

I hate to be a buzz crunch, but do you think there's any hope we can stick with calling Trevor Lawrence by his real name? All the T-Law, type nicknames don't really do much for me. How many times have we referred to T-Brad, or A-Rog, or Da-Brees, or P-mann? I haven't, have you? Or even, Bort-man or M-Shew? How about we start by giving Trevor some respect by using his name instead of some playground name? Sorry for the Buzz-kill, but it's pretty annoying, to say the least.

You mentioned hating to be a buzz crunch. The rest of your email belies that premise.

Jess from Glen Carbon, IL

Zone, which would you rather have: a top defensive line or a top offensive line?

Defensive line because if you can't stop the run in the NFL, you can't do anything else defensively – and because a savvy, veteran quarterback can help minimize some flaws along an offensive line. That's not to say you can win with an awful offensive line, but if you have to choose one or the other, I'd go with defensive line – by a whisker.


John, what are your thoughts on with the 25th pick the Jags taking this young man out of Stanford who has played left taco as well as guard and was extremely highly thought of before injury and COVID-19. Reward worth the risk?

Left or right is irrelevant. If he can play taco at a high level, take the kid and don't look back.