O-Zone: Taking it personally

INDIANAPOLIS – Combine, Day Two.

Let's get to it …

Justin from Toronto, Ontario:
There is a lot of talk about the Jaguars possibly signing A.J. Bouye in free agency, and he is considered a top-level corner by almost everyone. However, do you think he might have thrived in Houston due to the really good pass rush the Texans have there? I think that the situation he was in may boost his value more and he might get overpaid, and he wouldn't perform as well with the Jaguars' pass rush.
John: Bouye indeed is a good player. He almost certainly will be one of the most highly sought-after – and highly-paid – players in 2017 free agency. And rightly so. I think he's a player the Jaguars should and will pursue next week because putting him opposite Jalen Ramsey would give the Jaguars a pair of top-level corners for the foreseeable future. At the same time, there's no question Bouye benefitted from the Texans' pass rush because any corner in the NFL benefits from a quality pass rush – just as every corner is hurt when his team's pass rush is ineffective. That's not a knock on any NFL corner; it's just a statement of fact that most NFL corners need a pass rush to force mistakes. NFL quarterbacks for the most part are that accurate. So, yes … unless the Jaguars improve their pass rush, Bouye probably wouldn't be as effective with the Jaguars as he was with the Texans because the Jaguars' pass rush wasn't as good this past season as that of the Texans. That doesn't mean the Jaguars shouldn't pursue Bouye. I believe they should. And if the Jaguars do sign Bouye, they certainly will overpay to get him. Because free agency.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Who is now going to catch passes from the tight end position? I'm not necessarily opposed to the Julius Thomas trade, but I am wondering what the Jaguars will do at tight end. If you are going to run Air Coryell, or some variation, you want someone to be able to catch passes over the middle; otherwise, you can bracket the receivers on the outside with corners and safeties over the top. I remember this being a thing about 10 years ago and the drafting of Marcedes Lewis was supposed to – at least in part – address that issue. Also, having been an observer of the NFL for a long time, obtaining a productive pass-catching tight end who isn't too much of a liability in run blocking isn't easy in free agency or the draft. What do you think about this quandary, and what do you think they will do?
John: First of all, I think you need a quality tight end in the NFL no matter the offense because no matter the offense teams can bracket receivers if you don't have one. I do think the Jaguars will address the position at some point between, say, Rounds 3-5 in the 2017 NFL Draft, and I also think they're intrigued by Ben Koyack and Neal Sterling. They haven't shown they are elite yet, but they showed good signs last season and the tight-end position really didn't have a dropoff when they moved into the lineup as Thomas' playing time waned.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
I was not thrilled about trading for a 32-year-old tackle coming off his worst season and injured. Then, I read that Albert is an awesome locker-room guy and will be an excellent mentor for our young linemen. If he is the kind of player that makes those around him better then it makes total sense and tell TC and the boys I'm sorry for doubting them.
John: I'll let them know. And then I'm sure they'll sleep soundly.
Gabe from Washington, D.C.:
What does your gut tell you is a more likely pick at #4 overall: running back or cornerback?
John: If those are my choices, running back.
Bob from Hilliard, FL:
Wow. Your answer to Kim from Section 130 recently was depressing. "A chance to be .500." I believe you wrote that last year. This team hasn't been .500 since 2010 (which included a three-game losing streak) and has not been to the playoffs in a decade. Your answer confirmed why it isn't worth the fans' time to go to a game this year.
John: I can't speak to what the answer confirmed. Only you can interpret that, so I'll leave that to you. I can tell you this, "Bob:" The Jaguars went 3-13 last season. Am I supposed to write they're going to win 10 games next season? Is that believable right now? I think they'll be better – perhaps even a lot better. I think a lot went wrong last season and I think that if they can get some things going right – pass rush in key situations, fewer key turnovers, better special teams play – they have a chance to improve significantly. But getting to eight victories would be a five-game improvement and would be the Jaguars' best season in seven seasons. It's my experience that such turnarounds are rare. It doesn't mean they can't happen, but it does mean they're rare. I'm sorry that's true and I'm sorry that that doesn't "wow" you. But a five-game improvement would be dramatic and would be cool and would make things look a lot brighter than before, and I do think it's possible. I could lie for your benefit and generate false hope, but I'm not sure what purpose that would serve.
Kek from jags4life forum:
Hey Shirley, your jokes are soooo played. No one thinks they're funny anymore. Not that they were in the first place.
John: Good call, "Kek." You figured me out. I quote "Airplane," a movie that came out nearly 40 years ago, thinking people are going to find me stunningly, uproariously funny and clever. Way to bring it.
Weston Greenville, DE:
My name is Weston and I am 11 years old. I think we should get Alshon Jefferey or DeSean Jackson for a wide receiver to give Blake Bortles more options. I know our wide receivers are good but I think we could use another option. Do you think that we will get them?
John: Weston, I don't hate your idea. The Jaguars are indeed good at receiver, and I think Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have a chance to have really productive seasons next season. But I still would be particularly intrigued by Alshon Jeffrey because I don't know that a team can have enough playmakers for whom defenses must account. Jeffrey is such a player. He's a true No. 1, and while Allen Robinson has shown signs of that, signing one wouldn't be absurd. I don't believe the Jaguars will go this route next week because there are needs elsewhere, but I wouldn't think it was tragic if they did it.
Mike from Horseheads, NY:
Hey, Zone: I like how nobody has mentioned that Branden Albert was the starting left-tackle for a Miami team that rushed the ball for 200-plus yards in three games last season with an average running back. That counts for something, right?
John: If Branden Albert was an upgrade, that would mean the Jaguars' front office made a good move. That's possible, but a lot of people aren't ready to discuss things in that context.
Dalton from UCF:
What do you think about putting Myles Jack at strong safety? We had troubles trying to find ways to put him on the field last year and coming out of college he was known for his versatility. He even stated during his combine press conference that some teams envisioned him in that Kam Chancellor role. If we put him there, we don't have to spend big money on a free agent or overdraft for the position at No. 4. Do you think this is something to consider or am I out of line here?
John: You're not out of line. I think Myles Jack is a linebacker and I think he's going to play linebacker for the Jaguars next season. A lot. And by the way, if you're referring to Jamal Adams of Louisiana State as a possibility at No. 4, I'm not sure that qualifies as over-drafting. He's special, and he can cover. Drafting a safety that early would be unusual, but if he's special that means he's "elite." If he's elite, he wouldn't be overdrafted at No. 4. Elite players are cool, and the Jaguars don't have enough of them.
Nate from Fogertyville:
R-E-L-A-X!!! I'm pretty sure Tom, Doug, and Dave have a plan. How about we let them execute it before we criticize?
John: Where would the fun be in that?
Bo from Dresden, NC:
John, we have to be the only team with a VP of football operations on our team page. Players make plays. I'm having a hard time hanging my hat on office personal.
John: OK, but don't take it "personnel-ly." The marketing department is just trying to promote the team.

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