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O-Zone: The culprit

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Chad from Yulee, FL:
Do you think NFL front offices are as worn out waiting for this draft as fans? I would think the only thing that could change a team's board now would be a personal incident of a prospect that would cause them to drop. I also would think teams would like to have their rookies in by now to at least get play books in their hands, etc.
John: The NFL's decision to move the draft back two weeks this year indeed has made this pre-draft season feel loooooooong – at least to fans and media types. As for how front offices view the delay, it stands to reason most teams are essentially done with their significant draft preparation. Football people by nature are creatures of habit and routine and with events such as the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine staying in their normal dates, it again stands to reason that most teams did their evaluation, ranking and board-setting at essentially the same pace: draft preparation is a pretty methodical process with general managers generally trying to go through the same steps on the same schedule. As for board changes, once a board is set it's best to do as little "rethinking" as possible. That would certainly lead to a lot of football people feeling like the hay is pretty much in the barn at this point, with not a lot of rising and falling between now and May 8. And yeah, ideally you wouldn't mind having access to your rookies by this point, though I'm skeptical that the impact of rookies not being around for two weeks will be earth-shattering.
Ron from Virginia Beach, VA:
Putting the 35-pound dumbbells in the 20-pound section of the rack...#ShadrickSightings
John: Well, yeah.
Jason from Colorado Springs, CO:
With this widely considered a deep draft and considering our free-agent signings, do you foresee us signing a lot of undrafted free agents like we did last year? If the talent is as deep as reported wouldn't it stand to reason that we could get a contribution from a player or two here also?
John: Yes, the Jaguars will sign collegiate free agents. I don't know if it will be as many as last season, but I suspect that as long as Gus Bradley is head coach and David Caldwell is general manager the Jaguars will put a heavy emphasis on rookie free agents. There's no reason not to work hard in this area and if the worst you do is get a few players who can contribute and play special teams, then you're that much better in those areas.
Greg from St. Johns, FL:
Shout out to "LJ", long-time bass player for 38 Special and the original bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Larry retired from 38 Special this year and can now attend every Jags home game without a pesky "tour" schedule getting in the way.
John: Here's hoping LJ gets to do just that.
Adam from Duval:
If Manziel was three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, would that change your opinion on him? Essentially, do you think his style of play is fundamentally flawed because of the hits he'll take or is his size more of the issue?
John: His size is an issue, but more concerning is the style of play and some of the things you see on video. As much as people love the Johnny Football-style – and I long have said it intrigues me – what concerns scouts about Manziel is the tendency to run when unnecessary, to perhaps rely too much on the magic. It also concerns scouts that he misses what seem to be obvious reads. You hear that when discussing Manziel with football people more than you hear about size, though you do hear about size.
John from the Mean Streets of Arlinghood:
I keep reading about David Caldwell trading back from No. 3. I can understand why. But in your infinite wisdom, what would be an acceptable first-round pick to fall back to? Thanks for your help.
John: Wherever he can still get an impact player. That's a vague answer, but only Caldwell knows how far back he feels he can go and still get a difference-maker.
Josiah from Jacksonville:
I'm not gonna sit here quietly letting Manziel's name cool down. I am confident the Jags will take him and that all this Mack business is just a smokescreen. Mack (3-4) doesn't even fit in our scheme (4-3). We need a quarterback of Johnny's caliber and he won't be there in the second. A defensive end isn't going to get us to the playoffs, hence Kansas City two years ago and the Texans last year. We need a quarterback; we need Johnny Jaguar.
John: As a point of clarification, it's hard to see Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins as a smokescreen when the Jaguars aren't talking up those players; in fact, they're not really saying anything at all. As far as Manziel, you and I aren't in agreement, but that's OK; we needn't agree on everything – or much at all, really.
Phil from Coral Springs, FL:
When will people realize having a 'stud quarterback' and winning championships aren't a one-to-one correlation? Peyton Manning while putting up astronomical numbers has the same number of Super Bowl rings as Trent Dilfer and Rich Gannon. While it certainly helps, having 'The Quarterback' isn't absolutely required for winning.
John: No, a quarterback isn't required for winning, and having a great one doesn't guarantee you Super Bowls. But having an elite one sure gives you a better chance year-in and year-out. That, more than the guarantee, is the appeal of the elite quarterbacks.
Alex from Virginia Beach, VA:
With the Seahawks inking Earl Thomas to $40 million, is there a chance we will be in line to grab Richard Sherman next year in free agency. Seattle will not be able to keep Sherman and Thomas. Thanks O-Man!
John: "Seattle will not be able to keep Sherman and Thomas" is a very definitive statement. Definitive statements aren't necessarily correct ones.
Armando from Vacaville, CA:
Here's a bold prediction: the Jags finish 10-6 and enter the postseason as a wild card. Frankly, the schedule isn't so tough. We have a lot of winnable games. Agree or disagree?
John: I agree that there are winnable games, but I can't predict 10-6 yet. I've said often that 8-8 is a lofty goal for a team in the second year of a build, and if the Jaguars achieve that goal it would be significant progress in a two-year period.
Matt from Section 133:
Let's say the Jags pick a quarterback in the third round: what should the fans' expectations be for that guy? Should we be looking for a future leader of the franchise to be developing behind Henne, or is someone drafted so late not really counted upon to become a franchise quarterback? Is he "our guy," or is he like Garrard: taken in the fourth round and sitting on the bench most of the time while we wait for a true franchise quarterback to come along later?
John: I always have difficulty with questions asking what fan expectations should be for a player. People are going to expect what they expect and probably will pay scant attention to my answer anyway. But in my ongoing effort to please, I'll take a swing at this. A quarterback drafted in the third round would be given a chance to compete with the hope that he could develop into a starter. There realistically probably will be another quarterback drafted later and he would be given the same opportunity. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the team would still explore quarterbacking options next year. They're going to keep looking for a franchise guy until they find one, and that won't necessarily be the next quarterback who walks into EverBank Field.
Bob from Bikini Bottom:
John, any idea as to when the best time to wear a striped sweater is?
John: The 1970s.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
Do you have a theory as to why the NFL has become the number one sport in America, over say, baseball and basketball?
John: A combination of many factors. One, it's a very good sport. Two, it plays very, very well on television. Three, the number of the games is almost perfect. What I mean by No. 3 is with one game a week and 16 per season all games have importance. That's as opposed to baseball and basketball, where many regular-season losses don't feel all that earth-shattering. Four is fantasy football, which undoubtedly has helped boost interest and popularity. I also think that the timing of the games has played into it. With one game a week, there is plenty of time to talk about each game all week and build up interest on a weekly basis, creating a weekly buildup and explosion that makes a whole lot of fall weeks feel very, very critical.
Mike from Jagsonville, FL:
Any chance of making JP give the Culligan tape back? I really miss it.
John: Working on it.

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