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O-Zone: The right man

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Daniel from Jax

Draft and develop. If we are going to start doing this, finally, we will sign or franchise left tackle Cam Robinson, wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and more. Then we will release our lowest-performing players (not our highest) and replace them with free agents and draft picks, etc. If that happens, we know the team appears to be in a new path forward. If not … well, same old crap. But I'm pretty sure with former Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell gone, it will not be the same ole same ole …

Draft-and-develop indeed is the best, most time-tested path to NFL contention. Throw in a franchise quarterback, and you have a formula for long-term success. And it's absolutely the path Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson want to follow, which the duo made clear at the 2022 Scouting Combine last week. That's not so unusual. It's the path most NFL head coaches and general managers want to follow. Even the Los Angeles Rams, who are being lauded as having traded for a Super Bowl title this past season, drafted and developed core players such as wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. And yes … Caldwell's objective was to draft and develop; he spoke of it often during his time with the Jaguars. But wanting to draft and develop is far different from doing it well. And whether the Jaguars are on the right path won't be solely determined by whether they sign Chark or Robinson. Players still must be worthy of their contracts, and it's not a no-brainer that Chark and/or Robinson are second-contract players. You know the phrase "marathon, not a sprint?" It applies here. The Jaguars must draft and develop well to contend. All teams must. But they also must make wise, long-term decisions about whether players already drafted have developed enough to re-sign.

Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

So, the Jaguars are playing in the Hall of Fame Game. How much will you enjoy covering this? And how many times will Tony make you thank him for it?

I doubt I will enjoy covering the game all that much. I'm looking forward to covering former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli's Hall enshrinement, though. As for thanking him, he can go sit on his hat.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

Boselli having Brunell present him for the Hall … perfect, I would say.

Boselli indeed will have former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell introduce him for the Hall. It indeed feels perfect. They were intertwined as players and friends during their playing days, and you can't write Jaguars history without either player. Boselli said he considered multiple people to speak before his enshrinement. I don't know that any would have felt more right for longtime Jaguars fans.

Tom from Shanghai, China

Why is anyone getting excited about Amari Cooper coming to Jax? If he gets cut, he'll be one of the prime available free agents with numerous teams chasing his signature. Unless we offer him something crazy, why would he pick us over … ya know, a good team?

Fair point. The Jaguars have struggled enough in recent seasons that they will have to overpay free agents. That almost certainly would be the case IF they opted to pursue Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper – IF the Cowboys indeed release Cooper. Then again, the Jaguars probably would have to do that with pretty much any high-profile free agent. Then again, any team would have to do that with pretty much any high-profile free agent.

Chris from San Diego, CA

O-man, why isn't Jordan Davis getting more consideration at No. 1? He won both the Bednarik and Outland Trophy. Only Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh share that distinction in recent history. Seems like the most surefire big man in the draft and a guy that will wreak havoc run stopping and creating interior pressure on opposing quarterback. He would be my No. 1 pick without hesitation.

Davis, a defensive lineman from Georgia, is generally projected as a first-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. He certainly caught the attention of many observers and scouts at the Scouting Combine with 4.78-second 40-yard dash and an eye-catching workout in other areas, too. Why isn't he a consideration at No. 1? Because he's generally considered a two-down player, and two-down defensive linemen typically aren't considered as valuable as offensive tackles and pass rushers. His workout likely will cause teams to reconsider whether he can also create pressure on the quarterback, which could push him earlier in Round 1. Stay tuned.

Chris from London, UK

John, what's the plan??? I'm assuming it's tag Cam, sign a couple of offensive line free agents to compete and use a third-round selection on a right tackle, allowing us to go edge rusher and then wide receiver in the first two rounds???? Super Bowl, baby!!!

That's not unreasonable. We'll learn by Tuesday if the Jaguars indeed plan to place the franchise tag on Robinson. Once we know that, we'll have a little better idea how the Jaguars might approach the offseason.

ShanghaiStevie from BACK IN JAX

"I like when a general manager and coach view free agency through a cautious, wary lens. It makes me believe they know what they're doing." Ozone, this sounds way too much like, "We believe we can win with the players we have" from 2020. Year after year, we (fans) identify players that obviously will make the Jags better (and go on to impact other teams), and every year we're let down. Are we getting psyched up to be let down again? Can't the Jags learn anything from watching the Super Bowl-winning Rams? Or learn from our team going all-in for 2017 free agency? That turned out good, right?

Don't confuse what I like with what the franchise will do in free agency in the coming weeks. I wrote what you quoted to make the point that I believe Baalke views NFL free agency the right way – i.e., as a necessary tool but one to be used judiciously and with the knowledge that you must be sure to get proper value for what you spend. That can mean spending a lot and getting major names, and I believe the Jaguars will be very active in free agency this offseason. I also believe if you're going to take that approach, you better be damned sure you do it right to ensure short-term giddiness doesn't beget long-term disappointment.

Sean from Jacksonville

I quit the Hokey Pokey Anonymous group because, well, I just didn't feel like turning myself around.

That's what it's all about.

_Jim from Jagsonville      _

Knowing we are building to (hopefully) something better, what would be the purpose of spending all our cap room in free agency this year? I understand looking for an upgrade, but a $20 million wide receiver isn't going to get us to the playoffs this year or next. I say slow down and let head coach and general manager build a roster that will get us closer, then go crazy in a few years. What say the great and powerful O-ster?

I say if signing a $20 million receiver brings the Jaguars a dynamic receiver who truly strains defenses and helps the entire offense – particularly quarterback Trevor Lawrence – then that would be cash and salary-cap space well spent. That would be true no matter the year, and the positive impact of such a player on Lawrence would make it worthwhile immediately. If that player isn't that sort of player, then it's not nearly as good a move. That's also true no matter the year.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Draft needs will come into sharper focus as free agent retentions and acquisitions happen. How far along in the 42-day window between the start of the NFL year and the draft do you think we will be before the front office can zero in on their draft boards?

The front office never will not focus on their draft boards, and the board will always focus on value more than needs. That said, the frenzy of the first wave of free agency typically subsides in two weeks or so. That leaves ample time for the front office to adjust any draft plans that depend on players acquired in free agency.

Patrick from Best Virginia

Hey O, I think we should overpay Cam and take a pass rusher and try anything possible to get Jordan Davis afterwards. I understand we have a lot of needs, but I just don't want us to gamble on another offensive tackle and would rather just be solid and take Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson. Thoughts?

I think if there's a player at the top of the draft that has no risk the Jaguars would be wise to take that player. I think those players are rare regardless of position.

Scott from Jacksonville

Don from Marshall is sooo naive. It is absolutely your fault. All of it.

Good eye.