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O-Zone: Things naysayers do

INDIANAPOLIS – Last O-Zone from the 2015 Scouting Combine. Homeward bound.

Let's get to it …

Kyle from Ohio:
Obviously, this is the season of speculation. A lot of people would like to see us trade down with a team desperate to get a quarterback. How likely do you think it is that a team will want to trade up to our spot due to the lack of top-class quarterback draft prospects and the lack of quality quarterback free agents (assuming either Mariota or Winston is still on the board at our spot?)
John: The quarterback free-agency class doesn't factor into the equation; free-agent quarterback classes never are good, so there are no expectations around the league to get a quality player there. As far as how the quality of the draft class after a Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will influence trades, I don't know that it will have that much of an effect. The quarterbacks who draw high-profile trade interest are usually difference-makers and there are usually only a few of those anyway. The possibility of a trade almost certainly will depend on one factor: how much teams want Marcus Mariota. Will a team such as the Eagles and Browns decide he's worth giving away significant draft picks to get him? Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said Friday he believes there could be a real possibility of a trade. I lean towards, "No," but we'll see.
Mark from Green Bay:
Do you think Julius Thomas would be worth the price he is looking for? Do we want him?
John: I don't think many high-profile free agents are going to be "worth" what teams pay this offseason. That's because, as often is the case, there is going to be more than one team going after a relatively small number of perceived high-end players. So, if you want one of those guys you're probably going to overpay. I expect the Jaguars to overpay for one or two guys, and because of their cap space, that won't be a tragedy. As for Julius Thomas, yes, I expect the Jaguars to have interest. How intense that interest will be and how much they will pay remains to be seen.
Ken from Nashville, TN:
Does Maurice know that if a team wanted to trade up for the No. 2 quarterback in the draft that they would probably do so with Tennessee, who sits at No. 2, and not wait until the No. 3 pick to do so?
John: I don't know what Maurice knows, but it sure does fascinate me … I mean, really … you have no idea. As far as your scenario, I don't know about that. If the Titans really want a player that they believe the Jaguars also want – say, Leonard Williams – then they might not want to trade. Remember: teams are intrigued by trading down, but there's also the worry about losing a player they really covet.
Hunter from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on Amari Cooper? With Blackmon coming back, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, Marquise Lee and Cecil on free agency, do you think we should get Cooper? He is a guy that will take two defenders as well as Blackmon, a great duo. I would love to see Cooper on our team.
John: We're going to get a lot of questions about Amari Cooper at No. 3. I am sure of this because we already have gotten a lot of questions about Cooper at No. 3. I don't think the Jaguars will take Cooper or any other wide receiver at No. 3.
John from Jacksonville:
I have been so impressed and excited with most everything Shad Khan has done since Wayne Weaver introduced him as the new owner. What a find and decision that was by Weaver. I agree the transformation of the Shipyards could be amazing if it happens. My question is what is the motivation of an NFL owner to invest so much time and money in the city of Jacksonville outside of the Jaguars franchise itself? Are other NFL owners similarly invested in their city improvements or does our owner have a unique motivation/agenda outside of NFL franchise ownership that he has announced? Thanks.
John: Other owners certainly have invested in their cities, though it's safe to say that Khan's vision is on a scale grander than most. He has stated his reasoning for this pretty clearly: that what is good for downtown Jacksonville – and Jacksonville as a whole – is good for the Jaguars. The better the economy, and the more interest there is in Downtown Jacksonville, the better chance the Jaguars have of selling tickets and growing corporate sponsors – and those things matter very much to the health of a franchise. Also, Khan is not a dim man. If he's investing in the Shipyards he also believes it will earn money not only for the community, but for him and therefore the Jaguars. It's what some people call a "win-win."
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Pete Prisco is just "stirring the pot" with the Suh to Jacksonville talk. What the Jaguars need is to draft the next Ndamukong Suh. Could Leonard Williams be "the next Suh"? What's the buzz at the combine about Williams?
John: Thanks for interpreting Prisco's thoughts for me. I know him pretty well, and happen to know he usually believes what he says. What he says sometimes stirs pots, so that's enough Pete and pots. The buzz about Williams is he's uncommonly good and uncommonly versatile and that he might be the best player in the draft. Here's the thing about Suh and Williams. There's really no rule that says you couldn't play both in the same lineup. That would give you two really good defensive linemen. That's legal, though I doubt the Jaguars pursue Suh.
Paul from North Dakota:
If tight end Julius Thomas hits free agency should teams like the Jags be concerned of the Peyton Manning Effect when it comes to the production of certain skill players when they have Peyton Manning targeting them in his system versus a non-elite quarterback.
John: I understand this line of questioning, but I sort of wonder how much a Peyton Manning Effect really exists. I respect what he's done in his career as much as anyone, but there's not exactly a litany of examples of players who have been really good catching passes from him signing somewhere else and being awful. I absolutely would not expect Julius Thomas to have the numbers in Jacksonville he had in Denver. That's not realistic considering there's a second-year quarterback in Jacksonville and a Hall-of-Fame, all-time-great quarterback in Denver. But in free agency, you're looking for players to improve your talent level, and there's every indication Thomas would do just that.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
On the topic of "prove-yourself" contracts, the key there is having a great general manager. As you noted, "higher-profile" free agents won't go for them, but second-tier free agents will. That said, as we found out last year sometimes second-tier free agents are BETTER than so-called "top tier" ones. Even if we don't spend to the cap, but instead sign a lot of Sen'Derrick Marks-types, we win. Because if they prove they are top end, we still have cap room to pay them; if they bust, we don't lose out like we would if we "paid the man" and "the man" was a bust. The real question is will fans understand this come free agency when our general manager passes on "high profile" for what he feels are not only better options, but less risky ones in these kinds of picks?
John: First off, I don't believe David Caldwell will categorically pass on all high-profile free agents this offseason. I don't think he will sign as many as some pie-in-the-sky, sign-everyone proponents expect, but I believe the Jaguars will pursue some. Will fans understand? No. Fans gonna fan.
Kyle from Ohio:
In the world of hypotheticals, would you sign Suh if he hits the market, or is his cap hit and character issues enough to dissuade you.
John: You know what? As time goes on, and as I talk to more people at the combine, I have come around to this idea. I don't care all that much about the "character" issues; although Suh has had plenty of on-field/fine issues with the league, he has been remarkably reliable and if you're available to play, that's a very important thing in the NFL. That said, I doubt it happens.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
Many very smart people said Jacksonville could not support a "Town Center." A lot of smart people were proven VERY wrong. Jacksonville can support the "Shipyards." Mr. Khan will make sure it is something people across the region/the country will be talking about. Khanville ... has a nice ring to it.
John: Fans gonna fan. Naysayers gonna say nay. That's the way it is. And while I'm in no hurry to rename the city, the impact that Shad Khan has had – and will have – is pretty remarkable.

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