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O-Zone: Time for a little love

PORTLAND, Ore. – All right, the secret's out. Thanks to Action News Brent Martineau's happy Twitter finger Wednesday morning, Jaguars followers know we're heading to NIKE this morning to check out the Jaguars' new uniforms.

Just so there's no misunderstanding, though:

Because of the nature of how these things work, information is embargoed until a later date (it's soon). That means no photos, no tweets, no hints, no nothing until the announcement date (it's soon).

We'll all see it all soon enough. (I'll just know a little sooner).

Let's get to it...

Mike from Jacksonville:
I thought they said competition for Gabbert would be happening. Nobody so far and don't see anybody left to challenge him seriously. This might be a "tell" that Geno Smith is on their radar.
John: Or it might not. Chad Henne is still on the roster, and there are seven rounds in the NFL Draft, not one. Competition for Gabbert will come from somewhere, and part of it likely will come in the draft. Just because there's not a free agent on the roster doesn't make that not the case. More than likely it means Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell is sticking to his plan and not signing someone just to make fans happy. That's a good thing. That's a very good thing.
Franklyn from Orange Park, FL:
I agree the ideal scenario is for the Jaguars to trade down. I'm remembering the Rivers-Manning draft where the Chargers took Eli and then immediately traded him away. If the trade negotiations are going on and the Jags feel that (Bills/Cards/whoever) are lowballing their offers, could we see something similar with Geno?
John: You could, but it's unlikely. There really aren't two quarterbacks at the top of the draft, and I doubt there would be the resistance to playing for a certain franchise from anyone at the top of the draft. That had a lot to do with the drama around Eli Manning in 2004. Also, with the rookie wage scale there's not as much to negotiate financially for even the earliest draft selections as there was nine years ago. Honestly, I believe there could be a trade, but I'd be surprised if they drafted Geno Smith then traded him away. The biggest reason for that may be that while Smith could go that high, there doesn't seem to be a clamoring and desperation to get him.
Dane from Jacksonville:
Can you explain the role of a slot receiver? My understanding is he is usually your No. 3 guy in the rotation, and is typically smaller, quicker and creates a speed mismatch for linebackers. A Florida Times-Union article this morning said Massaquoi will likely line up in the slot, which surprised me, because he doesn't really fit my "mental mold" of what a slot receiver should be.
John: A lot of teams have geared toward smaller, quicker player as the slot receiver lately, and the Jaguars have such a player in Jordan Shipley. That doesn't make it a "have-to" that the guy be a water bug. You also like to have more than one player and perhaps more than one body type at a certain position. Massaquoi said he can play both outside and slot, and I get the idea that he'll get a chance at both. Now, considering Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts are there, his earliest chance for extensive time may be the slot, so we may see him there more on the field if there's not an injury.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I've got to bring up the "Blame Gabbert" story. In all the interviews we have seen there seems to be no indication Blaine is like that. I'm sure you can't tell us if you noticed differently, so please nod once for "yes" or nod twice for "no, you haven't noticed a 'Blame.'" I'll take your answer off the air...thanks.
John: No need to nod, and no need for codes. I haven't seen it, and players I've talked to haven't seen it either. The cynics will say, "What else would he say?" I get that. Whatever. For whatever he has done or hasn't done, Gabbert hasn't shirked responsibility. So, there's that.
Stu from Buxton, UK:
I know we should take mock drafts lightly and as a bit of fun, but I am bit surprised at the number of mocks having us select Sharrif Floyd at no.2. I wouldn't say we were set at defensive tackle, but it's not as if we're short at the position with the free agents we've signed. I'm expecting that Caldwell will draft for need early and then look BAP later on in the draft, so I find it difficult to believe these 'experts' have us going for Floyd.
John: I'm going to repeat this, because some things bear repeating: Do not – REPEAT – do not attempt to associate the Jaguars' free-agency activity in recent weeks with what they may or may not do in the draft. Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks may be wonderful people and may turn out to be very good players, but they were signed to two- and one-year contracts, respectively. They will be competing for playing time and perhaps even roster positions. The player the Jaguars select at No. 2 will be on a four-year contract, and while he will need to compete like everyone else on the roster, there will be the expectation that he's a long-term core player. If he's not, that will be disappointing. David Caldwell may or may not take Sharrif Floyd at No. 2, but free agency has nothing to do with it.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
I have been watching a lot of the Jacksonville Sharks Arena Football lately. It is an extremely fast-paced game. The quarterback must read the defense very quickly. The quarterback and wide receiver must always be on the same page, know the exact route being run and have great timing chemistry between them. That got me thinking that practicing with the Arena players could help NFL players a good bit. Are there any rules against that or is that something the players themselves would have to decide to do?
John: If you're talking about playing in games, NFL players are under contracts that would prohibit from that unless teams put in wording allowing it. That almost certainly wouldn't happen – because of injury risk if nothing else.
Malachi from Lebec, CA:
I was wondering if you could provide a little more insight on your interest in Matt Barkley in the second round. I developed an aversion to USC quarterbacks over the years, considering the lack of NFL production they have provided at that position: Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez. All of them looked great in college, they all (with the exception of Cassel) seemed to have good draft hype and were a high draft pick. Barkley seems to have less hype and performance than the rest of them this last season. So I am just curious as to what it is specifically that makes you think he will break the USC quarterback mold and develop into a quality player.
John: Let's not overdo my "interest" in Matt Barkley. Someone asked a quarterback I might take in the second round if the Jaguars selected one there. I said, "Matt Barkley" because he has played in a big-time environment and has shown he can handle a lot of the periphery elements that a quarterback has to handle. He also has performed well at times. I also think Ryan Nassib has a lot of potential, and if Geno Smith is there in the second round, he makes sense, too. Unless it's an Andrew Luck talent, quarterback is a crapshoot, with quarterback of similar attributes having success and failure. From my chair, Barkley and Nassib look good. At the same time, my chair isn't anywhere near David Caldwell's office, something that is by design rather than accident.
Casey from Los Osos, CA:
How much can we expect this year's draft class (to include undrafted) to improve this team's competitiveness with respect to Indianapolis, Houston and other top teams?
John: Perhaps only a little at first. Rookies only do so much to improve competitiveness immediately. In the long run, as those rookies develop, they will be the key to the building process.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Do you believe David Caldwell and Gus Bradley would be comfortable going into the season with the starting linebackers being Poz, Geno, and Russell? Or do you see them addressing the position in the draft? If so, is there a round or a guy you could see as a good fit?
John: I don't think Bradley would use the word "comfortable" when talking about the starting lineup, ever. I think he particularly would dislike the word on April 10. That said, I think there's a good chance that's the opening-day lineup at linebacker. I don't see the Jaguars signing another linebacker in free agency who would be an obvious starter, and I doubt they'll draft the position on the first two days, either.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Let's see if you post this one, since that NEVER happens. Do you think teams look at possible undrafted free agent "prospects" before the draft? For instance, Sam McGuffie. A freak talent wise and possibly resume but apparently fragile and had a bad season at Michigan before transferring to Rice. Do they prepare for legitimate talent they know most likely won't get drafted because of one reason or another? You do a great job "JOHN," but you're going to have to post something of mine to get my love.
John: Yes, I think teams look at possible undrafted free-agent prospects before the draft. In fact, I know they do. Now, love me, Chris. Love me.

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