JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .
Charles from Bangalore, India:
I find all this free-agency discussion interesting, to say the least. I think all long-term Jag fans wince when we hear the words "free agency." Outside of a few successes on defense the last few years, it has pretty much been a bust since '99. Think Paup, Reggie White, Rison, Porter, to name a few. Am I just being negative here? Let's get on with building a new franchise through the draft. I really like this approach of bringing in talent at the right price. A fresh approach is certainly worth a shot.
John: You're right that historically free agency has been pretty much a bust, but that's hardly unique to this franchise. Although I struggle to recall the Reggie White-to-the-Jaguars signing, even the defensive successes of recent years were in retrospect relatively minimal. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny has worked out well, but beyond that you're hard-pressed to find a player who worked out well for the long haul, particularly considering the money spent. The approach David Caldwell is taking this offseason, while perhaps new to the Jaguars, is not in fact new at all. It has been used by a lot of stable, successful franchises for much of the last 15 years.
David from Mount Pleasant, SC:
I don't understand why general managers and head coaches don't understand the importance of offensive linemen. We only have one who is worth mentioning (Monroe). Why aren't we emphasizing this need early in the draft? If we took Fisher, Warmack, or Cooper, I think it would serve us well.
John: First off, since when do general managers and head coaches not understand the importance of offensive linemen? There are two offensive linemen projected in the Top 5, and left tackle is one of the most-valued positions in NFL draft rooms. Second off, who said the Jaguars aren't emphasizing the need? I could be wrong, but I doubt you've been in the draft meetings, and unless you have been speaking with David Caldwell, you have no idea what the team is emphasizing. Caldwell and Gus Bradley have said little to indicate the team's direction beyond saying there is a group of players the Jaguars are considering. Now, I personally don't believe they go offensive line at No. 2 because they have a left tackle (the one worth mentioning) and because it's difficult to take an offensive lineman in the Top 10 unless you take a left tackle. But even if the Jaguars don't take an offensive linemen at No. 2, that doesn't mean they're overlooking the line. The draft doesn't end after the first round.
Joseph from Statesboro, GA:
Are we going to see running backs slide more? It's probably the fastest way to get low (and safe) other than leading with your helmet.
John: Cancel my tickets! Cancel the season! They're ruining the game. Deep breaths, all. Deep breaths.
Thommy from Jacksonville:
Daryl Smith update, please. He's one of my favorite players in the NFL, I truly hope to see him in a Jags uni next season.
John: There remains a chance that could happen. The Jaguars took the approach from the start of free agency that they knew Smith would test the market, but that they hoped to be able to re-sign him at a price and length of contract that fit with their strategy of building the roster and being able to establish a young foundation. The longer he goes un-signed the better chance that happens.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
I'm a pocket-passer kind of guy, which means I'm not a Geno fan. However, before Gabbert, we drafted Byron, and we let a lot of good quarterbacks pass us by, Big Ben comes to mind, because we thought we had a franchise quarterback. If there is no clear-cut No. 2, and Geno is the best quarterback, shouldn't that be enough reason to draft him because the quarterback position far outweighs any other?
John: We're overthinking this a bit. You don't just blindly take a quarterback at No. 2 if you don't believe he'll end up as a long-term starter. If you project Smith or Matt Barkley as a career backup or a guy who will kick around and change teams after three or four seasons, then you can't take him at No. 2.
Nicholas from Kent, WA:
How does a player lower his shoulder without also lowering his head? Also, how many incorrect judgment calls as a result of knee-jerk reactions will it take to eliminate this rule?
John: There's a difference between lowering the shoulder and lowering the head to use it as the initial point of contact. This rule is essentially about eliminating the use of the crown of the helmet as a weapon. And as far as eliminating the rule, don't bet on it. The league is gearing toward safety, and the rule-makers believe this change makes the game safer.
Jason from Section 104:
If we were to draft Floyd in the first round he would be an immediate upgrade at the position. How would you see the competition playing out between Alualu, Mosley, and Miller? I just don't see Alualu being handed the job with Bradley loving competition like he does.
John: Well, no. No one will be handed a job. Miller is a pure run-stuffer, so he's going to play mostly on first and second down, and while Alualu has been limited with his knee issues in three seasons, he is more of an every-down player than Miller. Floyd is a three/five technique and also projects to be able to play the run and rush the passer, so you would probably see a pretty deep rotation at the position. Remember, defensive tackle probably rotates as much as any position in the NFL anyway, and in Bradley's system, you ideally have run-stuffing tackles on early downs and pass-oriented guys on later downs.
Dave from Atlantic Beach, FL:
"I wouldn't quite go so far as to say a general manager drafts a guy because 'there's just something about him.''' One word: Tebow.
John: Three words: I don't understand.
Johnny from East Palatka, FL:
Nice. The "omelet du fromage" is pretty obscure, but nice. Well played, sir.
John: I used to "get small."
Vincent from Bristol, CT:
I've noticed some young players in free agency that seem like good fits for the team, but it seems like the Jaguars aren't pursuing that many. Why? And can we really field enough quality through undrafted and picks to be middle of the division or am I rushing the process?
John: The Jaguars are building through the draft. The idea is to get down to a core of players who can compete for positions and begin the process of building. They are not going to invest any sort of significant money in free agents at this stage of the process.
Michael from Jacksonville:
During the 2012 preseason, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said of waiving Shipley, "Right now, we have a lot of good players at that position, and something had to be done." They finished last season with AJ Green, Andrew Hawkins, Marvin Jones, Brandon Tate, Ryan Whalen and Dane Sanzenbacher. Do you think in hindsight they wish they had been more patient with Shipley's injury?
John: I suppose they may have regretted it a bit, but probably not much. Shipley showed some production last season and deserves the chances he'll get to compete for a roster spot. That means he has a chance to earn a job, but it probably doesn't make him a player the Bengals are worrying about losing.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
In terms of value (age, ability, potential vs. cost), could any rebuilding team really hope for much better than Blackmon, Shorts and Shipley? Each of those receivers is young, has shown flashes of being able to play at a very high level and won't cost a lot of money over the next few years. Additionally, each of those receivers offers a slightly different skill-set that, when working together, appear to make a very comprehensive receiving corps.
John: The Jaguars have a nice trio at receiver with which to start building that position. It remains to be seen if either Shorts or Blackmon is a true No. 1, but each showed signs last season of being productive during his first significant playing time. That's just a start, but it's a good start.
Mike from Jacksonville:
I think the Jaguars may have genuine interest in Geno Smith, considering the team is not sure if it is set at quarterback. Sometimes, teams feign interest in a player in order to encourage others to jump ahead in the draft order, allowing a player they really want to fall to them.
John: This is the sort of cutting-edge, push-the-story-forward analysis that makes the Ozone a valuable learning tool for football people of all levels.
Mark from Waverly, IA:
When looking at the draft, I always think of the adage "comparing apples to oranges." Except, in this case, it's a whole fruit basket. Say there's a really good apple, like, the best apple you've seen in years. Perfectly ripened and ready to be eaten immediately, but you can find apples everywhere. Perhaps, they aren't as good as this particular apple, but still pretty good. Now, what if, in this metaphorical fruit basket, there's a kumquat? It's not great, heck, it might not even be very good, but it could be. With decent kumquats being hard to find, do you take that, or the apple? Or (some other fruit representing a different position. I'm just proud I spelled kumquat right before I looked it up! KUMQUAT!)?
John: Some days, I just feel tired.
O-Zone: Tired on a Monday
JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .
Charles from Bangalore, India: