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O-Zone: To the rescue

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Running back Travis Etienne isn't the only one who can line up wide and in the backfield. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. can take handoffs, too. He's built like a running back. What will the offense look like? Is running back James Robinson a mostly early-down running back? Is this sort of going to look like a modernized version of the old Houston Oilers run-and-shoot?

Precisely what the offense will look like will be among the fascinating storylines of 2021 Jaguars Training Camp and preseason. I would expect a lot of run-pass-option looks with heavy emphasis on the running game – particularly next season. It feels like coaches will emphasize the run to avoid undue early pressure on quarterback Trevor Lawrence to "carry" the offense. But while I don't expect the offense to be traditional under-the-center with straight handoffs to a tailback, I wouldn't expect a modernized version of the run-and-shoot; the run-and-shoot was heavily skewed to the pass with the run at times almost an afterthought. You're absolutely right on the versatility of Etienne and Shenault. I absolutely expect the offense will creatively use those two players in "outside-the-box" fashion, with Etienne lining up outside as well as at running back and Shenault lining up in the backfield in addition to lining up outside. That could be a calling card of the offense.

Sean from Jacksonville

Please, please, please tell me the team has kicked the Tim Tebow tires and has moved on. Seriously? A 33-year-old former quarterback who left football and then baseball. What's the story? I think my mother would be a better tight end.

The Jaguars worked out Tebow before the draft. I got the idea listening to Head Coach Urban Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke that signing him is very much a real possibility. I have received a lot of emails critical of this, but I don't know that there's much downside. Is it a long shot that a former quarterback could make it as a 33-year-old tight end? Sure. But if you sign him as a tight end and he is good enough to make the team, great. If he's not good enough to make the team and he therefore doesn't make the roster, you thank him and move on. Where's the harm?

Don from Marshall NC

It seemed to me that James O'Shaughnessy might be in play when it came time to draft a tight end. The guy could be a star player if he is healthy. Go Jaguars!

I would expect O'Shaughnessy will have a chance to play a very key role in the offense next season.

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

Hi, John. The draft has been around for what, 85 years? Through that time, there have been a seemingly endless list of first-round "busts." Now, some of that can be attributed to the players failing to survive the pressures of the pro game. Why do you think there are still first-round busts? I guess I'm just at sea when it comes to understanding why the first couple rounds of the draft are still considered a "crapshoot" and why need versus BAP is a conversation for the early rounds. Any thoughts?

There are draft "busts" in every professional sport. Why? Because this is real life and not a video game. Because the draft is about speculation and projection. Because you're dealing with young human beings. Because you're trying to project how young, still developing players will fare against grown, developed men. Perhaps the biggest reason there are NFL draft busts is because the college and professional games are different enough in terms size, strength and speed that the sports in some ways are practically different games. Busts are part of the draft, and they're not going away.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John, just a general draft question. Is there a difference in terms of value regarding a 2021 draft pick or a 2022 draft pick for the same round? For example, do teams evaluate future draft classes so that they say next year's class is better/worse and the pick has more value?

Yes. And yes.

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

If all our draft picks from this year and last year turn out to be good or great players, we won't be able to afford three-quarters of them. Also: if the first-round picks are great, they're not going to want to wait five years to get paid. So, it seems like having so many picks turns out to not be such a good thing. But I guess it gives you more room to screw up.

The issue you described is what scientists, linguists and football savants through years of research have determined as "a good problem to have." Pick good players, develop them, have them play well for you – then figure out who to pay and who to allow to leave. Nothing's ever bad about that.

Cliff from Orange Park, FL

You mention Bob Sanders as one of the best players you have covered. Wasn't he the Indianapolis Colts safety Fred Taylor left cleat marks all over as he headed to the end zone and even turned around to see if he was OK? Not a knock on Sanders, just a testimony to Fred.

No, that was not Sanders. That was Mike Doss. Different players. Dramatically different.

_Nathan from St Augustine, FL   _

I love the Etienne pick at No. 25. I see the Jags using him like the Saints do Alvin Kamara, and last I checked that's worked pretty well. Yes, we have James Robinson, but I don't think there is a rule where they can't be on the field at the same time. I love the versatility this offense has now! What say you?

I think anybody who has been paying attention knew Meyer and Baalke wanted to add speed and explosiveness to the offense this offseason, and it was evident leading to the draft they still considered it a priority. I said for weeks leading to the draft I thought two of the first five selections would be fast offensive skill players, and that I thought it was very possible one would be a running back. It was always possible that would happen at No. 25, and yes … I think the vision for Etienne is to use him similar to Kamara – i.e., a dynamic, all-over-the-field, multidimensional player who is a threat to score from anywhere.

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello, John. Are players allowed to wear nicknames on their shirts? Are players allowed to wear stage names on their shirts? It would be fun to see Travis with these three letters on his jersey: ETN

I suppose that would be fun. But no … players in the NFL are not permitted to wear their nicknames on their jerseys.

Bryce from Waterloo, IA

Tim Tebow would be a nice addition to the Jaguars tight-end room, on the practice squad.

We shall see.

Chris from Mandarin

All of what you say about projecting players in the draft and whether scouts or random shmoes know whether a player will be good or not is true. However, anyone could see from the start that drafting Taven Bryan where he was taken was a bad idea.

Jaguas defensive tackle Taven Bryan was generally considered a late first-round selection or early-second-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. He hasn't lived up to his draft status late in the first round, and there admittedly were fans/observers who questioned the selection immediately, but let's not paint this like it was absolutely ridiculous to select him late in Round 1.

Al from Orange Park, FL

Most years, rookies "hit a wall" late in the season due to their full year prior of college season and draft prep. Fortunately, a couple of our rookies will be well-rested. But, smart-butt comment aside, with the weird offseason, might that not help rookies across the board survive their first NFL season a bit better this year?

Opting out of their 2020 season indeed might help drafted rookies such as Stanford left tackle Walker Little and Southern California defensive tackle Jay Tufele be slightly less fatigued by season's end next season. But let's take a moment to address the "smart-butt" comment. I have received multiple emails criticizing or questioning the Jaguars for taking those two players. But remember: the Pac-12 season at one point had canceled its 2020 season. Because of that, multiple Pac-12 players began their draft preparation. By the time the conference decided to hold games, many players decided to continue their professional path. I suppose I would understand the discussion more if the players had simply selected not to play under normal circumstances. Given the circumstances as they played out, it's hard to blame the players for the course they chose.

Michael from Fountain, CO

Why is everyone stressing about TE? Tebow already came to the rescue. Now we just need to sign him.