O-Zone: Told you so

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brian from Round Rock, TX

I've read that the game has changed. You can find the new breed of non-traditional quarterbacks pretty easy. You plug them in and play them cheap on the first contract, then find a new one. You invest the money in other positions. Apparently, that's the new way. I guess you didn't get the memo.

I got the memo, and the approach you describe indeed is evolving as an NFL school of thought – that you can plug and play young “non-traditional” quarterbacks by drafting them, developing them, then releasing them after five years. The idea is by paying quarterbacks on a rookie contract you can afford the rest of the roster to be more expensive and therefore stronger. At that point a team could start the process over. It’s a nice theory, and it seems as if it’s an approach some teams will try in the coming seasons. The Baltimore Ravens appear poised to do this with quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the rest of the NFL undoubtedly will watch closely. And the struggles in recent seasons of the Green Bay Packers despite the presence of franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers on some level supports the theory that this non-traditional, churn-the-young-quarterback approach could work. Still, if I had to choose between the approaches, I would choose having – and paying – a franchise quarterback and fitting parts around him. It still gives you a chance entering every season. Bottom line: If a memo comes along that tells me Rodgers or Brees is available, I’m reading – and responding to – that memo in a hurry.

Phil from Woodmere, NY

How good of a prospect would Kyler Murray be if he were the right size? I feel like if he were 6-feet-3, 230 pounds with the same production and talent, he would be the clear-cut first overall pick and probably the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck or even Michael Vick. Is his size THAT important? Aren’t we all just body-shaming the man?

Let’s not put Vick as a player or prospect in the elite category. He was exciting, but not elite. As far Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray… yes, if he were 6-3, 230, he would be a safer prospect. He also would be a better prospect. He in fact almost certainly would be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. But he’s not 6-3, 230 pounds. So, he’s not a sure thing for No. 1 overall. That’s how it is. Size matters.

Lance from Lebanon, TN

O-man! Maybe you and Brian from Gainesville missed the Sugar Bowl game earlier this year. You know, the one where that Big 12 team manhandled that SEC team. Hook’em!

Fair.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Let’s get a Tannehill bridge. That way if the kid isn’t the guy there is a possibility that the bridge could end up being the guy and we have a decent competition. What you think?

I think Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the bridge quarterback with a rookie draft selection is one of the scenarios that could happen for the Jaguars next season.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

Draft Murray. He’s a Day One starter ... at Offensive Weapon.

OK.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

How did Myles Jack perform his first year at middle linebacker? Is there any desire to put him at weak-side linebacker or do they feel comfortable with him in the middle?

Jack did fine at middle linebacker this past season. He wasn’t at the level of former middle linebacker Paul Posluszny in terms of getting teammates lined up in proper spots and defenses called, but that wouldn’t have been a reasonable expectation in Jack’s first season in the role. And remember: Posluszny only played about 30 percent of plays the previous season; Jack played the position in nickel situations and outside in passing situations. Was there a difference from one year to the next? Probably. Was the difference monumental? Probably not. Either way, I don’t sense any rush to move Jack to the weak side – and the only way that’s likely to happen is if the team parts ways with weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith.

Crash from Section 148

May the bridges I burn light my way.

You go, girl.

Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

Hey O-Zone what's up? How come Daniel Jones isn't getting the same hype as Murray and Dwayne Haskins? I feel like he deserves more respect he didn't have that much to work with at Duke. What are your thoughts of the Jags drafting him?

I think Jones will be considered a solid Top 10 possibility by the time of the 2019 NFL Draft in late April, and I don’t think it’s out of the question the Jaguars draft him at No. 7 overall. While the buzz around him is quiet now, my sense is that won’t be the case for long.

Sam from Winter Park, FL

While I understand toting the company line, Jacksonville has been bad at drafting for most of their existence. It's comical the talent they've missed out on. In my humble opinion, I just don't think you are completely grasping the amount of missed out on talent.

You suppose there are people who tote the company line, but most people I know who partake in such a thing “tow” it. I’m not one of those people, and the Jaguars as a rule don’t tell me what to say about the team or how to say it. I do grasp the amount of talent the Jaguars have missed on in recent drafts. I grasp the frustration. But what are the Jaguars supposed to do about it? Mourn? Stop trying? Fold? Scout, draft, develop and move forward.

David from Maplewood, NJ

John, there are more than a few examples of quarterbacks developing later in their careers; see Rich Gannon, Jim Plunkett, Vinny Testaverde. Just want to be on record that Blake Bortles’ name will eventually be added to that list. It won't be for my team, which sucks and I wish circumstances – yes, circumstances – would have allowed it to be possible but a wise man once said, "You can't always get what you want." Character matters.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Bortles finds his way into a starting position with some NFL team in the future, and I agree that circumstances didn’t help Bortles during his time with the Jaguars. Will he eventually turn into a Super Bowl winner, Most Valuable Player or even an elite quarterback? That’s hard to imagine, but we’ll see.

Andy from St. Augustine, FL

So apparently Jesse from Layton doesn't like to do much work either. In his list of Top 10 drafted quarterbacks, he made it seem like the only ones worth drafting (or too early to tell) were the ones he listed - not true. I went through the same list and there are 21 players that have made it (multiple pro bowl selections) or it's too early to tell. There are 10 that the jury is still out on (Jesse included Jared Goff, but didn't include Carson Wentz from the same draft), including all four from last year’s draft - not just Baker Mayfield. There are a couple who have had mixed results (Tannehill, Sam Bradford) and there are 11 true draft busts (including three Jags, the most from any single team). That's a success rate of 67 percent - much higher than quarterbacks taken outside the top ten, or in later rounds. I'm not smart enough to know if Murray will be a success in the NFL, but I'd sure be willing to take a shot at a game-changing player.

You’re referring to a recent O-Zone question in which Jesse from Layton made the case that selecting a quarterback in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft hardly guarantees finding an elite quarterback – and that many, in fact, bust. He’s right. You make the point that the success rate for finding a big-time quarterback is higher in the Top 10 than outside the Top 10. You’re right, too. None of that has anything to do with whether Murray will be a success in the NFL, and it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a hit-or-miss prospect.

Jon from Ocala, FL

Hi O, could you envision a scenario where the Jags sign Nick Foles, keep Bortles as the backup, maybe on a restructured contract, and draft a developmental quarterback in the second/third round?

No, I do not foresee a scenario in which Bortles plays for the Jaguars next season.

Ralph from Jacksonville

John, I wish I was smart enough or knew enough to be able to predict the right path for the Jags next quarterback. Since I am not, I plan to follow the usual path and complain if the front office gets it wrong and say "I told you so" if they get it right.

Considering the unknowns involved and the difficulty any team has selecting a franchise quarterback, I’m not sure any approach makes more sense than this.

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