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O-Zone: Tricky, tricky, tricky

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Rich from Chicago, IL:
I heard Dave Caldwell's remarks after the opening of the league year and free agency. He talked about getting more tools around Blake Bortles. What I've seen so far doesn't indicate that. It appears we went for four defensive players. Wide receiver and running back had a plan, but they went to Green Bay and Philly. Should that send a signal for the upcoming draft that maybe the No. 3 pick might be a wide receiver and/or a running back in the second round? What's your take?
John: My take is you may have missed some of what Caldwell said this past week when discussing free agency. First, while he did speak of helping Blake Bortles, that doesn't just mean adding skill position players or offensive linemen. That also means improving the defense so the Jaguars aren't trying to win shootouts. Also, the plan was not to pursue a running back at the start of free agency. That opportunity presented itself with DeMarco Murray a few days into the parameter-setting period; the Jaguars made an offer, but that was not a primary goal. I think there's a better chance of a running back in the second round than a receiver at No. 3, but stay tuned.
Omar from Santa Ana, CA:
Hey, John, is there still a possibility of us drafting Leonard Williams if he's there at No. 3 now that we recently signed Jared Odrick?
John: Yes.
Tom from St. Augustine, FL:
I know it is easy to dismiss going after Trent Richardson. I disagree because the risk would be at worst minimal. Offer him an OPPORTUNITY no guarantees. The risk/reward is in our favor. He would not be the first running back/player to have the light go on later. Why do you not give him a chance?
John: I have received several emails regarding Richardson, and got several more after an answer late last week in which I essentially said Richardson had done little to separate himself from the pack since joining the NFL. People interpreted this as "dismissing" Richardson, which it was not. Here's what people are missing here, I think: people asking about signing Richardson are doing so based on his draft status and what they saw in college while at the University of Alabama. That's understandable. He was a dynamic player in college, and he is a familiar name to fans. All of that said, he has done nothing in the NFL to make a team consider him any differently than any number of reserve running backs in and out of the league. Maybe the light will go on. Maybe he will become a very good player. But maybe that's true of any number of available backs, too. As for your final question, why not give Richardson a chance? Because there are a bunch of backs already on the roster you believe are better.
Boyd from Maywood:
I'm a Sergio Brown fan. My son played football with him in Pop Warner and high school and I have been following his career. Will he be a starter for Jacksonville?
John: He'll have every opportunity.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
The last time drafted a defensive end from Florida in the first round it did not work out that well.
John: Another Dante Fowler, Jr.-Derrick Harvey email. I really hope this doesn't become an overriding "thing" in the O-Zone in the coming months. In 1994, the Washington Redskins drafted quarterback named Heath Shuler from the University of Tennessee in the top five. He never made it in the NFL. Four years later, another quarterback from Tennessee entered the NFL. That was Peyton Manning. I'm sure the Redskins wouldn't have minded taking him. Fowler from all reports is a very solid prospect with elite pass rushing potential who's a high-effort guy. Whatever happened with Derrick Harvey in the NFL has nothing to do with Fowler.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
Caldwell might believe a slot receiver is more important, but I will tell you now that we have no No. 1 WR on this roster. We have some great No. 2 and possession receivers but there is no legit No. 1-game- changing wide receiver. In my humble opinion that is the No. 1 need on offense currently. It is great we got a legit receiving tight end that can take some pressure off Bortles, but give the man some more weapons. Green-Beckham would be a steal if he makes it to the second round and is exactly what this team needs.
John: I agree that right now there is no No. 1 receiver, but I'm not as ready as you seem to be to declare Allen Robinson incapable of playing that role. That said, your scenario wouldn't be a complete shock. The Jaguars' roster is getting closer to the point of being able to draft best-available player after the first round, and Green-Beckham indeed may be the kind of talent worth taking in your scenario.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
I am ignorant of complications of changing positions in the NFL. However, there have been cornerbacks who have successfully transitioned to safety. With the signing of Davon House, what do you believe the future holds for Dwayne Gratz? I love his tackling ability. I've noticed that when he is not able to make a play on the ball, he will square up and take the receiver down. Is there a possibility he makes a switch to free safety?
John: Right now, there appear to be no such plans in the short term. This is still a move that would not surprise me very much in the long term.
Emil from Tallahassee, FL:
Does the re-signing of Austin Pastzor not count as depth along the interior? With the signing of Jermey Parnell it seems like Pasztor's days as a starter are over, and he began his career as a guard. I would think his versatility is a big reason the brass saw long-term potential in him.
John: I agree that Pasztor's versatility is very valuable. Seeing him at guard again wouldn't be surprising at all.
Gamble from Jacksonville:
I like Caldwell saying he always thought running back would be the last position to add. I also hope he was saying it to cool some fans' jets on taking a running back at the top of the second round. I think he wants to go pass rusher in the first round, and the BAP of what got passed over in the top of the second. If that is a runner, fine, but no forcing it. Plus this year's crop of backs is supposed to be fairly deep, yes? I'm sure you could find a quality ball carrier in the third or fourth anyway.
John: Caldwell said it because it reflected the reality of the NFL and the reality of the Jaguars' building process. The reality of the NFL is while running backs aren't exactly interchangeable it is one of the easiest positions to find, particularly as the rest of your team – i.e., quarterback – gets better. Another reality of the NFL is that the league takes a rapid physical toll on running backs; if the Jaguars had gotten a front-level starter at the spot in, say, 2013, he would now have two years' worth of hits on his body – and that's a large percentage of the hits for his career. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Jaguars went running back in the second round of next month's draft, but it wouldn't surprise me if they went another route. The position is simply not one that has to be drafted early to be filled.
Jon from Albuquerque, NM:
With all recent talk about the secondary and the next step with the free agent signing. any word on the recovery of Rashaad Reynolds? If my memory serves me right, I recall a kid with potential. This fan appreciates the work the staff puts in from miles and miles away. Keep up the good work.
John: The Jaguars liked Rashad Reynolds a lot last year in training camp and he had a chance to make the roster until sustaining a broken hand in late August. I've heard nothing to indicate that has changed, and I'd expect him to make a serious run at being on the roster next season.
Brandon from Louisville, KY:
Can you honestly remember so much excitement going into the next season than we are experiencing right now? I see fire and passion that I have not seen in a very long time and I love it! Go Jags
John: I do sense some excitement. I also sensed a lot of excitement the past two offseasons. This fan base is passionate and I think overall they have a good feeling about the direction of the franchise under Caldwell and Gus Bradley. Now, it's time to start rewarding that excitement with more victories and fewer losses.
Marco from Lima, Peru:
O, who do you think has a bigger change of playing another snap in the NFL, JaMarcus Russell or Tim Tebow?
John: Is this a trick question?

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