JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Shawn from Jacksonville:
JO: I've come across a lot of media criticizing the Jags for getting Cody Kessler. However, what people are seeing is a rookie with moments of good play. He was injured last year and 2018 is just his third year. Other than the normal rookie mistakes and arm strength, what major issues do you see in Kessler's game?
John: I honestly can't imagine any knowledgeable media – or at least any media with perspective on the NFL – passionately criticizing the Jaguars for trading with the Cleveland Browns for Kessler this past week. It is an incredibly low-risk move because the Jaguars gave up a conditional seventh-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft; they don't lose the seventh-round selection unless Kessler makes the roster. I imagine the Jaguars will acquire another quarterback who will compete with Kessler for the backup position. From what I've seen of Kessler – not an incredible amount – he looks fine for a guy the Jaguars expect to be a reserve; nothing stood out to make me think it's an awful acquisition. My advice? Don't worry about this too much. It's not a franchise-altering move. My other advice? Don't waste a lot of time reading or worrying about what media who are worrying about this issue write or say.
Mike from Neptune Beach, FL:
Will there be a draft-day event scheduled at the stadium as in years past? Couldn't find anything on the website about it.
John: Stay tuned.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Can you recall a game in which Blake Bortles "put the team on his shoulders" in a come-from-behind, fourth-quarter, last-drive victory? I think that's what he needs to take it to the next level. He could have done that in the AFC Championship Game, but did not.
John: It's true Bortles has not engineered such a drive, and it's true the Jaguars had a chance to come from behind late in the AFC Championship Game loss to New England. It's also true Bortles threw an accurate pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook on fourth down on the Jaguars' final drive in that game that easily could have been a game-winning touchdown pass – or at least a drive-sustaining first down. He also threw a pass to Westbrook earlier on that drive that could have been a touchdown had Westbrook not slipped. Bortles also made big-time plays throughout the fourth quarter of a Divisional Playoff victory over Pittsburgh the week before; without any of those plays the Jaguars probably don't win that game. He also had several clutch plays during a critical third-quarter drive against Buffalo in an AFC Wild Card Playoff. None of this is to say Bortles has been a great come-from-behind quarterback. He hasn't yet. But the Jaguars in general were pretty bad in Bortles' first three seasons, and he made strides in his fourth season as the team improved around him. He needs to make more strides in some important areas, and yeah … putting the team a little more on his shoulders in big situations is definitely one of those areas.
Paul from Ipswich, UK:
With some media experts suggesting Odell Beckham Jr. would be a good fit in Jacksonville with Tom Coughlin to keep an eye on him, do you think it would be a worthwhile trade?
John: Reports are the New York Giants will need to be blown away by an offer to trade wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Speculation is that to blow the Giants away a team would need to offer two first-round draft selections. That would not be a worthwhile trade. It's also a trade I don't expect the Jaguars to make.
Dylan from Tulsa, OK:
Mr. O, you've spoken at length about what position the Jags are most likely going to draft in the first two or three rounds of the draft. What positions do you think we're least likely to draft? Probably corner and defensive end would be my guess, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
John: The Jaguars' free-agency approach has made this a tricky question. That's because the Jaguars used free agency to enable to them enter the draft with few obvious needs. They easily could draft guard, tight end, wide receiver. That's if they're predominately thinking about 2018 when they draft. But what if they're looking ahead to the 2019 offseason, when the salary cap could lead to parting ways with multiple front-line defensive players? Could the Jaguars draft a safety or defensive linemen early to develop for that scenario? It's possible. In light of that, the one position I would be most surprised to see the Jaguars select in the first two rounds of the '19 draft would be quarterback. I also would be surprised if they went left tackle, center or cornerback. Beyond that …
Ricky from Fairport, NY:
John: You mention the Jags will possibly draft a running back in the first four rounds. What type of running back do you believe they will be targeting and which player or players do you believe fits that bill that would still be available with the 93rd pick? (I would be surprised if they took another running back in the second after drafting one in the first last year).
John: I do believe the Jaguars could take a running back in the first four rounds. I believe that because the Jaguars are committed to the running game, which makes having a fourth running back to go with Fournette, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant makes sense. I could see this back being a complementary "every-down" back with an element of speed. While Grant is extremely fast, his size could make it difficult for him to play an every-down role if Fournette were injured. Players such as Kerryon Johnson of Auburn or Kalen Bailage of Arizona State or Royce Freeman of Oregon could make some sense.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Everybody wants to be tough but not too many want to do the work that makes them tough. It's hard to fool Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone.
John: I'm easily fooled. That's pretty much the only difference between me, Coughlin and Marrone and myself. Except for all of those other differences.
Ernest from Rockville, MD:
John, the footage of Allen Hurns crawling off the field should be mandatory viewing for the incoming draft class – and future draft classes, too. Lessons in grit and having a team-first mentality can all be learned from watching that footage. Even though Allen Hurns no longer plays for the Jaguars, if possible, one last one fer #88 now #17.
John: You're talking about the play late in a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers this past season on which former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns had the wherewithal to crawl from the field and save the Jaguars a timeout. The play allowed the Jaguars to force overtime and eventually beat the Chargers. Without Hurns' play, the Jaguars perhaps lose the game and perhaps miss the playoffs. As important to the play as grit and a team-first mentality was Hurns' awareness and football savvy. So, yeah … one fer Hurns.
JT from Orlando, FL:
A little late, but one fer Allen Hurns.
John: Big day for Hurns.
Vince from Jacksonville:
I don't understand the rationale for paying Corey Grant almost $3 million a year. The Jags hardly ever used him – much to the dismay of a large outcry of fans hoping they would. Do you think this signals that they plan to find creative ways to use him more in the offense as a change-of-pace back to Leonard Fournette? I would also think they have so much invested in running back that this would also indicate they won't be drafting a running back until at least after Round 3. What are your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that I've offered my thoughts on Grant quite a bit in the last few weeks, and that the thoughts haven't changed. I think the Jaguars are paying Grant $3 million next season because that was the cost of the tender they needed to place on Grant not to lose him, and I think the Jaguars are willing to pay Grant that because he's a very valuable player – particularly on special teams. They also saw in the AFC Championship Game what his speed can do to a defense – so I do think they will work to get him more involved in the offense next season. I don't believe that means Grant is going to be the top backup to Fournette and it doesn't change the fact that it's tricky to have Grant as your third-down back because of his pass-blocking struggles. I'm not sure when the Jaguars will select a running back, but I don't think paying Grant $3 million will influence their draft-day decision. The Jaguars clearly want to run heavily. Would it be so surprising to see them re-invest – and even overinvest – at the running back position?
Stribker from Dothan, AL:
John: "Blake doesn't care where to find me." Now that is one funny response.
John: Nothing's funnier than the truth.
O-Zone: True that
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Shawn from Jacksonville: