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O-Zone: Upon us

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Rob from Jacksonville:
You say mock drafts don't influence teams' picks. I imagine a time when there were no mock drafts, no "insider reports," no 24-hour news cycle. It was only up to teams watching tape and visiting schools. Would Josh Allen still be a Top 5 candidate? In other words ... has the hype altered reality?
John: I am struck by what seems like a late rush of anger, annoyance and disbelief by many readers over the idea that quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming might be the No. 1 overall selection by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft. Accompanying that anger, disbelief and annoyance it seems is a need for people to figure out why in the world a player so "undeserving" is poised to become the first player selected. The reason is simple: everything about him physically – size, arm strength, style of play – literally drips prototype NFL quarterback. He is physically gifted to a striking degree at a position where players with such obvious gifts come along more rarely than you would think. That is what has altered the "reality" and allowed Allen to be highly regarded despite less-than-stellar college statistics. In 1990, long before the days of the 24-hour news cycle, a quarterback catapulted seemingly from nowhere to be the No. 1 selection in the draft. That was Jeff George, who – like Allen – was a phenomenally gifted, prototype passer. George was a good NFL quarterback who never reached elite status. That story doesn't mean Allen will follow George's career path; quarterbacking success is difficult enough to predict that it's equally possible Allen could be worlds better than George or worlds worse. It does mean that teams falling in love with prototypical traits at the quarterback position is nothing new and has nothing to do with modern technology.
Alan from Jacksonville:
It would make no sense to pick up Dante Fowler Jr.'s fifth-year option. Right now he's a good-but-not-great player; $14.2 million is great-player money. Let him play out the year and then offer him a contract that's in line with his performance ... done.
John: OK.
Jay from Beulaville:
When do teams finally have their "big board" of players prepared? Is it something they are constantly tweaking until the draft goes live or have they pretty much already created their board and it is what it is?
John: This answer varies depending on the people running the draft at each individual team. Teams typically get the draft board set a couple of weeks in advance. There is some tweaking that goes on after that, but it's best to keep those tweaks to a minimum. At some point you must set your board and go with it. Don't out-think yourself with second guessing.
Paul from Jacksonville:
One thing this team did really well in the last couple of drafts or so is matching value, need and fit. I don't know who the Jaguars will pick at No. 29, but I expect it will be someone who will contribute early, if not immediately. I also won't be surprised if our pick is someone the experts expected to be off the boards by 29, but somehow ended up there through the quirks of the draft. Finally, I expect Jerell will complain. #DTWD
John: #DTWD
Zac from Gainesville, FL:
What position/player at that position is your dark horse for the 29th pick? I'm tempted to say defensive line but am more inclined to say safety, maybe Ronnie Harrison from Alabama. I believe offensive line is the most likely selection.
John: I'd call any defensive player a dark horse, with few possibilities darker than any other. But let's go with Taven Bryan of Florida or Da'Ron Payne of Alabama. If either of those players slide, the value of a defensive tackle at No. 29 could be too good to pass up.
Silly Max from Tucson, AZ:
Gold with black spots, Connor. Teal is for the outline around your face, under your eyes and tip of your nose. #DuvallWorldWide
John: I almost always spell Tucson with the "s and c" reversed first. I just did it when writing the last sentence, then corrected it when it came up with a red line underneath. I wonder sometimes if I am the only person who does this. I doubt I am, but don't know for certain. This lack of knowledge frustrates me. Then I realize I don't care because Microsoft Word isn't going away any time soon. Then I move on.
Tucker from Nashville, TN:
I came up with a bold idea to trade Fowler for a quarterback and everybody got butt hurt. Why? Because quarterback. Will it happen on Thursday? Probably not. People don't like anybody being bold.
John: My butt has not hurt in the last couple of days.
Chris from Columbia, SC:
What do you think Fowler's worth would be in terms of a 2018 draft pick? Would it be likely to couple Fowler with our late-round pick to move up and take McGlinchey or someone higher up on our board? How many spots in the draft do you think such a trade could merit?
John: I think Fowler's worth would be comparatively low. Not that he's not a good player, but a team trading for Fowler would need to quickly figure whether to apply the fifth-year option – and then relatively quickly need to decide whether to try to re-sign him to a long-term deal. That means a team trading for Fowler could essentially trade to have him one season. That could drive down the value. So, you might be able to move up a few spots, but it might not be enough to merit giving up Fowler.
David from Jacksonville:
I totally agree with the idea Jags should and will go offensive line at 29. But Will Hernandez from UTEP at guard is a little too one-dimensional, and so is Isaiah Wynn from Georgia. So, who? James Daniels from Iowa is an athletic, smart center who can probably play all three line positions. I think he is the best overall lineman in the draft. Need plus best player available. SEC lovers ignore the Big 10 at their peril! Bonus prediction: Jags Round 5: Tegray Scales, Indiana U., middle linebacker.
John: OK.
Roger from London, England:
Hi John. Wondering what you think a successful 2018 season would look like for the Jaguars? After finishing 3-13 in 2016, you thought 8-8 would be a good result for 2017, and we exceeded this with 10-6 and AFC South champions. So how about 2018? Would less than 10-6 be regarded as slipping backwards? I'm mostly keen to make postseason, preferably as AFC South champions again, but the division looks a lot more competitive this season. Thanks.
John: I'm a big believer that making the postseason means a successful season in the NFL, particularly for a franchise that hadn't been to the playoffs in 10 years before last season. I'm well aware that the goal for this team is the Super Bowl and that many people will consider anything less a failure. As for me, I would consider a successful season a division championship and/or advancing to the Divisional Playoff. That makes you one of the best eight teams in the NFL, and it's hard to consider that a failure.
Gabriel from Leominster, MA:
Do you know when the new Jaguars uniforms will be available for the public to buy? I really would love to buy a Black Bortles Jersey!
John: Any minute now. Maybe already.
JJ from Jagsonville:
O-Zoni-O How come there always must be one very good player that so many people want to get rid of?
John: It indeed is an amazing trend. It's also a trend that conveniently ignores the fact that the NFL is a violent game in which injuries often are the rule rather than the exception – and that players at many positions don't play every snap of every game. It's fine to look at a depth chart and want to trade a player who doesn't appear at the top of a position. What's even better is having a good player who can play at a high level when a "starter" is injured or otherwise out of a game. Here's the big picture on Fowler: he's a good player who was an important part of the defense last season. He figures to be important to the defense next season. And while there are a few things that make trading him make sense – particularly that his contract could be up after this season – those same things could work to make him less appealing for another team at the present time.
Smart Shopper at the Outlets at St. Augustine:
What's all this talk about the uniforms? I went out in March and bought a bunch of new jerseys; they were on sale. If they changed to different jerseys I am going to be mad. I also bought a new swimsuit for the pools. #jagsspeedo #jagsshield4ever
John: The 2018 NFL Draft is a few hours away.

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