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O-Zone: What a mess

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Aaron from White Hall, AR:
I know bringing in Tom Coughlin is about "win now," but I hope it keeps looking the way it does now. Let Blake Bortles play this year. If he plays great, then: good, we are OK. If not, draft a quarterback in the 2018 class, which is supposed to be loaded compared to this year's draft. Since Blake's my guy, here's guessing he plays up to his potential.
John: I do believe that's how it will play out – at least in part because that's how circumstances will dictate it plays out. Bortles appears likely to start next season, because it's hard to envision the Jaguars drafting a quarterback who will be more ready than Bortles to play at a high level next season. Also, Tom Coughlin and fellow Jaguars higher-ups David Caldwell and Doug Marrone continually have talked about the 2017 season in the context of Bortles reducing mistakes and improving around Bortles to allow the young quarterback to play better. We won't really know the Jaguars' direction in this area until the draft. If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in Round 1 says "Deshaun Watson" immediately after saying "the Jaguars select," then all of this discussion changes dramatically. I don't expect that to be the case.
Tom from Loughborough, England:
John: offensive lineman, quarterback or other in the second round? Which do you feel is more likely?
John: I typically steer clear of predicting the draft after Round 1 because it is by its nature a crap-shoot. There are hundreds of players multiplied by multiple positions, so your chances of being even remotely correct are so low as to essentially be guessing. Still, we're a month from the draft, so we're close enough for generalities. I think there's a chance the Jaguars could select a quarterback in Round 2 this year – if they have identified someone who could start in 2018 or beyond and at least have a chance of developing into a player who could play sometime in 2017 if absolutely necessary. If there's not such a quarterback, then sure … guard or center makes sense, with guard more likely.
Frankie from London, UK:
Hey John! Good stuff with Dante. I'm looking forward to seeing this "less-aggressive" monster that has been "working on his technique." We all know he has the physical attributes to succeed, but temperament and technique seemed to be missing. My question is regarding Allen Robinson. I know he didn't hit the same numbers in 2016 than 2015, but do you think he has an argument of being one of the most underrated wide receivers in the division? His numbers weren't helped by poor officiating (so much pass interference) as well as being specially targeted by opposition defenders.
John: I don't really know how to judge where Robinson is "rated" against the rest of the AFC South wide receivers, but I suppose he's as good as any outside DeAndre Hopkins and T.Y. Hilton. Either way, this is a big year for him. He showed the potential of being a very good NFL wide receiver in 2015. He needed to improve as a route-runner last season, and he said he did. It didn't translate into numbers for a number of reasons. Bortles' struggles, being targeted by defenders and some questionable officiating were among those reasons. But Robinson also had his share of drops last season, and I doubt he played as well as he hoped overall. Robinson showed real signs in 2015 of possibly developing into a real No. 1 receiver in the NFL. That's rarified air he hasn't yet reached. Can he reach it in 2017? That's a big storyline around this team.
Mark from College Park, MD:
Can you give an update on the NFLPA inquiries on Tom Coughlin's emails?
John: This is an issue reported by Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union Friday. According to O'Halloran, Coughlin sent emails to several Jaguars players under contract requesting that they return to Jacksonville for physical examinations earlier this month. The NFL Players Association according to O'Halloran is investigating the matter to determine if it is a violation of the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Brian from Duval:
How many offensive linemen do you expect the Jags to draft?
John: Two.
Jon from Brentwood, UK:
John, with MoJo rating Joe Mixon the No. 1 running back (ahead of Dalvin Cook and then Leonard Fournette) do you think there is any place for him in the discussions around the Jags' first-round pick?
John: Where Maurice Jones-Drew ranks a player obviously has no bearing on who the Jaguars will take when or where. I don't have access to the Jaguars' draft board, and I don't anticipate that changing in the next 32 days, so what I can tell you about former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is this: I don't see him involved in the conversation for the Jaguars or any team in the Top 10 or 20. That's just too early considering his well-documented incident at Oklahoma. After that, it will be up to an individual team to determine if Mixon's talent is worth the surrounding story – and to determine his character and value separate from his well-publicized off-field incident. I've said before that my approach is to separate off-field from football, so I rarely have issues with teams that draft players with issues in their past. And I wouldn't have a problem if the Jaguars drafted Mixon. I simply see the NFL as a business – and if a player is legally allowed to work, I don't have a problem with him being hired to play football. Many disagree with this, and there are people who would be vehemently against bringing him to Jacksonville. I understand those feelings. What I don't know, and what I doubt we'll know until draft day, is how the Jaguars specifically feel about Mixon. The Jaguars typically don't discuss individual players before the draft, and I don't anticipate them changing the approach. I know Caldwell long has said he believes it OK to bring in players who aren't choirboys, so it's very possible that there is a round in the draft when the team would consider selecting Mixon. We'll see.
Dave from Duval:
I know this is completely far-fetched and unrealistic. But hypothetically speaking, if Tom Coughlin considers quarterback the biggest need (upgrade) for the team like everyone else thinks – and if he does like a quarterback at No. 4 (which coincides potentially a great place to find one) – wouldn't the best thing to do at this point is give the impression that he has no intention of taking a quarterback and that we have a starter?
John: Yes.
Carter from Jacksonville:
I saw a report recently that said the Jags have 12 draft picks in this year's draft. How many picks do they currently have?
John: The Jaguars have eight selections in the 2017 NFL Draft: one in Rounds 1-6 and two in Round 7. They received the extra seventh-round selection from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for tight end Julius Thomas.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Johnny, Zone … I know fans are gonna fan, but c'mon: if it was up to the masses we would have cut Blake, Poz, Marqise, TJ, Ivory, Parnell, Cann, Dante, Jason Myers and many others. If all these people had their way, all that would be left is Tinker to Shadrick to Oehser (which was a great double-play combination), but not the roster we want. Let the talent develop. Not all will be stars, but I bet some will shine a long time, and I personally think Bortles will be one of them.
John: OK.
Dimejag from jags4life forum:
Hey man, I have a question about the Jaguars. If I specifically tell you that it makes me mad when people call me a hater, and then you go ahead and title that day's O-Zone column, "Hater Boy," does that mean you're intentionally trying to make me mad? It sure seems like it!! Don't push me, four-eyes. … Me and my friends know A LOT about the NFL, and we're pretty much world-class evaluators of talent, and incredibly skilled at offensive and defensive scheme creation, and player development. And, just FYI, we now have a pretty awesome plan in place to execute a hostile takeover of the Jaguars by the midseason point of 2017. If the team is not 6-2 or better at that point in time. So, let this serve as a warning to anyone who doubts me. … If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could ever imagine!!
John: That would be awesome.
Greg from Jacksonville:
Not to sound like a jerk, but when a person starts with "I was watching a highlight reel," you know what comes next is going to be a mess. Of course every player looks strong, fast, agile, versatile, etc. in highlight reels.
John: Not to sound like a jerk, but based on recent correspondence with "Dimejag from jags4life forum," it might be said the phrase "I was watching a highlight reel" is far from the only one in this forum that foretells "a mess."

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