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O-Zone: What year is it?

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bob from Sumter, SC:
Watching interviews with the Jaguars' first four draft picks, I get the feeling this is a really confident and focused bunch. Not cocky or arrogant – just a sense they are not at all overwhelmed and a sense that they feel like they belong in the NFL.
John: I get that feeling, too – and although I got it a bit from Yannick Ngakoue and Sheldon Day during rookie orientation, I particularly got it from Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey. That makes sense, because both were highly-recruited players who excelled from the start at the collegiate level. They also throughout their athletics lives have been among the best players not only on their teams but on any field on which they played. They're hardly alone. Allen Robinson, Aaron Colvin, Telvin Smith … there are a slew of young players on this team who seem from their inner core to have believed they belonged at this level from the time they arrived in the NFL. That's good. That's how players are supposed to feel. Those things alone don't mean you're going to be a great team, but they don't hurt.
Motor City Al from Sterling, MI:
I know it's early, and there is a lot to be played out in camp, but does Jalen Ramsey have the skill set to be the backup punt returner? If not him, who on the roster do you like in that role at this point in May?
John: Jalen Ramsey absolutely has punt-returner skills. Whether or not the Jaguars would want to risk him returning punts remains to be seen. I could see Bryan Walters backing up Rashad Greene provided Walters makes the roster. If not, perhaps they would use Ramsey there in a pinch.
Bobby from Dodd Island, GA:
O-man, I'm surprised you've got Tyson Alualu in your answer about the D-Line. I have to think Malik Jackson, Jared Odrick, Sen'Derrick Marks, Dante Fowler Jr., Roy Miller, and Yannick Ngakoue are locks. Sheldon Day and Abry Jones are probably pretty close. That's eight guys and we usually keep 10 linemen. That leaves Alualu, Ryan Davis, Michael Bennett and the two late-round rookies fighting for two spots. Do you think Alualu is the safest of those remaining because of his size and ability against the run?
John: You're referring to an answer this week about the defensive line rotation. I don't know for sure if Alualu indeed is safe bet to make the roster, but those factors would be in his favor. His reliability helps, too. Remember, he never has missed an NFL game.
Sam from Orlando, FL:
If you take the (on paper) 2016 Jaguars and they played the 2015 season over again. What do you think in your semiprofessional opinion their record would be?
John: Eight and eight at worst, and maybe a bit better. I say that because I believe the defense will be at least a touch better on third downs and because I believe the offense will be more efficient.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
You mentioned the threesome of Khan/Caldwell/Bradley as having the foresight ... what about the real threesome of Oehser/Sexton/Shadrick? They brought us the square table, the, the, the...something, there must be something else.
John: Hold on, I'm checking.
Ron from Jacksonville:
I always thought with the salary pool for players it wouldn't matter if rosters had 100 people – that the money would be the same for the owners. The pool would just be spread thinner and individuals would get less money. What's the deal?
John: You're referring to my answer this week about adding a 54th roster spot for a developmental quarterback. A change such as that would affect individual player salaries and anything affecting player salaries is going to be an issue with the NFL Players Association.
Duke from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jaguars will keep three quarterbacks this year? I know the Jaguars have preferred not to "waste" a roster spot on a third quarterback, but I think it's important. With only two quarterbacks on the roster, you are only two injuries away from having virtually no chance of winning the game.
John: I think there's a fairly good chance the Jaguars keep three quarterbacks – Blake Bortles, Chad Henne and Brandon Allen – this season, but if they do it's not necessarily about increasing their chances in a particular game. Your chances of winning with a third quarterback aren't much better than with a position player filling in an emergency situation; at that point things already have gotten pretty chaotic. The idea of a third quarterback on your roster is to prevent him from being picked up by another team. If the Jaguars still like Allen in August as much as they do now, he definitely could be kept as a third guy.
Mateo from Orange Park, FL:
What do you think will be the Jags' top three needs in the 2017 NFL Draft? Any guys playing college ball now that you think could fill the need/want?
John: It's May 9, 2016.
Ryk from Fernandina Beach, FL:
The smoke and mirrors surrounding the Blake Bortles pick was the first indication of how closely Dave Caldwell holds his cards. Gus Bradley out on the field at Johnny Foosball's Pro Day was beautiful. I have no doubts that the scouts' write up on Manziel more than pointed to dangerous red flags about a 6-foot, 200-pound quarterback with attitude. Thank you, Dave.
John: Every organization in the NFL was well aware of the Johnny Manziel's red flags, the Jaguars very much included. Caldwell and the Jaguars scouted Manziel and liked a lot of things about him, but the Bortles selection wasn't about Manziel or any other players. It was about Bortles. Caldwell decided very definitely that Bortles was the Jaguars' franchise quarterback. So far, it appears he's right.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
How important is the Green Bay game this year? It could well be the most important because it will set a tone. Yeah, we might lose, but I think having a very competitive outing against one of the elite teams of the league is majorly important to getting this team some much-needed confidence it can win against good teams. Does that really impact the team or are they conditioned to be above all that?
John: The opener absolutely is the most important game in the history of football. Until Week 2. Then, Week 2 absolutely is the most important game in the history of football.
Alon from Malibu, CA:
Despite statements and your assumption that the Jaguars think they have someone in-house that will play center, I'm sure your inbox has shown continued concern over the Jags center situation. Do you see them trying to pick up additional help at guard or center in waiver or trade or just sticking with their players? I'm surprised the Jags are not pursuing Matt Slauso, an above average veteran at Center.
John: I can't control what people write in their emails. I can tell you I have heard nothing this offseason that makes me believe Brandon Linder won't start at center for the Jaguars next season. I've also heard nothing to indicate that the Jaguars believe they're deficient on the interior of the line. People can keep being surprised when the Jaguars don't pursue released offensive linemen this offseason, but those people won't include me.
Ed from Jacksonville:
With the draft over, what positions are the Jags looking to upgrade realistically via free agency/trade before the season starts? Are they looking for backups, special teams and camp bodies at this point (what positions or roles)?
John: All teams constantly monitor waived players and any other available players. I don't sense the Jaguars are concerned about any particular area over another.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
With all the talk about multiple looks on defense and the large influx of talent this offseason, I'm a bit confused by what to expect the corner, nickel and dime depth chart and playing time will likely look like for the Jaguars in 2016. Will you please discuss the roles that Jalen Ramsey, Davon House, Prince Amukamara, Aaron Colvin and whoever else is likely to make the 53-man roster will be asked to play?
John: This will play out once training camp begins and the team gets a real idea how well Ramsey is adapting. I could see House and Amukamara starting the opener with Ramsey playing a nickel role. If Ramsey wins the job, I'd see House and Ramsey starting with Amukamara at the nickel early in the season. Once Colvin returns from suspension I see him playing extensively in passing situations.
Will from Jacksonville:
Why doesn't the NFL go to a system where rookie contracts are set by draft position and it is a take-it-or-leave-it situation for the players? I think it would benefit both sides. NFL teams would guarantee no holdouts as players would have no other choice other than not to play. The players would benefit by not having to pay the services of an agent until down the road when their contract is up for negotiations.
John: I'll mention this.

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