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The nicest way possible

Let's get to it . . . Trey from Jacksonville:
Some very credible analyzers like Greg Cosell have predicted Michael Floyd to be a better NFL prospect than Blackmon. Do you agree and do you think Gene would pull the trigger on him at No. 7?
John: I've heard both sides, and from what I've heard Blackmon is a little safer bet to be a consistent long-term player. Floyd maybe has more upside, but at the same time you hear some concern that despite his speed he lacks some fluidity. And yeah, that's some pre-draft Scoutspeak for ya, there. The reality is what you have at the wide receiver position this year are a lot of guys who are projected to be good NFL players and no one who scouts believe will be dominant. As a result, a lot of analysts are breaking down the top guys and moving them around to try to find the dominant player.
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
Let's say Trent Richardson falls to the Jaguars at No. 7 and they can't trade down. If he is one of the top six players, then shouldn't they take him? MJD might not be happy but impact offensive players are the highest need on the team. If he is Marshawn Lynch then I am sure nobody will complain.
John: Everything that I hear is that no way is Richardson available at No. 7. I don't believe Cleveland or Tampa Bay would pass. That said, if he is available at No. 7 he does present a dilemma. There's no question he's an elite-level player and that if he's there he's probably the highest-rated guy. Few doubt he will be an impact player and nearly everyone believes he will be vastly superior to Marshawn Lynch. But do the Jaguars take a running back in the Top 10 of the draft, particularly considering your current roster? I just don't see it. As for how Jones-Drew would handle it, he and Fred Taylor co-existed.
Matt from St. Augustine, FL:
Any slim chance we will get muted video feed of the team's war room during the draft? Just thinking it would be pretty cool to see them getting excited when either Tannehill is selected ahead of us or the trade back goes through.
John: I can't see that as the draft is going on. In my position, I'm obviously all about transparency and taking the fans inside for the real experience, but I'm an old-fashioned guy, too. The war room is a sacred place on draft night, and I don't mind some secrecy there. We may, however, be able to post some video later right here on
Ron from Jacksonville:
It's going on five years. So, what is going to get the Indianapolis Colts to play in Jacksonville early in the season? Peyton is gone. The NFL doesn't need to protect him from the mean ol' heat anymore.
John: The Jaguars beat the Colts in Jacksonville on October 3 in 2010. It was the fourth game of the season. How early do you want them to play here? I honestly don't recall a whole lot of concern over the heat in Jacksonville when I covered the Colts. They often worried about the match-up because of Fred Taylor, and because there was a time the Jaguars could pressure Manning with four down linemen. The heat was a factor, but not as much of a factor as the Jaguars' players.
Tim from Edmond, OK:
You said no coin-flipping, but I want to test you. Reggie White, or Deion Sanders... if both were in their prime and you could only have one?
John: Reggie White. I take the guy who can pressure the quarterback because he makes all of the wide receivers less effective, not just one.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I've read something recently that I don't want to see and that's the eventual elimination of the kickoff. One, can they get this through the CBA and passed without the NFLPA demanding some sort of minimum roster limit? After all jobs are jobs even in football. Two, how many players do you figure the teams carry just for special teams?
John: I've read that, too, and while it's a distasteful thought as someone who grew up a fan of the game, it appears something that will get serious consideration in the not-too-distant future. I don't think getting it passed would be much of a Collective Bargaining Agreement issue because while it would eliminate some jobs, the NFL does have minimum rosters so it wouldn't reduce total jobs. As for the number of special teams players, most teams carry a kicker, a punter and a long snapper, so that's three. The other players we talk about as special-teams guys are typically backup players who also play special teams. Most teams carry one or two players who might not make the roster if they weren't good special teams players, though it's hard to get an accurate count because the players aren't listed as "special teams" specialists.
Casey from Kingsville, TX:
With the release of the 2012 schedule, which non-divisional away game would be the best to attend for the overall experience?
John: Green Bay. It's the obvious choice this season, but being obvious doesn't mean it's wrong. I've been to Lambeau Field only once for a game, and it's a special place for all of the reasons you'd think. The tradition and history of the game are palpable there, and it's also an intimate atmosphere despite being a modernized stadium. Getting a ticket's tough, but it's the best experience.
Collins from Atlantic Beach, FL:
In your article, "Good First Impressions" about Mike Mularkey's assessment of the first day of workouts, the last paragraph listed nine players that are limited or not participating. I was hoping they would be farther along in the recovery process. Do you have any indications of which ones of these nine will be ready to start in the first regular season game?
John: It's April. The regular season is nearly five months away. There is no indication that any of the players won't be ready for the regular season. Some could be limited in training camp, and there's no predicting the future, but it's not at all uncommon for players to be held out of practice in mid-April and participate fully in training camp.
Todd from La Jolla, CA:
"...but I strive for honesty as much as possible in this forum..." So there are times you are less than honest? Say it ain't so, O-man. My meager existence necessitates an honest, if at times misguided, opinion in the Zone.
John: I don't believe there are times I've been less than honest. What I was getting at is there may be times when I don't know all the details of an issue as well as I might like and in those times it's possible I can't get as close to the truth as I might like. That happens, because in an imperfect world your humble senior writer sometimes is imperfect, too. But as I said, I strive for honesty as much as possible. It's a daily effort, and one I take seriously – even if the tone of the O-Zone is sometimes quirky and self-deprecating.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
When does the team start to consider drafting MJD's replacement - or is Jones-Drew the last of his kind (every-down feature back) and will be replaced by a committee approach when the time comes like everyone else in the league?
John: You draft Jones-Drew's replacement when you start seeing a decline. When you see that, you draft a replacement if you find one or you do it by committee if you can't. It's not a position where you need a go-to, superstar to win in this era. If you can find one, that's great, but it's not as if you have to spend years looking for one, either.
Jason from Toronto, CA:
Among all the questions (and comments) that you have posted, I find it curious that you identified "John from Section 222"s question as silly. I'm interested in your reasoning for casually dismissing the suggestion of using weight restrictions as a safeguard for preventing injury. For example, would it be too burdensome to enforce, contrary to the tradition of football, have no impact on the quantity and severity of concussions, etc..? After all, many sports, albeit no team sports that I know of, do monitor weight classes. I doubt they do so because it's silly.
John: I in no way meant to imply that the weight-class question was the silliest question I've received. There's some intense competition there. And I indeed may have been too casual in dismissing the idea. Still, I don't see weight limitations in the future of the NFL. Where do you draw the line, and how would it be fair? Would you do it by position? Would you say a safety couldn't play at 240? What if he happened to be a big guy who was fast enough to play the position? Some players carry 320 pounds in a healthy fashion and some carry 300 pounds in an unhealthy fashion. It just doesn't seem something that makes a whole lot of sense, even upon reflection and even when giving the question more credence than I did before. Besides, most sports I can think of that monitor weight class do it for fairness of competition. That wouldn't seem to be the case with the NFL.
Rob from Middleburg, FL:
Is there anyone to petition to get rid of the awful throwback uniforms that continue to appear every year? Only a handful of teams have quality throwbacks; the rest are an eyesore. Did you see the uniform for the Steelers? UGLY.
John: Petition all you want, but the throwback concept means being able to produce throwback jerseys. Producing throwback jerseys means being able to sell throwback jerseys. Selling throwback jerseys means money for the league and you ain't going to petition away something that makes money for the league.
Andy from Jacksonville:
The Jags (5-11) face eight teams that won nine games or more on their schedule this year. The Patriots (13-3) face four teams with nine or more wins. Who makes up these schedules--Brady's mom?
John: The opponents are set by formula years in advance. The league can't control what divisions are up and down in a given year.
John from Elizabeth City, NC:
Can I ask why people think Gene only drafts small school guys? Last time I checked Alualu played for UCLA – a once-proud football school and Gabbert came from Mizzou, who lately has pushed OU for the conference.
John: Your point is well-taken and accurate. Gene Smith never has drafted a player in the first round from a small conference. But please know that I'm saying it in the nicest way possible when I tell you Tyson Alualu played for California-Berkeley.

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