We won't dwell on this topic forever, but today . . . well, we're pretty much all punter all the time. At least at first.
Let's get to it . . . Bryce from Algona, IA:
I am not upset with the Anger pick in the third round. Jags fans remember Matt Turk quite well. My only criticism is being told that Gene Smith is a true BAP guy. Are Jags fans to believe that a punter was the top guy on the board at that pick?
John: I honestly don't know why fans wouldn't believe that, though obviously there are some who don't. To believe that Bryan Anger wasn't the top guy on the board when he was selected 70th overall is to believe Smith was lying. Criticize Smith for many things if you want, but I just do not believe he's a liar. And in this case, I'm not sure what his incentive would be.
Brian from St. Augustine, FL and Section 410:
Does the drafting of Andre Branch signal the end of Kampman with the Jaguars? I'd like to see him get to camp and have a chance to keep his job, rather than cut him now. Will he make it to camp, O-Man?
John: I believe Kampman will be in camp, and don't know that Branch has much to with it. If Kampman is healthy, he is a veteran end capable of rushing the passer. You don't replace that with a rookie. For that reason, I think Kampman gets a chance to go to training camp and prove he's healthy.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Anyone mention that the fourth-round pick we gave up for Blackmon wouldn't have been available had a certain Jets quarterback decided he wanted to come to town?
John: It has been mentioned and it has been noted, and it's not insignificant.
Brett from Ocoee, FL:
I was very happy to hear Coach Sullivan express his interest in Cecil Shorts on the radio. I hope with his guidance, Shorts can be more than a practice superstar. I can't wait to see the new receiving corps in action.
John: I was unsurprised by Sullivan's comments. Shorts appeared very upbeat and accepting of coaching in the first mini-camp last week. No one outside the team questioned his ability last season, and Sullivan is just one reason it's fair to expect Shorts to improve.
Mick from New Castle, IN:
Help JagNation get past this third-round pick. Everyone relax, chill, mellow out, and hang loose. The object of the draft is to acquire football players to better your team. Punters are situational football players. So are most of the drafts picks after the 2nd round anyway.
John: I'm here to help. This, too, shall pass. So, fans are upset about a pick? I've covered 17 drafts now, and few have passed without fans being upset at a pick. I get the criticism, and it was an unorthodox selection, to say the least. My experience is that the selections that draw the most ire are often the best ones and vice-versa. We'll see if that's true here.
Gilbert from Dayton, OH:
Mayock's take: "That's an explosive kid off the edge. Let's give general manager Gene Smith some credit here, moving up to get his receiver in the first round and now getting a premier rusher off the edge in the second round." It sounds to me that some people are taking notice of the great work our personnel department is doing.
John: This went on for a bit, but it was the last email before the third-round selection. I thought I'd include it to show the silliness and the unreasonableness of many following the NFL Draft. The same people praising him one minute were criticizing him the next. That's the way of the NFL, but it also shows you why it'd be pointless for Smith to listen seriously to either side.
Scott from Jacksonville:
A punter in the third, John? Obviously a needs-based pick there, not BAP.
John: I disagree, and maybe there's just a disconnect after a long, long draft weekend. This not a defense of the pick as much as it is refuting that selecting Anger was needs-based. Nick Harris did a decent job last season and I never felt a desperate sense of need for punter this off-season. People may not believe that a punter should have been rated so high, but it seems to me the Jaguars saw a player they felt could make a difference and decided that although they had a functioning player there it was best to take him. That sounds very much like BAP to me.
Zhane from Section 408:
While I enjoy the draft process overall, I find it almost sickening listening to some of these draftniks. They make outrageous claims such as stating a certain player moved way up a team's draft board two days before the draft. I also find it rich that they constantly change their projections based on what's "leaked" from teams, but are often critical when a team makes a pick that doesn't line up with their boards.
John: It doesn't sicken me, because I know what draft coverage is. There is some credible information out there, but most draft talk is something between misdirection and lies. It's easy to criticize this pick or that pick because players take time to develop and by the time it's time to evaluate how this player or that player fared, we've moved on to the next year's draft.
Adam from Orlando, FL:
What was it like in the plane with Blackmon on the way here? Was he excited, shocked, chill, talkative?
John: It was a cool moment, and spending that time on the flight to Jacksonville with the draft pick is something I really enjoy. In answer to your second question, yes, no, yes and yes.
Sean from Jacksonville:
Hey O, days after a big event like the draft, you need to be posting your column before 10am. Just saying.
John: Hey, Sean. On the day after the big event, my alarm went off at 4:40 and I was boarding a plane at 5:30. The plane had no wifi and I flew about two hours or so each way and made it to EverBank around 11:30. Once at EverBank, there was a Justin Blackmon press conference, and we posted the O-Zone as soon as possible. I ain't complaining, but I, too, am just sayin'.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
The fire Gene Smith garbage is lighting up the message boards over the punter. It proves that no matter how good Gene does, there will always be "fans" that know more than our personnel people and want to fire everyone all the time. With free agency and the first three picks we now have no glaring weaknesses in all three phases. He has done a great job of increasing the quality of this team. Tell all the fire gene Smith people that they aren't wanted here.
John: General managers are amazingly popular when they do things fans like on draft day, and that usually means drafting players who have played well in major conferences in televised games. They are less popular when they do other things. There's more to it than that, but that is true.
Harvey from Jacksonville:
Last year, Nick Harris punted the ball 72 times over the course of eleven games. He had six games with a punt of at least 50 yards. During the 13 game Cal season last year, Anger had 11 games with a punt of at least 50 yards. In addition, over the course of four years Anger has 90 punts within the 20. Good pickup? I think so.
John: I can buy that.
David from Kingsland, GA:
Were you surprised that three running backs were taken in the first round and that Richardson was taken so high? Seems to go against the theory that running backs aren't worth spending top draft picks on. Personally I feel the NFL runs in cycles. As more and more teams gear up to stop the pass, the smart teams will try to exploit this by running the ball down their throats!
John: I don't buy it. The last two running backs in the first round, Doug Martin and David Wilson, were selected Nos. 31 and 32 overall. That's the first round, but just barely and a lot of teams haven't minded going running back there in recent years. As far as the Top 20, most teams still think that's too high for a back. Richardson was a rare exception and it remains to be seen if the decision to select him No. 3 was wise.
Will from Jacksonville:
Anger. What an ironic last name for the pick that has probably reversed the good feelings of yesterday's inbox. Be honest, you knew it wasn't going to last...
John: I strive for honesty, and I'll be as honest as I can here. I never worry when the in-box is angry, because it's my experience that especially when it comes to the draft, an angry in-box is not bad. That's because my experience is that the selections and acquisitions that are most disliked are often the best. Yes, there's that much of a disconnect between what fans want and what's best for a team. Did I enjoy the happiness following the Justin Blackmon pick? Sure, but it made me a bit uncomfortable, too. Now, I'm back in the pleasant, warm feeling of anger.