SrA from Hurlburt Field, FL:
Does having a legendary position coach such as Jerry Sullivan affect the way a team looks at a player such as Stephen Hill? He's a kid with extraordinary measurables, but he seems to be extremely raw. Will a team be more likely to swing for the fences with a player if they have a special coach at said player's position?
John: It could influence how they see a player, although you still want to pursue players based on how you believe they project and not as much whether you think a certain coach can develop a guy. I'd look at having a coach such as Sullivan more as something that will help across the board. It could help just a bit in drawing a free agent, and it certainly will help the receivers currently on the roster with fundamentals and a consistent daily approach. How much would it help a rookie? If you listen to people around the NFL, it will help a rookie the same as it would help any receiver – quite a bit if the player is willing to listen.
Nick from Fleming Island, FL:
Who are the top three free agents you would like to see in Jacksonville? Mine are Marques Colston, Stevie Johnson and Mario Williams.
John: I like that list, too. Colston looks like more and more of a fit, and Williams obviously is a big-time player. I'm skeptical that Johnson will be available because I believe the Bills will re-sign him, but we'll see.
Justin S. from Utah:
Why was everyone talking about wrapping up the combine after Sunday? Is there no defensive love?
John: Many in the media wrap up the combine on Sunday because that's the last day of media access – and therefore the last day many in the media write about the combine. The combine continues on the field through Tuesday, and that's what you see on the NFL Network.
Spence from Utah:
At the No. 7 pick is Trent Richardson an option? I know it's not a need at all, but if we meet some needs in FA isn't it all about BAP.
John: He may be, especially if the Jaguars consider him the best available player, but I'm not hoping that's the direction. It's not a matter of need that makes me hesitant to take Richardson. It's the fact that it's simply hard to make a case for taking a running back that early in the draft these days. I'm just not sure it's a premium enough position anymore to merit it. The last two NFL rushing champions have played for teams that finished 6-10 and 5-11, respectively, and most playoff teams didn't have what you'd think of as premium running backs, with Houston and Denver a couple of notable exceptions.
Mike from Rochester, NY:
Why does everybody want to bring in a player to 'mentor' Gabbert? Isn't that why the Jags hired a QB coach?
John: Yes, it is. The mentoring thing is something that's talked about a lot and in most cases, has relatively little to do with reality.
Jordan from Muncie, IN:
The more I read into it, the more I think we're going to "shock" everyone with our seventh pick and select Melvin Ingram. Get Robert Mathis for situational downs, and pick up Harry Douglas, Chris Carr and Marques Colston in free agency.
John: Your scenario isn't certain to play out, of course, but it certainly is something you don't see a lot – i.e., a reasonable breakdown of what might happen in free agency. I like your scenario very much, and think it could play out pretty close to that by the time it all shakes out.
Michelle Elliott from Wausau, WI:
With the situation with Nate Collins, I am wondering if the Jags will continue to keep their clean image under new management. The Jags have always kept players with a "clean" reputation so as not to have any issues like Pittsburgh, NYJ, etc. – and thus a team that I am fine that my children support. I am just wondering what your feeling/vibe you've received on this is? Thank you.
John: Cleaner obviously is better. I think it's important to know all of the facts in a case, and I don't know that we know all of the facts with Nate Collins' situation yet. I'm also not a big believer in a zero-tolerance policy under which any misstep means cleaning out a locker. It's OK for a team to study a situation, learn the facts and decide a best course of action. You can't expect an NFL team to made up mostly of 24-to-34-year olds to be absolutely perfect, and indications are Collins' incident was relatively minor. One thing I wouldn't worry about is the Jaguars under General Manager Gene Smith becoming a team with a bad reputation. Character matters to Smith and overall, you're likely to have fewer off-field problems with his teams than most.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
Do you begin to worry about the future if Gabbert is still having problems with pocket presence and stepping into his throws at the end of next year? That it is the one area of risk in his development
John: If Gabbert has not progressed by the end of his second season, then, yes, obviously there is plenty of reason to worry.
J. Nightingale from Jacksonville:
I did see it as rude, but you have to admit I had a valid point. In years past we have spent money in free agency on players that were all-out busts. For example, Jerry Porter played 10 games in 2008 and caught 11 passes and we wasted over $10 million for his lack of production. I won't even bring up Hugh Douglas and what a waste he was since he has been brought up enough over the past few weeks. I'm just saying T.O averaged 906 receiving yards and seven touchdowns over his last two seasons. Our leading receivers over that time frame averaged 701 receiving yards. On a lighter note, I too vote for the 32-Day Mock Draft!!!
John: Glad for the vote. Looks like we're mocking starting next week. I won't cut you off quite so quickly today, but just because you've made mistakes in the past doesn't mean it's OK to make them in the future. I'm all for signing a free-agent wide receiver, but to sign Terrell Owens right now just isn't a direction the Jaguars are going to go.
Dave from Jacksonville and Section 412:
I agree strongly with J. Nightingale that we should get T.O. After all he did tear it up for the Allen Wranglers of the IFL last year! P.S. Sorry, but I don't have the sarcasm font on my laptop.
John: Careful, you're being rude, too.
Frank from St. Augustine, FL:
Blackmon didn't run the 40 because of a "hamstring" injury. Then why did he participate in the other drills if he had a bad hammy?
John: Not running at the combine Saturday would seem to be a decision by Justin Blackmon based on squeezing the best possible time out of his 40-yard dash. His time in that event could cause him to rise or fall several spots on draft day, so whatever the seriousness of his hamstring, it would make sense to do everything possible at the combine to show his athleticism and wait to run the 40 until he believes he can turn in his best time. I really don't get worked up over whether guys run the 40 at the combine or not. These guys have a right to do whatever is possible to improve their draft stock, and if that means missing one drill at the combine that doesn't ruin my weekend enough to worry much.
Bill from Jacksonville:
There are rumors swirling around Jacksonville sports radio that Shad Khan is not willing to spend big money in free agency. With what will be almost $50 million dollars in cap space, and major holes on this team, I certainly hope this isn't true. Have you heard this rumor? Can you dispel this? Please tell me that Shad isn't going to start off his ownership of the Jags this way. Go Jags!
John: I've heard the rumor. I've had a feeling from the beginning that the Jaguars might not be as active in free agency as many fans believe/hope – that's because with the $45 million in cap space, there was an immediate perception that the Jaguars were going to go after the two highest-profile receivers, the highest-profile defensive end, the highest-profile cornerback, the highest-profile backup offensive end defensive linemen and the highest-profile guy to fix the light bulbs around the stadium. It's not free-for-all time, and NO wise team looks at free agency that way. Khan is perfectly willing to spend money, and if you think he won't do whatever is necessary to win, you're wrong. If the smart approach in the NFL meant spending for every name player, he'd do that. That's not the smart approach. I absolutely believe the Jaguars will make moves to improve the team in free agency, but I also believe they will be smart about it. The idea is to get the best players, and even if you have a lot of cap space, if you wildly spend on guys that don't fit and don't perform, it doesn't matter how familiar the household name is in your household, you still get a mess on the field in the regular season.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
So, Gabbert is already getting a "rookie" pass on year two, too? Not too many rookies get fifteen real game practices. Do we have to watch the worst QB play in the league again for a whole season?
John: Breathe, Scott. Breathe . . . breathe. Good. Good.
Time for a deep breath
SrA from Hurlburt Field, FL: