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View from the O-Zone: A little smoke, a few mirrors


JACKSONVILLE – And on the Friday before the 2017 NFL Draft, we learned …

Not a lot – as expected, and to no one's surprise.

The Jaguars held their 2017 pre-draft media luncheon at EverBank Field Friday. When it was over Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin had spoken. So had Head Coach Doug Marrone, and General Manager David Caldwell.

A lot of media had eaten some pretty tasty brownies, too.

What the media or anyone else watching didn't do Friday was learn how the Jaguars feel about Leonard Fournette or Deshaun Watson or Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas or Mitch Trubisky or a slew of other players linked to the team's No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Really, the day was summed up by Coughlin's thoughts on the aforementioned No. 4 selection:

"We feel like we're going to get a good football player."

That's obvious, and that's the nature of all-pre-draft luncheons – and all NFL pre-draft comments, really:

A little smoke. A few mirrors. And not a lot real.

Not that Friday was completely without information. We did learn:

*The Jaguars still haven't decided whether to exercise quarterback Blake Bortles' fifth-year option. The deadline for that is May 3, and Caldwell said there's no hurry on that front. Caldwell called the issue overrated, noting that the team's options regarding Bortles change little whether or not it exercises the option.

*Marrone didn't hear from Branden Albert before the veteran left tackle opted to not attend the beginning of the team's voluntary offseason activities this week. Albert, acquired in a trade with Miami in March, reportedly opted not to attend because he wants to renegotiate his contract. "I don't know what his thoughts are going forward," Marrone said, adding of the offseason program. "Obviously, it's voluntary."

*Marrone said he has heard from tight end Marcedes Lewis, who also has not yet reported to the offseason program. Marrone said Lewis is dealing with personal issues and it's his understanding the team's most tenured player plans to report as soon as possible.

Coughlin on Friday touched on the idea of trading down from No. 4, offering the obligatory thought that such a trade is "always a consideration."

"You just have to be ready for that," he said.

Aside from that, Friday's event did offer a few hints into how things are going around the Jaguars in this offseason of transition.

Marrone, who had the interim tag removed from his title in January, talked about his decision to change the assignments in the Jaguars' locker room, saying the move was about building team chemistry. Marrone also outlined what he wants in players.

"Big, strong, fast, tough and smart," he said, and he wasn't joking.

Caldwell and Coughlin both said the draft evaluation process has gone smoothly in their first season working together. Caldwell has been the final Jaguars' draft-day decision-maker the past four years. That role now will be filled by Coughlin, but Coughlin said consensus typically has been reached.

"It's been a very good exchange throughout all of the preparations," Coughlin said. "Lots of things have been discussed, and by and large we've agreed on the assessment of the players – with the exception of one or two. It's been good. It's been positive."

As has been the case this offseason whenever Caldwell, Marrone or Coughlin have spoken, urgency to win – sooner, not later – quickly emerged as the day's theme. This has been the theme since Marrone and Coughlin were introduced, and Caldwell reiterated it on Friday when answering a question about how veteran contracts might allow draft-day decisions with an eye on the future.

"We've got to win this year," Caldwell said told a group of writers, and – like Marrone earlier – he wasn't joking, either.

Coughlin shortly thereafter talked to the same group of writers about learned while a head coach that sometimes you had to play young players – even rookies – to let them display their talent. Moments later he was asked about the level of patience needed to allow young players – pass rushers, in this instance – to develop.

"Patience is not a very good word in this business," Coughlin said.

Images from Friday's pre-draft luncheon featuring Tom Coughlin, Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell.

And if you know anything about Coughlin, you know for sure he wasn't joking.

What does the 2017 win-now approach mean for the draft?

Does it mean the No. 4 selection absolutely must start as a rookie, perhaps minimizing the chance of a defensive end such as Allen or Thomas? Does it mean there's no way the Jaguars would take a quarterback such as Watson or Trubisky, theory being that it will be tough for a rookie quarterback in this class to make an immediate impact?

Does it point to Fournette, theory being a running back can play at a high level quickly?

Theories will abound on all fronts in the coming days. That's what the next week will be about, and we'll learn for sure sometime around 9 p.m. Thursday. What did we learn about it Friday?

Not a lot, really – as expected, and to no one's surprise.

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