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View from the O-Zone: Priming the Combine pump


INDIANAPOLIS – We're going a bit off schedule today, and that's OK.

It's also by necessity, because in this View from the O-Zone we prime the pump for the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine – and priming the pump has little to do with official schedules. Besides, when it came to pertinent Jaguars stuff on Combine Day One, the official media schedule offered the following …

Offensive linemen …

And tight ends …

And kickers, punters and long snappers …

There is nothing inherently wrong with those positions, but if you're Jaguars-centric you're probably not discussing them when discussing the 2015 NFL Draft.

But, "Wait!" you say. What about offensive linemen? And tight ends? Are those not legitimate – even urgent – Jaguars topics this offseason?"

Indeed they are, and indeed there are very few positions that aren't going to be discussed this offseason by Jaguars followers. This is a key offseason, one in which the Jaguars are expected to be major players, particularly in free agency.

And while the Jaguars have improved their roster the past two offseasons they haven't improved it to the point where very many positions – outside quarterback – aren't worth discussing when speculating about high-profile acquisitions.

And make no mistake:

Free agency and the draft – and the chatter that goes with each – is what this week is about for pretty much everyone filling hotels, restaurants and hallways during this this strikingly cold week in downtown Indianapolis.

The more than 900 media gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium this week will be pontificating, projecting and predicting about the April 30-May 2 NFL Draft. There are 322 prospects here, each adhering to a tiring schedule that includes on-field workouts, medical examinations, interviews with teams and interviews with media. Different position groups participate on different schedules in an event that grows bigger by the year, and this year is again bigger than anyone working in the NFL a couple of decades ago ever could have imagined.

We'll cover the event on with stories, interviews and live broadcasts. We'll talk to prospects, Jaguars coaches and officials as well as national media and draft analysts.

There will be much pre-draft talk, and much speculating from media types. There will be a lot of coaches and personnel types speaking vaguely, as was the case Wednesday when Buccaneers and Titans officials spoke in general terms about the No. 1 and 2 selections in the draft and how those selections relate to quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston.

They were vague, because pre-draft talk is a time for vagueness.

And yes, pretty much the same thing can be said about the upcoming free-agency period.

Free agency begins March 10, which makes it the next major event on the NFL calendar. Because of that, free-agency talk is practically as prominent as draft talk this week, with specifics as rare.

On Wednesday, general managers and coaches all around the NFL spoke to the media, with many talking about being close to contracts with pending free agents, and nearly all saying they believe high-profile free agents would return to their teams.

Most probably will return to their teams. Some won't.

Time will determine the specifics.

That time wasn't Wednesday and it won't be at the combine. Specifics are rare here, and they will be rare when Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley speaks at noon Thursday and General Manager David Caldwell speaks at noon Friday. And again, that's OK.

It leaves us to pontificate and speculate, which is convenient considering that's what everyone else is doing here.

And it's also why we're steering clear of talking tight ends and offensive linemen on this first day of media access to players. The guess here is the Jaguars look for those positions in free agency or later in the draft, but not with the No. 3 overall selection.

As for the rest of the week, topics will be many. Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers talk Thursday. Winston and Mariota will be storylines – and their interviews will create major surges in #Drafttwitter timelines. Wide receiver? While doubtful for the Jaguars at No. 3, Amari Cooper and Kevin White are worth discussing. Which brings us to Friday …

Ah, yes, Friday …

Defensive linemen and linebackers talk Friday, which means Leonard Williams; Randy Gregory; Shane Ray; Dante Fowler, Jr. …

Just about everyone doing a mock draft has the Jaguars taking one of those players, so as far as we at are concerned …

Well, if speculating, projecting and pontificating are your thing, that's a big day.

So, yes, sit back and relax and enjoy. If you love the offseason, and if you're not looking for specifics, this week is the beginning of a time that promises to be a whole lot of fun. It's also a time that promises to get more enjoyable as it goes on, and that promises to contain more pontificating, projecting and predicting by the day.

And we haven't even started talking trade.

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