JACKSONVILLE – Here's What We Learned from Thursday's Season-Ticket Holder Fan Forum at EverBank Field…
1.The Jaguars want Justin Blackmon back.Not that the Jaguars ever said or indicated anything to the contrary. Since the wide receiver was suspended indefinitely midway through last season, team officials have supported Blackmon and said they want what's best for his future, with off-field issues coming first. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan offered the same sentiment at the Super Bowl last week. While Blackmon's suspension remains indefinite, General Manager David Caldwell said Thursday, "Hopefully, at some point in time, he will back." Caldwell also said while league rules allow the team limited contact with Blackmon it's his understanding the No. 5 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft is doing well. "We're focusing on him and his health right now," Caldwell said.
2.Caldwell has done his homework.Caldwell's not namingnames, but he said before the forum Thursday he has a strong feel for who he considers the top players available in the May 8-10 NFL Draft. "We have a good idea who our Top 5 guys might be," he said.
3.As far as free agency …A lot can change in five weeks, but Caldwell said Thursday he likes the offensive and defensive linemen currently scheduled to hit free agency. Potential free agents can re-sign with their own teams, and many will, and teams will franchise players before the free-agency period begins March 11. But as it stands now, Caldwell said he likes players in the offensive and defensive line group. "Both of those are pretty solid," Caldwell said.
4.Denard Robinson will have a role.Caldwell on Thursday addressed running back Denard Robinson, who struggled with ball-security issues as a rookie last season – but who Caldwell said still very much fits into the Jaguars' future. "We're really optimistic about D-Rob," he said of the 2013 fifth-round draft selection. Caldwell said while Robinson is currently about 205 pounds he would like him around 215-to-220 "so he can finish runs."
5.Gus Bradley can "win the room."The Jaguars' head coach is a dynamic speaker. He inspires confidence and excitement. This isn't exactly news, but watch the archive of the forum on this site. It's worth the time.
6.A young core is starting to form …The 2013 draft class was a particular area of focus at the forum, with Caldwell referring to '13 first-round left tackle Luke Joeckel and second-round safety Johnathan Cyprien as "cornerstones." He also lauded third-round corner Dwayne Gratz, fourth-round wide receiver Sanders, Robinson, sixth-round safety Josh Evans and seventh-round cornerback Demetrius McCray.
7.Impact was made outside the draft class.Caldwell also spent time Thursday discussing young players who fit into the future. Rookie free-agent linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, rookie free-agent defensive end Abry Jones and linebacker John Lotulelei – acquired off waivers from Seattle – got particular attention.
8.The Jaguars really like Ace Sanders . . ."He really did a nice job," Bradley said of Sanders, who caught 51 passes for 484 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. "We figured out Ace's strength. I thought he did a nice job." Caldwell said Sanders, who lined up at various positions offensively including running back, will continue to play multiple roles.
9. ... And Demetrius McCray, too.McCray played sparingly as a rookie, but Bradley and Caldwell each mentioned his potential and athleticism throughout the fan-forum series. "Even though he didn't play as much, he has a really high upside," Bradley said.
10. There's a veteran core, too.Caldwell and Bradley spent the first season familiarizing themselves with the roster, and they mentioned areas and players about whom they felt good Thursday at the forum. Among the veterans mentioned: middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, offensive tackle Austin Pasztor, linebacker Geno Hayes, tight end Marcedes Lewis, cornerback Alan Ball, wide receiver Cecil Shorts III and defensive tackle Roy Miller.
11.Pasztor is the starting right tackle.The first-year veteran moved into the starting lineup at right tackle last season. As Caldwell and Bradley see it, he earned the chance to be there again next season.
12.Quarterback remains a focus …Caldwell had this to say about the possibility of a quarterback at No. 3 overall in the draft: "If a quarterback presents itself to take, then we're going to take him. But we can't sacrifice the future to reach for someone who may not be there. We hope through this process maybe one presents itself. I don't know that that's going to be with the third pick or in the sixth round. We just have to do what's right for this franchise—not just for next year, but for eight, nine, 10 years down the road.
13.Whoever the quarterback is, he must throw. Caldwell had this to say about what he wants from a quarterback: "The No. 1 thing a quarterback has to do is throw win with his arm. There are so many games in the NFL that you can't predict how it's going to start. You have to have a guy who can come back and win a game. In the last two minutes, you have to be able to throw. I don't know if that will ever be replaced by athleticism."
14.The London trip will be long.Bradley said the Jaguars likely will play a road game this season the week before the November 9 game against Dallas at Wembley Stadium in London. Likely opponents for that week would be Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia.
15.The Senior Bowl helped. Caldwell said a major benefit of the Jaguars coaching the Senior Bowl will be seen at the February 19-25 NFL Scouting Combine. Because the team already interviewed players at the Senior Bowl, Caldwell said the team will uses its 60 allotted combine interviews on juniors and other players with whom the staff is less familiar. Caldwell said while the team could interview highly-rated quarterbacks at the combine, those interviews also could take place at private workouts and/or Pro Days as the draft approach.
16.The Jaguars will be wise in free agency.Caldwell said the Jaguars will participate in free agent, but said their approach will continue to be prudent. "Our mindset always has been to spend, but spend wisely," Caldwell said. "We'll get some free agents. We'll fill some holes. Ideally, we'll get some guys who can start right away so our 10 draft picks don't have to come in and start right away. It's not the one who spends the most who wins the most."
17.The Henne effort will begin soon. Caldwell said re-signing quarterback Chad Henne before the start of free agency remains a focus. "We'll reach out to him relatively soon," he said.
18. MJD's return remains a possibility.Maurice Jones-Drew, who will enter his ninth season next season, is scheduled to become a free agent March 11. Caldwell said immediately after the season the plan is to allow the three-time Pro Bowl running back to test free agency, but that the team would be very much open to re-signing Jones-Drew. Caldwell said Thursday that hasn't changed. "We love Mojo," Caldwell said. "We've said all along we'd love to have him back. His representation and Mojo, they know how we feel about him. We just have to let this one play out and see where it takes is. Where the market is, you have to decide what a player is worth to your franchise. That's your price and that's what you're going to pay. Hopefully we get him back, but if we don't, we have to be prepared. And we will be prepared with some alternative moves."