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O-Zone: High school memories

Posted Apr 15, 2013

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . .

David from Durban, South Africa:
Surely, we have two candidates for the Leo position in veteran Jason Babin and second-year player Andre Branch. I get nervous about drafting a 245-pound defensive end with the No. 2 pick. If we are going to select a defensive end, then surely Ziggy is the better option. If not a defensive end, why is no one talking about Star Lotulelei as a possible pick now that his medical issues have been resolved?
John: You’re right to be nervous about a light defensive end. You’d also be right to be nervous about an end with nine career starts, or a cornerback in a draft slot that traditionally doesn’t take those positions. You’d be right to be nervous about ANY of the top draft selections. That’s exactly why there’s no consensus about the Jaguars’ selection at No. 2. As far as Lotulelei, it does seem strange he’s getting no mention for the Jaguars at No. 2. It’s quite possible that the reason he’s not is teams have clammed up a bit since the combine. Teams may be talking more about him behind closed doors – and of course, stop calling me Shirley.
Sonny from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Is Russell Allen an underrated player and someone who has yet to hit his ceiling?
John: I don’t know exactly where Allen is “rated,” over, under or otherwise. I also don’t know if it’s right to say he hasn’t yet hit his ceiling. Allen is an undrafted player who has carved out a niche as a high-level special teams player, a very good backup and a very reliable player when starting. He is a professional and has played far better than many would have thought possible coming into the NFL. I guess what I’m trying to say is he’s a good NFL football player, however you rate him and whatever his ceiling.
Mike from St. Mary’s, GA:
Silly question, but what would it hurt if Caldwell actually said who his top two candidates are? Are they afraid some team will take desperate measures to get in front of the Jags and take one of the guys (possibly the one graded 0.00001 higher)?
John: It’s actually not a silly question, and I had to think a while on it. Probably, there would be very little real harm in it and it probably wouldn’t change anything if Caldwell took out a billboard on I-95 advertising his two choices. At the same time, there’s not any harm in not saying it, either. Ten days remain until the draft. While I don’t anticipate Caldwell changing his mind, if something should happen – a freak injury, an off-field issue unearthed – to a player at the top of the draft, it’s probably better to not have committed to a player. Basically, NFL types believe in a little intrigue before the draft, and that’s OK. It adds to the fun.
The Chief from Duval County:
I like the decision-makers we have in place, and think great things will come with patience. But how many years will Bradley get with an "in-progress" roster, before it's expected to be playoff caliber? At what point does the focus shift from the roster, to the coaching?
John: I think the measure is more “improvement” than “when will they make the playoffs.” If you see real progress this season and next, then the playoffs are a reasonable expectation the year after that. If you see real progress this season, then expectations will be high next season. That said, the Jaguars aren’t thinking that way. They want to improve constantly, and if they do, the postseason will take care of itself.
Dee from New York, NY:
I WANNA ROCK!
John: OK.
Jerry from Tamarac, FL:
I found your reasoning for core players enlightening. Whenever I thought of core players, I thought of them as long-time true Pro-Bowl caliber players. The definition of solid long-time starters brings the concept of a foundation more true to the element. However, you must be able to get a few seasons for other players with Pro Bowl type years I believe.
John: We’re both probably right. My answer about what makes a core player was more about the reality of what happens on the field – good players sometimes go unnoticed. I worded it as I did in an effort to take the emphasis off of the “Pro Bowl” recognition because a player can play at a very high level and miss the Pro Bowl for any number of reasons. Let’s make no mistake, though: you have to have some core players playing at a high level. If they’re named to the Pro Bowl, then so much the better.
Amata from Marshall Islands:
Based on the answers you've been giving about the uniforms, you are not saying much. At least answer this? Will the color scheme be different from previous uniforms, i.e. more gold and less teal?
John: The new uniforms will be . . . WAIT. Who’s that at the door? What’s that? Who are you? What are do—
Jeremiah from Jacksonville Beach:
My only issue with the NFL is the league sells itself as the consummate team game. Yet, teams that don't have elite quarterbacks can't win consistently. If it is such a team game, how do the Colts go from perennially winning 10-to-14 games a year to crap because of one player? Yes, I know he's one of the all-time greats. I just wish there wasn't so much emphasis on one position. I know it won't change. I still love it, though.
John: A myth about the Colts is it was Peyton Manning and nothing else. By the time he got hurt in 2011, the roster had aged and needed to rebuild. Manning’s injury exposed some developing flaws, but overall I have trouble arguing much about your points. It’s a quarterback’s league. If you don’t have one, it’s very, very difficult.
Darius from Jacksonville:
Will the Jags try to help on offense or defense?
John: Almost certainly.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
We need a lot of help in all areas, this being the first draft of the Caldwell era do you think he will be conservative in his first pick?
John: I’m never quite sure what conservative means with the draft. I think David Caldwell will take the player he believes has the best chance to help the Jaguars for the longest. I do believe the Caldwell will generally try to make sure that player is one who will have a long-term value. You don’t want to miss in the first round. But scouting is about gathering as much information as you can on a player. That encompasses many, many things and it should include chances about whether a player will make it or miss. Once you have a player you want, select him. I don’t know if that’s conservative or not, but I believe Caldwell will have done the research and that he’ll make a selection who he believes will contribute for a long time.
Ed from Jacksonville:
I think fans will stick with a team when they truly believe they are committed to winning, even if they don't win. I think that's always been the case here even though the result has not been. Bandwagon prospects are waiting for a winning season to jump on. They are afraid to commit without a hope of a winning season. Agree?
John: I do agree. I think that’s why the people who are saying the Jaguars need to sign veterans and win now at any cost are off-base. The fans should and will stick with this team this season whatever the results so long as they get an idea that the structure is right and things are improving. Overall, I imagine that’s what you’ll see. That’s why it has a chance to be an interesting year.
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
Think Elway's assumption no impact players are coming out of the first round in this year’s draft is a bit pretentious?
John: I don’t think it’s pretentious, though it’s probably incorrect. To think that not one of the 32 players in the first round will be an impact player is hard to believe. Still, from the perspective of a general manager drafting players, it’s certainly fair to say this year’s draft lacks an obvious, can’t-miss player. That makes it a draft that you don’t mind not having an early selection.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
I cannot believe you answered a question that was essentially, "Do you think a team needs a good quarterback?" There really wasn't anything better? I'm disappointed in myself and fellow readers that's the best we could come up with.
John: I can’t imagine how disappointed you must be now.
Zach from Wisconsin:
Only few more weeks! Let's get excited! Not for the draft of course but for the new uniforms. How do you think they will go over with the fans?
John: I think they’ll go over like the new logo went over – and like any change goes over. Some will like them, some will not. Most of those who don’t will get used to them and like them in time.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
John Oehser isn't cool. I don't like him...
John: You must have gone to my high school.

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