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O-Zone: A considerable issue

Posted Mar 6, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Jason from Regina, Saskatchewan:
Do you think David Caldwell would offer a contract to Mack with a "poison pill" clause similar to what the Vikings did for Steve Hutchinson?
John: No. The league and payers union inserted language into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement essentially eliminating poison pills. Remember, the Vikings’ offer to Hutchinson in 2006 contained wording offering a higher guarantee if Hutchinson was not the highest-paid offensive lineman on the team. This prevented the Seahawks from matching the Vikings’ offer because of the presence of offensive tackle Walter Jones. The league correctly determined that this was outside the spirit of free agency.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Who will be the four starters in the secondary on opening day?
John: I’d project Dwayne Gratz at one cornerback and Johnathan Cyprien at one safety. Those are the easy ones; they’re second-year veterans, early draft selections and their play has merited them starting. The competition at the other safety between Winston Guy and Josh Evans will be worth watching, too, and though it will be close, I’d guess Evans would get the edge. The other corner will be the most intriguing position of the four. The Jaguars like Demetrius McCray a lot and it’s too early to rule out a name outside the team, but Alan Ball will be very difficult to replace there.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
Is the league's reinstatement of Brandon Browner a good sign for Justin Blackmon, or are the two completely unrelated?
John: They’re unrelated.
Ed from Jacksonville and Section 205:
Do you think the Jags are worried about the significant increase this year and coming years with the cap? It seems with more money that even fewer quality young players will hit the market. If you combine that with the 89 percent rule, will we be forced to overpay even more for aging free agents?
John: The Jaguars aren’t worried about it. Teams always can find ways to spend money, and the idea is to draft and acquire enough good players that it’s wise to reward them. But I do think former Colts, Panthers and Bills general manager Bill Polian on Wednesday put best the effect the increased cap likely will have. He said he expects the so-called middle class – the second-tier free agents – will benefit the most, so will some guys get overpaid? Sure. But that’s sort of always the case in free agency.
Steven from Jacksonville:
Normally I wouldn't write about a uniform, but football talk is tough sledding until the draft. Is there any chance the Jags can lose the two-tone helmet? The Bucs new lid is sweet! Both unis are awful but at least an all-black lid. Please have good news for me...
John: I have news, but you won’t think it’s great. The Jaguars won’t be changing their uniform or helmet for at least four years. Unless a team changes ownership, teams can only have a significant uniform change every five years.
Janarus from Orlando via Jacksonville:
Clowney should be at the top of the Jags board and I also believe Watkins should be No. 2. We've got to get value out of the pick and Watkins is the next best available player behind Clowney. We need game-changers at that pick and I don't believe ANY of these quarterbacks in this year's draft are franchise quarterbacks. No Cams or Lucks in this draft, so don't reach. Build our D, and wait for Winston. It'll be worth it.
John: I don’t know that the Jaguars are waiting for Winston, but it wouldn’t shock me if you were right about the board and not thinking any of this year’s quarterbacks are franchise-changers. David Caldwell certainly seems to be hinting about the latter part being the case, doesn’t he? He might take a quarterback, but it absolutely should shock no one if he didn’t.
Doun from Jacksonville:
OK, John. Forget about Caldwell, Bradley, and Khan. This is for you. Who would you like to see the Jaguars pick? I don't care who you think we will pick, because all anyone gets from that question is "all these players projected in the Top 15." You are now the Jerry Jones of this football team. Who is it?
John: I’d like to see Johnny Manziel. I don’t think he’ll be the pick and if I were immersed in the ins and outs of every first-round player, I’m sure I would find other players who could help the team more long-term. But as someone who writes about and follows the team … Johnny Football sure would be intriguing.
Michael from Ortiz:
I just want some of your super, expert, almost-ungodly insight on what positions the Jags would look to address in free agency, and what players or positions are worth breaking the bank for?
John: I think the Jaguars will look for interior offensive line and defensive end/tackle in free agency. I don’t see the Jaguars breaking the bank for anyone. Breaking the bank means overpaying for one player, and you don’t build long-term competitive franchises in the NFL doing that. If the Jaguars do pay big money for any position, I’d say it’s on the defensive line.
Christopher from Richmond, VA:
The combine and pro days seem to have the prospects jumping and falling very fast. How much value do teams get from watching the workouts? Do teams’ draft boards change as much as the media's? On a side note, the top of this year's class seems to be getting stronger by these workouts with Khalil Mack impressing. That third position is looking much better for trade bait or to pick up a great player.
John: You have keen eye, because the answer is, “No, no, no – teams’ draft boards do not change as much as the media’s.” Khalil Mack, for example, performed well at the combine. Had he not performed well there that would have raised a red flag, but he already was well-known by football personnel people. The concept of fast risers and fast fallers is largely a media creation, but hey – there are nearly four months of offseason before the draft. We need something to do.
Jim from St. Johns, FL:
Are our second-round plus fourth- and/or fifth-round picks enough to trade up into the bottom of the first round? I'd love to get Mack and then trade up to get Garoppolo.
John: Yes, some combination of those selections could get the Jaguars up to the bottom of the first round. In theory. What it would take depends on the team with which the Jaguars would be trading – and what teams around there believe the market will beat. A word of caution, though: I don’t know that the Jaguars are going to be willy-nilly dealing their later-round selections. This is a deep draft, and one reason the Jaguars are excited about having extra fourth- and fifth-round selections is they believe they can use those selections to get better in a lot of places around the roster. That’s not to say the Jaguars wouldn’t trade up, but it would take a player – perhaps a quarterback – they really like. It wouldn’t just be a casual thing.
James from Columbus:
Ok, so the team releases Uche Nwaneri because, as you put it, "because the team believes it can be better at the position." Why would they release a player before acquiring the player they believe will be better? That doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. It's sort of like quitting a job before you get a better job, because you believe you can get a better job. The wisdom of this move is lost on me.
John: The Jaguars released Nwaneri when they did because they are confident they want to go a different direction on the interior of the line. It’s not a case of, “I wonder if we should …” It’s a case of, “We definitely want to …”
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
You know what I like about Caldwell? His moves suggest he's not accepting "OK" play. Nwaneri's play the last couple of years seemed "OK." Instead of paying veterans big money for "OK" play, let's attempt to find another Austin Pasztor or Josh Evans and let them get their lumps on the field. Put me down as one fer giving your franchise a chance to find young, hungry players that can be great instead of paying "OK" veterans big money.
John: Hey, one fer not OK and get to finding young players … or something like that.
Jon from Palm Bay, FL:
Just read that Devin Hester will not be re-signed. Any chance we bring him in? He only made $1.8 million last year and even if he only gets 2-to-3 return touchdowns, he seems worth the price to add some electricity to a position we haven't had for years.
John: The Jaguars are trying to build through the draft. The exceptions to that approach likely will be significantly younger than Devin Hester.
Mike from Green Cove Springs, FL:
O-Man, Would you consider Boselli an offensive, non-sexy lineman?
John: I vastly prefer not to consider him at all.

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