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O-Zone: Bare necessities

Posted Feb 26, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

Brian from Atlanta, GA:
I didn't know we needed the combine to know Jadeveon Clowney is big and explosive. I've never seen anyone immediately stand up and give up on a running play that isn't going his direction as fast as Clowney. It's also interesting to see how many of his 13 sacks from 2012 came when the quarterback was pushed out of the pocket by the rush from the opposite side while Clowney hadn't taken any more ground than the tackle had given to him. His measureables are intense, but whenever I see him play, it doesn't match what I've heard about him. What am I missing?
John: Perhaps not much. I saw Clowney play in person one time. That was when I took my son to the South Carolina-Wisconsin Citrus Bowl last month. On the plays I watched, I saw at times the same thing. I don’t pretend to have watched all of his games, and he undoubtedly has made great plays, but consistency and effort is a question that scouts and general managers are asking. But you know what? Because of his talent, he’ll still be a Top 5 selection, so those questions? He’ll have ample time and opportunity to answer them.
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Faster is obviously better. But how much difference does 0.4 seconds over 40 yards matter if you're a quarterback who rarely runs 40 yards?
John: Very little.
Paul from Grimsby, England:
Why do you think Warren Sapp has said he is ashamed to watch Clowney's game tapes? Have some of his games been that bad? If so, why is he still so highly rated for the draft? Speed is great, strength is great, but surely you want someone who will apply those things to the game each and every down.
John: When I was covering college basketball, someone asked an assistant coach why someone would recruit Allen Iverson considering he had had some well-publicized off-court problems. The assistant replied, “Well, he’s really good.” The questioner said again, “But he’s had a *lot* of problems.” The assistant coach replied, “Well, he’s *really, really* good.” I’m not comparing Clowney to Iverson in terms of off-field issues, but if you’re asking why he’s going to get drafted early when some are questioning his effort in college, the answer is he’s *really, really* good.
Bucky from Freakville:
In regards to quarterback prospects, do you think skill set or best fit is the way to go?
John: Skill set.
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
You covered Bob Sanders in your time with the Colts. It seemed like there were 10 of him on the field, since he was always around the ball. Like Troy Polamalu, he was an extremely disruptive force of nature. Could you make a convincing case that Bob Sanders belongs in the Hall of Fame?
John: No. I thought Sanders was as good as any safety of his era for a short time when healthy, and had he stayed healthy, I have no doubt he would have had a chance to be in the Hall of Fame. But he really only had two seasons – 2005 and 2007 – when he played enough to have what would be called a full season. He also had the 2006 postseason. During those stretches he was off-the-charts good, but he never remained healthy enough to be considered an all-time great.
Tim from Jacksonville:
I expect a deal with Henne will be reached in the near future. Do you think the final numbers in the contract could be revealing in any way of the Jaguars’ plans at quarterback in the draft? While they may have an idea you never know what scenario good or bad could come your way.
John: No. I think the numbers in Henne’s contract will reflect that Henne is one of the top backups in the NFL who can start if the team doesn’t have a franchise quarterback. I think the Jaguars will do what they do in the draft whatever happens with Henne.
Robert from Orange Park, FL:
I'm starting to fall in love with Khalil Mack out of Buffalo. He may not have played in a top conference, but he is a game-changer off the edge. An ideal scenario would be if we can trade back and take him with say the sixth or seventh selection. His stock should continue to rise, so I wouldn't be surprised if he is taken ahead of Clowney.
John: I’d be a little surprised if he’s taken ahead of Clowney and at this rate, I’d also be surprised if he’s available with the No. 6 or No. 7 selection.
Bob from Jacksonville:
Compete, compete, compete. With that in mind, do you think the Blake Bortles stock has risen within the Jaguars, based on his combine press conference, and his apparent maturity?
John: Not really. I think the Jaguars probably had a pretty good idea what they thought of Bortles before the combine. I’m sure they liked that he competed at the combine and I’m sure he raised no red flags there, but I doubt the weekend significantly changed how the Jaguars view him.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
Is it safe to say the Jags will draft a running back in the first three rounds?
John: I wouldn’t say so at all. The Jaguars need to address running back in the offseason and it’s quite likely they will do so in the draft, but you can get very serviceable running backs in the later rounds of the draft.
Paul from Lohrville, IA:
Can Chad Henne win a Super Bowl with a superior roster around him? That is a question the Jaguars need to consider. Let's face it: you could do a lot worse at the quarterback position.
John: You could indeed. I’d say you’d need a very superior roster around him, but with rare exceptions most quarterbacks need a pretty superior roster around them to win a Super Bowl.
JoJo from Jacksonville:
Hearing about competition a lot since Gus came in … if we draft a quarterback with the third pick, do you think he'll be just handed the starting job or will Gus make him compete for it?
John: He would have to compete for it. He would almost certainly be good enough to have a legitimate chance to win it, but he would undoubtedly have to compete.
T.J. from Huntsville, AL:
Am I the only one who does not really want Clowney or Manziel, because it seems they both wouldn't want to be here? They both have expressed playing for the Texans (Manziel) and the Falcons (Clowney). I just don’t really want a player who doesn't want to be here. Does this ever come into play?
John: Very rarely. Don’t put too much stock into such statements from NFL players at the combine. They are often answering questions from media members such as, “Do you want to play for the Texans?” or, “Do you want to play for the Falcons?” They often answer, “yes,” when the answer would have been similar had they been asked about any other team.
Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
The question mentioning Lawrence Taylor made me realize something. I find it hard to get excited by this year's top players' names. I just don't see a team winning a Super Bowl with stars named Clowney, Teddy, Johnny or Bortles. Am I alone in this, John?
John: Let’s hope so.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
The more I study the Top 3 quarterbacks (Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel) the less sure I am any of them is a Top 3 pick. If Caldwell thinks the same and chooses to pick another player, the two that stand out to me are Clowney and Mack. Between the two, Clowney and Mack, who would you choose if both were available to you? (Assuming you didn't want Watkins).
John: I’d probably pick Clowney but that’s mainly because I, by nature, lack the courage of my convictions, which is what it takes to draft a player from Buffalo over Clowney in the first round.
Josh from Zephyrhills, FL:
If you go to Disney World there is a ride called "People Movers"... On that note, Greg Robinson is massive and moves people; that dude would look great in a Jaguars uniform at tight tackle. I know he struggles at pass blocking, but that was all at left tackle. I'd like to see him workout at right tackle. He reminds me of a young Leon Searcy.
John: Hey! One fer Robinson, and he appears likely to be a big-time player, but as far as the Jaguars drafting him a year after taking Luke Joeckel, I don’t see it happening.
Brian from Jacksonville:
Do you see Bortles sliding to the second round? Love what I saw in him, but I do not see him as first-round talent where the Jags are drafting.
John: I don’t see him sliding that far. If the Jaguars want him, it probably has to be at No. 3 – if he even slides that far.
Todd from Stuttgart, Germany:
I just learned they have a naked sledding world championship held in Braunlage, Germany every year.
John: #Shadricksighting

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