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O-Zone: Due influence

Posted Mar 20, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Gary from St. Augustine, FL:
What were your impressions of Blake Bortles’ Pro Day? Will it improve his draft status as much as people seem to think?
John: I don’t think it will hurt, which is the best way to look at it and maybe the biggest thing to remember about Bortles’ Pro Day at the University of Central Florida Wednesday. When you’re a highly regarded quarterback, what you want from your Pro Day is to not raise red flags. You’re not going to improve your stock that much because you’re throwing in shorts – “against air,” as they say – but teams get concerned if you show deficiencies. That’s what happened with Teddy Bridgewater in Louisville Monday. He wasn’t sharp and it didn’t look easy. Teams want it to look easy for a quarterback when he has had that sort of time to prepare. Bortles made it look easy Wednesday, so teams didn’t leave concerned. Now, that doesn’t mean Bortles is locked in as the No. 1 overall pick. The pre-draft process is about looking for flaws in every prospect and there’s plenty of time for draftniks to find flaws in Bortles.
Daniel from Santa Rosa, CA:
I might have this wrong, but you seemed to downplay the idea of drafting a wide receiver at No. 3 overall prior to free agency. But after it, you seem more open to the idea. Do you think our acquisitions have made room for a higher possibility of drafting a wide receiver at No. 3? I remember Henne did a lot better in games with Blackmon than without. So a better wide receiver could mean better quarterback play, right?
John: You’re right that my tone has changed regarding wide receiver, but it has nothing to do with free agency. When the offseason began I wasn’t sure the Jaguars would go for the position at No. 3, but after watching Sammy Watkins and after considering where the Jaguars could use help, I’ve warmed more to the idea. There are no sure things in the draft for the Jaguars, but it’s a possibility. The Jaguars certainly want to add explosiveness around Henne. Watkins is a special player and if the draft breaks a certain way, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Jaguars go that direction.
Greg from Neptune Beach, FL:
If we pick a quarterback at No. 3, he will start. If he's not good enough to beat out Chad Henne, he's not good enough to pick at No. 3.
John: You speak with the confidence of the bold if not necessarily the correct. Yes, there’s a chance the Jaguars will draft a quarterback at No. 3, and that quarterback could start right away. But the Jaguars are serious when they say that if they do select a quarterback at No. 3, they wouldn’t necessarily start him if he’s not ready. That doesn’t jive with conventional wisdom. Call it unconventional reality.
Brandon from London, Ontario:
Do a lot of teams use a LEO position? Also what do coaches look for when drafting a player for that position?
John: The Leo is hybrid defensive end/linebacker whose main strength is rushing the passer. A lot of teams utilize a player such as that, but the Seahawks and the Jaguars are the teams that actually use the term.
Clayton from Dayton, OH:
What do you think we’re going to do at center now that Meester is gone?
John: It appears the Jaguars are going to take a serious look at Mike Brewster there, with second-year veteran Patrick Lewis also having a chance at the spot. The team also could move guard/center Jacques McClendon to the position. Quite possibly all three will get a look. I’d also expect them to target a few players there in the draft.
Dan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I am not in favor of the league’s idea of expanding the number of teams to qualify for the playoffs. It seems to me it devalues all the blood, sweat and tears of the regular season. If the league is looking for more television revenue, why not let all 32 teams have an end-of-year tournament to determine the best of the best? I'd appreciate your thoughts on the league possibly expanding the number of teams in the playoffs.
John: I’m not passionately against the idea of two more teams. I suppose my thought is, “What’s the harm in two more?” I grew up in the day when eight of 28 teams made the postseason – three division winners in each conference and a wild-card team. You had to really earn it to get in. Those days are gone and they aren’t coming back. Now, 12 of 32 get in, so I don’t figure 14 of 32 will dramatically decrease the purity of my NFL experience.
John from Fort Irwin, CA:
I have been the most diehard Jaguars fan. If they don't hire the Culligan girl full-time, then I will finally give up on them. Caldwell and you don't breathe and sleep Jaguars like me. I just really want people there to understand she is the best chance to sell tickets and if you don't see that then I seriously know you know nothing of football.
John: I have a pretty good idea what you’re talking about.
Eric from Yulee, FL:
With your answer to the question about Aaron Murray are you somewhat implying or hinting that you think the Jags draft a quarterback before Day 3?
John: No, I was saying that the Jaguars may take two quarterbacks in the draft regardless of whether they take one during the first two days. And if Aaron Murray is available on Day 3, it wouldn’t be absurd to think the Jaguars might select him.
Sandman from the Burg:
Isn't the Jimmy Smith story similar to our latest receiver signing? Similar size, speed, struggles at previous team. All prior to becoming great! Jimmy was great at returns prior to becoming our best receiver ever!!!!
John: I see what you did there. You compared Jimmy Smith to Tandon Doss. I’m not “all in.”
Jarred from Las Vegas, NV:
I saw Tony Khan has been at some pro days. I am curious as to what analytics show on these quarterbacks. I think it would change the perception on some of these guys if it shows stats like Bridgewater's completion percentage is only 50 percent onpasses over five yards or Manziel's throws most of his interceptions while forced to stay in the pocket. Do you think they will be factoring analytics into a decision on draft day?
John: Yes, analytics will be a factor in the sense that analytics are a factor in most Jaguars decisions. The Jaguars use analytics as a tool to help decipher information, and that will be the case with Bortles/Bridgewater/Manziel as well.
Hogfish from Mayport, FL and Section 441:
Why is everyone assuming Chad Henne significantly reduces our ability to win games over a rookie quarterback? We went .500 in the last half of last season, presumably because of growing comfort in system from players, and if we extend that out over a full season, we'll be 8-8. Add a lucky win in there, and who knows? Can I get one fer supporting our quarterback and seeing where this thing goes?
John: Hey! One fer Henne, and yes, the Jaguars believe in Henne for exactly those reasons. The belief is that if the Jaguars can improve the offensive line in front of Henne and add a playmaker or two around him, then the offense can indeed improve.
Toby from the 508:
Do you think Henne will be a good teacher? When we drafted Gabbert we let our starter Garrard go and I feel as though if we had kept Garrard, Blaine would have had a shot.
John: I don’t know how much not being around Garrard hurt Gabbert, particularly in terms of how much Gabbert might have learned from him. Quarterbacks are about playing time and performing. Any teaching being done is usually by example – and on that front, yes, I’d say Henne will be a good example for any young quarterback drafted by the Jaguars.
Tim from Crescent City, FL:
Is it just me or does anyone else think that the free agents that are being signed are reaches?
John: I’ll assume you mean the free agents being signed by the Jaguars. If so, then the answer would center around money, length of contract and expectations. If the Jaguars were signing these players to long-term, cap-crippling contracts, perhaps they would be reaches. If they were signing them with the idea that they will form the core of the franchise and that this class will elevate the team to elite status, then again … reaches. That’s not the thought behind this class. The thought with this class is it will elevate the talent level above what it was last year. That will give the Jaguars a chance to be more competitive and perhaps most importantly, it will give Dave Caldwell a chance to draft for the future more than worrying about filling glaring needs.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
John, you didn't answer Cole's question- exactly how much influence do you have over front office decisions? Are they checking with you before every move? Huh? Spill it Powerboy.
John: I have precisely the influence I deserve.

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