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O-Zone: Free-agent priorities

Posted Feb 14, 2014

Let’s get to it . . .

Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL:
If Teddy is available when the Jags are up at No. 3, you take him. There is no question or argument here. Watkins at 3?? Are you kidding? Wide receiver at 3 is insane. Reggie Williams, Justin Blackmon. How'd that work out Jacksonville?
John: Easy, big fella … Eeeeeeaaaasssy. Good. Now that we’re calm, let’s breathe deep and look at this reasonably. Yes, you take Teddy Bridgewater at No. 3 if he’s available – if you believe he’s capable of being a franchise guy for a long time. If you don’t believe that, then you figure out who can help you the most at that spot, who can be an elite player. I don’t know that that’s Watkins, although it’s intriguing, but if you believe he’s a No. 1 receiver who will draw coverage and be a go-to guy for a long time, then it’s not at all insane. And it’s certainly not insane just because of the performance of other wide receivers selected that high.
Todd from Stender:
Take Clowney No. 3: He will be there. Sign Michael Vick to come in and compete with second- or third-round quarterback we draft.
John: I’ll pass it along. But I wouldn’t hold your breath on the Jaguars signing Michael Vick.
Grant from Macclenny, FL:
I thought I had never heard the word beaucoup before, and then I sounded it out. Words are so strange sometimes! May we have beaucoup wins next year! #standunited
John: Hey! One fer boocoo! And one for learning!
Emily from Boulder, CO:
Even before Matt Flynn, remember when Charlie Whitehurst was Seattle's quarterback of the future? They made a few relatively low risk gambles that didn't pan out before hitting on Wilson.
John: I do remember, and you’re correct that the Seahawks tried to find a quarterback for several years before they found Russell Wilson. Since they drafted him, it has been vogue to say the Seahawks built the defense, then found a quarterback – as if they planned it out to the letter. Technically, they did find the quarterback after many pieces were in place, but it wasn’t as signing Russell Wilson was the first step they took toward finding a quarterback.
Dan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
There you go knocking Boselli again. It's strange because he speaks so highly of you.
John: Tony Boselli knows where to find me.
Thrill from Section 236:
If the Jaguars draft Watkins at No. 3, there may be some fan outrage. But if David Caldwell believes there's no franchise guy available in this draft, it will be genius. In the 2007 draft, Calvin Johnson was the pick of the litter. None of the 11 quarterbacks panned out and neither did any of the first-round defensive ends. You just never know. In Dave I trust.
John: One fer Dave! And yes, that is what makes a general manager’s job as important as it is difficult. Though it’s good to use them as a guide, you can’t rely on history and conventional wisdom all the time. If you truly don’t believe a quarterback can play, you just can’t draft him that high. And you must have the courage of your convictions. And oh, yes: you also need to be right.
Ryan from Clyde:
How is this for a draft-day trade? We draft Watkins No.3, and send Justin Blackmon to the Patriots for their 29th pick, and a slew of other draft picks.
John: I think Watkins is a possibility at No. 3, though there are four or five possibilities. But why would the Patriots necessarily give the Jaguars a slew of draft picks for Blackmon?
Daniel from Jacksonville:
After I read about the new coaching hires I had one question. What exactly are the responsibilities of a quality control coach?
John: A quality control coach is an assistant whose responsibilities aren’t specific to one position. They often include doing advance work on future opponents if necessary, and they also can include work with certain position groups, particularly if that position doesn’t already have an assistant to the primary position group. It often is more of an entry-level spot and can include any number of non-position duties.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
My primary concern with taking Manziel would be the distinct possibility of fans relegating you to only the second most-popular and beloved Johnny Football in the building, which simply wouldn't be fair after the exemplary and unparalleled dedication to this franchise you've embodied since your return.
John: I think he’s the one who needs to worry in your scenario.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
Why is everyone drooling over Clowney so much? All I see when I look at him is Albert Haynesworth's second coming. Show me his "amazing" play over and over again and call it his college career. Show me how he always gets double teamed because he is so amazing, but no matter what all I will ever see is him sitting on the bench when the team needed him and taking himself out of the game after one or two plays because he is either tired or doesn't want to try anymore. If we are truly dedicated to getting better we can't draft someone like Clowney no matter how good they look on paper. Why risk drafting him if we want players with a high motor and a team mentality?
John: Wow, one very much not fer Clowney … or Haynesworth for that matter. Just because Clowney had a down year in his final year of college as a junior isn’t a reason not to take him. That’s part of the equation, but as with any player, you do research, you ask questions, you gather as much information as you can, then you decide if you want to draft him. If Clowney indeed tried to protect himself this past season – and I don’t know that to be true – that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll do it in the NFL. You have to do your own work and decide how you think his career will play out. The careers of past players don’t decide the fate of present ones, although they do make for good theories and O-Zone questions.
Josh from Fernandina Beach, FL by way of Fort Lauderdale, FL:
O-Man, of the top three quarterback prospects who could be taken in the third slot this year, do you have any insight relative to which one may have the highest degree of interest in being a Jaguar (i.e. Bortles because of his Central Florida following, Teddy because he was born and raised in the state or Johnny to reunite with Luke)?
John: I’m going to answer this by saying the answer doesn’t interest me or anyone else around the Jaguars or the NFL in the least. Not that I don’t respect the question; it’s just that a player who declares himself eligible for the draft needs to be ready and willing to play for whatever team drafts him – unless the circumstances are unusual. Even then, it’s high-risk and rare. I doubt any of those quarterbacks are caring much what team and/or city drafts them. None of them is guaranteed to go in the Top 3, so my guess is any would be pretty happy to go third.
Mike from Jagsonville:
J.P. knows about the Culligan ad. #ShadrickSighting
John: Well, yeah, now that you mention it, Shadrick has been talking a lot lately about this “awesome water cooler” he bought for his apartment. Now, it makes some sense.
Dane from Jacksonville:
In terms of pure arm talent only - you know, the ability to make all of the throws - who was the best draft prospect coming out of college that you can recall?
John: There are obviously many prospects who can make all the throws. Most quarterbacks drafted in the Top 10 can do it to varying degrees. But in the time that I have followed the league closely, one that stands out is Jeff George. It was before my time covering the NFL, but his workout and arm strength were legendary – and impressive enough to solidify him as the No. 1 quarterback in the draft in 1990.
Mike from Orange Park, FL:
I don't understand the logic of the people who insist we must take a particular player first because that position is more important than another. How about we just take the best player on the board regardless of their position? Isn't that how teams get better? Reaching for a player just because his position is deemed important is how we got into this mess to begin with!
John: You have to approach it with a mix. While you don’t want to take a center or a kicker No. 3 overall, you also don’t want to get too locked in one position or the other that you reach. The reality of the draft is that the theories and approaches aren’t absolute; their guidelines and at some point, people who run football teams must rely on their training to decipher many attributes that go into the scouting equation.
David from Middleburg, FL:
This is a free-agency question: Do the Jags have a plan to make sure Jessica from the Venus ad returns this year?
John: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

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