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O-Zone: Looking for the next best thing

Posted May 10, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Chris from Houston, TX:
John, it was not a mistake drafting Bortles. I hope he turns out to be the quarterback of the future. The mistake was not trading back to get him.
John: Sigh. I’m sure we’re far from being done with this topic, but OK, fine. We’ll address it. Again. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell took Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles No. 3 overall Thursday because he didn’t want to risk not being able to select him later. It’s that simple and there’s not much to pick apart or analyze beyond that. Agree or disagree – and it seems many people did disagree all day Friday – that was his belief. Now, I get that that statement undoubtedly will bring a chorus of, “But, but, BUT they would have been able to take him later …” The problem with the chorus is that you just don’t know that Bortles would have been there later. You can project, assume and listen to all of the talking heads you want, but there’s simply no way to know how the draft would have played out had the Jaguars traded back. The Jaguars and Caldwell targeted Bortles as the player they wanted and they didn’t want to risk losing him. I’d say, “End of story,” but it’s probably not.
Robert from Manassas, VA:
You couldn't have scripted these first two rounds any better for the Jags.
John: I know a bunch of guys down the hallway who would agree.
Strnbiker from Dothan, AL:
Flash flood alert as a monsoon of offense hits Jaguars and all are loving it. As O-Man would say-- wait-- what?
John: Wait! What? Yes, the Jaguars did address offense in a big, big way on the first two days of the draft. That was very much in keeping with what Caldwell said likely would be the case. He said after free agency that this was a very good, very deep offensive draft and that that depth and strength appeared to coincide nicely with the Jaguars’ needs. Pretty much dead on, it appears.
Strnbker from Dothan, AL:
I see all these talking heads not liking our quarterback pick. Yet, these are the same talking heads that got all the 1,000 draft picks wrong. I like our team, the direction and decisions. Make sense?
John: Oddly enough, yes.
Tony from Perry, AR:
Wow, John, when you titled yesterday's O-Zone "Draft for the long haul," you weren't kidding. Can I get one fer the Jags taking care of business?
John: Looks like David Caldwell gets to sit at the “cool table” again. I guess one day with all of us other kids over here isn’t so bad.
Ryan from Stuart, FL:
Is there any thought of the Jags trading the rights of Justin Blackmon to another team for any late picks this year?
John: Maybe general managers would line up for that opportunity. I can’t see the line being very long.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
So far, so good, O-Man. Dave Caldwell's picks are impressive. Glad to see that he's not trying to be cute and draft a bunch if D II level players, either. Can't wait to see what gems he can find on Saturday. In Dave we Trust!!!
John: It was funny how the perception of this draft changed Friday. While the tone was skeptical Friday in the wake of the Jaguars taking Bortles No. 3, there was a chorus of approval and back-slapping Friday night as the Jaguars aggressively moved to take wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Ah, acceptance and popularity in the NFL. They are indeed fickle mistresses.
Lance from Jacksonville:
Today, I am happiest of the Jag's fans
John: Welcome back, Lance. How was the ledge?
Josiah from Jacksonville:
John....JOHN!!! So here's the thing....when we traded with San Francisco, I was so excited, because it felt obvious we were gonna get the game-changer, Tre Mason...alas, even after drafting a great wide receiver like Marquis Lee we drafted a lesser talent. Help me feel comfortable with this pick. Tre Mason is a beast ... I have no idea who this Allen Robinson fellar is.
John: Robinson plays at Penn State, which is not in the Southeastern Conference and instead is located somewhere where Southeastern Conferences aren’t located. That may be all you need to know. I don’t know much of a “lesser talent” I could consider him, though. The Jaguars considered Lee and Robinson very, very close and were torn between which one to take at No. 39. The Jaguars are very excited about the prospect of having both players. As for being surprised with the 61st selection that became Robinson, I was a little surprised because I wasn’t expecting the trade up, but I wasn’t surprised that the trade up wasn’t for a running back. I would have been very surprised, in fact, had that been the case.
Daniel from Ocala, FL:
In order for you to produce the most amount of original content with the least amount of work (your specialty), I decided to only ask you true and false questions from here on out. Each NFL team, individually, spends more money, time, and personnel on evaluating draft prospects than any TV show like ESPN or NFL Network. True or false?
John: True (awesome plan).
Dave from Jacksonville:
I still don't think Caldwell is a smokescreen guy. I think he and Gus have been "telling" us for months now, but we haven't been "hearing" them. "Win from the pocket, accurate, tough, etc." They gave their three attributes they look for in a quarterback. Maybe we should've asked about Bortles? And did Blake not sound like Gus Bradley to a T when asked about throwing at the combine? "I came here to compete. I don't know why any QB would not want to come here and throw and compete." Well, he's gonna get his chance. I sure hope he works out because I like Dave and Gus too much to see them go if he doesn't.
John: Tea leaves are easier to read in retrospect than in whatever sort of “spect” the future is, but you’re exactly right that Bortles is a Caldwell/Bradley type. I should have seen it. I missed it. Won’t be the last time. Wasn’t the first.
Paul from Jacksonville:
A couple of Friday questions left me with one of my own: has it been written someplace credible that Buffalo was making the same offer to us that they made to the Browns? I must've missed that.
John: I must’ve, too.
Mike from White Plains, GA:
Just because the Browns and Vikings took Manziel and Bridgewater outside the Top 20 in the draft doesn't mean that they would have passed on Bortles. Or that the Raiders would have passed on him. That's like saying well why did the Texans take Clowney No. 1 when they could have traded down and gotten him at No. 5 since the next pass rusher wasn't taken until Mack at No. 5. I'm not thrilled with the Bortles pick, but I'll hold my second-guessing until I actually see the guy play. Do you really think if the Jags hadn't selected him No. 3 that he would have slid down into the teens to thirties O-Man?
John: I’ll answer all your questions in one, tidy little sentence. No. I don’t think Bortles would have slid into the teens or thirties.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
Robinson is Thunder. Lee is Lighting. Dave is a magician.
John: And I’m just kind of a sad clown.
Mike from High Springs:
Hindsight is 20/20, but with only so many quarterbacks sliding to the second round, is there any reason Bortles wouldn't have been there at No. 39? This feels to me like Khan wanting a quarterback in Round 1 1 and Caldwell merely deciding who. I feel we could have had Mack AND Bortles in this draft with little extra effort.
John: It may feel that way to you, but I don’t get that feeling at all from talking to Caldwell, Gus Bradley and others in the organization. The Jaguars didn’t just want ‘A’ quarterback. They decided they wanted Blake Bortles and they were of the firm belief that not only would he not have been there at No. 39, but that they risked losing him if they moved back toward the end of the Top 10. There’s no way to ever know for certain, but it’s hard to see a realistic scenario in which the Jaguars could have gotten Khalil Mack and Blake Bortles in this draft.
Roger from Jacksonville:
I am often amazed that among your readers are so many who apparently have experience playing and/or coaching football at the professional level. They study game video, and critically analyze such things as mechanics and footwork. Their ability to assess raw talent is impressive, and truly astonishing.
John: It is indeed something to behold.
Brian from Jacksonville:
I get a little emotional watching the BCB sendoff video. Then Khan reportedly picked up the tab at a NY bar. I feel like Jacksonville is the coolest place no one knows about.
John: You’re right about Jacksonville. And don’t get too emotional about not being there when Khan picked up the tab. You can replicate the feeling by picking up the tab when we go out.
Biff from Jacksonville:
I want Gus to hug me like he hugged Bortles. Can you make that happen?
John: Would you settle for a pat on the head from JP?

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