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O-Zone: On the money

Posted May 7, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Logan from Wichita, KS:
Do you think it would be insane or cause a major backlash if the Jaguars don't pick a quarterback until Round 3 or later? High-scoring games are fun, but (Gus) Bradley is a defensive-minded coach and many teams have been successful with an average-to-below-average offense and an unstoppable defense. Any quarterback we draft won’t play for at least a year if everything works out, so why not build the defense up to be a juggernaut and have a low-risk, high-reward pick at quarterback in later rounds? Maybe?
John: Maybe. I don’t think waiting for a quarterback would be insane, and while there will be backlash it’s the nature of the draft that every selection will be criticized in some circles. Your scenario could well play out. While it depends on how Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell feels about quarterbacks later in the draft, I continue to suspect he will take one sometime in the late first or second round.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
John, all this mock draft stuff is stressing me out!!!!! How are you holding up?
John: Oh, you know … not as good as Dave, but a whole lot better than Shadrick … where I usually am, actually.
Bill from Jacksonville:
You're going to say I'm overthinking this, but I think whom we select in the first round will go a long way to define the personality of the team moving forward. Will we take Khalil Mack and develop into a team with the reputation for a shut-down defense or go with Sammy Watkins and maybe become a team with a high-flying offense? I know you really need both to win consistently but I'd like to see the defense develop first. Like I said, I know I'm over-thinking it.
John: Actually you’re thinking pretty accurately, if only because the players you select in the first round should by definition define the franchise. Over the course of time, they should develop into your top players, and in turn they should set the tone for the organization. It doesn’t always work out that way; players can develop and that development can push the franchise in its own direction, but for the most part first-round selections are defining moments.
Malachi from Santa Clarita, CA:
Can I get one fer reading too much into things? Between Caldwell saying he will take a 2015 first-round pick to move out of the top 10, and your point that "an in-division trade is possible," it looks like the two of you are hinting at a trade back with Tennessee.
John: There’s a difference between hinting and answering questions. Caldwell was asked last week if he had any sort of a rule about not trading with teams in the division. He replied that he did not. I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.
Reggie from Gatorproof Bunker in Tampa, FL:
If Caldwell said Johnny Manziel is maybe the one quarterback in this draft who could start immediately and we are supposedly not starting our pick at quarterback next year, is it then safe to assume that it's not Manziel they want?
John: It’s less than 48 hours until the draft. Assume nothing. Suspect everything.
Michael from Reynoldsburg, Ohio:
Mr. O, Herschel Walker has gone on record and stated he can play in today's NFL at the age of 52. While he may not be an "every- down" running back, he still has the body, strength, and speed to help an offense in certain situations. Do you think there is a team that would consider signing Walker this year to a one-year deal? At worst, the team would have an excellent PR campaign and sell a few more tickets.
John: I sat in the Gator Bowl twice and watched Herschel Walker play against Florida while he was at Georgia. If I could remember anything vividly from that long ago, I’m sure it would stand out among my fond memories. I’m not the person I was then – or, truthfully, that I thought I’d be – but I am smart enough to know my limitations.
Brian from Jacksonville:
#DraftStockholmSyndrome. It's real. I have it. All mock drafts look good. All of them. I love them all.
John: #Biffsighting
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
So John, given today's NFL, who do you think the first running back drafted will be and will they be drafted before Saturday? I just like thinking how it wasn't that long ago that Trent Richardson was a Top 10 pick and now it feels like you could almost expect to find your starter in Round 4-6.
John: I don’t know who will be the first back taken. I am confident that it will be before Saturday, meaning it will be some time in Rounds 1-3, but I would be very surprised if there is one taken in the first round. I’m not one who thinks the days of running backs in the first round are over. I think most years you’ll see one or two at the end of the first round of the draft, but will there be a bunch of teams with backs-by-committee systems – and will a lot of those teams get those guys well after the first round? Yes and yes.
Matthew from Bartow, FL:
Will the draft board change as the draft goes on? For example, if we draft Watkins and at No. 39 the top available player on our board is Marquise Lee, do we draft two receivers with our first two picks, or skip to the next player?
John: The draft board wouldn’t change, but that wouldn’t mean the Jaguars would necessarily take a wide receiver in the second round in your scenario. It’s better to think of the draft board as groups of players rather than a list of, say, one through 500. If the Jaguars take a wide receiver in the first round, they would probably be less likely to take a receiver if one was in the group of prospects they had projected as being worth the No. 39 selection. That’s because it stands to reason there would be other positions of greater need there.
Jarred from Vegas:
How do you think Bill Polian's opinion affects the Jaguars’ draft board? Considering Dave worked with him and his son also works for the Jags they must talk and form opinions on guys’ together right?
John: Bill Polian is a respected football man, and Caldwell certainly is among those who respect him. That said, I think Bill Polian’s opinion affects the Jaguars’ draft board not at all.
Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL:
For years I've considered Mike Mayock to be one of the PREMIER football talent evaluators in the USA. But this week he dropped his ranking of Terry Bridgewater to No. 42!!! Granted, Terry had a poor Pro Day (perhaps wearing his usual glove may have helped), but do you think Mike knows something that other pundits do not regarding this unbelievable, precipitous drop?
John: Terry Bridgewater has had a tough spring. First, the Pro Day; now, the name change. What’s next? Time will tell.
Mike from Jacksonville:
Last time I checked houses are built from the foundation up. This team still has some foundation work to do! I don't believe the Jags think their "franchise quarterback" is in this year’s draft. That is why trading back and acquiring picks next year will put them in a position to take the quarterback they really want. Mariotta! Character, arm strength, leadership, intelligence all rolled into one package. The quarterbacks they take this year will be depth and insurance. What do you think?
John: One part of your premise is correct – that the Jaguars are still working on the foundation, which makes the prospect of trading back intriguing. There are undoubtedly places on this roster that will benefit greatly from young, premium talent and the best way to acquire that is with early draft selections. I’m less convinced about the theory that the Jaguars are waiting around for a “quarterback they really want.” This is a theory that gets kicked around a lot, because of the conventional wisdom that teams must target a quarterback early in a draft and hold their breath and hope he succeeds. I don’t know for sure that the Jaguars are going to rest this entire build on one home-run swing, and I certainly don’t know that the swing will come on a pitch from Mariotta.
Duran from Rapid City, SD:
Just because offensive tackle picked at No. 3 wouldn't be a sexy pick, I don't put it past Caldwell pulling the trigger. It is still a hole in the roster that the team needs to fill. A hole is a hole, and it must be filled or the ship will drag.
John: I don’t know that offensive tackle is a huge hole, first of all. Austin Pasztor played well there, and the team likes him. That’s not to say the team absolutely wouldn’t take a tackle if he were clearly the best player on the board, but it is safe to say they certainly needn’t reach for the position.
Generic Poster from Jacksonville:
Hi, John! Out of Context Quote, plus Gross Oversimplified Blanket Statement. Look at Poor Comparison with Player From Another Team. Am I right?
John: “Draft analyst”

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