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O-Zone: Survival instinct

Posted Mar 16, 2017

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Logan from Wichita, KS:
Seriously, our defense can be No. 1 in the NFL and never give up a single point, but if our offense is terrible we will lose due to pick-sixes thrown by Blake Bortles. He needs a line that can protect him and open up the run game ... but apparently no one else thinks so. Why???????
John: Logan, I sense your frustration – and feel for you. It stinks to be frustrated, because frustration can be … well, frustrating. But hey! Maybe I can help. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin without question understands the need for quality play from the offensive line. He talked specifically of the importance of offensive and defensive linemen during an appearance with J.P. Shadrick and me on Jaguars.com LIVE Wednesday (shameless-plug alert). History also suggests that Coughlin well understands the importance. Remember, too: Coughlin believes that left tackle Branden Albert is a move to improve the offensive line, and my guess is there will be a move in the area made somewhere relatively early in the draft. I also still think there’s a real possibility of adding a running back in the draft to help the running game. Now, this plan may not be to your satisfaction, but that does not mean “no one else” thinks a line to protect Bortles and open up the run game isn’t important. A disagreement between two parties does not equate a lack of comprehension on the part of one party. It simply means two parties disagree.
Daniel from Republica Dominicana:
What do you think of this scenario: trade down for O.J. Howard, then use those picks to trade back into the first round and select Forrest Lamp?
John: Sure.
2ndAmend from Fernandina Beach:
I'm thinking that ALL teams need a franchise quarterback to win in the upper tiers in the league. I think with the fourth pick we are getting either Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky. Worst-case scenario, Bortles turns his act around and we'd have a top backup for at least next four years with a rookie salary. We are loaded on defense. We can address offense in Rounds 2-7, including running back. Bortles has had three years, and even on his "good" year the team was 5-11. Do you think quarterback is likely?
John: I do not think the Jaguars taking a quarterback at No. 4 in the 2017 NFL Draft is likely. I think it’s possible, but I think it’s a lot more possible that they select one in the second round or move up into the latter part of the first round to select one. I don’t think that’s likely, either, but I do think it’s more possible than a quarterback at No. 4.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Do you think the Jags find their quarterback of the future in this year’s draft?
John: I believe there’s a good chance the Jaguars select a quarterback somewhere in this year’s draft, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s at the bottom of the first round or top of the second. I’m not predicting the Jaguars will do that, but it would not be a shock. If they draft one late in the first round or early in the second, I don’t know if that player would start this season but he would be selected with the idea that he would have a good chance to start in the future.
Oliver from Aldershot, UK:
Mr. John, you said we would be pushing for an 8-8 season, and I know you don't like free agency but this has to have already been a franchise-changing free agency. If we add Dontari Poe to our list this is a defense as good as any in the NFL (on paper). Does this not make us a playoff-contending team straight away with realistic hopes of the playoffs this season under the mighty TC!!!!
John: The last thing I want to do is douse excitement, but I’m not a believer that there is such a thing as “franchise-changing free agency.” Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong by the Jaguars in 2017. If that’s the case, that would be cool. Many fans and other people around here would like it. But while the Jaguars did upgrade the talent on defense there does remain the matter of consistent, crunch-time, edge pass-rushing and the matter of consistent, crunch-time, when-it-matters offense – the latter of which the team hasn’t had in a loooong, looong, looooong time. They have never had it during Bortles’ career. I’m not saying the Jaguars won’t have those things in 2016, but significant strides must be made to get those things. Until they take place on the field, I probably won’t talk much about the postseason.
Glen from Jacksonville:
McShay mocks TE O.J. Howard to the Jags. Seems high, but the more I think about it the more I like it. What say you, great wise O?
John: I like the outside-the-box thinking and it’s not a nonsensical choice. But I still believe the Jaguars will go defensive line or running back with the No. 4 selection, and I continue to lean defensive line.
Charles from Midlothian, MD:
I CAN’T HEAR YOU … DID WE GET AN ADD TO THE O-LINE OR WHAT?
John: I’ll check.
Jeff from Orange, CA:
In regards to recent predictions of Jaguars taking a tight end with their first-round pick, do you think that would make sense if you had a very high degree of confidence that he would develop into an Antonio Gates/Tony Gonzalez type player? And does the fact that most typical premium positions don't seem to project well for the team at their current draft slot make this somewhat of a real possibility? And please give us a very specific probability, since you're very accurate at those projections.
John: If the player were on the level of Tony Gonzalez, then yes … absolutely you take him at No. 4. It’s very easy to say take a player if you know for sure he’s going to be one of the best two or three players at his position in the history of the sport. Because teams do not know if a player is going to be one of the best two or three in the history of the sport, teams do not draft with the assumption that they are getting such a player. As for players at premium positions not projecting well, I see your point but that’s an unwise way to approach the draft. You don’t pass on a player you believe is an elite talent at No. 4 simply because he doesn’t fit a short-term need. If, say, the Jaguars believe Jonathan Allen or Malik Hooker or Solomon Thomas is such a player, then you take him and figure out a place to play him. Coaches and general managers rarely walk rubber hallways complaining that they have “too many elite players.”
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
I wish I would’ve taken a snap shot of the internet two months ago, because it would’ve shown Solomon Thomas way down the list of top college prospects. Since that time, nobody has played a down of football, yet he has skyrocketed into the Top 5 on many mock drafts. Now, all of a sudden, he’d be a good selection at No 4. You say 90 percent game film and 10 percent combine sounds about right, then how do you explain the rise of Solomon Thomas?
John: A snap-shot of the internet is not a snap-shot inside the minds of NFL General Managers. Just because mock drafts had Thomas outside the Top 10 in January doesn’t mean general managers had him outside the Top 10.
Ricky from Jacksonville:
Nick Mangold (33, 7 Pro Bowls), Jeremy Zuttah (30, Pro Bowl 2016) and Brian Schwenke (25, has 28 starts) are interior lineman still available. Have you any idea if we may be interested in any of them? Win now! Go Jags!!
John: None of the players has visited Jacksonville. I get the idea that the Jaguars like Brandon Linder at center and A.J. Cann at guard, and that they will address an interior/guard position in the draft. We’ll see.
Leonard from Baton Rouge, LA:
You say 90/10 in favor of game film but surely Dalvin Cook's poor combine has taken him out of Top 5 consideration, hasn't it in your opinion? Could McCaffrey get drafted well ahead of Dalvin now?
John: What is said about a player before the draft and where he actually is drafted are often two entirely different things. When discussing this in Wednesday’s O-Zone, I said that there are certain red flags in terms of measurables that often drop a player. In Cook’s case, his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine may well have included such measurables for some teams. What teams will do now is go back and study Cook more closely to determine if those measurables should drop Cook on their draft boards – or if they like what they see on film enough to override it. As for McCaffrey going ahead of Cook … we’ll see. But if he does, it won’t necessarily just be because of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Marc from Oceanway:
I noticed no one corrected Tom Coughlin when he mispronounced A.J. Bouye on Jaguars.com LIVE. I don't think I would have, either.
John: #pickyourbattles

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