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O-Zone: World-weary

Posted Feb 25, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it . . .

John from Jacksonville:
Please help. I'll admit I didn't see Clowney play last season. However, in the NFL every offensive tackle he will be up against will be an upgrade from who he played in college. With only three sacks last season against modest competition in college, how is he praised as a Top 5 pick in the May draft? Let the laughter begin.
John: No laughter from here, although there is far more to the draft equation than how many sacks a pass-rushing prospect registers in college. Clowney plays a position that historically is difficult to project for the very reason you cite. Pass rushing often is about beating a blocker one-on-one and Clowney likely will line up against the opponent’s best pass-blocker at left tackle. Even the most gifted pass rushers – a category into which Clowney undoubtedly fits – must be more than just gifted in the NFL. They must be able to learn pass rush moves and often use the weaknesses of opponents to their advantage. There almost always is an adjustment period, and pass rushers without strong technique – and the accompanying ability to add new moves – often struggle. That applies to the most gifted, too. All of those things are the reason there’s no laughter regarding your question. All of that said, the reason Clowney is projected as a Top 5 selection is if he does all of those things we just discussed he has the physical ability to be a dominant player.
Joe from Aurora:
Well, I just realized I’m going to miss the draft because I’ll be circling the globe in a hot air balloon with many beautiful ladies. #JamesfromJaxBeachsightings
John: You’re referring to James from Jacksonville Beach’s soon-to-be-infamous woe-is-me-I’m-going-on-a-seven-day-cruise email. Clever.
Jack from Jacksonville:
I think we can refer to the question from James in Jacksonville Beach as a "humble brag." John, what's your best humble brag?
John: I’m far too humble to brag, but I like Joe’s in the previous question.
Gator from Gainesville, FL:
O Man, just like James from Jacksonville Beach, I will miss the draft as well. I will be finishing up my 90 days of community service. A word to the wise, don't paint "15" on the side of City Hall.
John: This is not a humble brag. This is what is known as “real.”
Dave from Oviedo, FL:
I think the dream scenario is we trade back somewhere in the Top 10, gain a few picks, and still get one of the guys we talked about at No. 3. As dreams go, I don't think this one's unrealistic.
John: It’s not. There seem to be a handful of guys – Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Sammy Watkins, Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack among them – who people wouldn’t be surprised to see selected at No. 3. If the Jaguars are targeting three or four of those players, moving back to No. 6 or 7 and still getting one wouldn’t be shocking.
Rob from New Jersey:
Can't wait to see how many people are now doing 180s about Clowney and that 4.47.
John: No doubt. Clowney has become the player in this year’s draft that analysts most want to build up and tear down – sometimes, it seems, on back-to-back days or even the same day. Clowney spent seemingly forever as The Greatest Player in This Draft or Any Other, and then that seemed to wane in the days leading to the combine – perhaps because his head coach at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, wasn’t exactly “effusive” in his praise of his former player. Critics then jumped all over the 21 reps Clowney did in the combine bench press, forgetting that it’s not uncommon for long-armed pass rushers to be in that range. Then, on Monday, he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and suddenly he’s Very Great again.
Garrison from Baton Rouge, FL:
I see these draft "experts"/fools talking about us drafting another offensive tackle in the second round. It honestly baffles me how little homework they do on teams. It’s almost as if they look at the roster, see there isn’t a name they recognize and assume there’s a hole there. Austin Pasztor was one of the highest-graded right tackles in the league. We have our left tackle set in Luke Joeckel, our right tackle set in Austin Pasztor and a competent backup in Cam Bradfield.
John: “It’s almost as if they look at the roster, see that there isn’t a name they recognize and assume there’s a hole there.” It’s not “almost as if” – that’s exactly what happens. And while I don’t know that the Jaguars’ tackle situation is set in stone for the next decade, I would agree that it’s unlikely the team selects the position early in this year’s draft.
Eric from Boston, MA:
Houston now has a very, very tough decision. You need a quarterback, but how do you really pass on Clowney?
John: It’s only a tough decision if the Texans love Clowney and if they equally love one of the quarterbacks. The tough thing for teams is figuring if any of the three quarterbacks are franchise quarterbacks. Once they determine that, it will make the decision quite a bit easier.
Shannon from Brunswick, GA:
Bleacher Report was saying that Bridgewater did not impress in the interview process. Did you hear anything about this while you were at the combine?
John: My understanding is that plenty of teams were impressed with Bridgewater.
Jesse from Jacksonville:
What's your take on Aaron Donald and do you believe he'll be a good fit for us? Especially in the second round range?
John: Donald, a defensive tackle from Pittsburgh who weighs 285 pounds, has impressed throughout the offseason. He ran an unofficial 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He was projected as a mid-first-round selection before the combine, so I think he’d fit in well for the Jaguars and most teams. I can’t imagine he’ll be available in the second round.
Josh from Kokomo, IN:
Do you think the Jaguars could look to draft a guy like Connor Shaw in a later round?
John: Sure.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Which assistant coach on the Jaguars’ staff has the right stuff to be a head coach either now or in the near future? What makes him so good of a possible head coach?
John: Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. He’s young, has the look of a head coach and has a reputation for being innovative offensively. He also is confident, very personable and will deal well with the media. I would be surprised if he’s not a head coach someday. Also, keep an eye on defensive line coach Todd Wash and defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker.
Jon from Fort Irwin, CA:
I don’t know about running stairs but as an NCO in the Army I have to say that you are within regulations with that high and tight haircut. You keep it up troop.
John: Sir. Yes, sir.
The Real Shad from the Jaguars Front Office:
Put me down as one fer Bortles! Oh and you get a raise too!
John: Hey! One fer the real Shad!
Nick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
With all the talent this armchair manager sees, consider me One fer trading down. I know it takes two to tango, but a team only has to love one player. Let Dave collect the talent and let Gus coach 'em up. I don't think fans realize how exciting these next few seasons could be. #Moodachayallday
John: Hey! One fer trading down, and consider David Caldwell in that group, too. Never underestimate the difficulty of trading back because if you can’t find a team that wants to trade back it just ain’t gonna happen. But if the Jaguars can find a partner, then by all means – dance, dance, dance.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
I'm too lazy to check. When can the Jaguars sign free agents?
John: March 11.
Mark from Kansas City, MO:
What happens at the combine on the two days after the media leaves?
John: The wait staffs at three or four Indianapolis-area establishments find themselves pining for the days of J.P. Shadrick and his “if-it’s-after-midnight-then-I-say-let’s-tip-big” policy – and, oh, yes, the actual event continues full force with defensive ends, linebackers and defensive backs working out on the field.
Zach from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Chances Carr goes ahead of Bridgewater? He seems to have a better arm and excellent intangibles.
John: Slim. Very, very slim.
Spencer from Satellite Beach, FL:
More and more I am leaning to the Jags drafting Khalil Mack. He has a high motor. He's fast. Strong. And is a turnover machine. People point to the teams he faced, but he dominated those teams: 75 tackles for loss and 16 forced fumbles are both FBS records. Can we get one fer Mack? Draft a QB in the 2nd round. Re-sign Henne.
John: Sure, sure – and you’re not going to be alone. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said on Sunday he would select Mack No. 1 overall. Mayock is respected enough that draft gurus tend to follow his lead, so yeah – one fer Mack, with the expectation we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of this in the coming days.
Steve from Jacksonville:
I get the sense that you are not easily shocked.
John: I work with and travel often with J.P. Let’s just say I’ve seen some stuff.

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