O-Zone: Big old goofy world

JACKSONVILLE – Least important thing first:

With the 2021 NFL Draft now officially two days in and a day from conclusion, the app form for O-Zone questions is still not working correctly. So much for TrevorMania changing everything. We therefore ask that you continue submitting question through the website form or via [email protected]

Now, on to the most important thing – i.e., the fan angst that inevitably accompanies every NFL team’s draft every year, particularly when teams commit the unforgivable sin of selecting players in a different order than they appear on internet rankings.

Robert from Middleburg, FL

Who? What? Very disappointing second day. Did former General Manager Dave Caldwell take over the draft room? Are we running a medical ward? Three guys that had first-round grades slipped right through our hands and still no tight end.

We’ll start here, because it’s a very good place to start. Many Jaguars fans and observers were unsurprisingly upset with one or more of the team’s Day 2 selections Friday. This was inevitable because one – or perhaps all three – of Friday’s selections featured the team selecting somewhat lesser-known players when players who had been discussed more before the draft were still on the board. I won’t be able to ease the angst of said fans and observers, but I can explain what happened – and what happens most years in the draft: Teams select players based on their grades, grades that have been gleaned through more than a year of scouting, research, analysis and discussion. These grades produce a player’s value in the eyes of a team that has little – and perhaps NOTHING – to do with how many analysts whose work is readily available online believe about a player. The work that readily appears online is discussed so much among observers in the months leading to the draft that it inevitably comes to be seen as a sort of gospel. It is false, meaningless gospel but in the eyes of the passionate observers, it is gospel nonetheless. Should a team dare deviate from this false gospel – as teams inevitably and unavoidably do – fans and observers immediately send emails to “awesome” senior writers perplexed and angry that their teams have been negligent and have no idea what they’re doing. This trend, it seems, has continued through two days of the Jaguars’ 2021 draft. Oh well. On to Day 3.

I feel like now we have a crowded backfield, but in most games we’ll have to abandon the run after the first quarter because we won’t be able to stop the opponent. I don’t see the defense being much better against the run than last year’s team. I would have liked to see them draft a big run-stopper versus another running back.

The Jaguars’ decision-makers know well the importance of stopping the run. Head Coach Urban Meyer has said multiple times since taking the job in January there are few things more important in his football world than the defensive line. The team addressed interior defensive line in free agency, including trading for nose tackle Malcom Brown. I don’t doubt that the decision-makers would have liked to have selected a big-time defensive tackle on Day 1 or 2. But this was a down year for the position in the draft. You can want to take a defensive tackle all you want, and you can force your way into taking one. But if there aren’t any with grades that merit the selection, you’re just taking one for the sake of taking one. That might look good on draft day. It doesn’t look as good when the games begin.

_Nick from Annapolis, MD            _

To me, Meyer seemed either very tired or disappointed in his Friday press conference. Did they miss out on a player they were hoping would be available? Maybe he wanted to trade up to get someone and couldn’t make it happen?

Meyer spoke around 10 p.m. Friday following a long day that began early and ended late. This was a day after a day that began early and ended late. This was after months of days that began early and ended late. It was Day 2 of the draft. Show me a head coach at 10 p.m. Day 2 of a draft, and I’ll show you a man who’s tired and isn’t going to be fresh-faced and bushy tailed as the clock strikes double digits.

I wasn’t thinking about a cornerback at the top of Round 2, but now that we are here I do like the way the secondary looks. There’s proven young talent or higher draft picks at every spot in the secondary. If they can get some pass rush up front this can be a really good defense.

Logan from Middleburg, FL

How sure are we T-Law is going to wear No. 16? I want to order a jersey but dunno if that’s the number he’s gonna keep. Also, what statistically would you consider a successful rookie campaign for Trevor? TDs, INTs, yards, etc?

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence will wear No. 16. I would consider a successful rookie campaign for Lawrence one in which he looks the part of a young, ascending quarterback and appears to show the traits of a franchise quarterback. I would hope for a lot more touchdowns than interceptions, though I would expect that ratio to not be as good as rookie as it will be moving forward. Beyond that, I don’t care about the number. I care how it looks.

I’m not one to profess I know more than those that do real work on these players. I’m sure tons of work went into the players selected to this point. That said, I’m a bit surprised tight end has not been addressed. I assume that will happen on Day 3, but should we expect those players to make an impact in 2021? Surely the staff is not satisfied with the room as it stands.

The staff is not satisfied with the tight-end room. As Meyer said late Friday, there are discussions ongoing about acquiring a receiving tight end. The Jaguars undoubtedly wanted to select a tight end. As was the case at defensive tackle, if there’s not one available worthy of the selection …

Jason from Port Orange (Duval upbringing)

Zone, I was happy and encouraged Thursday. Friday’s picks have me questioning everything. Rounds 2 and 3 don’t make sense. Help me understand this, please.

I’m not sure how they don’t make sense. The Jaguars want to play more man-to-man and you need more than two or three good cornerbacks in a quality secondary; that’s why they selected cornerback Tyson Campbell No. 33 overall. They needed to address offensive line because players such as left tackle Cam Robinson and right guard A.J. Cann are entering the final seasons of their contracts; that’s why they selected offensive tackle Walker Little No. 45 overall. They wanted to address safety with a player who can cover the field sideline to sideline and who can start quickly; that’s why they selected safety Andre Cisco No. 65 overall.

You’ve been around for a while. You’ve seen some things. You’ve observed a team with the arrow trending down. Three rounds into this new regime, is there a different feel about how the team is being built? Beyond the obvious selection of Trevor, does the optimism have a feel of effortlessness as opposed to forcing the silver lining from the cloud?

There is a different feel to this. I don’t know that you can discount the “obvious” selection of Lawrence, though. There’s an energy and a renewed focus and enthusiasm everywhere else. But he’s a potential franchise quarterback. It all starts there. He’s the foundation.

It should be worth mentioning: Lawrence, cornerback Tyson Campbell and offensive tackle Walker Little were all five-star recruits coming into college. In fact, they were either ranked one or two at their respective positions. That’s some serious pedigree, Zone.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

I was a bit surprised to see a running back taken in the first round, but overall, I like the first three picks. But Walker Little puzzles me. Sure, we need offensive line depth, but Little has not played in two years – first because of injury and second because he opted out due to COVID-19. Doesn’t that make him a real stretch for a second rounder?

I see a lot of people picking this pick apart for this reason. I’m not sure I get it. Little was an all-conference selection as a sophomore, and he’s fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him out all but one game as junior. He opted out because of COVID-19 because Stanford’s season initially was canceled by COVID-19. Yes, there’s some unknowns about him, but I have a good feeling about the selection. Call it a gut feeling, but this feels like a good selection.

I really think with a goof draft we can contend for the Super Bowl this year. Do you think this is possible?

No. A goof draft would have the opposite effect.

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