Chat with Michael DiRocco
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN NFL Nation Jacksonville Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco drops by to chat and answer all of your Jaguars questions.
DiRocco covered the University of Florida for 13 years, including 10 with the Florida Times-Union, before moving to the Jaguars beat with ESPN.com. A graduate of Jacksonville University and a multi-APSE aware winner, DiRocco lives in Middleburg, Fla. with his wife and two sons.
Send your questions now and join DiRocco Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Michael DiRocco (2:58 PM)
Hello everyone. Let's get started.
I know there are still some (serious) questions regarding Clowney and that you also believe he'll be there at #3 for the Jaguars but it sounds like that he has locked himself in as a Top 2 selection. I say that because even though there are questions surrounding him, its still believed by many that Clowney is the best player in this draft so i can see Houston selecting him. Even if they didn?t, i could see St. Louis dealing the 2nd pick to someone really wanting him (the Falcons maybe?) and still allowing the Rams to draft an Offensive Tackle or another position they so choose. If that is the case who do you believe is #2 on the Jaguars draft board? Mack? Bridgewater? Barr?
Michael DiRocco (2:59 PM)
James: My guess would be Mack. I just don't think the Jaguars want to take a quarterback in the first round. David Caldwell has said it's uncommon for rookie QBs to play right away and that would mean the Jags' top pick is on the bench for possibly a year. That doesn't help. So I think they'd take Mack.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi, The biggest area of need, outside of the quarterback position, for the Jaguars is simply a pass rusher, be it from the linebacker position or a down end and help on the offensive line. With over $50 million in cap money is there anyone on the free agent market that can fill these needs?
Michael DiRocco (3:00 PM)
Rich: There are several players, mainly Greg Hardy, Michael Bennett and Michael Johnson. The Jags could go after any one of them, though in that group I think Bennett is the most likely.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Todd Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel for their Quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft?
Michael DiRocco (3:01 PM)
Chris: I don't think they take either. I think they're taking Jadeveon Clowney.
Ed (Queens Village)
What parts of Florida do Jag fans dominate?
Michael DiRocco (3:02 PM)
Ed: I know they dominate in Jacksonville and the fan base is growing. The more they win the bigger and more vocal the fan base will become.
Paul Mokeski (Milwaukee )
What was your biggest takeaway from the Combine? Is it as ridiculous in person as it is on TV?
Michael DiRocco (3:04 PM)
Paul: I've never been to a combine so I can't answer if it's as ridiculous as it looks, but I'll say this from attending the SEC media days where there's 900-plus media (just like the combine): You can't really get anything unique in interviews because there's just so many people there. My biggest takeaways from watching it this year is how impressive Mack was, how fast Manziel was, and how disappointing that Bridgewater opted not to throw. As a general rule, though, I think people make too much of what happens at the combine. Put on the tape.
Luke Harangody (Cleveland)
Love the chats (season-long follower, first time poster). So where does MJD end up? Any other cap casualties you forsee in Jacksonville?
Michael DiRocco (3:06 PM)
Luke: Thanks. I can see him in San Francisco or Arizona, where he can get a good percentage of carries. As for cap casualties here, the Jags don't have any because they're so far under the cap. But I do think there's a possibility the team releases Jason Babin. He's supposed to have a $6.175 million cap hit in 2014. He's turning 34 and his production is down. That's a lot of money to spend for not much return.
Marques Johnson (Milwaukee)
Phil Simms stated that Geno Smith would be the top ranked QB if he were coming out on this draft. Solid take or just another talking head looking to make headlines. Interested in your thoughts.
Michael DiRocco (3:08 PM)
Marques: I'm not real high on Geno Smith but he seemed to show flashes of real potential as a rookie. I think Phil's comment was him just trying to make a point that the QBs in this draft aren't as good as everyone makes them out to be. I disagree with him on Smith because I think Bridgewater is the better player and would be rated higher.
How surprised would you be if Dave Caldwell and the Jaguars signed someone Day 1 of the start of Free Agency? I know they aren't going to spend money just to spend money and Dave's M.O has been to stay with the 2nd tier and more unproved guys a few days and weeks into Free Agency but i have a feeling that there might be 1 "bigger name" free agent that both Caldwell and Bradley have on their radar and will go after him but they of course, will stay at their price. Your thoughts and insight?
Michael DiRocco (3:10 PM)
James: I think it's possible, but it probably won't be the pass rusher. I can see them going all out on Day 1 to sign Alex Mack to solidify the center of that offensive line for the next 5 years. With the cap continuing to rise, the Jags have more than $55 million in space so one big contract won't hurt.
Damian Moody-Smith (Herne Bay)
Whilst it seems that the Jaguars management aren't overly keen on a particular QB at 3, which of the defensive players do you think is the best fit if they decide to go that way? And in continuation to this, what QB's would be available later on that would be of interest? Personally I like Mack at 3 and Carr early in 2nd, but not sure he drops that low
Michael DiRocco (3:12 PM)
Damian: I like Clowney over Mack at No. 3, but if Clowney's gone I can see them taking Mack. As for the QBs, Carr, Mettenberger, Boyd, McCarron, Garoppolo and Fales are options the team would consider. If the Jags wanted Carr in the early second round they'd have to move up a bit but they've got extra picks to do that.
Ricky Pierce (Milwaukee)
Safest pick at #3? Player with highest risk/reward?
Michael DiRocco (3:13 PM)
Ricky: I think the safest pick at No. 3 would be Clowney or Mack. Highest risk-reward guy would be Johnny Manziel, just because you don't know if he'll be able to transfer his style of play to the NFL and the concerns over his size. But if he can, he could be a big-time player.
Terry Cummings (Milwaukee)
Has there been a formal listing of the players that Caldwell and Bradley had personal interviews with? And am I correct in saying that we're allowed to have 60 players in for visits? For some reason that number is in my head. Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (3:14 PM)
Terry: No formal list has been circulated outside the building. The Jags were allowed to visit with 60 players at the combine. I know they visited with the top three QBs for sure and I'd be stunned if they didn't spend time with Clowney, Mack and Watkins as well.
Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee)
D'Qwell Jackson was waived by the Browns. Would the Jags have any interest at the right price? And how funny is it that a 4-12 team needs to clear bad contracts? Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (3:16 PM)
Sidney: The Jaguars most likely would have some interest but I don't think he's someone they feel like they need to sign. For one, he's turning 31 in September and the Jaguars really want to get younger and faster at linebacker. And it doesn't surprise me the Browns had to clear a bad contract because, well, they're the Browns.
Shawn Bradley (Philly)
Did you hear any rumors at the combine about which way the Texans are leaning? Do you think they can pass on in-state legend Johnny Football?
Michael DiRocco (3:17 PM)
Shawn: The hot thing right now is that they're leaning toward taking Clowney, but the Houston Chronicle's John McClain says that's not the case. He's pretty tied in so I'd go with him on this one. More likely quarterback and most likely Bridgewater.
Jon Koncak (Atlanta)
What's the dumbest thing you saw at the combine? I heard the Browns asked guys to give them 1 minutes worth of uses for a single brick. How does that help you gauge football talent?
Michael DiRocco (3:18 PM)
Jon: I didn't go to the combine, but the Browns asked players at the Senior Bowl (which I did attend) the same thing. The only way I can see that question has merit is to gauge how someone handles themselves when thrown a curveball. But it's the Browns, so it doesn't have to make sense.
Cosmo Sanicola ((NYC))
say the jaguars have to wait for a qb like say david sales, or aj mcaaron or zach mettenberger, would they start of as the starter right away??
Michael DiRocco (3:19 PM)
Cosmo: No. If the team signs Chad Henne to an extension (which I expect to happen next week) then he'll begin the season as the starter. If not, then there would be an open competition.
Brian Winters (Milwaukee)
Ron Jaworski says he wouldn't spend a pick in the first 3 rounds on Manziel. Valid opinion or grumpy old QB? Interested in your thoughts.
Michael DiRocco (3:22 PM)
Brian: I respect Jaws and he obviously knows a lot about quarterbacks. I think he's being a bit harsh on Manziel, though. He's a bit reckless and wild, but a good coaching staff will be able to correct that. The NFL has changed considerably since Jaws played, too. Not saying he's stuck in the past but I think he's more of a traditionalist when it comes to QBs.
James KY [via mobile]
Any idea who you think Caldwell likes the most at QB in the 2nd rd if they go Clowney/Mack at #3 and Carr is gone by their 2nd selection?
Michael DiRocco (3:23 PM)
James: My guess would be McCarron, Garoppolo, Mettenberger.
Randy Breuer (Milwaukee)
You seem to be high on Khalil Mack. Any concerns about the level of competition that he faced in the MAC? I guess one could have held the same concerns about DeMarcus Ware and that worked out OK. Thanks for all of your work.
Michael DiRocco (3:28 PM)
Randy: No problem. As for Mack, not necessarily because while he played at Buffalo he dominated. He holds the NCAA career record for forced fumbles and tied the record for tackles for loss. He has been as consistent as any player in the country.
Greg Ostertag (Salt Lake City)
What kind of access to they give the media at "The Combine"? Are you allowed to interview these guys besides the mass Q&A sessions?
Michael DiRocco (3:29 PM)
Greg: Yes, but the players are so busy that it's hard to get them sometimes.
Junior Bridgeman (Milwaukee)
More likely to land with another NFL team.... Jonathan Martin or Richie Incognito? And is there any chance that this story ever goes away.
Michael DiRocco (3:30 PM)
Junior: At this point, Martin, especially with the latest developments. And no, there's no chance this story goes away.
If they don't take a QB in the first couple rounds, are there any QBs next year that would be good for the Jags?
Michael DiRocco (3:30 PM)
Dave: Jameis Winston (yeah, I don't buy that he's going to play all four years), Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota.
Bob Lanier (Milwaukee)
Any interest in Josh McCown in FA? Might not break the bank and he looked solid in Chicago last season. Interested in your thoughts.
Michael DiRocco (3:31 PM)
Bob: The Jaguars want to sign Chad Henne to an extension. He's their top priority. If he were to sign elsewhere then McCown could be a possibility. But everything I've heard indicates that Henne will be back.
Zach [via mobile]
Do you think the jags are interested in dion Jordan now that the dolphins are shopping him?
Michael DiRocco (3:32 PM)
Zach: It depends on what the Dolphins want. I know David Caldwell views draft picks as valuable commodities and is not real willing to part with them. It would take a lot to get him to give some up and I don't see Jordan as being that valuable.
Cherokee Parks (Dallas)
Do you see the Jags drafting any projects this year, a la Denard Robinson? That didn't work out well for them.
Michael DiRocco (3:34 PM)
Cherokee: Well, let's give Denard more than a year before we label him a failure. But yes, they'll take projects. As a general rule, teams draft players in the sixth and seventh rounds with the hope they can develop into someone that can help the team. If they can't, it's not a big loss.
Uwe Blab (Bloomington, IN)
How much input does Caldwell give Gus with this year's draft? Love the chats.
Michael DiRocco (3:35 PM)
Uwe: Gus is very involved with the evaluation process and interviews. The two are on the same page in terms of how they want to build the franchise. Caldwell gets the final say, obviously, but Gus has significant input.
Craig Hodges (Milwaukee)
Missed you at the Combine. Aside from staying clean and out of jail, do the players have any formal obligations to the team at this point on the calendar? Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (3:38 PM)
Craig: No formal obligations. The players that are rehabbing can do it here or elsewhere. The next time they have an official obligation to the team is at a mandatory minicamp. OTAs are voluntary.
Any chance Jags checking out some WR's in FA considering the uncertainty about Blackmons future and the need for a starter opposite Shorts?
Michael DiRocco (3:39 PM)
Adam: Absolutely. I thought Riley Cooper would have been a target but he has worked out an extension with the Eagles. Eric Decker is someone to watch. I think the Jaguars are also going to draft a receiver.
Alton Lister (Milwaukee)
Sticking with overblown stories in the media, where do you see Michael Samms landing in the draft? He was pegged as a 3-5th rounder and then had a less than overwheling performance in Indy.
Michael DiRocco (3:40 PM)
Alton: I don't put too much stock in what a guy does at the combine, good or bad. Sometimes people get too caught up in bench press, shuttle drills, broad jump, etc. I want football players and when I watched Sam play he was a good football player. I still think he goes in the range you mentioned.
Chris Dudley (Portland)
Are the Jags going to bring back Marcedes? All he does is catch TDs.
Michael DiRocco (3:41 PM)
Chris: Yup. Caldwell said that Lewis' cap number is not a problem and he'll be here in 2014.
Let's say the Jags nab one of the big-time pass rushers in FA. Would you pretty much rule out Mack or Barr at #3 (assuming Clowney off the board)?
Michael DiRocco (3:41 PM)
Adam: Not at all. You can't ever have too many pass rushers. The Jags could solidify that spot for several years by drafting one.
Cecil Cooper (Milwaukee)
You've taken two shots at the Browns in this chat. Any concerns that your comments will become bulletin board material? As a fellow cellar dweller, we seem to see them on the schedule every year.
Michael DiRocco (3:42 PM)
Cecil: My comments couldn't possibly make their bulletin board because they were tame in comparison to some of the other things that have been said and written about the Browns.
Jack Haley (Chicago)
Other than Watkins, do you see any offensive play makers in this year's draft? I think the Jags would be better served addressing the defensive side of the ball.
Michael DiRocco (3:46 PM)
Jack: The wide receiver position is really stocked and Mike Evans Marqise Lee, Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham Jr. are guys to watch. Tight end Eric Ebron is another.
Gorman Thomas (Milwaukee)
Do you think Rich Eisen's 5.98 in the 40 was legit? Could you beat it? Also, can you provide an update on the stadium improvements? Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (3:47 PM)
Gorman: I have no reason to believe it wasn't legit. Unfortunately, I couldn't beat it. As for the stadium improvements, they're supposed to break ground next week for the scoreboards.
Adam Keefe (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Bottom line: Is Chad Henne someone you want starting a playoff game? If the answer is no, I say grab a QB at #3. Keep up the good work.
Michael DiRocco (3:48 PM)
Adam: The Jags are so far away from a playoff game that your question is moot. Henne is the guy who can keep the offense afloat, as Caldwell said, until you find the next QB. That may be this year or next year.
Ben Ogilvie (Milwaukee)
Seems like a ton of depth at the WR position. Could you see the Jags looking there at the top of the 3rd round? Maybe add some size at the position. Interested in your thoughts.
Michael DiRocco (3:49 PM)
Ben: They do need to add a big receiver because that's something they don't have. I would rather see them address OL or DL in the third round but if there is a WR they like then it wouldn't be terrible for them to take him then.
Bill Wennington (Dallas)
Manziel seems to say all the right things in the interviews, but his judgment has been less than stellar. Where do you come down on the draftability of Johnny Football?
Michael DiRocco (3:50 PM)
Bill: He's a big risk-big reward kind of player. If he can translate his game to the NFL and protect himself and stay healthy, he could be a big-time player. I think he'd be a fit here in Jax if they wanted to take him but I don't believe they'll go QB in round one.
Sixto Lezcano (Milwaukee)
How much of a disaster would the proposed rule outlawing use of the N-word be? These refs have a hard enough time SEEING the plays on the field. Now we're going to ask them to listen, too?
Michael DiRocco (3:52 PM)
Sixto: That is something that's a concern for sure. I think it'll be something that is able to be policed better after plays when things quiet down rather than during a play.
Tim Kempton (Cleveland)
Can Cecil Shorts step up and be a legit #1 WR next year? Are there any FA WRs that you'd like to see the Jags pursue? Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (3:53 PM)
Tim: I don't see Cecil as a No. 1 receiver. He's a solid No. 2, though. The Jaguars should pursue Eric Decker or Hakeem Nicks in free agency. They need a bigger receiver.
Charlie Moore (Milwaukee)
Who would you say are the team leaders in the locker room for the Jags? That veteran leadership is something that I worry about when I see our focus on youth. Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (3:54 PM)
Charlie: Sen'Derrick Marks, Paul Posluszny and Will Blackmon on defense. Marcedes Lewis, Chad Henne, Maurice Jones-Drew (if he comes back), Cecil Shorts on offense. It's a good locker room from a leadership standpoint.
Brian Scalabrine (Boston)
Will Clowney put fannies in the seats? I'd hate to see him thrive 4 years from now as a Los Angeles Jaguar.
Michael DiRocco (3:55 PM)
Brian: Clowney is a pretty big attraction, though certainly not at the level of the quarterbacks. But he'll help the Jaguars win and winning puts rear ends in the seats.
Robin Yount (Milwaukee)
Bringing back some painful memories. Were the Jaguars linked/rumored to be interested in Blaine Gabbert prior to that year's draft? I'm not local and remember being stunned by the pick.
Michael DiRocco (3:55 PM)
Robin: I wasn't covering the team then, but I remember there being talk about the Jaguars liking Gabbert before that draft.
Scott Pollard (Sacramento)
Why hasn't Herman Edwards been hired again? I'm impressed every time I hear him on the radio. Could you see him on Gus's staff?
Michael DiRocco (3:56 PM)
Scott: I think he has had opportunities but has turned them down. From what I understand he's pretty happy with what he's doing now. He'd be just the kind of guy Gus would like for his staff, but I don't see that happening.
Colton (west virginia)
i'm impressed with how many former nba players attend your chats
Michael DiRocco (3:57 PM)
Colton: I'm big with retired MLB stars, too.
Pete Vuckovich (Milwaukee)
Heard Caldwell say that he had no interest in the Jags being featured on Hard Knocks. I think that would be a great showcase for our team.
Michael DiRocco (3:58 PM)
Pete: It would be great exposure but Caldwell isn't too keen about the cameras filming everything, including cuts. That clashes with the culture they're trying to establish here. But they may not have a choice. The NFL may order them to do it.
Adam Morrison (Los Angeles)
What kind of package would it take to get the Jags to trade out of the 3-spot? If they bring Henne back at QB then I'm becoming a Dolphin fan.
Michael DiRocco (4:00 PM)
Adam: You might want to start looking for Dolphins gear then because I expect the team to get a deal done with Henne any day now. As for trading out of No. 3, it'd take at least a No. 2 this year or possibly even multiple picks, depending on how far down the order the team is.
Sal Bando (Milwaukee)
How far along in developing the draft board would you say the Jags are? I get nervous about players making huge climbs or falls down the draft board at this point. Nobody has played a game since early January. Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (4:01 PM)
Sal: Though Caldwell has said they have a pretty good idea who their top five are, the Jaguars' draft board is pretty fluid. It'll stay that way until after all their interviews and workouts are done. That's when they'll begin firming it up, which should happen in April.
I'll follow the Jags to whatever city they move to. We both deserve major-league cities.
Michael DiRocco (4:01 PM)
Newt: I like your commitment.
Don Money (Milwaukee)
Do you have a preferred 'expert' (Mayock, Kiper, McShay) when it comes to the draft? Or are all of these guys just throwing darts at a board. I'm not talking about mocks and who drafts who. More interested in the best evaluator of talent.
Michael DiRocco (4:02 PM)
Don: I tend to like McShay more than the others. I know he watches a lot of film and he seems to see the little things that others may miss.
Mark Madsen (Los Angeles)
How much consideration does the college program get when evaluating prospects? Are specific schools that raise red flags?
Michael DiRocco (4:03 PM)
Mark: I don't think there are any schools that raise red flags unless a team has dealt with a coach before that has blatantly lied to them or mislead them about a prospect. It's more relationships with the coaches than specific schools.
Moose Haas (Milwaukee)
My buddy bet me $5 you wouldn't answer his Muschamp question. Do you see the Jags addressing RB through FA, a mid/late round draft choice or both? Also, can we assume that Joekel is on track in terms of health? Thanks for the chats.
Michael DiRocco (4:06 PM)
Moose: Well, I did delete it, but I'm going to earn you $5 right here. Muschamp's recruiting class was pretty solid defensively but he again missed out on some difference-makers on offense. He's confident that he's got some guys on the roster now that can make a difference on the edge (Robinson, Fulwood) and he's excited about the change on offense. They're going to be in the shotgun almost exclusively because that's where Driskel is most comfortable. As for your question, I see the Jaguars doing both. Sign a guy like James Starks or Ben Tate and add a later-round back. Finding a replacement for MJD is a high priority. From what Gus has told me, Joeckel is on track to be back on the field with the rest of the team in OTAs in April.
Pete Chilcutt (Los Angeles)
Everyone (including your boy McShay) says this is a deep draft. How many of this year's picks need to start/play significantly before we can call this draft a success?
Michael DiRocco (4:08 PM)
Pete: That's hard to answer because so much is unknown at this point. But as a general rule, you want your first-round pick to start right away. In the Jaguars' case, you'd hope your second- and third-round picks are either starters or significant contributors. The fourth- and fifth-round guys are generally depth guys but there's always somebody that develops into a really good player. Bottom line, if the Jaguars can get 3-5 starters out of this draft it's a pretty good one.
Paul Pressey (Milwaukee)
Thanks for the chats. You owe me $5.
Michael DiRocco (4:09 PM)
Paul: Send me a bill.
Michael DiRocco (4:09 PM)
OK everyone, that's it for today. We'll do it again next week. Have a good weekend.