Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Gene Nichols from Lake Geneva, FL:
Since the draft is so critical to the future of the Jags, can we take a critical look back at our past seven drafts. What grade would you give the Jaguars for each draft?
Vic: In my opinion, the Jaguars' best drafts were 1996 and 1998. I would give the '96 draft an "A" grade and the '98 draft an "A-." Four of the Jaguars' first five picks (Kevin Hardy, Tony Brackens, Michael Cheever, Aaron Beasley and Reggie Barlow) in '96 became players of significant contributions, with Hardy and Brackens each making it to the Pro Bowl in '99. Cheever was on his way to becoming one of the best centers in the game when his career was halted by a back injury. Fifth-round offensive tackle Jimmy Herndon didn't make it with the Jaguars but he's still on the Bears roster. That means the Jaguars' first six picks that season were all solid choices. In '98, Fred Taylor was a home-run pick, Donovin Darius has become one of the team's fixtures on defense, Tavian Banks was on his way to a solid career when he suffered a career-ending knee injury in '99, and Jonathan Quinn, John Wade and Alvis Whitted stuck with the team for four years. The '97 draft has turned out better than expected. Renaldo Wynn and Seth Payne are quality defensive lineman, second-round pick Mike Logan is playing a significant role with the Steelers, Daimon Shelton is the Bears' starting fullback and Damon Jones did some things; give it a "B." The '95 draft produced Tony Boselli and James Stewart and, to a degree Mark Brunell, but the Jaguars didn't get enough long-term production for the number of extra picks they had; make it a "C." The 2000 draft is tainted by the selection of R. Jay Soward in the first round. Brad Meester, T.J. Slaughter, Kiwaukee Thomas, Rob Meier and Danny Clark make it respectable, but Soward makes it a "C-." The '99 draft was a disaster. Fernando Bryant has fallen off his game, Larry Smith hasn't developed, and Jason Craft is the only player from the '99 draft who was a contributor at the end of this past season; give it a "D." As for the 2001 draft crop, it's too early to tell. Maurice Williams appears to be the long-term solution at right tackle, but Marcus Stroud has yet to distinguish himself. I have a problem with a team with a depleted roster drafting a punter in the fifth round, a long-snapper in the seventh round and trading a fifth-round pick in 2002 for a sixth-round pick in '01 who couldn't make the roster.
Adam Benson from Cedar Falls, IA:
Just wanna let you know you do a great job answering all of our questions. I also wanted to ask you: Although Fred Taylor is, in my mind, the best running back in the league when he's healthy, he's been injured every year since he's been with us. Don't you think a running back should be on our priority list for this year's draft?
As long as a running back fits where the Jaguars are picking.
Ben Corby from Jacksonville:
Vic, thanks for all the great work this season with the website, the radio shows and the team newspaper. It's guys like you who keep the game interesting Tuesday through Saturday. My question concerns Tony Boselli's availability for next year. Is it just me or is anyone else harboring a serious concern that a left tackle with two reconstructed shoulders, even one as good as Boselli, is a recipe for disaster?
Tony Boselli recently assured me he will be fully recovered from his shoulder surgeries, by the start of next training camp. That's good enough for me.
Aaron Thomas from Jacksonville:
I really think we missed out on drafting a running back in last year's draft: Travis Henry, Dominic Rhodes, Travis Minor, Lamont Jordan, James Jackson, Ladainian Tomlinson, Cornell Buckhalter, Anthony Thomas, Michael Bennett, Deuce McCallister and Kevan Barlow have all had an impact on their respective teams. We seriously need to re-sign Stacey Mack. I'm not sure of this year's running backs in the draft, but I'm pretty sure there's not much depth. What are the odds of resigning Mack?
Mack will be a restricted free agent and I expect him to be "low tendered" by the Jaguars. As long as he doesn't get a big-money offer from another team, the Jaguars should be able to keep him. But, Mack might be attractive in restricted free agency because another team wouldn't have to compensate the Jaguars, since Mack came to the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent. In my opinion, the situation is iffy.
Gary Joya from Columbus, OH:
Your insight and understanding of professional football is top-flight. I also enjoy your articles on the website, as well as in Jaguars Inside Report. You make the salary cap easy to understand and I agree with your assessment of gutting, rebuilding or rejuvenating (Coughlin's wording) the team in order to gain some fiscal responsibility. This should have been done last year. The players are playing not to lose. An atmosphere based on "fear of failure" will not get it done in the NFL or in any walk of life. What is your take on this?
I'm not big on football psychology. In my opinion, the Jaguars were 6-10 this past season because they had a 6-10 roster.
Thomas Wolansky from Orange Park, FL:
Hey, Vic, you responded to a recent question that no one on the team is "sacred." Are you including Mark Brunell?
I firmly believe the Jaguars will retain Mark Brunell as their quarterback and will re-structure his contract, but when a team reaches the level of salary-cap difficulty the Jaguars have reached, no player whose release would provide a cap savings should be considered "sacred." In Brunell's case, his scheduled 2002 cap hit is more than $2 million greater than his remaining amortization, which makes him a player of significant potential savings.
Steve Murray from Ocala, FL:
What kind of contract extension will be offered to Tom Coughlin; four, five, six, seven years? I personally feel Coughlin has done a great job with what he's been given to work with.
Vic: I'm thinking more like one year.
Richard Oaks from Weirsdale, FL:
I was wondering why, if the NFL suspends a player (such as Soward), his salary counts against the cap. It would seem to me that a violation such as his and the NFL suspending him should mean his contract should not be held against coach Coughlin in trying to get us out of this salary problem we have gotten into.
Vic: R. Jay Soward's $730,000 salary will not count against the Jaguars' 2002 salary cap, because he has been suspended without pay. His signing bonus amortization, $400,000, will count against the cap because that money has already been paid. You pay it, you claim it.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.