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Head start on undrafted free agency

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Kermit from Tallahassee, FL:
I enjoy reading your column but I have to admit I can't follow it as loyally as others. Can you explain the work-stoppage you are referring to?

Vic: The current CBA is to be vacated following the 2010 draft. It is the owners who have elected to vacate it; they had that option. This gives rise to the possibility of a lock-out in 2011 if the owners and players don't agree to a new CBA.

John from Bremerton, WA:
Assuming the salary cap continues after this season, would the cap actually go down if the league earnings drop in this bad economy?

Vic: The 2010 season is set to be uncapped. That would only change if a new CBA is in place and it provides for continuation of the salary cap system. The cap is determined by league earnings and the cap would decrease should league earnings drop.

Joel from Jacksonville:
If the inability to get a new CBA in place results in a work stoppage in the NFL, what happens to player contracts for that year?

Vic: They would not be paid.

Tim from Tucson, AZ:
I begin by saying I'm not trying to nitpick your list. What have you seen that makes you rank Harvin so far ahead of Maclin?

Vic: Speed and explosiveness; Harvin, in my opinion, is the most dynamic player I saw in college football last season. If he was a true wide receiver and not a running back/wide receiver hybrid that causes people to wonder what his role in pro football might be, he'd be a top five pick. Maclin is an outstanding player but he doesn't have Harvin's speed or explosiveness. Conversely, Harvin doesn't have Maclin's route-running skills. Harvin will have to be taught those skills.

Ben from San Diego, CA:
Enlighten me on this one. We spent huge money on Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence, yet, still ended up with two compensatory picks. I'm curious as to how we got them.

Vic: The Jaguars signed Jerry Porter, Drayton Florence and Cleo Lemon. They lost Terry Cousin, Aaron Glenn, Sammy Knight, Ernest Wilford and Bobby McCray. Look at it this way: Wilford and McCray signed pricey deals and they cancel out Porter and Florence. Lemon cancels out one of the other three and the remaining two the Jaguars lost produced the two seventh-round compensatory picks.

Todd from Jacksonville:
Do these compensatory picks provide us with maneuverability to pick players at the right spots throughout the draft or will we just own the seventh round?

Vic: You are not permitted to trade compensatory picks. What these seventh-round compensatory picks do, figuratively speaking, is give the Jaguars a head start on undrafted free agency. Instead of having to compete to sign a potentially undrafted player, they can use the pick to lock him up.

Dale from Hampton, VA:
Are there any differences between the players strike in 1987 and the potential work stoppage in 2011? How was the strike ended and what will it take to end this upcoming conflict?

Vic: There's a big difference. The work stoppage in '87 was due to a players strike; a work stoppage in 2011 would likely be the result of an owners "strike" in the form of a lock-out. Replacement players effected a conclusion to the '87 strike. I don't expect replacement owners to be used in '11.

Roger from Lithia, FL:
I wanted to address the guy who called you a moron. Most thinking people realize football is not the most important thing in life, even though we sometimes treat it that way (myself included). I don't always agree with you, but the entertainment value in what you contribute to the Jags (for me and my son) is one of the reasons I am going to renew my season tickets. You have added to our experience by giving us more fun info to talk about (agree or disagree) the Jags on our long ride to the stadium.

Vic: What do you mean you don't always agree with me? That's highly insulting. Don't you know I'm always right?

Jai from Liverpool, England:
If Crabtree had run at the combine, run well and didn't require surgery, where would he be on your value board?

Vic: He'd be much higher. Nobody has a time on this guy and suspicions were and still are that he has possession-receiver speed, not deep speed. The surgery makes the situation worse; certainly more risky. It's not as though I dropped him out of the first round. I have him at 15. That's bad for a guy whose speed is a mystery and whose foot is to have a screw inserted into it? Please, tell me, do you wanna give $20 million to a guy who, on the day you draft him, can't run? I'm sorry, but I think the Crabtree lovers are not being very logical.

Chad from Jacksonville:
I think your value board is interesting and thought-provoking. You actually have opinions that differ from the mainstream and I respect that. Don't let the Negavics get you down. I really think Beanie Wells is a poor man's Adrian Peterson; not as fast but definitely a top five talent if healthy. Do you think there's a possibility of a Jones-Drew/Beanie tandem?

Vic: I think Wells' measurables make him a candidate for the Jaguars. We're talking about a 235-pound back that just ran sub-4.4. That's wow! time. His critics, understandably, point to Wells' lack of durability, but I have another concern. I watched him in a lot of games and I saw the upside. I saw his big-play, best-player-on-the-field ability on several occasions, but I also saw a tendency to get swallowed up in the hole and I don't like that in a big back. I expect a big back to move the pile, but I'm not sure he's that kind of back. In that sense he reminds me of T.J. Duckett, who would run through people in space but get swallowed up and stuck in traffic. That's not my idea of a big back. A big back isn't a big back if he can't move the pile.

Ryan from Clyde, OH:
If you had the choice to draft anyone on your value board, who would you pick and why?

Vic: Aaron Curry would be my pick because he's number one on my board. Here's the problem: I don't think Curry or anybody else in this draft warrants the money a top pick is gonna get. That's why I would refuse to make the first pick of this draft. I would trade it or I would pass on it, but I would not use it to select a player. The value, in my opinion, just isn't there. I would not select a player until I felt the value in the player I was selecting was worth the money I was going to pay him. This is a rare draft. It just doesn't have a player I believe is worthy of first-pick money.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN:
In his weekly newsletter at, Bob Lewis makes these statements: "The newspaper industry is dead and none of its replacements will provide the in-depth, objective, investigative reporting we need as informed citizens. The factors that led to its demise were, for the most part, good for each of us. The result, however, isn't good for any of us." Knowing your history with print media, do you agree that it is likely dead?

Vic: As we have known it, yes, I believe it's dead, but I also believe the news industry, as long-defined by newspapers, will find a way to survive, grow and prosper on the Internet. We are in a period of change and there is no resisting it. We must re-invent ourselves on nearly all fronts, from health care to auto manufacturing to the evolution of the newspaper business. Progressive thinking will lead the way, as it always has. During my years as a sportswriter, I have gone from portable typewriters, carbon paper, bulky transmitting devices and deadlines that made news old before it was printed, to a laptop and a kind of 24-hour, news-now capability that has pumped new life into my career. Sixteen years ago, as my father was retiring, he told me to get out of the business. He told me it could not survive; that distribution costs and declining advertising sales doomed the newspaper industry. Several years later he asked me about this "Ask Vic" thing a couple of his younger friends had mentioned to him. When I turned on my laptop and showed him "Ask Vic" and the web site that presented it, he stared in stunned silence. He knew what he was seeing. He was seeing the future of the newspaper business. I have no doubt the newspaper industry will find a way to transfer its product from paper to whatever it is we're staring at in these computer screens.

Peter from Jacksonville:
I'm a college professor and an original Jaguars season ticket holder. Spring break just ended and it was horrible. I had so much catch-up work that I wasn't able to enjoy my daily lunchtime "Ask Vic." After a rough day back at school, I was finally able to catch up by reading the last seven "Ask Vic" columns. They were fantastic and put me in a great mood, but then I got angry because I wanted more and you didn't write any more. I blame you for my anger, Vic. You must be a moron. I'm canceling my season tickets and moving to Arkansas.

Vic: No you're not. You're hooked. If you didn't have Sundays in the fall at the ballpark to look forward to, your life would be empty. It is my most sincere wish that you never know that emptiness.

Jarret from Crosby, ND:
Please list the five questions you would most like to never see or answer again in your column.

Vic: 5.) If a kicker was the highest-rated player on your board in all seven rounds, would you draft one seven times? 4.) Do you think the Jaguars should trade all of their picks for the first pick in 2010 and draft Tim Tebow? 3.) Will the Jaguars keep putting home games on TV so I don't have to buy a ticket? 2.) Why don't the Jaguars draft more Florida Gators? And the number one question I don't want to see or have to answer is: Do you wear a Matt Jones jersey in the press box when you're blogging?

Paul from Marion, IA:
With the departure of McDaniel, does this open up a potential pick for Mitch King? I really got the impression Del Rio was impressed with him at the combine.

Vic: This is the kind of question that makes me proud. You've taken information provided for you exclusively on this web site by no less an authority than head coach Jack Del Rio and applied it perfectly. You've shown an impressive ability to observe. All I can tell you is that it shouldn't surprise any of us if the Jaguars do, in fact, draft King.

John from Jacksonville:
I read that the Jaguars are proposing a change in playoff seedings to favor record over division champions. If I recall correctly, you are not in favor of this change, and neither am I. If you want a home playoff game, win your division.

Vic: It's not that I'm not in favor of the proposal, it's just that it's not going to pass. I think it's a logical proposal but five of the league's eight divisions have a kind of college football-like conference pride. The AFC East, North and West and the NFC East and North are tradition-rich divisions that thrive on history and geography. Those divisions are hotly contested and the teams in those divisions firmly believe their champion should be rewarded with a home playoff game, regardless of record. One day that same kind of feeling will exist in the AFC South. In some ways it already does. It's growing with each passing year and that's exactly what you want to happen. It's about tradition. I would hate to see the Jaguars win the AFC South and not get a home playoff game.

Slim from Jacksonville:
I'm sorry, Vic.

Vic: Now doesn't that feel good? It's nice to be nice.

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