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Head to head is best gauge

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

Josh from Lethbridge, Alberta:
Andre Smith didn't work out because he wasn't prepared nor had he trained for the specific events. So, tell me, what's so wrong about a guy that might feel embarrassed about not being able to fully show off his skills when he truly is talented, and opting out of the combine workouts?

Vic: The problem is he didn't tell any of the NIC (National Invitation Camp) people he was leaving, which is disrespectful of authority and the NIC's genuine concern for the safety of its invited guests. That's a no-no among coaches. It'll be seen as a character flaw that has to be corrected. To tell you the truth, out of shape ain't a good thing, either.

Austin from Jacksonville:
Do you think former Colts WR Marvin Harrison should be a free agent looked at by the Jaguars?

Vic: A week after you release a 33-year-old running back who may be the greatest player in your history, and you offer as your reason that the team needs to get younger, you're going to sign a 37-year-old wide receiver?

Aaron from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Is it too early to talk about who the AFC South favorite will be next year? The Colts are without Dungy, Harrison and probably Saturday. Houston is growing into a force. I guess Tennessee is the obvious choice but I really don't like them and they'll probably lose Haynesworth. It could be our year, couldn't it?

Vic: You make a good point: The AFC South is not getting stronger. The Colts and Titans appear to be in subtraction and the Jaguars are in a form of rebuilding, re-tooling or whatever you wanna call it. If I had to pick a team in the AFC South about whom I would say that this could be its year, I'd pick the Texans.

Brandon from Jacksonville:
In your Monday combine report, it was stated that Jason Smith was not believed to be worthy of a top eight pick and that Matthew Stafford was believed to be the number one pick. I understand that info came from your "Steak and Shake" source, but how can two football minds be so far apart? Senior analyst Pat Kirwan on has released a post-combine mock draft and has Jason Smith going number one to Detroit and Stafford falling all the way to the Jags at eight. What is one person seeing that the other isn't?

Vic: I guess the same thing no one saw when Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick. As far as Jason Smith is concerned, I wish Brian Orakpo hadn't been held out of the Baylor game. It would've been a great head-to-head matchup between Smith and Orakpo and those head-to-head jobs between top picks, in my opinion, are the best gauges of what a player can do, both ways. Chris Long was the second pick of last year's draft and the only thing you needed to know about Jeff Otah was that he whipped Long head to head. It's simple logic: If player A is the second-best in the draft and he got whipped by player B, then player B must be pretty good. If Orakpo hadn't missed the Baylor game and had Smith played well against him, I wouldn't be as hesitant about him.

Clayton from St. Augustine, FL:
Was Malcolm Jenkins' 40-yard dash time really that disappointing? Let's see what he does at his Pro Day. Darrelle Revis ran in the 4.4's at the combine then turned around and ran a 4.38 at his pro day.

Vic: Yeah, Jenkins' time really was that bad. Forget about the 4.53 NFL Network reported. My source has him at 4.6, which is two steps behind Revis' 4.4's. If Jenkins had run in the 4.4's, he'd probably be in the top 10. It sounds like you're a fan of Jenkins'.

William from Jacksonville:
Now that the combine is over, who do you rank as the top 10 picks?

Vic: 1. Aaron Curry, 2. Matt Stafford, 3. Eugene Monroe, 4. B.J. Raji, 5. Rey Maualuga, 6. Vontae Davis, 7. Mark Sanchez, 8. Percy Harvin, 9. Michael Oher, 10. Chris Wells.

Phil from Jacksonville:
Who are some of the "Plan B" type free agents that might interest Gene Smith?

Vic: We'll find out after the market cools off. There are no "Plan B" guys this weekend. The first week of free agency is for big spenders only.

Matthew from West Lafayette, IN:
With the evolution of the safety position over the past few years, I'd definitely take a safety in the top 10. Who doesn't need Troy Polamalu or Bob Sanders?

Vic: Neither one was drafted in the top 10 picks.

Scot from Jacksonville:
Let us not forget that the Jaguars picked need in Reggie Williams rather than BAP in "Big Ben," simply because we had picked a QB high the year before. How many offensive linemen did the Steelers draft last year? Didn't any of you needs-draft fans play pickup ball as a kid?

Vic: No, they were playing Madden.

Ray from San Antonio, TX:
Is the change in turf a possible reason everyone seems to have slower 40 times this year?

Vic: Everyone? How about the wide receivers? Didn't Darius Heyward-Bey and Deon Butler run on the same turf? If, in fact, everyone had run slow times, then a standard of evaluation adjustment would be made, but everyone didn't run slow times. Some players turned in blazing times, and that's what allows slow times to be judged as such. They used to say the turf in the old RCA Dome was slow and they blamed slow times at the combine on that, and it was one of the reasons prospects elected not to run at the combine, yet, the RCA Dome surface was that old, hard-as-concrete AstroTurf, which was considered to be the fastest of all playing surfaces. I've had scouts tell me there's no way the 40 was 40 yards long at this or that pro day. I had a scout tell me he was sure it was run on a slight downhill. All of that would be immaterial if all of the players in the draft class were running on the same surface because, at that point, it's all relative. For that reason, I think the 40 times in Indy should carry more weight than 40 times at pro days or personal workouts. They all run on the same turf at Indy.

Hal from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
As a Maryland grad, I am a huge fan of Darius Heyward-Bey. What do you think his chances are of being the Jags' first pick?

Vic: He has eighth-pick-of-the-draft speed, but does he have eighth-pick-of-the-draft hands?

Matt from Jacksonville:
I completely understand and mostly agree with the BAP philosophy, but don't blow smoke at your readers saying you honestly think drafting six or seven quarterbacks this year would be good for the Jaguars, just because they stuck with the BAP. How would they fill any needs that Gene Smith wants to build through the draft?

Vic: Don't hurt yourself on this one. Just let it go.

Matt from Jacksonville:
Is there any possibility, in your mind, Matt Stafford could fall to us and we could use that as huge trade bait?

Vic: No chance. Stafford comes from Bobby Layne's high school. If the Lions don't draft Stafford, Layne's ghost will haunt them for another 50 years.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
Harvin or Crabtree?

Vic: Harvin.

Ken from Lake Charles, LA:
In responding to someone's question a while back, you expressed that Leftwich had to "reinvent" himself. What exactly does that mean for a player? Can you give us an example of someone who's done this successfully?

Vic: It means that a player who has fallen hard in his career must rally and carve out a new niche. Kurt Warner immediately comes to mind. I think Byron has resurrected his career, too.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario:
If there's one thing Jason Smith needs a bit of work on, it's his run-blocking (even though Baylor ran the ball well last year). Aren't right tackles supposed to be the run maulers out of the two tackle positions? Why would there be any issue over what side he'd be playing on when he needs improvement in the run game and he's the first or second-best pass-protector in the draft? Seems like a pretty easy decision over what position he'll be playing in the pros. After having a good combine, there's no way this guy would be a reach at number eight.

Vic: OK, I surrender. I give my opinions honestly and I stand by them but, if you badger me long enough, I'll change my mind and move on because I'm not going to allow an offensive tackle from a school that hasn't played a significant game since I can't remember when cause daily angst in my life. Therefore, I have officially changed my opinion of Jason Smith. I am installing him at number two in my top 10 draft prospects, which means everybody else should drop one spot, effectively dropping Wells out of the top 10. Clearly, Smith will not be available when the Jaguars pick, but if the seven teams ahead of the Jaguars prove to be as stupid as I was, then the Jaguars should absolutely select him. This is not a joke. I have changed. Smith is now number two.

Dan from Baltimore, MD:
On James Laurinaitis being from Ohio State, what happened to "you find football players where you find football players." Forget about the guys who have been relative busts at Ohio State, maybe this guy is a football player.

Vic: I'm sorry for not saying he's great. He didn't run well at the combine but he made up for it by not being very strong. Is it OK if I make him number 11 and move Wells down to number 12?

Andy from Sebring, FL:
In yesterday's "Ask Vic," you said "but do you wanna take a safety in the top 10?" According to you and the BAP philosophy, this is a no-brainer isn't it? What difference does position make if you are truly following the BAP philosophy? If a safety (or a punter) is the BAP at the 10th pick, why would you hesitate to pick him? The fact that you even asked if you would take a safety in the top 10 makes it look like you aren't as committed to the BAP philosophy as you claim.

Vic: You obviously didn't read Monday's column, in which I said that premium positions clearly prejudice the grading process. Safety, as you probably know, is not considered to be a premium position. That's OK, though. Hang on to your Madden and keep the BAP insanity coming. The insanity deepens every day and I love it. It's pure comedy.

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