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Hybrid philosophy

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

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
Looking at who didn't get drafted. How on earth did Anwar Phillips get ignored? Do you know why?

Vic: Yes.

Tony from Daytona Beach, FL:
One thing I have noticed is that other media outlets like to sensationalize events in the NFL when reporting on them and I find your reporting and opinion to be cut and dry, tough love and no nonsense. With that being said, how likely is Governor Schwarzenegger's wish to have two NFL teams in Los Angeles in the next decade, if at all?

Vic: You might recall that, from the owners meetings in Orlando in March, I reported that, ultimately, two teams would end up in Los Angeles.

Zach from Boston, MA:
I used to believe big-time college players make better NFL players than small-time college players. Jimmy Smith, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Rashean Mathis changed my mind. That being said I still find that big guys come from the big schools. Henderson and Stroud are from the SEC, Warren Sapp is from Miami and most NFL lineman seem to come from big conferences. So I think it's safe to say skill players can come from anywhere but when you want the beef, you go to big schools.

Vic: It's all part of the "Planet Theory" that George Young espoused: There are only so many people on the planet that big. Big guys are at a tremendous premium in all sports. Six-foot, 190-pound wide receivers are a dime a dozen, but 6-6, 320-pound men who are athletic and can run are rare. That's why I say you gotta get the big guys early. That doesn't mean you ignore great players at other positions, such as Reggie Bush, but I think you have to favor the big guys early in the draft. College football coaches treat big-guy recruits the same way. They are at a premium and the major colleges want every big guy they can get their hands on. In a competitive recruiting situation, of course, the big schools from the big conferences are going to get more big guys than small schools from small conferences.

Marcus from Jacksonville:
No disrespect to our newly drafted running back, but why draft another one?

Vic: If the Jaguars draft a guy who fits a need, I get letters from people saying there's no way the Jaguars drafted the best player available. If they draft a guy at a position where they're perceived not to have a need, I get letters from people complaining that they wasted the pick. There's only reason to draft any player: because you think he was the best player to pick. In time, we'll know if they were right.

Keith from Jacksonville:
I know this is not football related but, since you were there, do you do any reflection or anything like that related to the anniversary of the Kent State shootings in 1970?

Vic: For those of us who were there, May 4 is much more than a date. As soon as I see it in print, I get a chill. At noon today, I'll stop and reflect. My most enduring memory is the sound of ambulances coming from all directions. I'll never forget that sound. That's when I knew the bullets were real. I was only a freshman and, frankly, I wasn't intelligent enough or mature enough then to have understood or appreciated fully what had happened, but by the time I was a senior I got it. People were killed for what they thought, not for what they did. At my graduation ceremony, the president of the senior class reminded us that we were the last class to have witnessed what happened on this campus four years ago. That left a mark on me. The student photographer, John Filo, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his poignant photo, was from my hometown and we were high school classmates. I did a "search" on John that produced nearly 170,000 results. Clearly, his life changed forever. In some way, all of our lives changed forever that day. Thanks for asking.

Ed from Jacksonville:
When the experts grade NFL team's drafts, do they base their grade on the best player available to the team when they pick, or whether or not they fill a need for their team? My guess is it's the latter, but shouldn't it be the former?

Vic: First of all, I think you're putting too much stock in draft grades. They're just commentary meant to contribute to the entertainment of the event. The ability to address need is always integral to a top grade. The inability to address need, however, can be overcome by acquiring value. You'll hear a guy say, "They got great value with their third-round pick." Need and value are the two main criterions in grading a draft class. The top grades go to the teams that were able to address need and not sacrifice value.

Harley from Ormond Beach, FL:
How does targeting relate to best available player and drafting for need?

Vic: Targeting is the hybrid of the two. BAP drafting is just not realistic in the salary cap era. I still think it can be done effectively, but you better have an owner with great patience. There isn't, however, a lot of patience in the game today and that's why BAP drafting has to be married with drafting for need. Targeting is what you get when you marry the two. Here's how it works. A team targets a guy it really likes. They like his talent and they like how he fits on their team, so they target him as a player they want to draft. Now comes the most important part: They have to accurately predict where he fits in the draft order. If you take him too high, you lose value. If you wait too long, you lose the player. Once you decide where the player fits in the order, you'll know whether you have to adjust your pick up or down. You must move to where the player fits. We saw the Jaguars do that in the third round for Clint Ingram. We saw the Steelers do that for Santonio Holmes; the Giants do it for Mathias Kiwanuka; Denver do it for Jay Cutler. Holmes' family was wearing Steelers jerseys when he was picked. You don't think he was targeted, do you? Look at how much trading there was in last weekend's draft. The Vikings targeted a quarterback, Tavaris Jackson of Alabama State, then traded two third-round picks to move into the bottom of the second round and pick Jackson, who some teams had graded as an undrafted guy. That's what I call an extreme example of targeting and I don't like it because you're taking the player out order, which means you're losing value. Then we have the opposite example, which is Buffalo standing pat and drafting Donte Whitner with the eighth overall pick. Whitner is a great player but he didn't fit that high in the first round. The Bills were unable or unwilling to move their pick and, as a result, they lost the full value of the pick. They should've been able to move down, get an extra pick or two and still get Whitner. When you use the targeting philosophy, it's possible a higher-rated player will be available when it's your turn to pick and then you have a decision to make, but even if you pick the lower-rated guy, you've moved yourself into his neighborhood and you're getting commensurate value for the pick.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
It appears the Jaguars are on the way toward compensatory selections next year. Brian Williams, Stockar McDougle and Nick Greisen are all we have acquired (Mike Williams was a "street" free agent that doesn't count toward the total). Meanwhile, we lost Akin Ayodele, Kenny Wright, Jamie Winborn, Deke Cooper, Mike Pearson and Ephraim Salaam, and Greg Favors might sign somewhere else. How do you think this will translate?

Vic: I think it'll still come out as a net gain for the Jaguars, which will mean no compensatory pick. Brian Williams' signing bonus is what's going to create the net gain.

Jason from Orlando, FL:
Why do you think quarterbacks such as Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith and Cade McNown failed miserably in the NFL?

Vic: Leaf lacked the mental composition of a successful NFL quarterback. Smith was one of those college system quarterbacks who rose to prominence based on his overwhelming statistics. McNown didn't have an NFL arm or much of anything else necessary to succeed in this league. He was drafted on the strength of his success in college football.

Nick from Las Vegas, NV:
I think my favorite moment of the draft was early in round two when Green Bay was on the clock with Denver waiting to choose next. I'm sure Green Bay had to know Denver was thinking that Chad Jackson would fall into their lap in the second round. So what does Green Bay do? They trade out of the pick with New England, which wants Jackson and basically screws Denver. At that point Green Bay pretty much forces Denver's hand regarding Javon Walker and Denver gives them their pick in the second. Green Bay falls only one spot in the second round, gets extra picks from New England and essentially gets an early second round pick for Walker, which is probably as good as they could've hoped. You have to admit that was brilliant.

Vic: After months of looking like the "Village Idiot" in the Brett Favre thing, the Packers pulled off one of the shrewdest draft-day maneuvers in recent memory. It's right up there with Dallas' 1977 trade with Seattle that allowed Dallas to draft Tony Dorsett. I think you're pretty smart for figuring it out the way you did.

Rich from Jacksonville:
In response to the statement by Barry from Richmond regarding SEC quarterbacks, he forgot to mention one of the best quarterbacks the SEC has ever produced, the mighty Heath Shuler.

Vic: The quarterbacks Barry named all won Heisman Trophies. Shuler didn't win a Heisman.

Jon from American Fork, UT:
Do you think mobile quarterbacks like Michael Vick are easier or harder for offensive linemen to protect than strict pocket-passers with little mobility such as Byron Leftwich?

Vic: I don't know what the answer is to that question, but here's what I do know: Of the top 15 quarterbacks in the NFL passer ratings last year, none of them would be considered scramblers. Jake Plummer was the top rusher among those 15 but he only rushed for 151 yards. Michael Vick, David Carr and Aaron Brooks were the top rushing quarterbacks last season. I think that speaks volumes. Quarterbacks need to be athletes. They need to be able to move when necessary. They need to have the athletic ability to avoid the rush. Their main function, however, is to pass the football.

Arturo from San Jose, CA:
With the drafting of Marcedes Lewis taking up one roster spot and Kyle Brady taking up another, who has the better chance of making the roster at tight end, George Wrighster or Brian Jones?

Vic: If the Jaguars are going to use a lot of two-tight end sets, and I think they will, then they'll probably keep four tight ends.

Chris from Scranton, PA:
I just wanted to let you know I love the job you're doing. The crack about the thesaurus knocked me out of my chair. I was just wondering who for the Jags has the absolute last decision on who the pick is going to be?

Vic: Wayne Weaver was asked that question a few years ago and he explained that everything would be done to avoid a one-person decision, but if it couldn't be avoided, then the final call would be James Harris'. That makes sense to me because he's the man in charge of personnel. It can happen, but it appears to me Harris and Jack Del Rio have a very good working relationship and are able to come to a consensus decision on their picks and signings.

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