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It's a crystal-ball business

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Robert from Jacksonville:
What grade would you give our secondary as of right now? Will this position be addressed more later on?

Vic: The Jaguars have addressed their secondary in a big way. They "franchised" Donovin Darius and signed Lewis Sanders, Dewayne Washington and Deon Grant, and I expect the Jaguars to further address their defensive backfield. I expect the Jaguars to sign another free-agent cornerback and to draft one from what appears to be a very deep cornerback crop. If the Jaguars and Darius remain far apart in contract negotiations, I would also expect the possibility Darius would be traded, which would bring the Jaguars another draft pick and add salary cap room. In my book, that's a lot of activity at one area of the football team and, by sheer numbers alone, I would give the Jaguars secondary a solid "B." What it needs to become an "A" is a star cornerback who cuts the field in half. Maybe Rashean Mathis will be that player.

Robert from Daytona Beach, FL:
If you had a dream draft for this year, how would it go? First-round pick, Jags select Roy Williams. With their second-round pick, the Jaguars select Michael Boulware. The Jaguars trade their two third-round picks to the Patriots for their second-round pick, then select, from Florida, Keiwan Ratliff. In the fourth round, the Jags select Brock Lesner. With their fifth-round pick, the Jags select Ryan Schnider from UCF. In the sixth round, the Jags select, from Iowa, Bob Sanders, and with their seventh-round pick the Jags select, from Florida, Shannon Snell. What do you think of this draft?

Vic: You forgot Jeb Bush.

Florian from Jacksonville:
Since it looks like, for the third year in a row, a QB will be picked with the first pick of the draft, can you do one of your famous analyses on how successful high first-round QBs have been in the last 10 years or so? Great column.

Vic: Quarterback is a special position that requires special grading criterion. When you select a quarterback high in the draft, you accept the risk. You are fully aware a player at another position would be a safer choice. Anyhow, here's your top 15 picks at the quarterback position from 1995-2003: '95, Steve McNair and Kerry Collins; '96, none; '97, none; '98, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf; '99, Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown; 2000, none; '01, Michael Vick; '02, David Carr and Joey Harrington; '03, Carson Palmer and Byron Leftwich.

Iben from Israel:
"Salary cap 101" was great! I have a question about Texas WR Roy Williams. Most mock drafts have the Jags taking him with the ninth pick. Roy appears to be a boom or bust pick, in my eyes, and I was wondering if teams label players as potential busts, even though they are talented enough to be drafted.

Vic: Teams consider all of the information available on a player. In grading Roy Williams, that information includes a rap for not playing big in big games. Some personnel people will consider that a major red flag, but most of the scouts to whom I've spoken are quick to blame the quarterback position at Texas over the past few years. Williams is the most gifted athlete of the wide receivers class. He has the best blend of size, speed and athletic ability. In a personal workout, he'll knock your eyes out. Those marvelous skills are his upside. But you don't win football games in workouts. The idea is to win championships and, frankly, Williams hasn't been a championship-caliber performer in championship-caliber games. That's his downside. Armed with that information, it is the scout's job to decide what kind of player Williams will be in the NFL. Scouting and drafting is a crystal-ball business. NFL personnel people are paid to look into the future.

Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
It seems to me that, this year, all the top receivers being traded are going for what amounts to chump change: Owens for a second-rounder, Boston for a sixth-rounder. It seems good receivers are being devalued. Is this because of the bumper crop of receivers this year in the draft? Are draft picks beginning to be treated as more valuable than they used to be, or is it something else entirely?

Vic: Draft picks have always been considered more valuable than established players. This year, the bountiful supply of wide receivers in the draft may have further lowered the trade value of players such as Terrell Owens and David Boston but, based on history alone, I've made a point in "Ask Vic" over the past couple of weeks of discouraging fans in their wild attempts to trade for these guys. It's just not realistic; teams are not going to trade away high picks for wide receivers, in any year. They'll trade high picks for left tackles, but not for wide receivers. The bottom line is wide receivers are not difficult to find. Owens was a third-round pick. The two leading receivers in the AFC last year, Derrick Mason of Tennessee and Hines Ward of Pittsburgh, were fourth and third-round picks respectively. Anquan Boldin was the 54th player selected last year, and Boldin caught 101 passes for Arizona as a rookie. The problem isn't that the league is devaluing the wide receiver position, it's that fans have become so obsessed with the art of pitch and catch that they are ignoring the more important acts of block and tackle.

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