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It's a young man's game, Mel


Nothing drives ratings as controversy does. The same goes for readership.

"Ask Vic," not "Ask Mel," is on fire this week as a result of draftnik Mel Kiper's inflammatory remarks and the subsequent low draft grade he gave the Jaguars. Questions are pouring into "Ask Vic" with playoff-like fervor and 90 percent of those questions are in regards to Kiper and his comments on the Jaguars. The fans are angry, Mel.

I knew the guy was big but I didn't know he was this big. He's enormous. He's bigger than his hair. He is one of the truly great success stories in television history.

We laughed at ESPN all those years ago when the fledgling TV network announced it was going to cover the draft live. What would they do to fill the dead time between picks, we asked? Now, I can't help but laugh at myself for having lacked the vision to know what could be done.

The first year ESPN did it, their coverage was OK. Then they got Kiper involved and after we all stopped laughing at his hair, it didn't take long to realize a star was born. American football fans loved it. They couldn't get enough of the draft and of Kiper, the draft's piper.

Hey, the guy is good at what he does. In this case, you just don't like him because his opinion doesn't agree with yours. We'll see who's right in a few years. He's been wrong before. He was certainly wrong about Trent Dilfer.

I'll play Bill Tobin and take umbrage at Kiper. So, who the hell is Mel Kiper?

Kiper says the Jaguars should've traded their first-round pick for Jason Taylor. I say football is a young man's game and the Jaguars did the right thing by trading their first-round pick for a defensive end who is 12 years younger than Taylor.

In Derrick Harvey, the Jaguars drafted a bulkier version of Taylor. Harvey is 21 and a relative football novice, having decided late in high school to turn from basketball to football because it offered more potential for him than basketball did.

Harvey is leaving Florida after his junior year. He is a player of immense upside and his body doesn't have a lot of football miles on it.

Come on, Mel, do you honestly believe the Jaguars should've traded for Taylor? How many years could the Jaguars expect Taylor to play at the level of his salary? For that matter, for how many years could the Jaguars expect Taylor to be a productive every-downs end? Two, three?

That's not enough, Mel. First-round picks aren't about two or three years of production. First-round picks are about long-term starters. They're about building blocks for the future, not stop-gap players that'll need to be replaced in a couple of years.

Mel, the Jaguars took the short road on Hugh Douglas a few years ago. It didn't work, Mel, because football is a young man's game. You should know that better than anyone because you are the draft's greatest supporter. Mel, the draft made you a star.

Let me give you a peek into what would've happened had the Jaguars traded for Taylor.

He would've been a big hit right away. We would've built him up big in OTA's and training camp. Of course, he would've played very little in the preseason because he's a proven star and proven stars are above such mundane pursuits as preseason games.

The regular season would've rolled around and after about three or four games, some hack of a sportswriter would've dared ask Jack Del Rio this question: "Coach, Jason Taylor only has one sack through the first three games. Are you concerned?"

Del Rio, of course, would've been forced into a hard denial and the sportswriter would've immediately become one of those poop-negative scribes who just doesn't want the team to win. Three games and one sack later, the question would be asked again and the routine would repeat itself for the remainder of the season.

Gee, I think I've seen this movie before.

By season's end, Taylor's first year with the Jaguars would be rationalized as an adjustment year. His second season will be much different. You'll see.

No we don't. By midseason of year two, we're starting to get the idea that football, the young man's game, is nearing an end for a guy on whom the Jaguars spent a first-round pick to acquire. Meanwhile, Harvey is developing into one of the top defensive ends in the game. In the second year of his career, he's near the top of the league in sacks and now it's become obvious to one and all, even the fans who want to trade for every old-timer in the league who possesses a recognizable name, that a terrible mistake has been made.

The excuse would be: We wanted to take a swing for the Super Bowl.

Oh, yeah, that tired old excuse.

It's a young man's game, Mel.

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