Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Mark from Jacksonville:
How significantly do you feel the Titans' and Colts' 2004 salary cap situations could affect the balance of power in the AFC South next season? Always enjoy your insight and analysis.
Vic: As far as the Titans are concerned, I expect their salary cap problems to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. In other words, I expect the Titans to fall hard. We'll see. In the Colts' case, the issue is Peyton Manning. If the Colts sign him, what will that do to their salary cap? They could sign him and structure his contract so that he could be a major cap savings in 2004 over '03, and that would allow the Colts to spend big in free agency and take their home run swing. If that happens, the cap ramifications wouldn't be felt immediately. Of course, if the Colts lose Manning to another team in free agency, we all know what impact that'll have on them. Given the Titans' cap woes and the Colts' uncertainty with Manning, the balance of power in the AFC South could shift dramatically next year. The chances are it won't be nearly as strong a division as it was this past season.
Andy from Palm Coast, FL:
How is it decided which team is the "home team" for the Super Bowl? Do they get to pick which jersey color they wear?
Vic: It alternates from year to year. The NFC team was the home team last year and the Patriots (AFC) will be the home team this year, and the home team has first choice of jerseys.
Phillip from Palm Coast, FL:
The draft seems to be on everyone's mind right now. We all know what your general theories are on the subject, but let's see just how good you are. Using your "Best Available Player" method (ignoring need and assuming what other teams will likely do), who is "your guy" who you have seen play and have a pretty good evaluation on. Come on, Vic, I know you have a favorite. We all do!
Vic: There's no mystery; I've said it several times. From all of the college football I watched last season, I think Virginia Tech's Kevin Jones is the best player I saw.
Jacob from Jacksonville:
Great column. Do you think we're going to be aggressive this offseason, signing more free agents, or did we learn our lesson with Douglas.
Vic: Based on a Q&A I did with Paul Vance for Jaguars Inside Report a couple of months ago, I have to believe the Jaguars are going to resist big-bucks free agents and attempt to find quality in quantity. "There is a feeling that at the top of free agency – the very expensive players in free agency – there may be a risk that is going to reward you less often than, maybe, the middle levels of free agency. 'Shack' (James Harris) says a lot of times you can get three guys for a million each, and if one of them hits it's a better risk than taking one guy at three million or six million," Vance said.
Bjoern from Stockholm, Sweden:
I am very aware of the need to draft big guys early. Usually, the bigger guys who can dominate the opponent are hard to just dig up from the rough. The thing that does not make any sense to me is that personnel people believe guards can be found in the later rounds, along with tight ends and safeties. That's because guards more often than not weigh over 300 pounds and have to have the strength to handle big guys like a Marcus Stroud or a Kris Jenkins. Why does not the "big guy theory" include guards?
Vic: I think we're getting too sensitive to every little thing that's said. The "big guy theory" is really George Young's "planet theory." When Young was attempting to persuade Dan Reeves to draft Korey Stringer instead of Tyrone Wheatley, Young said: "There are only so many people on the planet that big, and when you have a chance to take one of them, you have to do it." Young's "planet theory" became part of draft lore. So, don't question every little thing. It's just real simple: There are only so many big guys in every draft, and they go quickly. Look at the 2001 draft. Marcus Stroud, Gerard Warren, Justin Smith, Richard Seymour, Casey Hampton, Andre Carter and Damione Lewis all went in the first round, in one of the greatest defensive line drafts of all-time. Everybody wanted a big guy and there were lots of them. As far as guards, tight ends and safeties are concerned, here's why they tend to be graded down: Usually, a guard is a guard because he's not good enough to play tackle; tight end because he wasn't big enough to play tackle and not fast enough to be a wide receiver; safety because he lacked the speed and coverage skills to play cornerback. That's why those positions tend to be graded down; because usually the players have already been identified as deficient in one way or another. Also, those are not considered premium positions in the NFL, therefore, teams resist paying first-round money for a player at a non-premium position. For example, the Jaguars have never selected a guard or a tight end in the first round, and only once selected a safety in the first round, Donovin Darius, the second of two first-round picks in 1998. Kellen Winslow and Sean Taylor are special players, and every once and awhile a John Hannah comes along at guard, but players at those three positions tend to grade out lower than players at premium positions, for the obvious reasons.
Harley from Ormond Beach, FL:
I buy your best player draft philosophy. What criteria do you use to determine the best player?
Vic: Use any rating system you want. Maybe you want to weigh heaviest on speed, or size, or production. What's important is that after you've assigned grades to all of the players, make sure you pick the highest-rated player available when it's your turn to pick. This is really not that hard to understand, but we go through it every year. Grade 'em and pick 'em. That's all. Why bother grading them if you're going to pick the guy with the lower grade?
John from Orange Park, FL:
If I understand your thoughts, and the Jags have Roy Williams and the USC DE graded similarly on the best available board, you would go with DE. I hope the Jags listen to you. Although Williams looks like a stud, those DEs are tough to come by. I see why GMs make the big bucks. A couple of bad picks and you're done!
Vic: If both players have the same grade, you have to ask yourself: Which player will have the greatest impact on our team? Which player has the greatest upside? Which position is most difficult to find? I think the answers to those questions would weigh in favor of the defensive end.