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Live by the draft or die by it

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

Andrew from Melbourne, Victoria:
What do they mean when describing defensive linemen as being a three-technique, five-technique guy?

Vic: Three technique is the outside shoulder on either guard. Five technique is the outside shoulder of either tackle. If you're playing five technique on the side of the tight end, you usually have a "Sam" (strongside linebacker) over or outside the tight end.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
How would you judge David Garrard's age?

Vic: I would consider him a young 31 since he only became a starter two years ago and because he is as physically and athletically endowed as he is. He is, nonetheless, in his 30's and that means, in my opinion, that it would be advantageous for the Jaguars to draft a quarterback and begin his development process.

Sean from Noblesville, IN:
How certain are you the Vikings allowing their clock to run out was deliberate? I remember watching that draft and other teams were rushing up there to get in their picks before the Vikings could.

Vic: That's correct. The Vikings had the seventh overall pick in 2003 and were involved in trade talks with Baltimore, which wanted to move up and apparently select Byron Leftwich. The Jaguars, of course, had the eighth overall pick and the Ravens knew the Jaguars wanted to pick Leftwich. Well, the Vikings didn't get the trade piece of paper in the commissioner's hands before the clock expired and the Jaguars turned in a piece of paper with Leftwich's name on it. So, you're right, it wasn't a deliberate attempt to move back from seven to eight, but allowing the Panthers to pick ahead of them is generally thought to have been a deliberate attempt to move from eight to nine. Why not? The Vikings knew the Panthers wanted Jordan Gross, so why not move back a spot, get your guy and save some money?

Mike from Fort Worth, TX:
I believe building through the draft is the only way to go, but I am a believer Jacksonville is suffering from bad drafts, so when we hear build through the draft, that doesn't give much hope, seeing how the quality of players our team drafts isn't too good. Do you think Gene Smith will do a better job at judging talent than the team has done in the past?

Vic: I do, but you make a good point. Yeah, I firmly believe in using the draft as the overwhelming source of talent acquisition, but that means you better never screw it up. When you live by the draft, you can die by the draft if you don't draft well. So when you hear the words "build through the draft," know that it doesn't allow for mistakes. You'll miss on a guy here and there, but it better not happen very often.

Rob from Baldwin, FL:
I have hope. I am renewing my season tickets. I can hardly wait for the draft and then training camp later. This fresh approach has me almost as excited as much as 1995.

Vic: That's great, but make sure you keep your enthusiasm in perspective. The enthusiasm should be for the building that's going to follow. As Jack Del Rio has said, "There's a lot of work to do."

Joe from Clermont, FL:
The best players on each team are usually the players they drafted. How does a GM keep his owner patient in building a team through the draft when a quick fix and a big media splash are what fans and most owners want?

Vic: The fans can not be permitted to have input. It's the owner who pays the GM's salary and the owner has to be as committed to the draft as the GM is. The owner has to be steadfast in his patience and I have no doubt Wayne Weaver will be. How does a GM keep his owner patient? By showing progress. Chuck Noll was 1-13, 5-9 and 6-8 in his first three years as coach, but there was no question he was assembling a roster of players capable of greatness and there was no talk of firing him. In year four, Noll's team was 11-3 and played in the AFC title game. Two years later, it won the first of four Super Bowls. You'll know it when you see it.

Robert from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I thought the combine was an opportunity for players entering the NFL to demonstrate their physical abilities through a series of individual drills. How, then, was Matt Stafford able to wow teams with his command of offense at the combine?

Vic: Stafford did that in what's called a "board" session. It's a classroom environment in which quarterbacks are presented with various defensive formations, to which they are to offer the appropriate formation adjustment and audible. From what I've been told, Stafford gave a world-class performance. He knew what to do and he provided his solution quickly, which gives coaches and scouts reason to believe Stafford can be a starter early in his career. Stafford reminds me of Dan Marino coming out of college. Pitt was preseason number one for Marino's senior season, but they fell far short of that mark and Marino didn't have a great season. We're talking about two big guys with great arms and outstanding command of offense, but they each undershot in their final college seasons. Stafford intrigues me.

Terry from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Now that Mr. Smith has made the obvious roster cuts, are you willing to forecast what the Jaguars' draft picks might be?

Vic: No, I'm not willing to do that, but I'm also not sure the roster cuts are over.

Paul from Los Angeles, CA:
I think you overestimate the Patriots' and Steelers' so-called love affair with the draft. I think you are ignoring the biggest factor in their Super Bowl success, and that is they both have two incredibly great and clutch QBs. Without them, no amount of great drafts would've made a difference. When it mattered in the playoffs, they made huge plays for their teams.

Vic: I completely agree, but I'll also remind you that Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger came to their teams through the draft. Pretty good picks, huh?

Travis from Marquette, MI:
So what is the deal with Reggie Williams? How does his arrest affect the Jaguars' releasing him?

Vic: They didn't release him. The Jaguars' rights to Williams were allowed to expire at the start of unrestricted free agency, which means the Jaguars would've likely collected compensatory pick consideration as a result of Williams playing for another team in 2009. His arrest clouds that possibility now and that's how it affects the Jaguars.

Cameron from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars are so far under the cap, how could it possibly hurt them to get some top-level free agents?

Vic: If they were paying in monopoly money, it wouldn't hurt at all, but top-level free agents will only sign for real money, and that's where the hurt comes in. I've said it over and over: Forget about the cap; it's dead. Signing players or cutting players isn't about the salary cap any longer; it's about real money.

Beau from Twin Falls, ID:
Everyone is talking about free agency and hitting on all our picks in the draft. I think, however, if the Jaguars really want to fill holes, they should look to hitting on a good number of undrafted players.

Vic: That should go without saying. How many times have I said in the last couple of weeks that the Steelers had five "starters" in the Super Bowl who were undrafted guys. You want a trend for 2009? That's it. Last year the Giants gave us the every-downs defensive end fad. This year the Steelers are giving us a new appreciation for undrafted players. The rookie crop is deep in talent and the Jaguars should do very well in undrafted free agency because the Jaguars will be offering the one thing all undrafted guys want, a legitimate chance to make the team. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jaguars had as many as five undrafted guys stick with the team, either on the final roster, injured reserve or on the practice squad.

Armando from Vacaville, CA:
Is Maurice Jones-Drew considered a core player?

Vic: I would absolutely consider him a core player.

Daniel from Tallahassee, FL:
Are there any notable players who transitioned from player to coach on the same team when their time as a player passed?

Vic: I think I remember a real good tackle I covered, a guy named Jon Kolb, making an immediate transition from player to strength coach. One of my real good friends, Dick Hoak, went from being a running back with the Steelers to being the team's running backs coach very quickly. I think he spent a year coaching high school football before he made the move back. I'm sure others have done it quickly like that. Those are just the two that immediately come to mind for me.

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