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More food for thought

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

Steve Box from Brisbane, Australia:
Needs-based drafting has been the big catch-phrase for this year's draft, but given the Jaguars' salary cap woes and the release of a number of players, was there any other way to draft for the Jags? What would be the point of drafting the highest-rated available player if the club was well-served in that area, but had holes to fill at other positions? It seems now that the draft cannot truly be judged as an individual entity. The combined impact of free agency, the draft and salary cap juggling must be considered together to determine success or failure.

Vic: You are in the mainstream of thought in the NFL these days. Coaches don't have the job security they need to look past the next season. Patience, vision and longevity are the prerequisites of best-player-available drafting. Best-player drafting may leave you with two good players at one position and still needing one at another. That's a negative for the present, but over the long haul it may mean you didn't waste a draft choice and the salary cap room that player ate up. Best-player drafting may also put a team in a position of strength, as far as maneuverability. For example, if the Jaguars knew when they traded for Mark Brunell that he would become their long-term starter, they may not have drafted Rob Johnson in the fourth round, and if they hadn't drafted Johnson they wouldn't have Fred Taylor today. Jonathan Ogden is another example. The Jaguars certainly didn't need to draft an offensive tackle in 1996. It was the one position for which they wouldn't draft. But, would they regret today having taken Ogden then? I'm not saying I disagree with you, but there is food for thought on both sides. The key is committing yourself to one or the other and making it work. Tom Coughlin is clearly committed to drafting for need.

Mary Crigger from Jacksonville:
Where is Tavian Banks in regards to his rehab? The last I heard was that he was hopeful to play again. I heard the Jags were assisting him with the rehab. Is that a sympathy ploy or does the office have hope that he can rejoin the team? Thanks for your outlook on the Jags. Keep us humble and honest.

Vic: Tavian Banks suffered what is believed to be a career-ending knee injury in Atlanta at midseason in 1999. Banks blew 'em all out, and immediately his rehabilitation challenge was to one day walk without the aid of a cane. That's how bad the injury was. The Jaguars, as do all NFL teams, understand their responsibility in assisting those players who've been injured. Will Banks ever play again? I wish you hadn't asked.

Nathan Mitrosky from St. Augustine, FL:
Do you think once R. Jay Soward solves his off-the-field problems he will be a major contributing receiver?

Vic: R. Jay Soward has physical talent the equal of Peter Warrick and Santana Moss, two other 5-9 wide receivers. Soward is even faster than Warrick. If Soward can overcome those social ills that threaten his career, and dedicate himself completely to the game, he has the tools to be a star. However, even after he corrects those behavioral circumstances that have hurt him, he still has to develop his football skills on the pro level. He has to become a more sure-handed pass-catcher, a smoother route-runner and learn to come back for the ball. Soward is a study in recovery and development. Now, he has to give his head coach reason to be patient.

Brett Hanson from Orlando, FL:
With the Jags' current cap situation, who are some significant starters who, when their contracts expire, will be cut in the next two or three years? Also, who will likely be re-signed in the next few years?

Vic: As a result of the Jaguars' massive offseason contracts re-structuring, very few significant starters have contracts that will officially expire within the next year. Kevin Hardy, Mike Hollis, Jeff Smith, John Wade, Jonathan Quinn, Alvis Whitted and Jason Craft are players who are in the final year of their contracts. The Jaguars are going to have to make decisions on older players, such as Hardy Nickerson and Carnell Lake, whose contracts are going to have more life on them than their owners have on their football careers. The Jaguars' cap situation is such that they may not be able to do anything more than tender offers to those players who are restricted free agents, and, of course, continue to re-structure the contracts of star players such as Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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