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No rush to make a prediction

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

Don Hilton from Jacksonville:
I just checked out the new schedule and I have the Jags going 10-6 or even 11-5, providing Mark Brunell or Jimmy Smith doesn't come down with a serious injury. Are you willing to give us your prediction yet, or would you rather wait until after the draft and see what kind of "beef" we can pick up for our offensive line?

Vic: What's the rush? I have to wait until after the draft. Then I'll make a provisional prediction, but I won't lock myself in on a prediction until I see what the little darlings can do when their shoulders have been padded. To achieve the standards you've set, the Jaguars must have a blockbuster draft.

Lee Fields from St. Marys, GA:
Who should the Jaguars be looking for in the draft? In your opinion, who should they draft?

Vic: I'm leaning toward guard Steve Hutchinson of Michigan. He may be the highest-rated player available when the Jaguars select, and he plays a position that should permit him to become an immediate starter. That's what the Jaguars need most from their first-round pick. I also like the idea of being set at the two guard positions for the next several years.

Dave Stetson from Santa Maria, CA:
This certainly isn't "the same NFL your daddy knew." With the salary cap woes and the free agency dilemma, coaches and players are faced with some very difficult decisions. I know the Jaguars front office and owner have had to change their philosophy on the pay scale for players, and realize that some players may not be re-signed because of this. In your opinion, who are the teams in the last five years to handle the cap and salary situation the best.


Vic: Denver, Tampa Bay and St. Louis have done very good jobs of managing their caps while winning. Philadelphia has done a good job of allowing themselves room to rebuild. The Giants are in great shape and coming off a Super Bowl appearance. Pittsburgh always makes sure its future caps are clear. Cincinnati, the team that has been most criticized for not spending, is now the team with the most room and ability to make the most dramatic improvement. Those are some examples of various cap philosophies. Take your pick.

Steven Gonzalez from San Jose, CA:
What are the odds of Jacksonville drafting a defensive back, such as Will Allen of Syracuse, Nate Clements of Ohio State, Jamar Fletcher of Wisconsin, and Fred Smoot of Mississippi State.

Vic: All four of those guys are projected to be first-round picks. Since the Jaguars appear focused on a lineman or linebacker, there would seem to be no chance they'd draft any of the four players you've mentioned.

Robert Bloch from Neptune Beach, FL:
I need rumor control. I heard that Jimmy Smith is having serious set-backs as a result of recent surgery, and was even in grave danger of dying, until a second surgery was performed. If it's not too personal for one of his big fans to ask about it, is Jimmy OK and is he still going to be able to play? And can you send him our best wishes?

Vic: Smith recently underwent two surgical procedures to ease the effects of scar tissue in his abdominal region. The scar tissue developed as a result of his appendectomy while with the Cowboys. Smith was in the hospital for two weeks, but is now at home and has begun his recovery. Abdominal surgery of any kind is not minor. There has to be distinct concern for Smith's ability to make a full recovery before next season begins. However, the Jaguars maintain that Smith will be recovered and able to participate in training camp. Those are the facts at this point in time.

Ralph Shook from Wise, VA:
Let's say, just for the fact of saying it, that Dan Morgan, Kenyatta Walker and Leonard Davis are still around when the Jaguars pick. Do you take the best player by athletic ability, or do you draft for the need of the team. All three of them will fill a need, but Morgan might be the best athlete of the group.

Vic: If all three were available, which won't be the case, the decision would be between Walker and Davis. They are clearly players of higher rating and athletic ability than Morgan. Here's a little rule of thumb: Never pass on a potentially dominant big guy.
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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