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Not the right kind of attitude

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

Paul from Stockbridge, GA:
Which of the four top tackles would you most like to see the Jaguars pick? I like the idea of selecting a guy with a bit of a mean streak, like Andre Smith, to help energize the running game. I think he can develop into a more effective pass-blocker with Andy Heck's coaching. I believe it is more difficult to teach the attitude necessary to be a great run-blocker. Your thoughts?

Vic: Normally, I would agree with you, but attitude takes on a whole new meaning for Andre Smith, following his suspicious disappearance at the combine on Saturday. Smith appeared headed for a top 10 pick, but he left potential suitors, such as the Jaguars, searching for information about Smith's disappearance. As Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said, it certainly is an alert. Andre Smith did not help himself by leaving without telling the camp administrators and without offering a reason. Right away, every coach has to think: Will he walk out on me?

Mark from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I see where Santonio Holmes was fined for his end zone celebration, however, he was never penalized for it. Do you think that if the Steelers were penalized on the kickoff, allowing excellent field position and a subsequent game-winning score by the Cardinals, that end zone celebrations would stop? What if Larry Fitzgerald scored the game-winner and handed the ball to the ref?

Vic: The silliness will end when coaches make it end. That's what it's going to take. The coaches need to get stubborn about players not hurting their teams with silly and selfish look-at-me rituals. Fining doesn't do it. Maybe benching them would.

Ryan from Manteno, IL:
What does Michael Crabtree's stress fracture do to his draft value? Could he fall to a late first-round pick?

Vic: That's the obvious question, and it's not only because teams may not be able to acquire a reliable 40 time on Crabtree. It's also because it reportedly is an injury that may require a screw in his foot, and any time a player, especially a wide receiver, has hardware installed in his feet or legs, it tends to lower his draft stock. Somebody is likely to get a player that otherwise would've been gone.

Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
Can you explain how premium positions affect a BAP drafting approach?

Vic: They prejudice the grade in one way or another. Maybe a team makes an allowance for premium positions in the grading process, or maybe they make the allowance at the time of selection, but there is usually a prejudice in favor of premium-position players. As I said last week, in a true BAP system, ties would usually be broken in favor of premium-position players. When ties are broken according to need, the process is not a true BAP because BAP is about value and premium-position players always offer better value than players at non-premium positions.

Scott from Jacksonville:
My question is what makes everyone think Gene Smith is such a great hire?

Vic: I can't tell you why everyone else thinks he's a great hire, but I can tell you why I think he's an outstanding personnel man. Start with the fact that he's as hard-working as any personnel man in the league. I interviewed Gene Sunday morning for my Sunday combine story on the running back prospects and workouts. What time did I interview Gene? Six a.m. When I met him in the hotel lobby, he was going through his phone messages. He did not appear to have just awakened. Saturday night, I saw Gene as he was coming out of a meeting with his scouts and I reminded him of our early morning appointment. What time did I see Gene coming out of that meeting with his scouts? Eleven p.m. Get the point? You're talking about a guy and his scouts who probably spent 18 hours a day this past week on the combine and evaluating prospects. It takes more, however, than hard work for a personnel director to be successful. He has to have a feel for his job and I have no doubt Gene has that feel. He has to have a good staff and Gene does. Most of all, he has to be committed to his philosophies, and that's where I think Gene is at his strongest. He believes in the process of draft and develop and I don't think he'll swing and sway with the wind from year to year. In other words, I don't think he'll change his philosophies according to the yearly trends. He's going to draft talented and productive players who can think on their feet and control themselves in the community. How's that? Is that good enough for you? It's good enough for me.

Adam from Jacksonville:
Is a receiving corps of Mike Walker, Dennis Northcutt and Matt Jones good enough if the team can improve the lines through free agency and the draft?

Vic: No, that is not good enough. This team needs help at wide receiver. Improving what they have won't get it done. Help must be on the way.

Kenney from Jacksonville:
What position is Percy Harvin projected to play?

Vic: Harvin will be drafted, I'm sure, with wide receiver in mind. Jaguars wide receiver coach Todd Monken is crazy about Harvin. Monken loves Harvin's explosiveness and acceleration. The thing that's going to determine Harvin's level of performance in the NFL is his route-running. At Florida, he wasn't required to be a great route-runner. They circled him out of the backfield or dragged him across the middle. They found any and all ways possible to get the ball to him in space and let him run. In the NFL, he'll have to be a technician. I'm sure he'll have no difficulty making the transition. He's a special athlete.

Kimberly from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Really looking forward to your take on the combine.

Vic: It's a track and field meet. I don't think it relates to real football. The real importance of the combine is the opportunity it affords coaches and scouts to study players' body types and see them interact. Are they social? Are they comfortable in competition? Are they intelligent? Do they process information and communicate with ease? The 40 times and cone drills, etc., are merely confirmation of what you already know about their physical ability. If a guy runs slower than you expected, then he probably had a bad day and you should, in my opinion, discard the time. In terms of physical ability, go with what he did in the fall.

Kyle from Jupiter, FL:
Why is it that fans get mad when their team selects someone other than the player they wanted in the draft? Shouldn't they know NFL scouts and coaches have way more information than they do?

Vic: Everybody has favorites. That's all it is. Teams that draft according to their fans' wishes are making a big mistake.

Eric from Jacksonville:
I understand the problem of drafting for need instead of BAP, still, do you think the Jaguars' need picks in the past few years have all been busts? Is it even possible to find good players at need positions?

Vic: Are we sure who the need picks are? Look, need picking can work. The Falcons are a committed need-picking team – they call it position-specific drafting – and they made it work last year. Sam Baker was considered to have been a reach, but it worked for them. The long haul, however, is the real test of need picking. It's understood that need picking benefits the present, but it's the future you worry about because the more talented player you passed on at a position at which you didn't have immediate need tends to have a more productive career. That's the first problem. The second problem is that you often can't predict need. Can you say, for certain, that your needs won't change? What if you get a run on injuries at a position you thought was strong, which caused you to pass on a more talented player because he played that position? When you need pick, you're tempting fate. To make it work, you've got to be, in my opinion, either clairvoyant or very lucky.

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