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Reason for optimism

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Ryan from Albuquerque, NM:
Is this team setting itself up to move to the 3-4 in a few years?

Vic: No, it is not. You would never draft a player such as Tyson Alualu in the first round if you thought you were making the move to the 3-4 because Alualu is a classic three-technique, 4-3 defensive tackle. That means he's best playing between the guard and tackle, where he's not likely to face a lot of double-team blocking, and use his quickness to penetrate the gap and get into the backfield and disrupt the flow of the play. A 3-4 employs a lot of two-gapping, which means defensive linemen lining up on the head of the center and the tackles, taking on the block and playing a read-and-react technique. Alualu could do it, but it's not his forte. A 3-4 lineman is more of a brawler than a movement player. As an under-tackle, Alualu's game is all about movement. The other tackle in a 4-3, Terrance Knighton, is a hold-the-point, 3-4 type. It's my understanding that D'Anthony Smith is also a three-technique tackle, and neither Austin Lane nor Larry Hart fit the description of a 3-4 end or linebacker.

Kevin from Orange Park, FL:
Which division in football has the best group of quarterbacks? I would say the NFC East and AFC South, right? All of the quarterbacks in the AFC South are listed to have made it in the Pro Bowl last year.

Vic: Forget that Pro Bowl stuff. I think we all know that's misleading. Frankly, I think it's pretty balanced around the league. I can find two top guys in nearly every division but the NFC West, but it's tough to find three and I can't think of one division with four. The AFC South obviously has two ringers. The NFC South has Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, the AFC North has Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco, the AFC East has Tom Brady and two fast-rising quarterbacks in Chad Henne and Mark Sanchez, and the NFC East has a trio of top veterans and a newcomer. Depending on Brady, who wasn't on top of his game last year, I might consider the AFC East the strongest quarterback division because I'm really high on Henne and Sanchez. The AFC North has three strong candidates, but Palmer doesn't win the big ones and Flacco didn't show the growth last season that I expected of him. I will say this: The AFC South probably has the best one-two punch in Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub. Schaub really impressed me last season, but he has to stay healthy.

Aaron from St. Augustine, FL:
Is there a snowball's chance in hell that GM Gene would let you see and share with us, the Jaguar faithful, his value board after the draft?

Vic: It's more likely he'd let us see love letters he saved.

Hasso from Jacksonville:
If the Jaguars had not traded their second-round pick this year for a third in 2009 to select Derek Cox, we probably would have used it to select Sean Lee. Do you think it's fair to judge that trade by the type of career those two players will have?

Vic: Yeah, that's fair.

Jason from Norristown, PA:
So what can we realistically expect from the Jaguars this fall?

Vic: The expectation was set by Jack Del Rio in his season-ending address to the media. He said he expects the Jaguars to qualify for the playoffs in 2010. Do I think that's an overly aggressive expectation? Yes, I do, but the coach knew there was no avoiding it, so, I guess it is what it is.

Ray from Jacksonville:
Dave from Jacksonville might be interested to know that in 2008 Brian Williams had two interceptions and Derrick Cox had four in 2009. Dennis Northcutt had 44 receptions in '08; Mike Thomas had 48 in '09. Rob Meier had 30 tackles and John Henderson had 44 tackles in '08; Terrance Knighton had 45 in '09. I don't know a reliable source for sacks allowed, but I do know that Khalif Barnes didn't start much (two games) in 2009 and Tony Pashos is going to another new team after serving as a backup (started one game) and then going on injured reserve.

Vic: I'm glad someone said it for me. Last year's rookies, to a man, out-performed the men they replaced. With a year of experience, I would expect an even greater disparity in performance.

Darrick from Jacksonville:
How would you rank the drafts by the four AFC South teams?

Vic: Jerry Hughes is outstanding value at the bottom of round one for the Colts. The contemporary game is all about rushing the passer and you must always make sure you have a stable of pass-rushers. I'm not gaga about the rest of the Colts' draft, but they always find their kinds of players. The Titans got a solid defensive end in Derrick Morgan, but it's third-round pick Rennie Curran that I really like. He's a 5-11 linebacker with whom I had a conversation at baggage claim in the Indy airport during the combine. Right away, I loved him. He's got a great personality to go with his passion for playing the game. It's easy to know he's going to be a fantastic special teams player. He's Jeff Fisher's kind of player. The rest of the Titans' draft is kind of flat. The Texans did very well. Kareem Jackson was fast-rising. Ben Tate is very underrated and he's exactly what the Texans need at running back. Trindon Holliday and Dorin Dickerson give the Texans great speed and big-play ability with their final two picks. I've already offered my opinion on the Jaguars' draft class.

Doug from Jacksonville:
In your nearly 40 years covering the NFL draft, what was the worst draft class ever for the NFL? There are always shows on the best draft classes, but never the worst.

Vic: I remember the 1985 draft as having been a real stinker.

Ray from Nampa, ID:
Is mini-camp mandatory for all players or just for the rookies?

Vic: It's mandatory for all players.

Josh from Savannah, GA:
In your honest opinion, were you surprised with the pick of Alualu over Brandon Graham?

Vic: I never considered Graham to be their guy. I said that several times. I've also said that had the draft been conducted on Tuesday, instead of on Thursday, I would've had no idea that Tyson Alualu was even a consideration. I didn't find out about Alualu until Wednesday morning and it did not come from inside our building. I don't know what name was beneath Alualu's on the Jaguars' board when it was their turn to pick, but it didn't matter because Alualu, as I've come to discover, was their guy right from the start. He was shooting up draft boards around the league and the Jaguars' anxiety was that he wouldn't be there when it was their turn to pick. I'm serious about that. They were manic about people not finding out how interested they were in him. They didn't bring him in for a visit and they never mentioned his name in any draft preview talk. They knew that if it got out that he was their guy, they ran the risk of another team hot on his trail trading up ahead of the Jaguars; that's how hot Alualu was the week of the draft. Anyone who would suggest the Jaguars planted in me that Alualu information I provided on "Jaguars This Week" last Wednesday doesn't have a clue about how this process works. Teams don't want to tell the competition who they wanna pick. You'd have to be an idiot to think that info was planted in me. GM Gene was not pleased by what I said on "Jaguars This Week" and he expressed that opinion to me. I am, however, a reporter and I take my job seriously.

Adam from Jacksonville:
I wasn't a fan of drafting Tebow and I'm a realist about the transition from college to pro, but the idea that FSU will take back the state is a bit out there. The Gators just had one of the best recruiting classes ever and just had nine players drafted, five in the first two rounds. Meyer is showing that his program will get you to the pros and that he can win consistently. Brantley will be a first-rounder in two years, probably. FSU still has a ways to go.

Vic: I meant no offense. I just figured that it would be really difficult to replace Tebow and that the Gators might have to take a temporary step back. I mean, wouldn't that be a reasonable expectation when you've just lost the greatest player in college football history?

Craig from Malaga, Spain:
How good is good on the ticket sales? The thought of losing this franchise is devastating.

Vic: Sales, from what I've been told, are steady. The situation is good enough that I detect optimism for the first time in awhile. Don't, however, discount CFO Bill Prescott's warning, "We have a long way to go." Yes, they still have a long way to go, but the current indicators are cause for optimism. I genuinely believe the general bowl is going to be sold out for the start of the season. My concern is for the club seats.

Jonathan from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on the leak of the Cowboys draft board? Interestingly, they had Sean Lee and Tyson Alualu with first-round grades.

Vic: I think we're finding out now that Alualu was not a reach. As far as Lee is concerned, I had written as early as a month or more ago that he was a player the Jaguars had targeted and that at least two guys told me they thought he was a better player than Rolando McClain.

Michael from Fruit Cove, FL:
Alexander "Peyton" Ovechkin.

Vic: He doesn't get it done.

Brian from Jacksonville:
There seems to be an uproar about the local official team store displaying the new Tebow jersey and capitalizing on its profitability. Business is business and it's a smart move, but isn't it just time to get over it?

Vic: Apparently, not yet.

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