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Speed hard to pass up

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

David from Oviedo, FL:
Aren't there really three big free agency periods. Is it a stretch to say the best of free agency is still ahead of us?

Vic: Yeah, that's a stretch. The talent in free agency is deepest on the first day of the league calendar year, when the free-agent signing period begins. The first couple of weeks of free agency is the premier period, but you're right when you say there are three segments of free agency. They are: 1.) the start in early March; 2.) right after the draft, when teams realize they weren't able to sufficiently address their needs in the draft and, therefore, have to turn to what's left in free agency; 3.) June cuts.

James from Hernando, MS:
The other day I heard on ESPN that blind-side hits were now illegal and it was going to be put into the category of "unsportsmanlike conduct." Can you please tell me exactly what they mean by "blind-side hits?"

Vic: A new rule will penalize peel-back blocks that result in a blind-side hit on a defender. The play that resulted in Paul Spicer's broken leg last year is a perfect example. Spicer took an inside charge from his defensive end position. Broncos tackle Matt Lepsis whiffed and Spicer was picked up by running back Reuben Droughns. Lepsis then peeled back and hit Spicer from his blind side. This year, that play will result in a penalty.

Gordona from Minsk, Belarus:
If the Jags could take any player in this year's draft class, who do you feel they would take?

Vic: Braylon Edwards. He has top-pick ability and the potential to be a difference-maker. I think it would be easy to defend the claim that he is the best player available and he would clearly address a need. When you talk about play-makers, you begin with this guy. I don't like taking wide receivers high in the draft, but you asked me who I thought the Jaguars would take with the first pick and this is the guy I think would interest them.

Alexis from Chicago, IL:
Two players I haven't heard much about are Chris Thompson and Anthony Maddox. Have you heard any word on their development?

Vic: I get questions every day about this guy's development and that guy's development, and I can't answer them because in January, February and March there is no development. The Jaguars will begin their offseason conditioning program next Monday and that will be the first day since the day after the final game of last season that the players will have returned to Alltel Stadium en masse. Chris Thompson and Anthony Maddox are players who will get long looks this spring and summer. Thompson showed some legitimate coverage skill last summer as a rookie. Jack Del Rio decided to test that skill in the third preseason game, so he put Thompson out on an "island" to see how he would respond, and he responded pretty much as you would expect of a rookie cornerback. At that point, he became a "jar on the shelf." Maddox got cut, then re-signed and spent most of the year in a state of suspended animation, but in the final game of the season, in Oakland, Maddox was a major factor in the Jaguars' game-winning goal-line stand.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA:
What is your top five list for greatest quarterbacks and running backs of all time?

Vic: Quarterbacks--Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Otto Graham, John Elway, Dan Marino. Running backs--Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders.

Jay from Jacksonville:
How important is it to Jacksonville that the NFL's current revenue-sharing system remain in force?

Vic: To a small-market team in the process of building a fan base? It's critical. The revenue-sharing program Pete Rozelle persuaded NFL owners to embrace 40 years ago is the foundation on which the best professional sports league in the world is built. The Russians couldn't make socialism work, but the NFL sure has. It's a system that allows for places such as Green Bay and Jacksonville to compete on a level playing field with teams from New York, Chicago, etc. Rozelle called it "league think." To abandon that concept would result in the same problems Major League Baseball is experiencing. All of a sudden, the "Yankees" and the "Red Sox" would become the only teams in the league.

Nonni from Reykjavik, Iceland:
Can you please tell me why the Jaguars pick at number 21 in the first round of the draft but at number 20 in the second?

Vic: The Jaguars and three other teams – Baltimore, Buffalo and Seattle – finished with 9-7 records last year. After tie-breakers were applied, it was decided the first-round order would be Buffalo, Jacksonville, Baltimore and Seattle. In the second round, Buffalo goes to the back and the other three teams each move up one spot. It continues that way through seven rounds.

Matt from Webster, NY:
Why has Ty Law not been a big name in the free-agent market? I know he just came off surgery but he has been a quality player for years.

Vic: Ty Law has a Lis Franc. It's a foot injury that is to cornerbacks what rotator cuff injuries are to baseball pitchers. In my opinion, to find a team willing to take a chance on his recovery, Law will probably have to agree to a highly incentivized contract. Even at that, it's a risk. He is one of the great cornerbacks in NFL history. In my opinion, you can put him right in there with Lem Barney, Mel Blount, Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders, but even they got old. It's a young man's game.

Isaac from Tucson, AZ:
What would be the odds of the Jaguars trading up in the draft this year?

Vic: I don't see this as a trade-up kind of draft. In fact, this is more of a trade-down kind of draft. Popular opinion is that this draft doesn't have a legitimate top 10; that a lot of the players who will be drafted in the top 10 would fit much lower in the first round in other years. As it turned out last year, teams drafting from 10-18 got a lot more pop from their picks than the 1-9 teams did from their guys. I won't say the Jaguars won't trade up. It's possible they'll target a guy and move up to get him, and it may cost less to do that this year because of the low opinion most people have of the top of this draft crop, but I think they can get their guy by staying right where they are.

Fergal from London, Ontario:
With all the talk of the Jags needing a running back, have you heard the name Jesse Lumsden mentioned? He didn't attend the combine, but in a private practice with four NFL teams, he apparently did pretty well.

Vic: He's from McMaster College and it's my understanding that he'll probably be signed as an undrafted free agent.

Tom from Nashville, TN:
Everyone is talking about defensive help in the draft. How about the offense? Is there a skill player that would fit our wide receiver needs at 21? How about the young man from Hampton that was reported climbing up the draft?

Vic: His name is Jerome Mathis, who rose to prominence after running 4.32 and 4.33 at the combine. It's thought Mathis has pushed himself into the third round. The knock on him is that he doesn't have great hands and doesn't run great routes. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? You wanna try that again? Speed is awfully hard to pass up.

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