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Talent requires refinement

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

Patrick from Jacksonville:
What do you think about a Titans-Steelers opening NFL season matchup?

Vic: I think it'll be great. Maybe the Steelers will desecrate a Tammy Wynette album.

Sol from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Why aren't you blogging from the owners meeting? It just isn't right that you aren't in SoCal this week.

Vic: The Sentra would've never made it.

Mark from Jacksonville:
When you refer to the 2011 season, you keep saying "if there isn't a work stoppage." How likely is this?

Vic: I don't know but I think the possibility should be acknowledged. I've seen a few contracts recently that cause me to wonder. They have salary structures that spike in 2011 and then go back down the following year. Why would they do that? It's normal for a contract to spike in the final year, as an incentive for both parties to do a new deal, but it's not normal for a contract to spike in the middle and then go back down. In each case, it was a spike in 2011, which aroused my suspicions. Is that a way of putting into a deal money that won't be paid but increases the total value of the contract, which the agent has to like? Or is it a way of enticing the players to get a new CBA done and avoid a lock-out, which would certainly be in their individual best financial interests? Hmmm.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
It seems far-fetched that Stafford will be available when the Jaguars pick, however, I think Mark Sanchez might be available. You said Stafford reminds you of Dan Marino. Who does Sanchez remind you of?

Vic: I see some Jim Plunkett in him. Sanchez has that same kind of stiff-legged pocket power. You're not going to knock Sanchez off the spot easily. I always thought that was Plunkett's strength.

Ed from St. Augustine, FL:
How much more disclosure is needed for a seventh-round pick?

Vic: Not disclosing draft choices is comical. I don't get it; never have. Even if the teams are able to keep the information a secret, we're gonna find out on draft day anyhow, right? What's the big secret?

Kyle from Orange Park, FL:
Didn't you comment during the Broncos game that you were unimpressed with Cutler because he was unable to see the whole field and didn't seem to have a feel for the position? Yet, now you think he's a talent? Why the change in opinion?

Vic: He's always been a talent. If you could go back to comments I made about him in his draft class you would see that I praised his arm strength and passing skills. His talent, however, has to be refined, which is as it is for all young quarterbacks and Jay Cutler is still a young quarterback. He was flat awful in the game against the Jaguars. That's why I said I was unimpressed. He had receivers running open all over the field but he didn't see them because he was locked in on Brandon Marshall. Maybe that's what his new coach sees in him, doesn't like and doesn't want to waste development time on him. I don't like to use statistics but you probably do so I'll speak your language: Against the Jaguars last season, Cutler was 21 of 37 for 192 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 77.8 passer rating. Am I to assume you were impressed?

Matt from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I don't get how people can't seem to understand. If Matt Jones had any trade value, do you think he would still be a free agent?

Vic: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is intelligent life in Jacksonville Beach.

Greg from Largo, FL:
Vic just got a new iPhone and, yes, it works with "Ask Vic." This made the hundreds of dollars I spent a great deal.

Vic: Don't I get any money out of this?

Brandon from Jacksonville:
T.O. skips voluntary workouts with the Bills. Are the alarms blaring already or does T.O. spend this time training on his own much as Fred Taylor did?

Vic: Fred didn't need to introduce himself to the team or build relationships, as a player who's new to a team should do. What power does Terrell Owens possess that continues to attract teams wanting his services? Everybody who's acquired him became desperate to get rid of him. When will the insanity end?

Evan from Jacksonville:
What about Amani Toomer as the veteran WR for the Jags? He's a solid WR and would probably be cheaper than Torry Holt or Marvin Harrison.

Vic: I get a lot of questions such as yours: What about signing this guy or what about drafting that guy? Unless I really have a strong feel for a guy, I don't answer them because I don't have enough information to do so credibly. It's just not as easy as recalling memories of a guy when he was at his best. You're not signing a guy for what he did; you're signing him for what he can and will do. You have to have strong information of what his physical conditioning is now. Does he still run well or has he lost a step? Has he missed more games due to injuries in recent years or is he still durable? Did his play decline in the second half of the season, which is usually an indicator that age is catching up to a guy. What about the intangible stuff? Is he good in the locker room? Is he good in the community? Scouting departments do exhaustive research on a guy, digging up information about which we don't have a clue. I promise you, a pro personnel guy could give you information about a player that would humble you. It humbles me, that's why I try to acquire as much information as I can from scouts, instead of relying on what I know of a player. To answer your question: I'll poke around and if I get a feeling Toomer is a candidate, I'll hint at it in "Ask Vic." Any other kind of answer would be careless and it would be disrespectful of me to treat my readers that way.

Brian from Ormond Beach, FL:
Based on what you said about the quarterbacks the Jags have passed on over the years in favor of need players, would you draft Matt Stafford if he is still available even if he wasn't rated as the BAP on your board?

Vic: I really like this question because it's symbolic of the tug of war personnel directors who believe in BAP face when they are confronted by desperate need or distinct value at a premium position. Say Stafford was number two on my board and the number one guy was a safety. Whoa! This may be one of those compromise situations. I can tell you this, I'm gonna use all of my allotted time to make the pick. Quarterbacks are tough to pass up; especially when you need one. I really believe in BAP, but I know how important the quarterback position is and it should be valued above all others. This is probably where I would turn to my confidant and, make no mistake, every GM/personnel boss has a confidant. This is where you need the crystal ball. You need to look deep into the future. Atlanta may have faced this situation last year in deciding between Matt Ryan and Glenn Dorsey. Maybe the position Ryan played put him over the top. You have to consider injuries, too. Is there anything in a player's medical background that would suggest he'll have a shorter career than the other guy being considered? To answer your original question: If I didn't need a quarterback, I almost certainly would go BAP. If I had need at quarterback, however, it would be difficult to pass on one.

James from Jacksonville:
As we all know, there are always some diamonds in the rough when it comes to signing undrafted rookies. A lot of people aren't real big on him, but I think one guy who could potentially go undrafted and, yet, be a major factor on any team is Ian Johnson. He has great character and a team-first mentality; the kid was a star running back one year, and then blocking punts on special teams the next. Plus, our offensive guru, Dirk Koetter, is a BSU guy. Do you think there's a chance we could get Ian undrafted or even as a late-rounder?

Vic: First, let me say that I'm fond of the Boise State program. I really like what they do and how they do it. I saw Johnson for the first time when he was a freshman and he had a huge game. He ran hard, he ran long, he caught the ball and he knocked people back at the goal line. I made a note to keep an eye out for this guy. Well, now it's his year to enter the draft and I still have that memory of Johnson, plus a few other Boise games I saw in which he played well, and I still like him. My information is that he's a down-the-line guy. In other words, he should be able to squeeze in 18 before he has to worry about answering the phone. I like his size and his growth potential. He's not a burner but he's got some quickness and wiggle. He's shifty, in a weaving kind of way, much like Matt Forte. The guy Johnson really reminds me of is Ed Podolak, who was a tough, do-it-all running back for the Chiefs a long time ago. I think Johnson is a good example of the depth in this draft.

Artis from Alexandria, VA:
I noticed you chose linebackers as the last need in the draft. We do have a young talented group of linebackers. Do you believe this is the year they develop into superstars?

Vic: Superstars? No, I don't think the Jaguars have that kind of linebacker in their group. Nowadays, linebackers have to be sackers to be recognized as superstars and the Jags don't have L.T.-type linebackers. The Jags' linebackers are all-around types. They can run and hit, blitz a little and cover a lot. The Jags' need is for a backup middle linebacker and I have a particular guy in mind. Linebackers coach Mark Duffner dropped his name and gushed about the guy in the video I did with Duff at the combine.

Slim from Jacksonville:
OK, Vic, now I really think you're a moron. I have been reading your latest articles and saw your rookie prospects ratings for this year's draft and you have Crabtree at like 17. What are you thinking? He is easily number two after Curry and is also the next Fitzgerald. Mark my words. You will see.

Vic: If I felt as strongly as you do about Michael Crabtree, I might comment that "I strongly disagree" or that "I believe your opinion of Crabtree is grossly incorrect," but I've never understood the desire to deride someone in such gross terms as to refer to them as a moron. What causes someone to make such a cruel remark? I do this every day free of charge to you and I do it with every good intention, yet, you've elected to mock me, even though I've probably never met you, let alone offended you in any way. The inflammatory behavior that this value board causes every year at this time is discomforting. Fortunately, I get paid to do this so I'll get over it.

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