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Talk-show rumors and rumblings

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

Gerry from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What are the Jags going to do about some talent at the wide receiver position?

Vic: Acquire some; it's only April.

Olly from Oxford, England:
Mike Mayock recently echoed what you've reported about this draft class being flat at the top, with not much difference in talent between the guys at the top and bottom of the first round. Can you recall any other class that's been this flat?

Vic: Other than for Jake Long and Matt Ryan, last year's class was pretty flat at the top, too. The strength of last year's first round was picks 10-19, which included Jerod Mayo, Ryan Clady, Jonathan Stewart, Branden Albert, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Gosder Cherilus, Joe Flacco and Jeff Otah.

Mike from Rochester, NY:
Isn't Fitzgerald/Boldin a great example of BAP? The Cardinals took Boldin in the second round and the next year took Fitzgerald in the first round. Now they have the luxury of keeping Boldin on their team and having a great 1-2 combo at WR, or trade him and possibly get some top draft picks.

Vic: You're forgetting Bryant Johnson, a wide receiver the Cardinals selected in the first round in the same year they picked Anquan Boldin in round two. That means the Cardinals selected wide receivers three times in the first two rounds in consecutive drafts. Now, I don't like pickin' all those wide receivers that early in the draft, but it would sure indicate a commitment to BAP drafting. Maybe that's why the Cardinals were in the Super Bowl.

John from Jacksonville:
Legendary broadcaster and Hall of Fame coach John Madden is retiring. What is your favorite Madden story?

Vic: It's from Dec. 22, 1972. Madden was practicing his Oakland team in a closed practice at Three Rivers Stadium, the day before what would become a famous playoff game. Steelers owner Art Rooney took his brother, a missionary priest in China who was home for the holidays, for a tour of the stadium. When they got to the field, Madden raced over to them and politely told Rooney the practice was closed and that he had to leave. Rooney introduced his brother to Madden, and Father Dan became incensed that he and his brother were being chased from the field by no less than a fellow Irishman, so Father Dan put an Irish curse on Madden. The following day, Madden's team lost on the "Immaculate Reception."

David from Ada, OK:
I had never really thought about the Jacksonville teal being an eye shadow color. I asked my wife to see if she could find some teal eye shadow and when she wore it, it kinda put the spark back in our marriage. I must be a true fan.

Vic: Oh, yeah, it's all about being a fan.

T.J. from Jacksonville:
It never ceases to amaze me how people ignore what is actually written in favor of what they want to believe. C.M. needs to take a basic reading comprehension class just as soon as humanly possible or better, yet, just stop reading/responding to the column. How the heck do you deal with it every day, Vic?

Vic: I just didn't have it on Thursday. I don't know what it was but I just lacked energy and it happens every once in awhile. All of a sudden, I saw this long hate letter and it was perfect for my needs; it would eat up a lot of space and wouldn't require much of an answer. I needed an easy fix and this was it because nothing succeeds better than hate. Fans love hate. Readers can't get enough hate. They love to see me characterized as a shill and a geeky sportswriter who was always picked last in pickup games. Over lunch I was telling the Jaguars' Director of Player Personnel, Terry McDonough, that I almost used his dad's name in my column. He inquired as to why and I referred to the famous locker room incident in which his dad, Will McDonough, flattened a first-round pick many years ago, as the TV boys caught it all on camera. Gee, those sportswriters sure are geeks.

Ted from San Dimas, CA:
Does Maurice Jones-Drew's new contract start this year or does the extension start after this season? Contract extensions have always confused me.

Vic: There are four new years on his contract but it's represented as a five-year deal because the old contract, which had one year remaining on it, is replaced by the new one.

Corey from Atoka, TN:
I was reading an article on about the drafts from 2003-08 for all NFL teams. It stated that the Jags had 49 picks and only eight starters. That did not seem that bad until I saw the Lions had 47 picks with nine starters. By comparison, the Colts had 52 picks with 15 starters and the Patriots had 51 picks with 17 starters. There are a few anomalies, such as the Steelers with 45 picks and nine starters. Any thoughts?

Vic: It's not the quantity of picks that count as much as the quality of those picks. As I said earlier in the week, you have to do your best picking in the first round, the money round. That's where, for the most part, the quality is and that's where the bulk of the money is spent. Look at the Ravens' and the Steelers' first-round picks. That's what you want out of your drafts. You want Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Joe Flacco, and you want Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller and Santonio Holmes. They are star players and they represent the nucleus of your team. They make fitting players around them relatively easy. Plus, I don't think undrafted players should be left out of the equation. Every undrafted player in your starting lineup should be counted because he came through the same scouting procedure the drafted players did. In other words, look deeper than the stats.

Love from Tallahassee, FL:
It takes a lot of guts to do what you do, but keep up the good work. I think the most exciting part of the draft is that we don't know what's gonna happen, so Jag fans, please, let's just wait and see what happens.

Vic: You are a person of intellect and self-control. I don't have a clue what's going to happen. I'm no different than any fan. I'm just a fan of the draft who feels a certain energy at this time of the year and enjoys discussing all of the options.

Sam from Orlando, FL:
I've been reading your column for a little over a year and it's clear that you have information and numbers regarding the blackout situation. Could you break down the individual game-to-game situations, as far as how many tickets need to be sold or, if not, just tell me if we are in danger of blacking out any division opponents?

Vic: The danger is grave for all games.

Scott from Tempe, AZ:
Any "Ask Vic" reader worth his/her salt knows your feelings toward Anquan Boldin trade discussions, nonetheless, the two primary sports talk stations here in the Phoenix area, which have historically been pretty accurate and seemingly maintain journalistic integrity, are both claiming the Jags have jumped into the mix by offering their first and third-round picks. Please, tell me, again, that it just isn't so; that we will build through the draft like Gene Smith said we would.

Vic: I would never dispute a report on a talk show. Clearly, I'm out of touch with the situation.

Chris from Jacksonville:
Do teams, specifically the Jags, make their value board available after the draft is over? Or is it still a secret?

Vic: No team, specifically not the Jags, ever makes its value board public.

Kenn from McMurdoo Station, Antarctica:
What would be an example of "smoke-screening?"

Vic: If all inquiries about a particular player, a defensive tackle, for example, met with wrinkled noses and body language that suggested the team is not interested in that player, and then the team drafted him, that would be a clear example of an intentional effort to advance incorrect information on the team's interest in that player – smoke-screening, if you will – and it is completely within the rules of pre-draft behavior. It's a dirty game.

Byrd from Jacksonville:
If a team has the BAP philosophy and we never see their draft board, how would we know if they truly stuck with BAP over need?

Vic: You never really know, unless it becomes so painfully obvious years later that you don't need to see their draft board to know. Hey, they lie and lying is completely within the rules of acceptable draft behavior.

Alex from Orange, CA:
There have been a lot of rumblings about the Jags taking a USC linebacker. Is this a possibility anywhere in the draft, such as Maualuga at the eighth pick?

Vic: Is it those same talk-show guys in Phoenix doing the rumbling?

Carter from Fernandina Beach, FL:
What kind of feedback are you getting from the players on the new conditioning program?

Vic: The noise coming from the other end of the hallway is beginning to worry and intrigue me. Three times a day, at the start of each group's workout, I hear someone yell a command that sounds like "pull," which is followed by a loud, group-like noise, causing me to picture the hull of an old wooden ship, in which the players are chained to their oars. You might remember that ships analogy Luke Richesson gave me for my story on the new weight room. "We're taking our ships, we're burning them and we're not going back, we're going forward," he said.

Phil from Woodmere, NY:
This may be a stupid question but why don't the Cardinals just trade Anquan Boldin to the Browns in exchange for Braylon Edwards? Wouldn't this make everyone happy?

Vic: They won't do that because both teams want picks, not players. Everybody wants picks, which is why I say picks are more valuable than players. It's been that way for all the years I've covered the NFL. Only a fraction of the players teams attempt to trade are actually traded. The overwhelming majority of those players end up being cut or just fading away. Do you remember Shaun Alexander? He was a league MVP and the Seahawks couldn't get a third-round pick for him. Somebody knew something because since then he has faded away. It's a young man's game. Draft picks keep you young.

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