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Three-cone fun and games

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

Fred from Portland, OR:
You mentioned how wide receivers don't do strength reps at the scouting combine, so I take it the few that do volunteer. What does it say to you that Chad Owens did 23 reps at 225 pounds?

Vic: As I said a day or two ago, he's a compactly-built guy. He's not a speedster, but he's explosive in a short area. Chad Owens did more strength reps than any of the wide receivers at the combine who volunteered to do strength reps. He was measured to have 6.6 percent body fat. My five iron has more body fat than that.

Keith from Jacksonville:
What's the best part of your job?

Vic: I like doing "Ask Vic." I like reading and responding to the e-mails. I like knowing what the fans think. Press conferences and practices and player interviews become hum-drum. I've heard the same stories and the same comments a million times. This "Ask Vic" fan forum is something new for me. I like it.

Steve from Woodstock, GA:
I think I finally understand what you mean about building a fan base. I think the Jags are gaining a lot of fans through the Jones pick. Also, the Jones pick may be the media face that has been missing from the Jags. I have been a huge fan from the start and have never really felt the same way as Arkansas fans feel about Jones. Thoughts?

Vic: For whatever reason, the kid has lit a fire under Jaguars fans.

Jim from Jacksonville:
What is a three-cone drill?

Vic: Two-cone drills are easy. Try it with one in each hand and one in your mouth, too. Now it gets tough. It's just one of the many interesting skills competitions they do at the combine. There's also the 40-yard dash with a stereo under one arm and the short-shuttle while holding your pants up. But seriously, Jim, these skills drills with the funny names provide important information to scouts about prospects' abilities. The three-cone drill is a stop-start exercise in which the player runs from cone to cone as quickly as he can. For example, Carlos Rogers had three-cone times of 6.50 and 6.48, which were, by far, the best times at the combine. Matt Jones chose not to do the three-cone drill at the combine, but he did it for the Jaguars in a personal workout and posted times in the 6.6 range.

Calvin from Jacksonville:
With so many Arkansas fans writing the "Ask Vic" column these days, there seems to be some potential to grow the Jaguars fan base. Any thoughts?

Vic: I'm concerned that if the Jaguars don't sellout Alltel Stadium this season, Wayne Weaver will move the franchise to Arkansas.

Jordan from Lincoln, NE:
Why didn't the Patriots get Barrett Ruud? He's the type of player the Patriots seem to like, smart and productive. Instead, they take some offensive lineman that I had never heard of. They don't even need offense; they needed someone to take over the inside linebacker spot and Ruud can be compared to Bruschi's speed and intelligence on the field.

Vic: With all due respect to your talent evaluations, don't you think that after a team has won three of the last four Super Bowls we should assume they know what they're doing?

Tim from Springfield, PA:
I admit I was disappointed when I heard they drafted Matt Jones. Personally, I wanted to see them draft a cornerback, but after seeing the numbers on Jones I think he could be a great fit for the Jags. He weighs 242, is 6-6 and runs a 4.3 40. So what's the big concern about him?

Vic: The obvious concern is that there's limited information on his ability to play the position for which he was drafted. I think that's a fair concern. Most people would say that makes Jones a risk. The Jaguars, however, don't believe Jones is a risk. They don't even think he's that raw as a receiver. They spent a lot of time examining the tapes of his open-field running ability and of his practices as a wide receiver at the Senior Bowl and they failed to find anything that would make them believe he's a risk.

Fester from Green Cove Springs, FL:
One more Matt Jones question, please. Do you think Matt Jones has the ability to become the number one receiver and replace Jimmy Smith in a couple of years?

Vic: The Jaguars have spent the ninth and 21st picks of the last two drafts on wide receivers. One of those two guys better become this team's number one receiver or the Jaguars will have made a mistake. Matt Jones, clearly, has the speed and athletic ability to be a number one.

Lane from Lake Mary, FL:
After seeing all these Arkansas fans bombarding you with questions and dominating the message board, it made me wonder something. Do you typically get a lot of responses from college fans of first-round picks?

Vic: Yes, I do, but not at the rate I've gotten them for Matt Jones. I've gotten e-mails this week from fans of undrafted free agents from out-of-the-way schools telling me how the guy the Jaguars signed that they like is going to become an All-Pro. This is beat-your-chest time for college football fans. What they don't understand is that this isn't the SEC, the Big 12, the MAC or the MEAC. This is the NFL and until their guy does something in a game, all of this is just a lot of yackety-yak.

Ralph from Middleburg, FL:
Great column; have been reading it daily since you started it. I've read the draft grades assigned to all of the NFL teams and each writer caveats the grades by saying that you can't get a true picture until three or four years after the draft. So, who were the A's and F's of the 2001 draft? How were the Jaguars graded in 2001 and what would be the assigned grade today for that 2001 draft?

Vic: The 2001 first-round picks who became top NFL players are: Michael Vick, Justin Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Richard Seymour, Andre Carter, Dan Morgan, Marcus Stroud, Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus, Casey Hampton, Adam Archuleta, Nate Clements, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Wayne and Todd Heap. The busts are: Gerard Warren, David Terrell, Jamal Reynolds, Kenyatta Walker, Rod Gardner, Derrick Gibson, Damione Lewis, Willie Middlebrooks and, potentially, some other guys about whom we still reserve judgment. If my memory is correct, the Jaguars' 2001 draft was considered to be a B, at best. Stroud was thought to be a reach at number 13. Four years later, we know he was certainly not a reach. Maurice Williams was considered to be a solid second-round pick and that's exactly what he has become. The rest of that draft class, however, really bombed. Eric Westmoreland, James Boyd, David Leaverton, Chad Ward, Anthony Denman, Marlon McCree, Richmond Flowers and Randy Chevrier are all gone. The Jags got two top guys in the first two rounds but nothing after that. Is that worth a B? I would say it's a B-. A Pro-Bowler and a long-term starter at tackle in the first two rounds is great value, but you can't afford to strikeout in the roster-depth rounds in the salary cap era.

Jason from Jacksonville:
What is a "jar on the shelf?"

Vic: It's a term I use to describe young, low-round draft picks or undrafted free agents who are in the process of affordably developing into future replacements for players the team might lose to age, injury or the salary cap. David Garrard and Quinn Gray, for example, are "jars on the shelf." Rob Meier is the classic example. You gotta have these guys because the salary cap won't allow you to fill your roster with stars.

Sal from Jacksonville:
I have listened to a number of interviews with Khalif Barnes and I must say I am really impressed with his focus. Am I wrong or does it seem to you that Barnes is level-headed and ready to play?

Vic: We interviewed Barnes on "Jaguars This Week" this past Wednesday and I came away with the same opinion. He is intensely interested in his professional football career. I was reminded of something Joe Greene said to me years ago about rookies in training camp. Joe said you can't come here thinking you're above this. Barnes gave me every reason to believe he has the right attitude.

Chris from Rio Rancho, NM:
Just to let you know my name is Chris Williams and I am attending UCLA next year as a running back. Watch out for me!

Vic: Go get 'em stud.

Will from Jacksonville:
What does it say that Antonio Gates was able to develop into a Pro-Bowl tight end with no football experience in college?

Vic: Antonio Gates had one major advantage going for him from day one: He came from a great university. Let's not forget, though, that Gates spent a year learning how to play football before he burst into stardom last year. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and started to come on at the end of his rookie season. He was in the process of becoming a "jar on the shelf" when he fell off the shelf and into the Pro Bowl. What does it say? It says there's no substitute for talent. If you have the athletic ability to play this game, the scouts will find you and the coaches will teach you. Gates is also an especially fast learner which, of course, is not surprising considering the track record of alumni from his alma mater.

Dick from Fernandina Beach, FL:
How good can Dave Campo make our secondary?

Vic: Dave Campo's got a pretty good track record, too. He's coached Deion Sanders, Kevin Smith, Larry Brown, Everson Walls, Darren Woodson, Bubba McDowell, Bennie Blades, Thomas Everett, James Washington and Roy Williams.

William from Gardena, CA:
To get off the Matt Jones topic a tad bit, I know that one of Big John Henderson's pre-game rituals is to be slapped by a trainer as hard as possible. I can see the unique psychological edge that it could possibly provide for him. To make a long question short, what was the weirdest and funniest pre-game ritual you have personally seen and by which player?

Vic: Henderson has it. My wife saw it on the scoreboard and she thought we should try it. She slaps me across the face every morning. Frankly, I haven't detected that it's given me any kind of boost in performance, but she says it's really helped her.

David from New York, NY:
There have been successful transitions in the past, but there have also been individuals whose ego would not allow them to embrace the position switch, always holding out hope of making it as a quarterback; Kordell Stewart and Eric Crouch, for example. I'm only hoping that we don't see any of that lingering doubt in Matt Jones. I'm interested in your opinion because it seems without exception that those individuals that have embraced the switch have been able to excel.

Vic: The Steelers will tell you that Kordell Stewart had the ability to become the best receiver in team history. He made special plays as a receiver early in his career. Looking back on it, it was a mistake to try to develop him as a quarterback. He was an amazing talent that wasn't fully realized. The problem was that he had enough ability to tempt them at quarterback. Don't forget, he took them to the AFC title game in 1997 and 2001, and he made the Pro Bowl in '01. He was not a wash-out at the position, but he could've been so much better as a wide receiver. Eric Crouch isn't to be confused with Stewart. Crouch wasn't going to make it at any position. He was a great college player, but that was the end of the line for him; another Heisman hype job. Matt Jones, on the other hand, has Kordell Stewart-type ability. He has Stewart's speed and athletic talent. Hopefully, Jones will have Stewart's toughness and durability. Jones, however, will not tempt the Jaguars at quarterback the way Stewart tempted the Steelers. Jones is a receiver. He may be a wide receiver or he may be a tight end, but he knows it's one of those two positions. His days as a quarterback are over and I have no doubt he's accepted that fact.

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