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Trade chances may be increasing

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

Aaron from White Hall, AR:
Whenever Matt Jones got drafted here I started reading your column every day, but now I see the mistake made by the Jaguars and I could care less if they never win another game. The good news is you don't have to put up with the hog fans no more. So thanks, Vic, for the funny moments and I guess what I am saying is have fun covering a team that just lost its best receiver on the team and he will only make the next team great. Good-bye.

Vic: No man has ever been more loved.

Tim from Tucson, AZ:
Vic, why can't people see the forest for the tress? The Patriots routinely sign big-name veterans but always to patch holes and normally at good value and without giving up draft picks. Their core players are draft picks and they generally let 'em walk one year early, rather than one year too late.

Vic: You're absolutely right. A lot of people allow themselves to be blinded by the tress.

Felix from Norman, OK:
Matt is free at last. He will be signed by the Cowboys within the next 10 days.

Vic: I'm starting the countdown, Felix. Ten, nine, …

Matt from Jacksonville:
I renewed my two season tickets. I just wanted to say that after the depression of last season, I am really looking forward to this brand new day of Jaguars football and I'm very encouraged about what we have done so far. My question: Are we getting new uniforms this year as the rumors suggest, and is it true they will be radically different?

Vic: I saw them but I had to vow not to describe what I had seen, which is no problem because I've already forgotten what I saw. I'm not a big fashion guy. I already know what I'm going to wear to work tomorrow: khaki pants and a short-sleeve sport shirt, which is what I'm wearing now and pretty much wear every day. In the winter and late fall, I wear a long-sleeve sport shirt, and sometimes even a sweater vest if it's really cold or I'm in a daring mood.

David from Waycross, GA:
I was watching a 2008 Eagles game on "NFL Network" a few nights ago and Tra Thomas is a beast.

Vic: I vowed that I wouldn't let this happen, but it's happening and I can't stop it. I'm starting to get that Super Bowl feeling again. This could be the year.

Jacob from Cocoa, FL:
Do you think the Jags should sign Torry Holt to a short-term contract?

Vic: If risk is at a minimum, I think signing Holt would be a good thing, but I don't think this is as big a deal as everyone is making it. The only thing holding back the Jaguars' wide receiving corps in recent years was first-round picks and free-agent signings that were holding the team hostage. That doesn't exist now. The Jaguars are free to be aggressive in attempts to improve their wide receiving corps and I think they'll be successful for that reason.

David from Gainesville, FL:
How can people take 40-yard dash times so seriously? ESPN and SI regularly report times to the hundredth place. Do coaches and scouts really take those few hundredths of a second into consideration when comparing players?

Vic: Speed matters, but it's playing speed that matters most. The ability to process information makes a player faster than a player who lacks ability to process information. It doesn't take much processing ability to run the 40 and that's why some guys all of a sudden run faster than they play. Larry Fitzgerald ran in the mid-4.4 range at his pro day and Roy Williams ran in the low-4.3 area at his, but when have you ever seen evidence that Williams plays at Fitzgerald's speed?

Phillip from Sierra Vista, AZ:
I'm confused. I keep hearing that little stock is put into the combine and pro days. Andre Smith made a bad decision at the combine and then had a poor pro-day workout. I understand the combine argument but how can his poor pro-day performance drop him as much as the analysts are predicting? If the guy can play, he can play, right?

Vic: Scouts are looking for extremes at the combine and pro-day workouts. If a prospect performs at nothing above or below what was expected of him, then his combine and pro-day workouts will have meant nothing; the scouts will go on what the prospect did on the field in game action. If a prospect, however, does something extreme at a postseason workout, then it's likely to have an impact on his draft stock. For example, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Deon Butler ran sub-4.3 at the combine and that improved each player's draft stock for the obvious reason that it alerted teams to the extreme speed each player has. It's the red-flag extremes, however, that tend to have the greatest impact. I'll use two players as examples: Andre Smith and LeSean McCoy. Smith left the combine without informing anyone and that is seen as a sign of immaturity. It's extreme behavior that can't be ignored. He showed up at his pro day out of shape and that's indicative of a guy who lacks conditioning discipline. McCoy had a vertical jump of only 29 inches and a broad jump of a mere eight feet, 11 inches, both efforts being extremely low for an athlete of McCoy's talent. What does it mean? Well, vertical jump and broad jump are used as indicators of explosion and McCoy will be seen as a guy who may lack explosion. His failures in the vertical jump and broad jump are also indicative of a player who may not like the weight room. It's a question you then ask of the player's coach and in McCoy's case I think it applies. You're also talking about a player who is 20 years old, which means he is far from being physically mature, so you take that into account, too. Will his vertical and broad jumps hurt him in the draft? Probably. If he had just jumped at an average measurement, there'd be no red flags. Scouts would rely on what McCoy did on the field, which is to say he carried the ball 560 times for a 4.85 yards-per-carry average and scored 35 rushing touchdowns on a team with a major deficiency at quarterback, which means everyone knew he was going to get the ball, and not once in two years did he miss a game due to injury. So what do you wanna base your opinion of him on, his performance on the field or his poor performances in the vertical and broad jumps? There'd be no issue if the jumps hadn't been so bad. That's what prospects have to avoid. They have to avoid extremes to the negative side.

Derek from Jacksonville:
I am a pretty big Boldin fan and while I know he will never be a fit in Jax for various reasons, I am wondering if he is worth the money he is asking for, to any team. With his stats in receptions so far through his career and his ability to go over the middle, would you rank him in the top five all-around wide receivers in the NFL?

Vic: I haven't seen enough of him to be able to credibly rank him, but I think you have to ask one major question: Did it help him that the Cardinals' other receiver is Larry Fitzgerald, and will he be as productive if the other receiver is just a guy?

Kevin from Jacksonville:
Do you think D'Juan Woods and Nate Hughes are legitimate contenders to become starting NFL receivers?

Vic: They are legitimate contenders to win a roster spot. That's as far as I'll go at this time. They have a genuine opportunity to establish themselves as roster-worthy players and maybe more. That opportunity hasn't existed for guys such as Woods and Hughes in recent years because they've had two first-round picks and a couple of high-priced free agents at the position blocking the way. Now three of those obstacles have been removed and the path is clear for true competition. We'll see what they have in the tank.

Jerald from Summerville, SC:
If a lot of the top schools have a pro day for their prospects, what's the point of even coming to the combine?

Vic: The more looks scouts get at a prospect, the more they know about him. We haven't even started the personal workouts yet. Once upon a time, the draft was conducted shortly after the Super Bowl was played. There was no combine and pro days were little more than visits to the local colleges to talk to the coaches and get their recommendations. The old-timers think it was better back then because your thinking wasn't poisoned by 40 times and cone drills. The young scouts, however, couldn't imagine picking players as blindly as the old-timers did. The bottom line is that it was a different day, a different age and a different game. Drug-testing didn't exist and neither did a lot of today's social ills. Interviews weren't necessary because the coach said "Do this" and the player said "Yes, sir," or he was benched or cut. You could do that back then because the financial investment in players wasn't as great. Hey, you can't stop progress. The game has grown and it requires greater attention and greater information. I told the story a few weeks ago about the fourth-round pick who came to training camp missing a couple of fingers and the team not knowing about it. Well, that doesn't happen these days.

Brian from St. Louis, MO:
I have a question about quarterbacks' arm strength and making the throws. What is it that gives the QB zip to get the ball where it needs to be? Looking at QB arm sizes, there doesn't seem to be much difference in muscle size, so any idea about what gives some QBs the zip on the ball that can break fingers and others can't get it across the field?

Vic: It's the ability to roll the shoulder. That's where a quarterback gets his arm strength.

Bryan from St. Johns, FL:
It seems like the pundits have Matt Stafford falling a little, and Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman rising on draft boards. Do you sense the Jaguars' chances of trading down are increasing?

Vic: Yes, I do sense the Jaguars' chance of getting a trade offer at pick eight is increasing and it's because of the quarterbacks. Some think Stafford could be available, and Sanchez and Freeman would likely be available. That makes me wonder about a team such as the Jets at 17. Would they come up to draft a quarterback? I'm starting to get the feeling the Jaguars' decision at pick eight will come down to either picking a quarterback or trading the pick to a team that wants to come up to draft a quarterback. In other words, I think a quarterback is likely to fit at pick eight.

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