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Up early in Indy

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

Peter from Toronto, Ontario:
Derrick Morgan has a good reputation for his good production last year with 12 sacks, however, he had two against Jacksonville State, three each against Clemson and Wake Forest, and one each against FSU, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Duke. How significant of a concern is the fact that he never stepped it up against good competition?

Vic: That was the same criticism of Mario Williams and it didn't seem to hurt his draft stock. You're not basing your evaluation on stats. You're basing it on your opinion of his ability.

Gabe from Jacksonville:
The way you explained how the game was played back when they had players like Jim Kiick and Rocky Bleier, could they ever turn the clock back to those days?

Vic: I've never seen the clock turned back, other than for something temporary. I remember in Marv Levy's first year as Chiefs coach he went to the "Wing T" formation because he was heavy at running back and light at wide receiver, but that was quickly changed the following season when he had time to acquire more receivers. The game marches on. It keeps looking for new ways to do old things.

Nick from Jacksonville:
What exactly is the franchise tag and what is the ideal player for a team to place it on?

Vic: It's a means of retaining the rights to a player whose contract is expiring. It's best used on a player whose value is the equal of or greater than the average of the top five salaries at his position because that's what you'd have to pay him if you franchise him. The franchise tag is also a wonderful way of buying time to do a new contract, but it's not always used that way. You may have an older player with whom you don't want to do a long-term deal and pay him a big signing bonus, but you do wanna keep him for at least another year and his value is considered to be worth the franchise tag.

Dale from Hampton, VA:
Do NFL teams have two draft boards, one based on their ranking of the players and another based on how they think the draft will actually unfold?

Vic: They have one value board. The week of the draft, they go mock draft crazy. Tom Coughlin had everybody on his staff participate in a mock draft. He was obsessed with acquiring information on how the picks might fall, for the obvious reason that he wanted to know what would be available to him.

James from Jacksonville:
If the Chargers had traded LaDainian Tomlinson two years ago, it probably wouldn't have been as much as people think, but it's more a matter that they would still have Michael Turner.

Vic: That's right. The draft and the management of your personnel is all about value. You must either cash in that value on the field or recoup its value in some other manner, such as in a trade. Rob Johnson is the perfect example of that. The Chargers did not do a very good job of recouping Turner's and Drew Brees' value. They got significant compensatory pick awards for having lost them, but they should've been able to do better than that. I think they should've also seen the end coming for Tomlinson. It's a young man's game and they had a young man, Turner, ready to go. That's one of the things I love about the Eagles: They get it. They saw Brian Westbrook aging, replaced him with LeSean McCoy and weren't afraid to pull the trigger.

Frank from Orange Park, FL:
The combine is for guys like Derek Cox. If you're from the Floridas and Oklahomas of college football and dominated against top competition, pro scouts can be fairly confident you'll do well in the pros. If you're at a smaller school, they don't have enough info on how you match up physically with the top talent. That's what I want to hear from this week. Who from the small schools is showing up the big boys?

Vic: Starring at Florida is a guarantee of success? Really? Who holds the guarantees for Jarvis Moss, Chad Jackson, Rex Grossman, Jabar Gaffney, Gerard Warren, Kenyatta Walker, Travis Taylor and others? You find football players where you find football players. Cox wasn't even invited to the combine.

Ryan from Richmond, VA:
I was watching the Canada vs. USA hockey game and thought about your "basketball on grass" comment. Then I began thinking our two favorite sports in the U.S. are football and basketball, which are both high-scoring sports. Hockey is a lot like soccer in that it's a low-scoring defensive game. Could this be a reason why hockey is not catching on, in that it's just not enough offense for Americans?

Vic: The final score of that game was 5-3, which is the equivalent of 35-21 in football, which means the hockey game outscored the Super Bowl. Hockey has caught on very well in the cold-weather cities. Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, etc., are sold out. I know for a fact Pittsburgh is on a long sellout streak. Detroit is a hockey-mad city. When the Jags played there two years ago, there was a sign at the front door of our hotel that said hockey sticks were not permitted inside the hotel, yet, they were bangin' the puck off the door to my room at midnight. It's just a southern thing. Hockey will never be big here because the natives have never done any ice skating on a frozen pond, and those from the north that have moved here and have done some ice skating on a frozen pond moved here because they hate ice skates and frozen ponds.

Greg from Jacksonville:
What round would you consider it worth drafting Tebow to make it worth the risk?

Vic: You do your board and you pick him where he falls. I'll do my all-important value board after the combine, but it'll only be 32 players deep so I don't know in what round I would draft Tebow because I don't do a board that goes deep enough into the draft to indicate where he might fall.

James from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Gene Smith said, "Rank takes precedent over grade; how you would pull them off the draft board." What is the difference between a rank and a grade?

Vic: A rank is where you fit in the order of all draft prospects. A grade is the number you have been assigned according to your evaluation. The grade determines the rank. What GM Gene is trying to say is you don't look for players with good grades, you look for the player that is highest in the ranking. That assures you'll draft the player with the highest grade. It's just semantics.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK:
Since the teams guard their draft plans more closely than anything else, how did the Jets know the Jags wanted Revis? Good guesswork or do they spy?

Vic: It was reported on the morning of the draft that the Steelers were trying to work out a trade with the Jaguars, who wanted to come up for Revis, or the Steelers might take Revis themselves. At that point, the Jets knew where they had to go to get Revis, right? Yeah, but only if they could trust the report. What if the Steelers were trying to bait somebody to trade with them? Frankly, I was kind of surprised the Jets didn't trade with the Steelers. The Jets must've had information that another team wanted Revis and was working a deal to trade with Carolina a pick ahead of the Steelers.

Roshandra from Jacksonville:
I am a diehard Jaguars fan, so don't take my complaint as a fan trying to degrade the Jaguars. I am just voicing my opinion, since this is our team as well. I notice that whenever someone from the Jaguars organization does an interview, they use that wrinkled Jags sign in the background. Can you please tell those in charge that it is very unprofessional and we are the only organization that looks like we took something out of a box and put it behind the interviewee. Please tell me I am not the only one that has noticed this problem. We should be an organization that strives for class. I know we are a small-market team, but we don't have to look like one.

Vic: We have a new one: Blame it on the backdrop. Actually, every team does the same thing. They pull a backdrop out of a bag or box and hang it on a wall where interviews will be conducted. You are the only person who has ever asked or commented on this. My, we sure have come a long way. I remember doing an interview in the old visitors' locker room at Cleveland Stadium. Unknown to Chuck Noll, he was standing right in front of a girlie calendar. I can't imagine anyone watching the interviews on TV even saw Chuck, and nobody complained.

Brendon from Monterey, CA:
The Steelers placed the transition tag on Jeff Reed. Are they no longer the Steelers or are they just hedging their bets until they find their replacement, perhaps in April's draft?

Vic: The transition tag fee is $2.629 million in 2010 and, of course, requires no outlay of bonus money; it's pure salary, which means it's a good deal for the team. In other words, it's the Steelers being the Steelers, but we won't really know what the final verdict is until a team attempts to sign Reed to a big contract. At that point, the Steelers would have the right to match the deal and retain Reed, and then we'll find out if the Steelers are still the Steelers.

Jack from Jacksonville:
Are you going to do interviews with the Jaguars staff at the combine this year? What you did last year was amazing. The transparency that lets the fan into the "war room" doesn't happen anywhere else.

Vic: Yeah, we're gonna do it again. We're heading to Indy early Friday morning. I got a text from GM Gene this morning that said, "Meet you at the Starbucks in the hotel lobby at six a.m. on Saturday and Sunday." By then, GM Gene will have been up two hours and working on his third cup.

Jacob from Cocoa, FL:
Back in 2008, the Jags traded a bunch of picks to get the eighth picks from the Ravens and consequently Derrick Harvey. Who did the Ravens end up drafting with those picks?

Vic: They drafted Joe Flacco and traded one of the third-rounders to Houston, which used it to draft Steve Slaton.

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