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Mailbag: On top picks reporting on time

7/11/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Charles in Jacksonville, Fla., writes: Mailbag question for you: Which division team can least afford a prolonged holdout from their top pick?

Paul Kuharsky: Charles, you are formally invited to submit a great question like this once a week.

One thing -- a holdout is technically done by a guy with a contract. So a rookie is better classified as a contract dispute or a prolonged negotiation. Here's my thinking:

Kenny Britt is the Titans third wide receiver at best, and they've succeeded with far worse.

A healthy Joseph Addai is a more than capable lead back and the Colts also like Mike Hart, so a late start for Donald Brown would hardly be deadly. Also backs can jump in without knowing the entire playbook provided they know their blitz pick up responsibilities.

The Jaguars have enough options at tackle beyond Eugene Monroe to hold down the fort with Tra Thomas, Tony Pashos and Eben Britton if Monroe needs extra time.

Houston is thin and smallish at linebacker without Brian Cushing, and he's a guy whose tempo and energy are going to influence the whole defense. I think the Texans need him from day one of camp more than any of the other team needs its top pick to be signed and sealed.


David in Jacksonville, Fla., writes: Chat Question: What is your assessment of the overhaul of the Jaguars roster by Gene Smith? I like the way he is building the roster even though it may not pay dividends this year in terms of wins. If you are going to be successful franchise you must be able to build the majority of your team through the draft. My condolences to all Titans fans on the passing of Steve McNair. He was a fierce, tough, competitor and leader.
Paul Kuharsky: I like what Smith is doing. But it's going to take time. When things don't go well for this group, it has a lot better chance of holding together and sticking with Jack Del Rio. Personnel-wise, I think they need another year at least. A lot of stars would have to align for them to get good this season in terms of all the young guys and other new pieces panning out simultaneously. And the depth behind veterans they are counting on like Torry Holt, Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashean Mathis is not good.


Max in Los Angeles, Calif., writes: I know you probably don't read these but, I like the job you did with Steve McNair and am really liking the survey says. SS is one of the few actually insightful things you can get in football coverage during this down period. Don't work too hard, just post like 3 or 4 of those a day. Oh and stop pushing the Titans so much. One more question. You see LenDale, Keith Bullock, and Chris Johnson regularly, are they as big of turds as they come across, or are they misunderstood? (I think Keith might be okay)

Paul Kuharsky: Actually, I read every one of these. Thanks for the note.

I don't expect I have enough to manage three or four "Survey says" entries a day, but I have enough to scatter throughout July and I am thrilled you like the concept.

Feel free to tell me how I push the Titans. McNair obviously warrants huge attention, and Vince Young garnered some attention recently, hardly positive from me. They're the defending division champs and they were the last team to conclude its offseason. Pretty much that simple.

Bulluck is a great guy. White is up and down. Johnson, it's too early to say.


JB in Houston writes: Well said, PK. I'm a fan back to his first start in '95, this is tough for all of us to reconcile. We don't know what was going on in Steve's life, we just know it didn't warrant him getting shot and killed. Anyway, I've been in chats before talking about his HOF chances, and one HOF QB he compares very favorably to is Troy Aikman.
McNair (12 seasons): 60.1% 31,304 yds 174 TD 119 INT 82.8 rating. 3590 rush yds 5.4 avg 37 TDs. 91-62 as a starter, 5-5 playoffs.

Aikman (11 seasons): 61.5% 32,942 yds 165 TD 141 INT 81.6 rating. 1016 rush yds 3.1 avg 9 TDs. 94-71 as a starter, 11-4 playoffs.

So in 12 more reg. season games as a starter Aikman only had 3 more Ws, less TDs and more INTs. Obviously voters weigh heavily on Super Bowls, but when it came to winning games McNair was better, especially considering the talent around both guys. And Steve won the only head to head (Thanksgiving 1997). Anyway, I'd been saying he had no shot at it, but I think someday he might, even if not on the 1st ballot. We'll see.

Paul Kuharsky: Three Super Bowls aren't a little addendum; they are a HUGE deal as is the playoff winning percentages -- Aikman at .733, McNair at .500.

And this line of thinking where we have to uplift good players who weren't surrounded by great talent is silly. Some guys are more fortunate than others, sure, but that is part of the success and failure of most pro athletes. I'm supposed to grade Aikman down because he played with good players? Was Michael Irvin a Hall of Famer if Aikman wasn't delivering the passes?

Paraphrasing John McClain here, but he hit the mark: McNair was good and sometimes great, but not great often enough to qualify as a Hall of Famer. Too many people take that as some sort of insult and it isn't one, it's just an honest assessment.