Dwight from Eland, WI

Can the Green Bay Packers improve their defense enough to make a Super Bowl run this coming season?

Absolutely. This draft class is strongest where the Packers’ needs are greatest. Depending on what happens when defensive linemen and linebackers run at the combine today, the crop of 3-4 rush backers could explode. It’s already strong, but it could become even stronger and deeper, which I expect it will because I think a lot of tweeners are going to run fast enough to put themselves squarely into the rush backer category. This is a draft class that also has some depth at cornerback.

Loftur from Columbus, OH

I heard during Super Bowl week how Indianapolis is a great city for big events due to the fact that everything is close to each other in downtown Indianapolis. I would like to see the NFL move the combine around the cities in the league that have domed/indoor stadiums. Currently, there are nine such stadiums in the NFL. I feel St. Louis and Detroit are equally good when it comes to being centrally located. Why always Indianapolis?

Because it’s hosted the combine for a long time and the people that run it and attend it are familiar with the landscape and the procedures. Why would you wanna move this event around? What does that accomplish? This isn’t an event that fans attend for the purpose of having fun. This is an event to which coaches, scouts, prospects and media attend for the purpose of working. None of those people want to see the site change and have to learn new ways. This is a get in, get the job done and get out of town event.

Cesar from Santa Fe Springs, CA

You often talk about the advantages of running a 3-4 scheme (more speed, exotic blitzes, etc.). What would you say are some disadvantages of running that scheme?

You’re light in the pants, to put it in football parlance. In the old days, that meant you were vulnerable to the run. In today’s game, it means you’re at an advantage against the pass, which is what today’s game is, a passing game.

Jordan from Brookings, SD

Mike McCarthy discussed changing up the running game for next season. Can you speculate on what ideas he might have in mind for this?

I don’t know what changes he has in store for the running game, but when it was announced that a quarterbacks coach would be the new running backs coach, I began to think that a lot of the running plays next season might begin with a short pass.

Thomas from Pensacola, FL

When you target a player, how do you know someone hasn't targeted him as well? How do you know you need to move up to get that player?

You don’t know, and that’s why you do a value board. Your board gives you an indication of where a player you’ve targeted fits in the draft. If that player is available when the team at that pick goes on the clock, give them a call. Where you put that player on your value board is referred to as the “value line.” In essence, a value board is a mock draft according to the grades the team assigned to each player. You target the players you want to draft, and then you move to where you have projected they fit.

Grant from Denver, CO

A 3-4 defense is good for a lot of reasons, but another reason I have come up with is that the other team doesn't know exactly who is going to rush the passer. Your thoughts?

It’s a scheme-heavy defense.

Eric from Fort Atkinson, WI

How come the media always interviews Ted Thompson during the combine? They know he's not really into talking to the media. Is it mandatory that the GM speaks to the media?

It is not mandatory. Coaches and GMs may decline to speak to the media.

David from Sammamish, WA

Does acquiring players like Howard Green off waivers not count as picking players up from other teams through free agency?

It does not count toward compensatory pick consideration. A player has to be on your roster when the clock strikes “midnight” at the start of free agency for that player to count toward compensatory pick consideration.

Tim from Champaign, IL

Given the way modern pass defenses require players to move around to disguise coverages, is there still a sensible distinction between a free and a strong safety?

The gap has narrowed. Strong safety was previously a safety-linebacker hybrid; now it’s a safety/cornerback hybrid. That’s the nature of today’s game. It’s more about pass defense and less about run support. A lot of teams designate their safeties left and right, not strong and free.

Richard from Lake Havasu City, AZ

We know Ted Thompson is a draft-and-develop guy, but might there be a scenario where he might dip into the free-agent market to fill a need on defense? This then allows the team to draft BAP? I have always felt a team needs to use all three methods to acquire players: the draft, free agency and unsigned college free agents. If you live by the draft, you die by the draft. Your opinion?

If you draft well always, you don’t ever die by the draft, you only continue to live by it, but even if you sign nothing but success stories in free agency, you will surely die by free agency by your mere participation in it. Free agency is not cap-friendly, but the draft is. I agree with you that a team should use all of the resources available to it, but I would submit that veteran free agency needs to be used very discriminately. The good teams are built through the draft. The last four Super Bowl teams, the Giants, Patriots, Packers and Steelers all live by the draft, and they seldom die by it.

Michael from Fort Bragg, NC

What year do you think was the best draft class ever?

I’m partial to 1995. It produced 28 Pro Bowlers.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

Why do you think Jason Pierre-Paul was not selected until the middle of the first round?

He only had one year of legitimate major college success behind him. It caused hesitation among teams in the top half of the draft. There’s a reluctance to rely on combine results in evaluating a player, as there should be. He was a somewhat gutsy pick by the Giants at 15. Melvin Ingram is a kind of one-year wonder, too, although he played against a very high level of competition and that’ll weigh in his favor.

Mike from Dallas, TX

Given that your linebackers in a 3-4 are your playmakers and the defensive linemen are run-stuffers, would you be surprised if Ted Thompson went anywhere other than a potential 3-4 outside linebacker in this draft? Also, who is the safest of those? Every single one has question marks, in my opinion.

What can I say that will convince fans that Thompson truly does believe in and ascribes to the best available player drafting philosophy? Didn’t last year’s draft do it? I mean, with the loss of Cullen Jenkins hanging over their head – isn’t that what every Packers fans believes is the reason the Packers didn’t return to the Super Bowl? – Thompson selected an offensive tackle with the team’s first-round pick, for the second year in a row, no less. Shouldn’t that serve as proof of Thompson’s commitment to BAP? There were rush backers and defensive linemen available that would’ve addressed need. Brooks Reed was available. Jarvis Jenkins, Marvin Austin, Stephen Paea and Justin Houston were all available. But Thompson went with Sherrod. Why? Because he was being true to his board. The Packers didn’t have a crushing need at offensive tackle. Chad Clifton was coming off a very successful postseason. Marshall Newhouse proved he was on the rise. T.J. Lang could play the position in a pinch. The Packers drafted Sherrod because they believed he was the best available player. The good news is that, after today’s workouts, I think a whole lot of potential outside linebackers are going to fit where the Packers are picking in the first round of this draft. All of the “experts” are saying this is a tweener-happy draft, so need might meet value. When it comes to pass rushers, there is no such thing as safe. I like Melvin Ingram because he’s possibly the most athletic of the bunch. Vinny Curry has that lightning-quick first step you’re looking for, but he’s not a powerful guy and the big tackles have a way of eating up those quick-twitch guys if they have nothing else to offer, or if they’re not ungodly quick; Curry might be ungodly quick. Courtney Upshaw is all power, and I don’t think all-power wins often enough in this league. Ingram has that mix of power, quickness and athleticism. I like him a lot. Would I bet my house on him? No. I wouldn’t do that on any pass rusher. They are pure risk/reward, and one is as great as the other.

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