Ben from Radford,

Vic, I know the Packers hit on many of their draft picks last year, but what happened to Khyri Thornton? A third-round pick I never heard about the entire year?

Not every rookie is ready to make the jump from college football to the NFL. That’s why it’s draft and develop, not draft and cut. The Packers are patient with their draft picks. They allow them time to develop because that’s what keeps your roster young and deep. The best way to keep your salary cap healthy is to have a steady flow of young, emerging talent, and to use the restricted free agent tender process to maximize their value and allow for them to fully mature.

Bill from Lancaster, PA

If we can agree Clay Mathews is more valuable as an outside, pass-rushing linebacker, then why don’t the Packers move Nick Perry inside? Or, if they don’t get a stud ILB in the draft, why not groom an up and comer like Jayrone Elliott for that position? Love your column and look forward to reading it on my lunch hour every day.

Maybe they will. Perry certainly has the bulk to take on blocks. Elliott came out of nowhere in training camp. His role will be better identified this summer.

Kurt from Delafield, WI

There’s an article about the NFL salary cap that indicates the Packers were (by far) the highest spending team in the league for the 2013 and 2014 seasons at 116 percent of the cap. This might require some explaining to the Packers faithful who are probably wondering why you told them to not worry about the Packers’ cap last Saturday.

I think you might be confusing spending money in the year vs. pushing money out. You want your team to use this year’s cap on this year’s team. What you don’t want is your team spending future caps on this year’s team. The Packers don’t do that and that’s why Packers fans have no worry about the Packers falling into cap trouble. Last year’s cap is gone; it was spent on last year’s team. You do that by paying high in salary, which goes away when you release a player. Signing bonus can be a problem. It’s guaranteed money and it becomes dead money when you release a player with signing bonus money left to pass through the books. A salary cap, in my opinion, should be evaluated on its dead money and guaranteed money.

Andrew from Cambridge, IA

Vic, as a Badgers fan, I enjoy listening to Bo Ryan’s press conferences. He’s very matter of fact and always tells great stories. Is there a coach in another sport you would have liked to cover?

Tom Lasorda.

Trevor from Wausau, WI

Are there many players who weren’t highly regarded after their college career but shot way up in the draft due to a great combine showing and then went on to a great career?

Jason Pierre-Paul and Joe Flacco were combine stars that have gone on to pretty good careers.

Jeff from Elm Grove, WI

The final 3:52 wouldn’t have been necessary if the Packers scored more than one touchdown on five turnovers. There is much more to it than the final 3:52.

I don’t agree. If a team has to score a lot early to avoid crunch time, it’s not a championship team.

Clay from Des Moines, IA

GM Ketchman, Marcus Mariota has fallen all the way to the 30th pick, do you take him?

Isn’t that what the Packers did with Aaron Rodgers? How’d that work for them? We go through this BAP test every year, and the answer remains the same: Recoup the value of the pick by trading out of it, or pick the guy at the top of your board.

Bill from Brooklyn Park, MN

How much do you think the onside kick in the NFC Championship played into Brandon Bostick’s release? If he had chosen to make his assigned block instead of going for the ball, is he still on the team?

That’s not consistent with the Packers’ patient, draft-and-develop philosophy. It’s about talent and the evaluation of it. You don’t release a talented player based on one play. You only hurt yourself if you do that.

Armin from Koeflach, Austria

Vic, what is the use of the franchise tag? It seems to me that it is a forceful way to keep a player at an overrated price.

The franchise tag is a good vehicle for stimulating contract negotiations. The threat of using it is every bit as good as using it because players want the security signing bonus on a long-term contract affords them. If you have to use the tag, it’ll buy you time to negotiate.

Brian from Yakima, WA

When explaining BLESTO, you mentioned teams needing to pool resources. At what point did the league become profitable? And when did it become the mega-industry it is today?

The merger was the launch pad.

Nathan from Denver, CO

The combine seems to have a huge influence on mock drafts, but how much does it actually reshape teams’ draft boards?

Most teams had their boards done before they went to the combine, and then used the combine to tweak their boards if a guy jumped up or fell down sharply. These days, because the game is beginning to imitate the combine drills, I think the combine has become a major factor in shaping teams’ boards. Prospects are making major moves up and down the board at the combine. This is a big week for a lot of young men in Indianapolis, which is where I was headed this morning as I wrote this column.

Tim from Chicago, IL

Right now on nfl.com, the mock drafts have the Packers taking Stephone Anthony, P.J. Williams, Jordan Phillips or Denzel Perryman. Four different mock drafts and four different guys, yet, fans believe one is the savior and are already falling in love. Why is this? Shouldn’t we at least wait until after the combine?

All of those players address perceived needs. That’s why mock drafts should be used solely for identifying team needs.

Ron from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, it’s Tony Pauline season again. You reference him a lot. What are his credentials and how does he get paid?

His credentials are his dedication to evaluating football talent. He taught himself how to do it and he spends a lot of time watching tape and traveling to events such as the Senior Bowl and combine. He uses the information he accumulates to sell his evaluations to those who would pay for them. It’s a second job for Tony; it’s a labor of love. I’ve trusted his work for a long time.

Brent from Columbus AFB, MS

So you’re a draft fanatic and you need a little primer. Well, if you agree with me that our biggest needs are defensive line and inside linebacker, then let me fill you in on how this draft is playing right into our hands. At pick 30, you will probably find defensive tackles Carl Davis, Malcolm Brown, Jordan Phillips and Eddie Goldman. At inside linebacker, Paul Dawson, B. McKinney, Eric Kendricks and Denzel Perryman will probably be available. Each of these guys will be plug-and-play types come next fall. There, you’re all set. Please watch them and report back to us.

I’ll do that.


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