Marcone from Natal, Brazil
Speaking of coaching changes, the Eagles just promoted their offensive line coach to defensive coordinator. Do you remember seeing a coach change sides like that? How difficult is the transition?
It used to be common. Chuck Noll was an offensive lineman that coached defensive backs, became a defensive coordinator and then served as his own offensive coordinator when he was a head coach. There wasn’t anything Chuck couldn’t coach, and that was true of most coaches back then. Vince Lombardi was offensive backfield coach for the Giants; I don’t remember Lombardi playing running back. Tom Landry was defensive coordinator for the Giants, but he was the play-caller as head coach of the Cowboys. I was talking to a general manager at the combine, and he told me how much he loves what Mike McCarthy is doing with his coaching staff. He was talking, of course, about cross-training his coaches. The transition is difficult because a coach has to develop all new materials and learn about a different part of the playbook, and that’s why you do it. It’s not a difficult transition because the coach lacks the ability to coach a position other than what he played; it’s a difficult transition because it requires an intense offseason of learning. Good! When the offseason is over, you’re gonna have a better coach.
Patrick from Hopkins, MN
Why do some players not participate in all of the workouts at the combine? Is it strictly because of injury?
It’s for the same reason that a poker player doesn’t want new cards: He likes the hand he has. How are Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III going to help themselves by throwing at the combine? They’re 1-2. All they could do is hurt themselves by having a bad day or making a wobbly pass that would give a team reason to wanna see that throw made in a pro day or personal workout. Nick Foles is a big guy with a good arm, but he hurt himself by throwing at the combine because his ball fluttered. A guy in his position really has no choice but to throw at the combine, but the guys that are top prospects and can stand on the strength of their tape often do that.
Dustin from Jacksonville, FL
I seem to remember Jerry Rice having horrible times but having a ton of speed on the field. Can you think of some other players who had really bad 40 times but great game speed?
Lots of players haven’t run fast and went on to have great careers. Larry Fitzgerald ran a 4.63 at the combine -- he later ran a 4.46 at his pro day – but I think people would agree that he plays faster than his combine time. Why do players such as Rice and Fitzgerald play faster than their times? Because they are such adept route-runners that they cause defenders to play with an element of caution and hesitation. It’s not that players such as Rice and Fitzgerald all of a sudden find speed they don’t have, it’s that their skill and acumen for the game give them advantages that translate into space that has to be closed.
Dave from Germantown, TN
Can you tell us more about McLellin from Boise State? I like drafting guys from winning programs.
I saw him for the first time at the Senior Bowl. I was sitting with Tony Pauline; he was looking at one end of the field as I was looking at the action at the other end of the field. I saw this kid wearing a blue helmet consistently beating his man off the ball in pass-rush drills. I said to Tony, “Who dat?” He, of course, knew everything about him. Tony liked him but, of course, added the disclaimer that he’ll have to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. Well, McLellin followed a strong Senior Bowl with a strong combine and he has really helped himself in the postseason. The Boise program is putting a lot of kids through the scouting process. We tend to view Boise as we view its quarterback, as a magic wand kind of program, but that’s far from the truth. You don’t win as they win without having superior athletes.
John from Holland, MI
There's talk of a trade for Robert Griffith III that would be similar to the one for Eli Manning. That seems like a crazy risk to me, Vic. What do you think?
It worked for the Giants and I think the people that criticized Carolina’s selection of Cam Newton No. 1 overall last year aren’t criticizing it now.
Cory from Milton, ON
Will you be watching “Dancing with the Stars” now that Driver is a contestant?
I’d watch it anyhow. It’s my favorite program.
Noah from Westby, WI
Why should guys like Bruce Irvin and Dontari Poe be shooting up draft boards? It seems to me the scouts already have evaluated players and made draft boards, so they shouldn't be surprised at good performances.
Irvin’s and Poe’s combine numbers exceed their performances from last fall. In Irvin’s case, it’s because he was a tough position fit in a 3-3-5 and didn’t play every snap. A scout told me Poe had trouble getting off blocks last season, but after getting a first-hand look at his athletic ability on Monday, scouts are likely to decide Poe’s weaknesses can be fixed by lowering his pad level and improving his technique and awareness. The combine is not real football, but it provides important information that allows scouts to see what a player can become. Not all great pro players were great college players. A lot of the players that didn’t have great college careers possess talent that’s hidden. Good scouts find that talent. Drafting is a crystal ball business. Anybody can tell you what a guy did; scouts need to predict what a guy will do.
Bill from Collins, OH
Vic, Browns fan here. Do you think RG3 could be worth our first three picks in the draft?
As Brian Billick said, “Pay your money and take your chances.” It’s all you can do at quarterback. You’re not going anywhere without “The Man.”
Shane from Brodhead, WI
The Badgers always have good offensive linemen. Why don’t the Packers ever look in their own backyard when drafting players?
When I worked in Pittsburgh, Pitt fans asked the same question about the Steelers, which didn’t draft Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Hugh Green, Rickey Jackson, Jimbo Covert, Russ Grimm and a lot of other Pitt stars. When I was in Jacksonville, Florida fans asked the same question about the Jaguars; no matter how many Gators the Jaguars drafted, it was never enough to satisfy Gators fans. So why don’t pro teams draft more guys from the nearby college program? Because this is the NATIONAL Football League.
Corey from Richmond, VA
What are your thoughts on Nick Perry? Do you think he would be a good fit for the Packers?
If he’s the guy that ran 4.51 at 271 pounds and lit up the combine, he absolutely would be a good fit.
Michael from Fort Bragg, NC
You’ve said you need to get big guys first, and you've also said the game is all about speed. If you come to a point where you need to choose between a big guy and a fast guy of the same position, who do you pick?
Here’s the order: 1.) Big, fast guys. 2.) Fast, small guys. 3.) Big, slow guys. Stay away from the slow, little guys.
Dirk from Munich, Germany
Do you think there's a chance Poe falls to the 28th spot in the first round?
Fall? He’s on a rocket ship heading straight up. I think I saw him wave on Monday as he went past pick 28.
Jeff from Albuquerque, NM
I very much enjoyed how the pre-combine chatter about 3-4 rush backers and defensive linemen has given way to your philosophy of basically letting the combine weed out those that don't fit. Can you name a few in each of those positions that no longer fit the bill? Why?
Vinny Curry is probably the best example. He’s a big-time pass rusher. I think he has the potential to be a Charles Haley type of end in a 4-3. Heading into the combine, he was also considered a prospect for outside linebacker in a 3-4, but I think he’s less of a 3-4 prospect today because of his 40 time. I think Curry’s 40 time defined him as a 4-3 end. I think one of the reasons Courtney Upshaw declined to run at the combine is that he was afraid a slow time would take him out of the 3-4 category, too, and that would potentially decrease the number of teams interested in him. He’s thought to run in the 4.75-4.85 range and 4.8 is kind of the cutoff for a linebacker. In contrast, the 4.6’s Whitney Mercilus ran clearly broadened his appeal to include 3-4 teams.
Susie from Two Rivers, WI
With Donald on “Dancing with the Stars,” does that mean he has already restructured his deal or a sign he is definitely gone?
It doesn’t mean either. I think all it guarantees is that Donald Driver is gonna be in the headlines in Green Bay for as long as he’s on that show.
Bob from Colby, KS
What put the NFL over the top, making it America's game instead of baseball?
Television is what did it. Dec. 23, 1972, is the day it happened.
Sean from Huntington Beach, CA
I've been in love with Bruce Irvin's ability since I saw him play his junior year, given his amazing athletic ability and almost exact measurables as Clay Matthews. Why doesn't it seem the Packers are keying on him at 28?
Maybe they are keying on him. I don’t know and teams don’t provide that kind of information. My instincts tell me that few teams were keying on Irvin prior to Monday, and it’s because Irvin played in a 3-3-5 defense at West Virginia that really didn’t fit his talent. He had to play as an end but, at 240 pounds, he was just too light to hold up against the run and the double-teaming he had to face on a line that only used three down guys, and that meant he had to take downs off. He was used as a pass-rush specialist and the decrease in snaps cut his sacks total nearly in half. This is what I mean when I say a player’s talent might be hidden. In this case, I think it was hidden by the scheme in which he played.
Dan from LaSalle, Ontario
I can't be the only one who's noticed the massive man-crush you have on Jason Pierre-Paul. My question is, do you have JPP90 tattooed on your body?
What’s with this man-crush stuff? Is there some kind of pop culture limit to how many times we’re permitted to refer to a person? If you watched the Giants play, you no doubt noticed that Pierre-Paul is the catalyst to what they do on defense. He’s the best young lineman in the game and his name is especially pertinent to what happened this past weekend because it was at the combine that Pierre-Paul surfaced. He’s the shining example of why the combine counts. A lot of teams elected to ignore his performance at the combine because the combine isn’t real football. That was a mistake and if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’re doomed to repeat them.
James from San Diego, CA
I think the best player for us to take at No. 28 would be Vontaze Burfict. He is an absolute beast of a pass rusher and is a ball-carrier killing missile. He does have some character issues that need to be addressed but I think our veteran leadership could keep him in line. What do you think of Burfict in terms of the Packers’ scheme playing on the opposite side of Clay?
The biggest issue Burfict needs to address is the 5.0 he ran and the workout he didn’t finish on Monday. He can erase his combine workout with a knockout pro day and personal workout. As it stands right now, I don’t think anyone considers him a candidate for pick No. 28.
Eric from La Crosse, WI
If you keep picking great players, they all end up looking like needs picks, in retrospect.
You da man, Eric. Those are words to live by. I’ve never read anything that describes BAP better than those words and they dovetail perfectly with something that was said to me a long time ago and I’ve always revered: Who doesn’t need a good football player?
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