Matt from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, I don’t see cornerback listed as a need for us anywhere. That wasn’t the case last year. Draft and develop works.

Yes, it works. The Packers had a need at center when Evan Dietrich-Smith left in free agency. The Packers drafted for the position, and now they have quality and depth at center. There’s only one problem, as I see it, with the draft-and-develop philosophy: There aren’t enough rounds of the draft to rely solely on the draft for stocking your roster. You have to use every available source of player acquisition to address your needs. Undrafted free agency immediately comes to mind because, in my opinion, it offers another and even deeper draft class. You’re not going to strike it rich in undrafted free agency as often as you will in the draft, but undrafted free agency is perfect for finding depth players. Justin Perillo and LaDarius Gunter are strong examples. Street free agency is a similar source for depth talent. Chris Banjo and Scott Tolzien are strong examples. Then there’s unrestricted free agency. There’s talent in that pool, but it can be pricey, so shoppers beware. Be that as it may, unrestricted free agency offers plug-and-play talent that eliminates need immediately. Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion are examples. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool draft-and-develop devotee, but the draft isn’t enough. The best rosters are a blend of all forms of talent acquisition, with a vigilant eye toward salary cap health.

Merle from Kaukauna, WI

The Packers didn’t win it all, but they stuck together and fought hard to overcome a rash of injuries. I’m sorry they fell short because they deserved better.

What if the Cardinals win it all? What if the Cardinals win it all convincingly? What would that say about the Packers, that they took that team into overtime on its home field?

Dan from St. Michael, MN

Now that the year is over, I would like to mention how much more exciting games were this year with the new extra-point rules.

I completely agree. The PAT rule change is one of the proud moments in competition committee history, and we ain’t seen nothing yet. Mike Tomlin showed what can be accomplished with a bold approach toward two-point conversion attempts, and he’s a defensive guy. I firmly believe the offensive coaches are going to take the two-point conversion to a higher level, and it’s going to spill over into goal-line and short-yardage offense.

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

Vic, the conventional wisdom is great quarterbacks make great receivers, not vice versa. Would this season make you question that at all?

Bradshaw was a better quarterback with Swann and Stallworth than he was with Shanklin and Lewis. Brunell was a better quarterback with Smith and McCardell than he was with Jackson and Tillman. You need both, but it’s a lot easier to find receivers than it is to find quarterbacks.

Dave and Taters from Long Beach, CA

Nice little bit of acting in “Video Ask Vic.” This loss did not hurt for me. I am nothing but proud of my team’s ability to fight through injuries. It feels completely different from the awful loss last year. I’ve been smiling all week.

I saw a team fight through a deficiency that suffocated its offense nearly all season. I called it the lack of a big-play receiver. Coach McCarthy referred to it on Monday as the lack of a big receiver in the middle of the field. Either way, what if this team had that receiver? Would it still be playing? That’s what’s eating at me as we move into the offseason.

Dave from Bristol, UK

Vic, which of our UFAs do you expect to see back in a Packers uniform next season? I believe Crosby and Perry will be back. Do you believe letting Hayward go would leave us a little inexperienced at the CB position?

I favor signing all of those guys. Where are you going to find a better kicker than Mason Crosby? Can you find a kicker as good as Crosby? I doubt it. Nick Perry continues to show flashes, but injuries have set him back. What if the injuries go away? Do you want to quit on him at exactly the wrong time? He’s a guy with distinct pass-rush ability, and those guys are at a premium. Casey Hayward really came on strong in the second half of the season. The hamstring problem has disappeared. He’s a quality player at a premium position. The problem is you can’t sign everybody; the cap won’t allow it. In the salary cap era, you must be willing to let players go and accept the challenge of replacing them. Remember this: Those guys are scheduled to become free agents. When you sign one of them, you are signing a free agent.

Jordan from Hartford, WI

Do you miss football in the offseason or do you enjoy the time away?

It’s not time away. The offseason is just a different season. It’s the season of reconstitution, and I enjoy the draft and the acquisition of new talent as much as I do the games in the fall. This is when decisions are made that will impact what happens next fall. I love the strategy that highlights the offseason. Personnel directors have to be clairvoyant. It interests me greatly and the process will begin soon at the Senior Bowl.

Tod from Fresno, CA

Vic, if you had to pick something you would like to see as the big-letters promise of this offseason, what would it be? For me, it’s red-zone offense. I’m not afraid of crunch time, but I’d sure like to have seen us go 11-0 in crunch time instead of the 6-5 ranking you gave.

Why stop there? How about a big-letters promise to go 19-0? What if the Packers did go 19-0? Do you think there’d still be complaints? Probably not enough screen passes. Seriously, I don’t see the need for a big-letters promise.

Derek from Ramsey, NJ

Vic, Coach McCarthy emphasized he wants Clay Matthews to primarily play outside linebacker next year. Do you think the Packers will draft an inside linebacker or rely on Sam Barrington and Jake Ryan?

I think they’ll rely on Barrington and Ryan, but I would also expect the Packers to target inside linebacker in the draft and/or free agency. It’s only logical you can’t move your best player from a position without adding a player to that position. Inside linebacker is also a position that can be expected to contribute to special teams, so, the more the merrier.

Weston from Lake Geneva, WI

The Packers made a habit in the ’90s of drafting quarterbacks late in the draft, developing them and then trading them for a higher pick or player. Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks and Mark Brunnel, to name a few. With the quarterback position being so important and college not doing the best job in grooming them for the next level, could you see teams set at quarterback for the distant future, like Indianapolis, Seattle, Minnesota and even Green Bay, start doing that again?

I would. When you draft a developmental quarterback, you maintain a reservoir of talent at sports’ most important position, and the premium nature of the position coupled with the leaguewide need for quarterbacks rewards the draft and development of young quarterbacks in the form of draft picks that help re-stock a team’s roster. In most cases, a young quarterback with an up arrow will yield a pick higher than the one used to select him. It’s a long-term strategy that rewards teams that can think beyond I need it, I sign it. The latter is a formula for disaster. Take care of the future and the future will take care of the present.

Scott from Saint Charles, IL

Vic, I think even the most critical fans would have to acknowledge the improvement of the defense this year. Did anything in particular stand out about that unit to you?

It’s the emergence of young talent in the secondary. Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins are home-run picks at premium positions. I think they can become the Packers’ equivalent of Peterson and Mathieu.

John from Carson City, NV

I agree with your assessment that 2015 was a successful Packers season, and that if something is working, don’t mess with it.

All is well in the garden. Let it grow.

 

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