Patrick from Palm Coast, FL
This draft makes a statement to anyone on the defensive side of the ball that the competition will be fierce.
You’re absolutely right. I could tell by the way the defensive coaches were talking in their press conferences during the draft that they are going to convey an aggressive, challenging tone to their players during mini-camp, OTAs, training camp and the preseason. Listen to Winston Moss; I think his voice is indicative of the tone. Darren Perry and Joe Whitt were also forceful in their comments. Players are going to be challenged to re-establish themselves, and that’s a message that’s easy to deliver when your first six draft picks are all on one side of the ball.
Andrew from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, Jerron McMillian gave me the impression during his conference call that he was not being pursued by many teams. Was this a true value pick in the fourth round?
McMillian talked about not many teams having attended Maine’s pro day. I’ll bet that’s usually the way it is for Maine’s pro day. Hey, it’s Maine and it’s off the radar, but I can think of two good, tough football players from Maine that I’ve covered, Justin Strzelczyk and Montell Owens. On the average, Maine is going to have a prospect or two a year, and a lot of teams don’t see that as worth the travel trouble to go there. That’s why teams with big personnel departments and a commitment to thoroughness find players in places such as Maine. McMillian was discovered by Packers northeast area scout Lee Gissendaner. It sounds as though Gissendaner was attracted to McMillian’s physical play and tackling ability. That’s something else we’re going to see in training camp: an emphasis on improved tackling.
Paul from Crawfordsville, IN
Herb Adderley was a great halfback who became a great cornerback in the NFL. Why don’t teams convert prospects from offense to defense and vice versa anymore?
College football was just coming out of the two-way era when Herb Adderley was drafted by the Packers, and a lot of players had yet to find their true niche. Coaches and scouts back then were mindful of the possibility that a player might translate better to a different position. The cornerback position was kind of new to football when Adderley stepped into it. Prior to the creation of the 4-3, all defensive backs played more like safeties than corners. The game was evolving into what we know it to be today. The pro-set formations were replacing the “Single Wing.” The 4-3 was replacing the “52” and the “Umbrella Defense.” A lot of the great players in Adderley’s era have similar stories, because of this dramatic evolutionary process. Adderley defined the cornerback position as we know it today. He’s one of its pioneers. Had he played college football in this era, he probably would’ve been identified as a cornerback long before he got to the NFL.
Rene from La Habra, CA
You seem to really admire Charles Woodson, which you should. He’s my all-time favorite player in any sport. The best thing about Woodson is that he's a fearless player. That being said, how do you think he would have done if he played in the hard-nosed football era: better, worse or about the same?
He would’ve been a great player in any era and, in my opinion, that’s what defines a player as being worthy of the Hall of Fame. He should be a player of such immense ability that he could’ve starred in any era.
Art from Fredericksburg, VA
With the acquiring of Jeff Saturday, we seem secure at center, but I was surprised the Packers didn’t pick up another center in the draft? Why not?
As I wrote several times prior to the draft, it was a very weak class of centers. I have no doubt the Packers signed Saturday with that in mind. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken feathers. You can draft a guy and say you addressed the position, but what happens when you find out you wasted your pick?
Paul from Oxford, NC
Not sure if I like the term “Mr. Irrelevant” for the guy picked last in the draft, but I'll go along with it. So, have any of these last-pick-of-the-draft guys ever made it big time?
My favorite “Mr. Irrelevant” is Tyrone McGriff from 1980, because there’s a little story that goes with the pick. “Mr. Irrelevant” is a creation by the town of Newport Beach, Calif., which hosts the last pick of each year’s NFL Draft. In 1980, the Los Angeles Rams had the next-to-last-pick of the draft and decided to pass on their pick with the idea that the Steelers might then pick and the Rams would then pick last and claim the “Mr. Irrelevant” title for their pick. The Rams were interested in the promotional quality of having “Mr. Irrelevant” doing his thing in the Rams’ backyard. The Steelers, however, wouldn’t take the bait. They wanted the free trip and claim to fame for their guy, so they, too, let their draft clock expire. The Rams got the hint and then picked, and the Steelers selected McGriff, from Florida A&M, to go to Newport Beach which, at that time, was the only town in America to have two Rolls Royce dealerships. The draft can be so much fun if we let it happen.
Greg from Lockport, IL
On Thursday night, the third and fourth picks were traded between Minnesota and Cleveland. Why? What benefit is it to move up just one spot when everybody and their brother knew Minnesota was picking a left tackle?
Trent Richardson was Cleveland’s guy and they weren’t going to lose him. When that information became obvious, the Browns became vulnerable to being bluffed into trading up. Their love for Richardson caused the price for drafting him to go up. The party line should always be: We’ll pick the best available player. Never let somebody outside the family know what you’re thinking.
Ken from Tacoma, WA
Now that your season enters a lull period, what are your vacation plans?
There’s no lull until late June. Next up are OTAs and mini-camp. When those are concluded, we’ll enter the “Dead Zone,” which is that point in the offseason when players go back home before the start of camp, and coaches go on vacation and worry about what their players are doing while they’re back home. I’ll take vacation time then, too.
Bram from Colorado Springs, CO
Poor tackling seemed to have as much of a negative effect as anything else on the defense last season. Are the new draft picks known to be solid tacklers and, if so, can they teach the veterans?
Players play and coaches teach, but nothing allows a coach to teach better than peer pressure, and a few good tacklers will set a standard that’ll put pressure on everyone to equal.
Raja from Green Bay, WI
Vic, your vigorous self-promotion is one reason I don't frequent packers.com anymore. Can you stop promoting yourself? I think I've seen more pictures of you plastered all over this site than anyone else. The Packers and this site are not about you but the team. Consider for once that you are not the face of the team.
Do you want me to put black tape across my eyes in my picture? Wear a paper bag over my head in videos? Change my name every day in my byline? With all due respect, how do I achieve anonymity and still do my job? Should Mel Kiper shave his head and have his voice disguised? It’s what the media does. We put our name and face on our work so you’ll have someone to hate because we’re telling you what we think, instead of telling you what you think. Also, if you don’t frequent packers.com anymore, why are you here? Hey, I can take a punch as well as anyone, but what you’ve written just doesn’t make any sense.
Patrick from Peoria, IL
Who are the possible candidates for the running back position going into free agency this year that the Packers could be interested in picking up?
I don’t know who they might be interested in picking up, but here’s a list of some running backs still available in free agency: Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown, Kevin Faulk, Ryan Grant, Tim Hightower, Thomas Jones, Jerious Norwood, Chester Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, Cadillac Williams.
Anthony from Portage, WI
The Packers play the 49ers in the season opener, a game that is predicted to feature the Packers offense vs. the 49ers defense. How do you think the Packers’ heavy defensive draft and the 49ers’ heavy offensive draft will affect the game?
Not much at all. I think both teams’ rookies should be given until at least Week 2 to make an impact. If they don’t do it by then, then they should be cut.
Damone from San Jose, CA
Do small-market teams have fewer resources to scout? If so, is that why the big-market teams consistently make the playoffs and have more superstars?
Do teams with less money spend less on scouting than teams with more money? Probably. Do teams that spend more money on scouting draft better than teams that spend less money? Not always, but probably more often than not.
Dan from Grand Island, NY
Vic, I know you've said you like postgame interviews with players because they let their hair down and are a little less guarded in their comments. Is the same true of coaches and scouts in the postdraft?
No, coaches and scouts remain as guarded in their comments after the draft as they did prior to the draft. In the old days, scouts loved to talk to reporters about prospects. They loved to do it for a couple of reasons: 1.) They enjoyed it and it was a means for establishing a relationship with a reporter by giving him tidbits of information to spice up his reports. 2.) After having established that relationship with a reporter, a scout could then use that relationship to advance misinformation that would help the scout manipulate opinion on a prospect, possibly even impacting where he would be drafted. The big difference between then and now is that back then they didn’t have unrestricted free agency. Once they got a player, he was theirs for as long as they wanted him. Nowadays, scouts know they’re going to lose players to other teams, and any information they provide about a prospect now is information another team will use later in deciding whether or not to make him their player.
Monty from Steele, ND
Do you think the drafting of Nick Perry will allow Capers to move Clay Matthews around to make it harder for defenses to find him, thus, making him more effective?
Sure. The more talent you have, the more creative you can be with your scheme. There seems to be a popular opinion that teams that lack talent need to be more creative with their scheme. It’s just the opposite. You have to have players that can execute those schemes, and if you lack speed, forget about it. You have to have speed to blitz. If you don’t have speed, you won’t get home and that means you didn’t affect the quarterback with an overload of defenders, and now he has the time to throw to receivers that are working against a minimum of defenders. If it turns out Perry can play like Matthews, then offenses will have to look to the right and left, not just to one side.
Andy from Dallas, TX
A reader recently asked “how would they have rated the Pats if they had drafted Brady at No. 1 instead of at No. 6?” You did not reply to that but, for me, the correct answer is that the Pats would have deserved an F for taking Brady at No. 1, even if they knew he was going to be great. Why? Because no one had any interest in taking Brady in the first half of the draft and everyone knew it.
Success validates everything, so I don’t agree that the Patriots would’ve deserved an F grade for drafting Tom Brady No. 1, but I do think what you’re saying has merit as it pertains to the whole idea of slotting players according to their grades and teams then fitting themselves to where those players are slotted. The evaluation of Brady, as incorrect as it was, demanded that he not be drafted until the bottom of the sixth round. By waiting until then to draft him, the Patriots maximized the value of their other picks. Having said that, I don’t think anyone would be complaining today if they had picked him No. 1.
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