Matt from Katy, TX

Does GM Vic draft a running back high in this draft as an insurance policy for Lacy possibly costing too much in free agency next year? Or does he skip running back this year or wait until rounds 5-7?

It’s not a position I’d target early in the draft, but if one fell to me, I’d take him. It’s a position that sustains injury and demands depth. At some point in this draft, I would expect a running back to fall to the Packers, and I can’t imagine why the Packers wouldn’t want to add to their stable of running backs.

Doug from Sheboygan, WI

What have you heard about Moritz Boehringer as a WR/TE prospect? His athleticism and size are intriguing.

The downhill skier? Good speed through the gates. Tends to get out over his tips. Hard on his edges in the turns. Lots of upside, but needs to polish his technique. Seriously, what could I possibly know about a guy who played football in Germany, and if I asked Tony and he gave me a scouting report on the guy, should I trust it? Really, Tony? You watch tape from the German Football League? Boehringer is 6-4, 225, and runs well. I know one more thing: He’s an example of the growth of professional football internationally, and for that reason I’m sure the league would love for Boehringer to become an NFL star. The game is growing, folks. There will be a team in Europe sooner than we think. I’m convinced of it.

Mike from Brooklyn, NY

Vic, why aren’t more player contracts in the NFL performance based? It seems like it properly aligns the incentives of everyone involved in building an NFL team.

The players don’t want performance-based contracts; they want guaranteed money. When you sign a guy in the first week of free agency, you’re going to pay guaranteed money, and it’s going to hold your team hostage for at least three years. If he’s a bust, he’ll hurt this year’s team and the next two. If you wait until value meets availability, you can eliminate most of the risk.

Clay from Sturgis, SD

Is tight end in round one out of the question?

Not for a BAP team, but I’ve considered the possibility the Jared Cook signing is an indication a tight end doesn’t fit where the Packers are picking in round one. Free agency and the draft have to massage each other.

Greg from Ann Arbor, MI

Vic, Darron Lee posted a ridiculous 40 time at the combine but, according to some experts, his game tape doesn’t always show the coverage abilities you’d expect, especially in zone. Meanwhile, Danny Trevathan’s 40 time wasn’t all that impressive, but he’s one of the better coverage linebackers in the NFL. What qualities other than pure straight-line speed do you look for in a coverage linebacker?

Can he flip his hips? Does he have a feel for where the ball is going? Speed is important, but it’s meaningless if you can’t use it properly. Jack Ham is the best pass-defense linebacker I’ve ever covered, and he ran well but his coverage ability was mostly the result of his instincts and his ability to flow to the ball.

Dan from Pyeongtaek, South Korea

At what point in the draft do you feel satisfied enough to abandon drafting BAP and throw caution to the wind and draft luxury?

I consider quarterback, kicker and punter to be luxury-pick positions late in the draft. They are specialized positions and you have to have those guys. Late in the draft is a good time to go off the board and make one of those picks, especially if you have a lot of compensatory picks and your roster is strong.

Ramon from Paramount, CA

Who would you pick with the first overall pick this year?

If I were the Titans, I would do everything in my power to entice the 49ers to come up from seven to one, ostensibly for the quarterback Chip Kelly needs. If the 49ers and Browns want the same quarterback, it could be a way of playing one against the other and sweeten the pot. Seven is not too far for the Titans to move down and still get what they need; this draft is loaded with left tackles. I see Jared Goff as the first pick of this draft. If that happens, Goff should send Aaron Rodgers a thank-you note.

Ben from Minneapolis, MN

Vic, what do you think of Noah Spence? He had some concerns at Ohio State but showed tremendous potential while at Eastern Kentucky.

He could be the next Von Miller. Spence has premier pass-rush ability. He was a huge recruit at Ohio State. I love the fact Spence showed the inner strength and the love of the game to reclaim his career. His past could hurt him in this draft, and some team could get real lucky.

Tim from Upland, CA

Could you explain why any team would want to trade down in the draft? How would that benefit the team trading down at all?

By moving to where the player they want fits, they get the player they want and recoup the value of their pick by acquiring extra value in the trade. It’s called targeting a player; fit the pick to the player, not the player to the pick. In 2007, the Jaguars and Steelers had a pre-draft trade worked out that would allow the Steelers to come down to the Jaguars’ spot and draft Lawrence Timmons. The Jaguars wanted to come up to where the Steelers were and pick Darrelle Revis. Unfortunately, the Jets got wind of the deal and traded with Carolina one pick ahead of the Steelers, and then selected Revis. That’s how fragile the draft is. What if the Jaguars had picked Revis? They nearly beat the Patriots in the ’07 playoffs.

Jim from Wakefield, RI

Do any NFL teams ever release their draft boards?

No. Once upon a time, after a pick was made and I had gone down the hall to do the requisite interviews, I came back to my seat in the radio studio and found a picture of the team’s board on the table in front of me. Apparently, a videographer had made it into the draft room to do an interview and the interview exposed the draft board in the background. I asked what it was. When I was told it was a picture of the team’s board, I pushed the picture aside without studying it. “I want nothing to do with this,” I said. “This is trouble.” It nearly cost the videographer his job. He was a young guy who didn’t understand the sensitivity of what he had done. Those boards are never to be seen by people who don’t have a security code to enter those rooms.

Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador

Vic, if you were the schedule-maker, what team would you have the Packers open with this year?

I’d favor a Texans at Packers game. Aaron Rodgers vs. Brock Osweiler would be good theater. I don’t like division games, or even premier intra-conference games in Week 1. They’re too important to waste early in the season, when teams haven’t acquired an identity.

Marc from Hartford, VT

Vic, what else do we need from the free-agency fairy?

I’d like her, or him, to wave their magic wand and fast forward to the draft. Sonny and Cher have stopped singing in my bedroom and I’d like to keep it that way.

Gary from Topeka, KS

Does a general manager ever shy away from drafting a player because the player’s agent is perceived as being difficult to deal with?

I think those days have passed. Today’s agents are part of the system. They work with the teams to help fit players within the team’s cap.

Ric from Longmont, CO

What if a team’s players all hit their NLTBE incentives and put the team over the cap? Are they paid in the next league year?

Yes, and that would put an extra strain on that cap and could cause the team to restructure contracts and push money out. If the same incentive was in the next contract year, it would then be LTBE and it would become a double hit. NLTBE’s can be used as a genuine means of incentivizing a contract, or they can be used as a tricky way for creating cap room. Don’t try to trick the cap. The cap is your friend. Take care of the cap and the cap will take care of you.

Dave from Edina, MN

There were a lot of “that’s” in your responses yesterday, but each was appropriately used. That’s what I’m talking about.

That is about which I am talking. Hey, I don’t wanna do the grammar police thing, OK? I merely related what an editor engrained in me from a time early in my newspaper career. Some things stick with you. Dash 30 dash.

Kevin from Jacksonville, FL

How important is drafting? Ask the Jaguars. The only remaining player from the prior GM’s draft classes just signed with another team in free agency. Had most of those players still been on the team, that GM would probably still have his job.

If he had hit on the quarterback, he might still have his job, though the team did change ownership, so you never know. The point is this: Get the quarterback right and you’ve got a shot to get the other guys right. Miss on the quarterback and you’re toast, and likely so is the coach.

Johnny from Copenhagen, Denmark

Being from Denmark and having witnessed Morten Andersen miss the Pro Football Hall of Fame again, I wonder if you have any favorite kicker stories you would like to share? Doubt he will ever make the cut, but he has been the most influential person in promoting this great sport to our small nation.

Andersen is the most important kicker in my career. In 1996, on the final Sunday of the season, he missed a chip-shot field goal attempt and it sent the Jaguars to the playoffs and began their Cinderella run to the AFC title game. Andersen hit the ball so awkwardly I thought he might’ve been the victim of sniper fire. I was standing next to the goal posts when I saw Andersen begin to fall and the ball wobble hopelessly. This was the most accurate kicker in history and he just kicked the worst kick in the history of the world. In some ways, “Morten’s Miss” is as crazy as the “Immaculate Reception.” I’ve seen some weird stuff, including the Fail Mary and last season’s Hail Mary’s. Sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump.

 

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