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Ask Vic

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Here's how to get tickets to Donald Driver's farewell

Posted Jan 31, 2013

There's going to be a big party next Wednesday


Todd from Fitchburg, WI

Word is there are not a lot of great outside linebackers in this draft. Please give me your thoughts on these two players: Alex Okafor of Texas and Jamie Collins of Southern Miss.

The great thing about the 3-4 is there are usually great outside linebacker prospects in every draft, because they include all of the 4-3 defensive end prospects and stand-up college ends that are tweeners in a 4-3. Okafor might be one of those players. I loved his energy at the Senior Bowl. He was Eric Fisher’s competition every day at the Senior Bowl and I think they both won. Okafor showed me the first step, the athletic ability and the motor you seek in a rush backer. His problem at the Senior Bowl was that he was used with his hand on the ground and he was going up against a premier pass blocker. When Fisher got his hands on Okafor, it was game over. That’s why I think Okafor might be better in space. He made Fisher whiff once, and it didn’t escape my attention. Rush backers make pass blockers whiff. That’s how they get their sacks, with quickness and elusiveness. At 6-5, 265, Okafor might be better suited to play linebacker in a 3-4 than end in a 4-3. I don’t know enough about Collins to offer a scouting report, but I will tell you that I saw other 3-4 rush backers at the Senior Bowl, guys who were playing with their hand on the ground. Datone Jones could do it. Ezekial Ansah is a classic rush backer prospect. Cornelius Washington is a tweener that might project to rush backer.

Dale from Kettering, OH

What’s the worst move by the best GM you can remember?

Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio. I don’t know who did it, but he couldn’t have been as bad as that trade.

James from Ilkley, UK

Someone mentioned the 2002 Texans expansion draft. I’m too young to remember it, or any other, and since there's unlikely to be another for a long time, could you describe the process, the strategies involved and whether you find them to be exciting or interesting?

It wasn’t exciting because the Texans weren’t picking against anybody. They just selected from a list of unprotected players. What made the Texans expansion draft interesting is that they were required to assume the salary cap amortization of the players they selected. That’s where it got real interesting for me, because I was covering the Jaguars, who were in the throes of the worst salary cap mess in cap history. They were “dead man walking,” until the Texans selected Tony Boselli, Gary Walker and Seth Payne, assuming nearly $15 million in salary cap hit and extinguishing even more than that in proration from the Jaguars’ salary cap. By doing that, the Texans facilitated the recovery of a team from within the same division, and Boselli never played a down for the Texans. It might be the worst GM decision I have ever witnessed.

Lee from Pickering, Ontario

Assuming the players agree to it, can rebuilding teams front-load their cap by paying a player a high salary in the first year and lower in years two or three?

There are restrictions on the gaps in the cap structure of a player’s contract, but that doesn’t mean you can’t front-load or back-load a contract. The Eagles are the masters of front-loading, which is also known as pre-paying. They’ve traditionally done it by paying roster bonus instead of signing bonus; roster bonus has to be declared in full in the year it’s paid, whereas signing bonus is divided evenly over the life of the contract, up to five years. Pre-paying is a very effective technique when it’s used in years when a team’s roster isn’t star-studded and the team’s cap has some room. It’s a great way to lock up your young core players and make room on future caps, when you believe your young core players will have matured and the team will be a Super Bowl contender.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Vic, I appreciate you posting your replies before noon Eastern Time, which allows me to read “Ask Vic” during lunch. Is it safe to assume this is done intentionally?

It is done intentionally, even on mornings when we’re having a snowstorm, as we did yesterday.

Justin from Wilmington, DE

NFL.com just did a list of the top 15 wide receivers of all time and Don Hutson wasn’t even on the list.

That’s very sad. Maybe they have a separate list for great receivers that didn’t wear sticky gloves and still caught everything thrown to them in games that didn’t include sideline heaters.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

Did you notice the Aaron Rodgers photo bomb in the lead photo for Tuesday’s “Ask Vic”?

I couldn’t stop laughing. Football can be so much fun if we let it happen. Rodgers has the edge you need to play the game, and the sense of humor to enjoy it.

Ryan from Dusseldorf, Germany

There have been a lot of questions about salary cap lately. I was just wondering, is there any chance teams will be able to bypass the cap by paying fines or something, as I believe is done in baseball? If this were possible, it would probably ruin the league, right?

I can assure you it would ruin the team that does it. The commissioner is very protective of the salary cap. Any hint of intentional malfeasance would result in stiff fines, a harsh loss of draft picks and, possibly, suspension for the executive responsible. Don’t cheat the cap and don’t find ways to avoid it. The cap is your friend. Be good to the cap and the cap will be good to you.

Justin from West Chester, PA

Vic, Donald Driver is the epitome of a fan favorite. I was at the Broncos-Packers game in the 2011 season when he caught a touchdown pass. Lambeau erupted much louder than normal when fans saw that No. 80 caught one. Fans all around me were yelling his name. Players like Donald are few and far between. This guy deserves a proper send off by the Packers and I think he will get it.

You bet he’ll get it. He’s going to have a day like all of us would love to have a day. Our faces are going to be sore from smiling and our eyes are going to be dry from crying, and some lucky “Ask Vic” reader is going to win two tickets to Donald Driver’s farewell party. That’s right. I’ll select one question in tomorrow’s column as the best question of the day, and the author of that question will be offered two tickets to next Wednesday’s party. Donald will be there, so will I and so will one lucky “Ask Vic” reader. That’s my kind of party, baby.

John from Port Edwards, WI

Will John Jenkins make it to us at 26?

One of the first questions I asked Tony Pauline at the first Senior Bowl practice was: “Where will No. 6 be drafted?” Pauline said, “Late first round.” A couple of minutes later, after seeing Jenkins move around the bags and chop his feet, I said: “He won’t last that long.” Jenkins then proceeded to use the week to move his draft stock considerably upward. I can’t imagine a player of his size and ability lasting beyond the Steelers, who have desperate need of a nose tackle. Don’t despair. There’s a John Jenkins clone in this draft: Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern.

Mike from Oak Harbor, WA

Best player available is a phrase often associated with Ted Thompson, but in this draft do you think the Packers need to think best offensive lineman available?

Not unless they move to where that player fits. Never reach. When you reach, you leave a better player for your competition to draft. If you’re going to target a player, fit yourself to the pick. Go to where he “lives.” When you do that by moving back, you recoup the full value of your original pick. Get that value. Everyone is trying to do it, even the needs pickers.

Dustin from Dell Rapids, SD

Vic, why do you say Harris can’t be the feature back? You call him change of pace, but I see him as a Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew type of player, with Cobb as our change of pace.

In my mind, a feature back needs to be a move-the-pile guy. Rice and Jones-Drew, despite being short in stature, are move-the-pile, yards-after-contact running backs. DuJuan Harris is a hit-it-and-go guy. He’s got the quickness to crease you, and that’s a good back to have, but there are going to be a lot more move-the-pile plays in a game than there will be times when you’ll crease the defense. The Packers need a guy who’ll give them yards after contact, especially in short yardage.

Ben from Berkeley, CA

Were there safeties at the Senior Bowl that stood out to you? It seems like safety is a position that can set the tone.

Robert Lester of Alabama intrigues me. He has big-time tools. Why is his production under his ability? Maybe he was surrounded by too many stars.

Jeff from Topeka, KS

Vic, what is the difference between an offensive guard in a pull-and-trap offense and a zone-blocking offense? Also, does it matter if they are on the left or right side?

It’s the difference between trying to ram into a refrigerator and knock it over, or trying to move it sideways. A guard that pulls or traps tries to get up to full speed in a short area and clean out a hole by running over a defender. A guard in a zone-blocking scheme engages the defender and attempts to move him laterally by sliding his feet and body in that direction. In a pull-and-trap scheme, if you want to be right-handed, your left guard is usually the guy that has the best movement ability because he has to run farther.

Tim from Sarasota, FL

What must the Green Bay Packers do to ensure they have a Super Bowl caliber offseason?

I think they need a feature running back, some muscle up front on both sides of the ball and one more impact player on defense. I think they can find the back and muscle in the draft. I think that impact player on defense is already on the roster and will surface as he grows into the game.

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Vic Ketchman

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Do you have a question for Vic? Your question could be posted on packers.com. Vic has covered the NFL through 42 seasons, including 23 years covering the Steelers and 16 years covering the Jaguars.

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