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Run on quarterbacks could push surprise pick down to Packers

Posted May 5, 2014

Take good players and let fate decide the rest

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, how do you think Rodgers would have fared if he had played prior to the 1978 rules changes?

He would’ve fared as every other top quarterback in the league fared in that era: He would’ve thrown for 100-150 yards a game, probably more interceptions than touchdowns, and he would’ve taken a terrible beating. That was the game back then.

Scott from Saint Augustine, FL

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Kent State shootings of 1970. Would you mind sharing again your thoughts and memories of this event in history.

I remember the sound of the ambulances; they were coming from all directions. That’s my most enduring memory. I remember the campus being evacuated and unable to call out. I remember going to my neighborhood barber shop at home, and the barber asking me what happened? I began to tell the story and at some point an older gentleman said, “They should’ve killed more.” The barber squeezed my ear, tightly, which I knew was a signal to say nothing. When the barber finished cutting my hair, I got up and reached into my pocket. He said, “This one’s on the house.” I thanked him and then the older gentleman got up and started walking toward the barber chair. “We’re closed,” the barber said. “Since when?” the older gentleman said. “Since now,” the barber said. You don’t forget those kinds of moments in your life.

Kenneth from Chattanooga, TN

So where do you get the best shrimp, Vic?

Maybe it’s in New Orleans at the glamorous Royal Sonesta Hotel. Or maybe it’s in Mayport, Fla., at Singleton’s, where you have to walk past stinky dumpsters and a crowd of stray cats to get to the front door. Maybe it’s in the middle of the country, in Indianapolis at St. Elmos, where the parking is valet. Or maybe it’s in Edisto Beach, SC, at Whaley’s, where the facilities include an outhouse. Good shrimp are like good football players. You find them where you find them.

Paul from Green Bay, WI

Vic, please explain the trade value chart Jimmie Johnson came up with. What was the impact upon pro football, and how often is it used today?

It’s a numeric table that assigns a value to every pick. The idea is that if you’re going to trade down, for example, the point values of the positions to which you are moving have to at least equal the point value of the position you are leaving. I think it’s an outdated concept. Moving to where the player you’ve targeted fits is more important than balancing point totals. GMs know a fair trade when they see one. They don’t need to adhere to point totals that have been subjectively assigned and don’t apply to all drafts equally. Tony Pauline doesn’t like the value at the bottom of the first round this year, so he would tell you the point totals for those picks are too high. Everybody wants to make the draft a science. It is not a science. Football is not a science. How does any team know what its needs might be? If you have the best quarterback in the league and he gets hurt, do you have need at quarterback? Take good players and let fate decide the rest.

Kent from Eagle Grove, IA

Any chance you’ll be doing a draft chat like last year?

I’ll do a one-hour chat on packers.com, beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday.

Jonas from Fort Collins, CO

The Packers never cease to surprise me with whom they pick, which makes the process unpredictable and fun. What is the biggest surprise pick you’ve covered with your various teams?

The Jaguars’ selection of Reggie Williams with the No. 9 overall pick in 2004 was a real shocker. I hadn’t seen anyone mention his name any higher than the bottom of the first round, and it was especially shocking since Ben Roethlisberger was still on the board, which should’ve allowed the Jaguars to move down and pick Williams if, indeed, he was their guy. Reaching is a killer. If you do it, you’re gonna pay for a long time.

Charles from Charleston, IL

Which do you think is more likely to occur, we trade our first-round pick for more picks or actually take someone in the first round?

We don’t know how the Packers have the prospects ranked, but based on what most draftniks are telling us, it would seem value and need would meet for the Packers at No. 21. At least one of the safeties and one of the linebackers is likely to be there. Louis Nix appears to fit at No. 21, and it’s thought to be Darqueze Denard’s area, too. The second tier of wide receivers should kick in about there. There’s no reason to believe the Packers can’t get their guy, so to speak, at pick 21, but who’s their guy? That’s what we don’t know. Trading back a few spots would put them into Weston Richburg’s territory, or bring a tight end into the mix. I think it’s a 50-50 proposition.

David from Chuluota, FL

So Phil Emery says, based on recent history, it’s pointless to try to develop a QB after the third round. Russell Wilson and Nick Foles in 2012 was a blip on the radar, and Tom Brady was one in a million. How do you respond to him?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it pointless. The Patriots didn’t draft Brady to be their franchise quarterback; it just happened. So you draft guys where they fall and you allow fate to decide the rest. The Bears have a kind of scientific mindset toward football. Marc Trestman is almost professorial in the way he answers questions. The odds say you can’t get a quarterback late, but I don’t want the odds drafting for my football team. I think it’s important to defy the odds. Rank ’em, pick ’em. You won’t regret it.

Anthony from Baraboo, WI

Vic, how many players that aren’t worth the 21st pick do you think will be selected before the Packers get on the clock? If none of the quarterbacks are worth a first-round pick, yet, one or two of the teams with a top 10 pick selects one, could this start an early run on quarterbacks?

I’ll be shocked if there isn’t a run on quarterbacks, and that would push everyone down the board. Kelly Stouffer came out of nowhere in 1987 to be selected sixth overall, and that pushed Rod Woodson down. Quarterback is the most overdrafted position in football. Be patient. Lots of teams are working hard right now to make a mistake on Thursday.

Bruce from Virginia Beach, VA

I have heard for years about the West Coast offense but don’t understand what it’s about.

It’s about throwing the ball on rhythm and getting it out early. It’s about a lot of three-step drops and hitting receivers on the run. Bill Walsh saw how the rules changes of 1978 would change the game and he created a strategy to take advantage of those rules changes, and the West Coast offense is a scheme that doesn’t require a quarterback to have a powerful arm, just an accurate arm. Timing patterns prior to ’78 were canceled by bump-and-run coverage that forced quarterbacks to wait for their receivers to come open and then get the ball there now. Quarterbacks took deep drops, which meant 10-yard throws were 15 yards. Walsh had created a kind of pre-’78 West Coast offense in Cincinnati with Ken Anderson as the Bengals’ quarterback, but the ’78 rules changes allowed Walsh to go all the way with his scheme with Joe Montana at quarterback. I doubt Montana would’ve been as successful had he played in the pre-’78 era.

Marty from Grafton, WI

NFL personnel man: “When they had the draft two weeks after the Senior Bowl, you had your best drafts. You went on what you saw in October and November, and not on what you saw in March and April. Also, the coaches couldn’t get involved. We’d give them maybe 10 players to watch. Now, there’s so much second-guessing. All they care about is money. They don’t care about fans.” What say you, Vic?

I say the personnel man is absolutely right when speaking about the draft, but he needs to stick to personnel and stay away from marketing. The marketing of the draft from the sleepy event I covered at the start of my career to the made-for-TV production I’ll cover this Thursday-Saturday is all about the fans. Yeah, pro football is about the money. George Young understood it, and Young is a draft legend.

Ninan from Bellevue, WA

On the premise that Aaron Donald does not go in the top 10, why would the Lions not be able to get a corner at pick 10 and then trade Suh for a pick good enough to draft Donald? Why did you suggest that it has to be one or the other?

It’s awfully difficult to get a first-round pick for a player, even one as talented as Ndamukong Suh.

Tyler from Greenfield, WI

The New York Times had a small blurb in Sunday’s paper. It was entitled “Winsome Rock Hits Wisconsin.”

I never imagined.

Jeff from Las Vegas, NM

Did you see (Tony Pauline) has Clowney at No. 1 and Manziel at 33? Man, can you imagine the hype that’d flow all summer long if that’s how things turn out for the Texans?

It won’t happen that way. Johnny Manziel will be long gone, but what Tony is doing is giving you his honest evaluation of where Manziel fits. I just spoke to Tony this morning and he told me he’s updated his value board and has dropped Manziel to No. 36. That’s one man’s opinion and that’s what I want. I don’t want some play-it-safe hybrid of every other draftnik’s board. I want to know how Tony really feels about a guy, and he’s never failed to deliver.

Aaron from West Allis, WI

Which situation would you rather have happen during the draft, a run on quarterbacks early, pushing good players down, or no quarterbacks taken, bringing trade requests in at 21?

I’d rather have the run on quarterbacks early. The Packers have enough picks to fortify their roster. If a player from the top of the draft was to be pushed down to the Packers, that’s the kind of unexpected value the Packers got with Aaron Rodgers in 2005. I’ll take it every time.

Jeff from Minocqua, WI

Vic, with Tom Savage’s combination of size and speed, would the brain trust ever consider drafting him as a QB to develop, but also to use right away at backup tight end?

Savage is a big guy with a strong arm. That’s where it stops, in terms of athletic ability. He’s not especially mobile. He’s a pure pocket passer. I saw him at his best and worst last fall. There were times when I thought to myself that he had the best arm I saw all year. Then there were times when he was sacked so many times that he appeared shell-shocked and his accuracy left him. There’s crazy talk about this guy. Some are saying he could go in the first round. I saw a big, tough, strong-armed guy, but I didn’t see a first-round pick. This is a classic example of how quarterbacks are overdrafted, and Savage is almost certain to be overdrafted.

Pete from Chapel Hill, NC

Vic, you have just been awarded the new NFL franchise in London. To get you started, the league has given you the first three picks in this year’s draft and your choice of any three existing active players. Who do you choose as the six core players of your new team?

From the draft, Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Matthews and Khalil Mack. From the active players, Andrew Luck, Richard Sherman and J.J. Watt.

Fred from Nashville, TN

Draft Shazier and try him at safety. Looks like a lot faster Kam Chancellor. What’s not to like?

Carnell Lake was a college linebacker; it’s been done. Ryan Shazier has the speed to get to the sideline, but does he have the instincts to play safety? Can he flip his hips in coverage? Does he understand coverage well enough to avoid becoming a long-term project? You don’t draft projects in the first round. I think it’s more important to answer this question: Is Shazier big enough to take on blocks, or can you keep the blockers off him so he can run to the ball? If you can answer yes in one way to that question, then draft him and play him at linebacker.


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