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Tony Pauline offers two sleeper picks for Packers

Posted Apr 29, 2014

Ha Ha still leading safety obsession race as they head into home stretch


Rick from Paul Smiths, NY

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix.

The shirt picture has Ha Ha making a comeback in the “Ask Vic” safety obsession race. Ha Ha was the whirlwind early leader, but then burned out a little bit and gave way to Calvin Pryor, who faded when he shrunk three inches and ran slow at the combine. Ha Ha came on again, but was then passed by a fast-rising Jimmie Ward, the result of Mel Kiper’s praise campaign to push Ward into the first round. Most recently, Deone Bucannon has come to life. I’m not sure who or what has caused that; maybe we just needed a new name to keep the safety obsession race going. So, as we head into the home stretch, it appears Ha Ha is still in the lead, followed closely by Ward. Bucannon is moving up on the outside, Pryor is positioned to make a move, and Craig Loston, who I tried to introduce to the pack, is lagging way behind. Here they all come!

Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL

I’ll tell you why we need the conversion play: Dec. 21 2003, Saints vs Jaguars. That’s why.

By my calculations, I’ve covered approximately 1,100 touchdowns since the Saints missed that extra-point attempt, causing a wild finish to that game. Out of those 1,100 touchdowns, I can’t remember a PAT kick. Call me when the next memorable one occurs.

Andrew from North Liberty, IA

Vic, there’s a fruit cup, two pancakes and a bowl of Cheerios for you to choose for breakfast. Which item do you go for? Which one would Tony go for?

I’d go for the pancakes and a bowl of regret. Tony is a health nut, so I would’ve expected Tony to go for the fruit cup, but at the Senior Bowl this past winter, Tony told me the pancakes at the Admiral Semmes were delicious, and he was right.

Shawn from Eau Claire, WI

The reason I wouldn’t take Jim Harbaugh is because he’s failed to back up his edge with championship results, both as a QB and as a coach in college and pros. I’ll take John and beat you every time.

I love the way Packers fans hate Jim Harbaugh. It makes their buttons so easy and so much fun to push. I think he’s a great coach.

Jon from Green Bay, WI

Vic, if sweeps are in November, February, May and July, then what does the NFL do or possibly have planned for July?

They’ll find something. The next time you think the NFL has done something stupid, think again. They have a plan.

Sal from Madison, WI

In some ways I feel like the best team in the NFL last year got snubbed when it came to the playoffs. Arizona went 10-6 and finished off the season strong (including beating Seattle at home). Even as a Packers fan, I felt the Cardinals deserved our playoff spot more than we did.

I won’t go that far because the Packers won their division’s title, but there were a couple of hot teams at the end of the season that sent their shoes out for reconditioning, and I thought it would’ve been fun to see those teams wear those shoes into the playoffs. I love hot teams late in the season.

Josh from Las Vegas, NV

When the first warm days in Vegas arrive, I know we’re on the downslope of the offseason hill. I’m already trying to find what Packers storyline I’m going to be excited to follow this season. Last year was the production in the running game. This year I’m excited to see the competition at WR. What are you most looking forward to watching?

When the first warm days in Green Bay arrive, I know winter is just around the corner. Competition at WR? This year is all about the defense. What will Dom Capers do with Julius Peppers? Can the defense close the gap between where the Packers are and where they need to go?

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Was Julius Peppers a lot like Clowney when he was coming out of North Carolina?

Peppers was a more productive player in college than Clowney was. I’ll never forget watching a game Peppers so thoroughly dominated that there was literally no chance of the opponent scoring. He couldn’t be blocked. Coming out of college, I saw no flaw in Peppers’ game. Clowney has the same kind of Peppers-like talent. The only question is about his lack of production last season. Why did it happen?

John from Casselberry, FL

Vic, you have kept me excited about the Packers so far in 2014, in regards to the Senior Bowl, the free agency frenzy and the upcoming draft. What will be my next focus to look forward to between the draft and the start of this year’s training camp?

If it’s possible to find excitement in OTAs, then that’s the next thing. OTAs might give us a snapshot as to how Coach Capers might use Peppers, just as last spring’s OTAs gave us a preview as to how Mike Neal would be used.

Michael from Redding, CA

Vic, I disagree with your comment, “The fans want controversy and the media gives the fans what they want.” I believe the fans want compelling, inspirational stories. Unfortunately, athlete gossip stories are easy to write and fans will read them, especially in the absence of anything better, so the media keeps churning them out.

I’ve tested that theory many times and I am absolutely certain controversial will beat inspirational every time. I can take the same story and change one word in the headline and the difference in readership will double, maybe triple. All I have to do is change the word inspirational to controversial. The views we get are all about the headline. There are buzz words, and they never fail us. I used one of those buzz words (schemes) in yesterday’s “Ask Vic” headline. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Schemes are controversial.

Lance from Chicago, IL

Are we getting closer to football becoming more about entertainment and less about sport? At what point does this start to diminish the value of the game?

I don’t know the answer to your second question, but I can tell you that we’ve long since crossed the point at which football became more about entertainment than sport. This is the entertainment business. A long time ago, I had this friendly argument with Wayne Weaver. Wayne was right. Where was the point and when did we cross it? As that question pertains to the draft, it was definitely at some point after Mel Kiper and ESPN made the draft a TV event. I’ll say it was in the 1994 draft, when Kiper ripped the Colts for not drafting Trent Dilfer. “That’s why the Colts are picking second,” Kiper said. ESPN then interviewed Colts GM Bill Tobin for rebuttal, and Tobin uttered these immortal words: “Who the hell is Mel Kiper?” At that precise moment, the draft fully became entertainment. Kiper is the single-most important man in NFL draft history.

Kim from Austin, TX

Vic, can media (draftniks and such) influence the draft? Or do the GMs not pay attention to the noise?

No self-respecting GM would ever allow the media or the draftniks to influence his opinion.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

Vic, do you and Tony have any sleepers you’d like to see the Packers take a shot at in the later rounds?

My sleeper is Boston College defensive lineman Kaleb Ramsey. Tony’s sleeper is Ronald Powell of Florida. “Good athlete and terrific pass rusher. College defensive end that projects to outside linebacker. Injury history but a steal in later rounds,” Tony said. He also likes Anthony Larry of Eastern Washington. “Natural pass rusher. Academically ineligible for 2012 but played well last year,” Tony said. Larry is another tweener that would play outside linebacker in a 3-4.

John from Weaverville, CA

I just checked Tony Pauline’s QB rankings and he has Manziel ranked No. 4. Why no love for Johnny Football?

You want love or you want truth? If that’s where he has him ranked, then he likes three other guys better. I don’t like any of the guys at the top.

Jeremy from New Holstein, WI

Vic, have you ever spoken to players about crossing enemy lines? Do you really think (Peppers) can shrug it off as a business decision, and when do you think it really hits home that this decision they made is the real deal?

Fans will really struggle with this kind of stuff and it’s because what they feel is forever. Players are professionals. They switch their allegiances when they switch jobs. When Peppers left Carolina for Chicago, he left his emotions for the Panthers behind and committed fully to the Bears. Now he’ll do the same in leaving behind the Bears and embracing the Packers. How can they do it? They can do it because their greatest emotion is for their careers. They’re football players, willing to play the game for whatever team values their skills the most. Reggie White did it. It’s what pros do.

Colin from Tallahassee, FL

What is it that fans are fans of? Players and coaches come and go. Organizations skip town and villainous owners break our hearts. You like the confrontation now but before you were a journalist you had a team. What is it that we’re so fanatical about?

I’m fanatical about my job. I want to please you. That’s what’s important to me. You’re fanatical about the Packers. You want them to win because that pleases you. It’s all about you, Colin. It’s all about the fans, and I’m fine with that. I saw something truly beautiful last night. It let me know there is still something wonderful to be gained from sports. Columbus Blue Jackets fans stood and cheered following a heartbreaking loss that ended the Blue Jackets’ season. The fans cheered as the two teams went through the handshake line, and before the Blue Jackets left the ice, they raised their sticks to the fans, who then increased the intensity of their cheering. When it all goes right, we have this, a connection between team and fan that transcends winning.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

I have felt for some time that Goodell and the powers in the NFL consider me to be a fan of the NFL. I am not. I am a fan of the Green Bay Packers, have been since 1948. Either they know this and don’t care, or don’t know the difference. How do I tell them?

They know and they care. It’s all about you, Jim. They want to please you.

Cody from Concord, NC

You were an altar boy?

You bet I was. Shined every shoe in the sacristy one year after coming out with my buttons in the wrong holes. Pressure? Try walking out in front of a pew full of nuns at 6 a.m. on a winter day.

Gladdys from Rolling Meadows, IL

Vic, with nine days to go until the draft, are Ted Thompson and company still tweaking their board or are they leaving well enough alone?

This is a time when teams cross-check. The upper echelon of the personnel department serves as cross-checkers. The team has identified its targets and the cross-checkers are verifying the team’s information on those players.

Tanner from Chicago, IL

Vic, what day-two wide receiver has caught your eye?

Allen Robinson is one of many.

Josh from Oxford, OH

Had the chance to meet and talk with the Harbaugh brothers, as John was inducted into the “Cradle of Coaches” here at Miami University. I wish others had the chance to hear that family tell family and football stories. They’re amazing people. Favorite Harbaugh story?

I don’t have that list in front of me, Josh.

Brian from Kansas City, MO

Vic, if you were Nostradamus, in which round do the Packers take the most picks?

The fourth.


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