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Big guys will push linebackers down

Franchise tag being used to buy time


Ryan from Menasha, WI

Vic, how would you rate this year's draft class and what position has the most depth?

It's a good class if you like big guys, and I love big guys. I think it's an especially good class for teams that play a 3-4 defense, because it's a class that's loaded with defensive tackle talent, and all of the linemen in a 3-4 are effectively defensive tackles. Everybody loves the depth in this class at offensive and defensive tackle, so I'm expecting the Packers to spend some picks at those two positions. You take what's available to you. If you pass on these guys now, you'll regret it if the same depth isn't available to you in the future when you have a desperate need at those positions.

Weston from Lake Geneva, WI

A lot of names receiving the franchise tag this year. What does that say to the players like Josh Norman, Von Miller, Cordy Glenn? Those are three great, young players and three of the biggest positions in football. Why not just lock them up long-term now?

They couldn't get deals done so those teams are using the franchise tag to buy negotiating time. Nobody wants the franchise tag. It's too big of a one-year cap hit for teams to accept, and players want long-term contracts and the signing bonus they provide. That's why I've likened the franchise tag to the atom bomb: Just having it is good enough. This year, however, teams are having to use the franchise tag, and that intrigues me. Have the franchise-tag tenders reached such heights that players aren't afraid of being tagged? The threat of a career-threatening injury is the leverage teams possess in using the franchise tag to help produce a long-term contract, but if I was one of those guys at a high-tendered position, and Norman, Miller and Glenn are, I might sign the tender and say, "Let's play."

View some of the best photos of the Packers at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Photos by Tyler Gajewski,

Chris from Savage, MN

Prospect primer?

They were shot at the combine and the video staff is in the process of producing them. It's always been that way.

Rick from Stockholm, Sweden

Vic, what is your take on Mario Williams as a free agent?

Other than exploding my inbox today? He's a 4-3 defensive end. Can he transition to linebacker in a 3-4? It'll cost you a lot of money to answer that question. Here's another question: With whom would he split time, Clay Matthews or Julius Peppers?

Wayne from Bellevue, NE

I'm very happy Mason Crosby will be back. Who's the best kicker you've ever covered?

It would be a tossup between Crosby and Gary Anderson.

View photos of NFL prospects taking part in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Photos by AP Images.

Fred from Yreka, CA

Do you have any info on ILB Zach Brown of the Titans? Seems like the top two ILB prospects may be gone at pick 27.

Brown is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and Darron Lee has been compared to Brown. I think Brown is worthy of research. He's a chase linebacker and offers playmaker potential. He lost his starting job midway through this season, so that's something that would have to be investigated. I saw a mock draft yesterday that had Reggie Ragland falling to the Packers. I think you're quitting too quickly on the linebackers available in this draft. The big guys are going to be picked early and often. They're going to push a lot of talent at other positions down the order.

Kevin from Sturtevant, WI

Vic, in your years of covering football, is there any one game that stands out as the one you'll never forget? For me it has to be the 2003 MNF game when Favre played the night after his father passed, simply because it was an amazing display of resilience. I was only nine years old at that point, but seeing him play through that turmoil, and the emotion he wore on his sleeve, gives me chills to this day.

As it stands right now, the last playoff game I covered would be a contender for the game I'll never forget. Two Hail Mary plays to send the game into overtime? I would also add the Jaguars' playoff win in Denver as one I'll never forget, and there are some others, too: a Sunday nighter between the Steelers and Jaguars in Jacksonville in 2004, the Packers' walk-off win over the Saints in the 2011 opener, the "Immaculate Reception," Super Bowl XIII … I don't know where to stop. I have a very good memory and I'm very sentimental.

Matt from Hartford, WI

Teams are forced to play nickel and dime defensive packages more than ever. Would the appropriate response to this problem be to load up on faster safeties to put down in the box, rather than draft a two-down linebacker?

Yeah, if they can hold up against the run. I think finding faster linebackers is the answer, and that favors hybrid players such as Darron Lee. I would be looking for a linebacker that could play strong safety, instead of looking for a strong safety that could play linebacker.

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Hope is not a strategy, but is there anything teams that are rebuilding or in "The Man" search mode can do to sell its fans (and ticket holders) on the concept of patience?

No. All you can do is commit and turn a deaf ear to the howl of the wolves, and hope the owner feels the same way. It's become fashionable for fans to howl. I saw the howl chase a good man out of Jacksonville. How'd that work?

John from Salisbury, MD

The Bears used the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery, a wide receiver, which could cost them about $14.6 million this year. Do you think Ted Thompson would ever consider a move like this, and is there a WR in the league today you would be willing to use the franchise tag on?

I'd be willing to use the franchise tag on any premium player I want to keep, but only if I was absolutely certain I wanted to sign that player to a long-term contract that would include significant guaranteed money. I can't think of anything more deflating than putting the franchise tag on a player and then losing him for the season to an injury in OTAs or training camp. I see the franchise tag as a means only for buying time to negotiate a long-term contract.

Dave from Lufkin, TX

It seems every year Ted seems to find a hidden gem from one of the small schools out there. Any idea who some of the names might be for us to try and keep an eye on?

Start with my guy, South Carolina State defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. Include Grand Valley State defensive end Matt Judon and Appalachian State defensive end Robert Blair.

Brad from Olean, NY

What do you and Tony think about Emmanuel Ogbah?

Tony likes him but projects him as a 4-3 defensive end and believes Ogbah will have to get bigger and stronger to be successful at that position.

Bruce from Yelm, WA

The Redskins just tagged Kurt Cousins, so he will get almost $20 million next season if they don't work out a long-term deal by July. No long-term deal will pay him $20 million per year, so why would he even try to negotiate a long-term deal until next year?

He wants the signing bonus. All players do. It's the only security they have against injury.

Logan from Shoreview, MN

Vic, where do you think the Vikings fit in terms of team colors and how they represent a region? I've always been baffled by the color choice. After all, Vikings weren't royalty. A tan, brown and white combination would be more fitting.

If you stand outside in winter, you'll turn purple.

Emmett from Monahans, TX

Vic, what do you think of Darron Lee now, since the combine is over?

I predicted he would test well, so my opinion of him hasn't changed. If he had not tested well, then my opinion might've changed because Lee's allure is for being fast and athletic.

Nathan from Tampa, FL

Obligatory request to sign Mario Williams regardless of cost, recent performance, team need, schematic fit, etc.

It's always nice to come back home, and Nutsville is home at this time of the year.

Taylor from Hull, IA

With Favre being officially retired, would it be at all possible to have him suit up and play in the Hall of Fame Game? Do eligibility issues count in a game like that?

Are you serious? I ruined a good pair of khakis and a button-down Oxford shirt and striped tie by getting tear stains on them last July. I have no doubt the tears will fall again at Brett Favre's induction ceremony in Canton this summer. Isn't that enough? Do we have to make him play in the game, too?

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