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Everybody loves Packers' draft class


Brandon from Tucson, AZ

The Packers invited someone named Michael Zweifel to camp apparently. He seems to have the statistics to be a good receiver but I don't think he was invited to the combine, why?

Zweifel is the all-time NCAA all-divisions receptions leader. He set the record while catching passes for Division III Dubuque, however, and that's why he was neither invited to the combine nor signed to an undrafted free agent contract. Clearly, Zweifel didn't play against players whose careers will be extended to Sundays. Nonetheless, Zweifel caught a lot of passes and he worked out well in combine-type drills when Zweifel participated in Iowa State's pro day, and the Packers have decided he's deserving of a look to see what he has in his skill set, so he has been invited to participate in the team's rookie camp as a try-out player.

Noel from Cambria, CA

I was very pleased with this draft class. I think the Packers picked very well, getting our needs for defense. Is there anyone in this draft class that is a draft-and-develop type of player?

They're all in that category. Even the first-round pick, Nick Perry, will be facing a transition, as he moves from a down-end position to linebacker. The final pick, B.J. Coleman, is probably the pick that best fits the term, strictly because he's a quarterback. Everything from his mechanics to his understanding of offense is likely to undergo change.

Michael from Gainesville, FL

As I'm sure you've heard or read countless opinions from fans on the draft, how does the reaction this year compare to last year's and why?

Packers fans are in love with this draft and for the obvious reason that it addressed need. Fans like it when need is addressed because it gives them hope the previous season's weaknesses were repaired. Other than for Randall Cobb, last year's draft didn't have the wow factor this one does because last year's storylines weren't as good as this year's. Nick Perry addresses the need for sacks, a lot of fans view Jerel Worthy (pictured) as doing the same, the Casey Hayward pick invites speculation about Charles Woodson and how that might address the sad news of Nick Collins' release. Plus, even though he was the Packers' last pick of the draft, everybody gets a little more excited about a draft class when a quarterback is in it. I like this class. I like it that the Packers were able to address their needs and not reach. The grades are all coming in "B" or better. I always watch the demeanor of scouts in the days immediately following a draft, and I sense that the Packers are happy with the picks they made.

Keith from Jacksonville, FL

I was talking to an older gentleman and he was talking about the passing game and he said the pass was always supposed to be a surprise. Is the evolution of the passing game based on impatience or strategy?

He's right. Once upon a time, a pass play was a departure from routine. Why has that changed? Because it's been forced to change. The evolution of the passing game is not by "natural selection." The league changed the rules to create an environment that would influence evolution.

Ronald from Good Thunder, MN

I hear so many times "he's just learning to play." We are talking about gifted players that have been playing the game before they were teenagers. Is middle school, high school and college coaching that bad? Learning a scheme I understand, but I see way too many fundamental errors by pros. What's your take?

It's all relative, Ronald. The errors you see being made by pro football players are being forced by other pro football players. Amateur-level coaching isn't bad, it's just not as intense as what players experience when they go from college to the NFL. The NCAA only permits its players to spend 20 hours a week on football. NFL players spend 20 hours in two days, and the season is 17 weeks long with a four-game preseason. Nick Perry, who played at one of the most esteemed programs in college football, is going to be taught techniques he never knew existed. A lot of college pass rushers are one-trick ponies and were able to pile up the sacks in college by only being able to do one thing, because they overwhelmed the competition with superior physical ability. That won't happen in the NFL. They will have to learn various techniques and how to blend their talents within the scheme of assignment football to be successful. The intriguing thing about Perry, in my opinion, is that he IS just learning how to play the game. When his skill level equals his talent level, look out!

Brendon from Austin, TX

My question is about selecting Brandon Weeden at pick 22. Tom Heckert made reference that the Browns didn't want to risk Weeden not making it to pick 37, and claimed other teams were interested in Weeden. I've looked at the list of teams sitting between picks 22 and 37 and their quarterback depth charts, and I'm having a hard time fingering any of them as a team that would have been likely to spend their late-first or early-second-round pick to add Weeden.

Quarterback is always an overdrafted position and I think it's likely a team in need of a quarterback would've traded up and drafted Weeden. I really like Weeden. If he was 22 instead of 28, I think he would've been picked ahead of Ryan Tannehill. The whole issue with Weeden is whether or not he's ready to play right away. He almost has to be able to play now to have been an effective draft pick, because his age doesn't allow for a commitment to a long development process. In picking Weeden, I think the Browns are saying they think he's ready to play now.

Ben from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, if someone were to hit a hole-in-one during your golf tournament, what would they get?

I'm not willing to offer my car as a prize for a hole-in-one, plus, it would be the worst car prize in hole-in-one history, but I do promise that anyone making a hole-in-one will receive a handsome prize and special attention.

Sam from Nashville, TN

With the new rules about tackling during practice, how do coaches grade a player's tackling ability before the season starts?

You can't know for sure about a player's ability to tackle until the action is full speed and live to the ground, and that means we won't know until the preseason games begin.

Ric from Longmont, CO

How much in royalties did John Harbaugh have to pay you to use the asterisk?

He can have it. He should've called me before he used it. I would've told him not to do it.

Nate from Moody AFB, GA

Which team do you feel, based on the draft alone, will be the most overall improved?

I've already talked about how much I like the Bills' draft. Another draft I really like is San Diego's. Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes are two of my favorite players in this draft class. I think those two players could have a dramatic impact on the Chargers defense, which fell off its game last year. We already know the Chargers can move the ball. If they improve on defense, and I think they will, then they may have a little surprise in store for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. Also, the Packers could be the most improved defense this year based on their draft, but it's difficult to make a case for a 15-1 team as being the most improved overall. By record alone, I think the Colts could be the most improved team. Andrew Luck is ready to play and he'll make the Colts decidedly better in 2012 than they were in '11, and I like the Colts' draft a lot, too.

Chris from Viroqua, WI

Is it crazy to think Ted Thompson had enough foresight to let Cullen Jenkins leave in free agency to increase his picks in this year's draft? This left him with the ammunition he needed to pick two great prospects in the second round while not sacrificing the rest of his draft.

It's a young man's game. Take care of the future and the future will take care of the present.

Jeff from Northbrook, IL

Cut a rookie after just the second game? Are you nuts? It's comments like this that make me upset that you're the face of the team.

It was just a joke.

Mike from Wasilla, AK

It looks like the Packers aren't getting Ryan Grant back. I understand why he'd leave; he didn't get a high enough percentage of the carries. Who will we sign to replace him?

I don't know. Hey, can you really see Russia from there?

William from Jacksonville, FL

What are the quality coaching staffs trying to accomplish in terms of young player development between now and training camp?

All coaching staffs will be trying to give their rookies an understanding of the practice routine and a basic grasp of the playbook and the technique they need to play, so they will be able to compete for jobs in training camp.

Matthew from Maffra, Victoria

Vic, the Packers seem to have selected two defensive ends that can rush the passer in Worthy and Daniels. You always say the defensive ends in a 3-4 aren't the playmakers. Do you think Ted Thompson disagrees with you?

Here's what I know: At Michigan State, Jerel Worthy was a 4-3, three-technique defensive tackle. The role of that player is to line up in the gap, penetrate the gap, get into the backfield and disrupt the flow of the play. He won't be playing a lot of three-technique with the Packers; he'll play some when the Packers go into a four-man front, but it likely won't be often. In Defensive Line Coach Mike Trgovac's press conference following the Worthy pick, Trgovac said: "He'll be a defensive end. The big thing he'll have to learn is the Okie end when we're in a tight front." Trgovac was referring to a technique known as two-gapping. It is the exact opposite of three-technique. A two-gapper plays on the head of the offensive lineman. Bill Polian explained it on Saturday as playing down the middle of a block, which is a very accurate description of what a two-gapper does. He plays down the middle of the blocker and occupies the blocker and the space he's in. It's called a "fit," or doing what you're supposed to do by occupying the space for which you are responsible. If a two-gapper strays from that space, gaps emerge and that's when a defense can get creased. Two-gappers aren't pass rushers and defensive ends in Okie (3-4) fronts are usually two-gappers. If Worthy can get sacks while playing through the middle of blocks, then he will have been a very special draft pick. Two-gappers in a 3-4 usually get their sacks when the linebackers' rush from the outside forces the quarterback to step up into the face of the rush from the inside.

Tadd from Salt Lake City, UT

Do you see the Redskins drafting Kirk Cousins as a BAP pick or insurance on RG3 (in case of injury or even lack of performance)?

I don't understand the criticism of this pick. The Redskins now have two good, young quarterback prospects. Picking Cousins is brilliant because he'll make sure RG3 doesn't become complacent. A long time ago, coaches referred to it as the "varsity limp." There won't be any "varsity limp" in the Redskins' camp. Cousins has a strong arm and it'll keep RG3's fame from sweeping him away. Hey, Jimmy Johnson spent first-round picks on Troy Aikman and Steve Walsh in the same year. It worked for him.

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