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I found my running back

Thoughts from watching real football at the Senior Bowl


Tou from Eau Claire, WI

Do you think Derek Sherrod, Bryan Bulaga or Marshall Newhouse would do well as an interior lineman, if the Packers brought another first-round tackle into the mix through the draft?

Rule of thumb is that if you can play outside, you can play inside. That's not the issue when moving tackles inside. The issue is: Are you paying them as a tackle? None of the guys you mentioned were top 10 picks, so I think it's doable, but salary cap is a consideration in every move a team makes. We need to be mindful of that.

Danny from Jacksonville, AR

Vic, as a military member, I couldn't help but contest Bill from Honesdale's idea that no other business gets away with what the NFL does. When you sign up for the military, you are sent wherever they want you to go (frequently unpleasant) and your salary is capped based on your rank and time in service.

That's beautiful. Our free-market system is being defended by a highly regulated military. I never thought about that.

Dean from Clarkston, WA

Vic, love your column and please do not change anything you do. My question is who would you draft as a running back if you had the pick this year?

I saw a guy yesterday who made me think, "I'll take him." I'm talking about Stepfan Taylor of Stanford. He had one of those days on Tuesday that players at the Senior Bowl dream of having. He did it all and without one misstep. He caught everything. He ran with power and quickness. I saw him make defensive backs go one way as he went another way. He flashed speed he's not supposed to have. He's the perfect pro-style back and he'll carry it all day. The longer practice got, the better he got. I wouldn't describe him as a pounder, but he's a between-the-tackles runner who'd drop his pads on a train. I spoke with him after practice and if ever there was a guy with that proverbial look in his eye, Taylor has it. I'm going to keep my eye on him.

Eduardo from Monterrey, Mexico

Will the Packers get a compensatory draft pick if they lose Jennings?

If he signs with another team in free agency, yes, the Packers would receive compensatory pick consideration for having lost Greg Jennings, but it doesn't happen until 2014.

Eddie from Alger, MI

I believe the Packers need more thumpers at inside linebacker, guys that can pack a punch at the point of attack. Have you seen any players like that down in Mobile?

I have not, and I'm looking hard for one. This is a very weak crop of inside linebackers. There are two underclassmen, Alec Ogletree of Georgia and Kevin Minter of LSU, and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, and then it falls off sharply.

Tanner from LeRoy, IL

The Colts went from a perennial playoff contender to worst in the league in one year. Then, one year and one darn good draft class later, they were in the playoffs and are only looking better next year. They let a lot of really popular guys go, but it seems to have worked. Is that the kind of fall/rebuild you imagine/prefer?

They did the classic gut job, which was forced on them by the Peyton Manning injury. The Colts are a bad example to use, however, because most teams aren't as fortunate to have the top pick of the draft when another quarterback for the ages comes along. Don't use exceptions as examples, plus, let's give this one a little more time. Let's make sure the 2012 Colts aren't a snowman.

Jay from State College, PA

The past few days, you've mentioned the love Packers fans have for the players. I don't recall you ever expressing that prior to this past week. It makes me wonder whether you had expected or would have liked to hear one or more players own up to poor play in their loss to the 49ers, rather than just allow the coaches to take it on the chin.

First of all, I don't like all this accountability stuff. Of course it's their fault. Who else's fault could it be? Do we really need to be told whose fault it is? Or are we looking for somebody to crucify, to satisfy our anger? After a loss, I need neither an apology nor accountability – just win, baby – but it bothered me a little that the coaches were not only left to take it on the chin alone, but that some fingers also wagged in their direction. This wasn't the first time Mike McCarthy fell on his sword for his players. By my count, he did it twice before in 2012, most emphatically after the loss to the Giants.

Jocelyn from Crawfordsville, IN

I know how to stay on top: Draft Joe Montana and acquire Steve Young later on, or acquire Brett Favre and draft Aaron Rodgers later on.

Montana and Young were pre-cap. Those days are over. In today's game, if you have Joe Montana, you can't have Steve Young. Think cap, folks. Hornung or Taylor, not both. Nitschke or Robinson, not both. That's why teams of today should not be compared to teams of yesterday. Those teams were able to have as many good players as they could find. Today's teams are capped.

Troy from Delano, MN

Both Harbaugh brothers made changes late in the year that were highly criticized and it seems both worked out. Which one would get your coach of the year vote?

Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the year. There's no doubt in my mind about that. Not only did he coach that team to the Super Bowl, he made a command decision late in the year few coaches would have the courage to make. He saw it. He knew he needed more suddenness at quarterback or his team was doomed to repeat history. It's a move with huge downside risk, but he saw the upside gain and he had the courage to make the call. He's not much of a conference call interview, but he sure can coach.

Greg from Jacksonville, FL

Why is the Senior Bowl in Mobile?

Because they invented it. The first one was played in 1950. This is, in my opinion, the best venue for judging talent of all the postseason and predraft events. They do it right here; they make these guys play football. There was some heavy hitting in yesterday's practice, and that's what scouts want to see. The combine is gym class; the Senior Bowl is real football. Phil Savage has done a top job of attracting talent to this event, and I hope Mobile keeps the Senior Bowl forever. It bothers me that there's talk of it leaving Mobile because of a lack of facilities. Mobile is the creator. As far as I'm concerned, the Senior Bowl belongs to Mobile.

Jarrod from Monticello, MN

I sent you an email last week expressing my excitement for next year. Reading your updates from the North and South practices is only enhancing my excitement. Agree?

It's helping me turn the page. That's what this week is about and that's why it's important, in my opinion, that we cover it. It's time to turn the page.

Angelo from Willemstad, Curacao

I am a bit confused about your desire for a contact runner. As you said, the Packers are a pass-first team. Wouldn't it be better to have a cutback runner that can help you get the yards to convert the third downs, rather than a contact runner who gives you a degree of toughness?

Nothing is more important than toughness.

Bill from Rapid City, SD

When a QB working the read-option offense keeps the ball and runs, is he then considered a runner and can be tackled the same way as any other running back?

That's the question the league doesn't want to answer. The emergence of the running quarterback, the guy who is running for yards, not safety, is going to screw up everything. Are we going to put markers on quarterback's helmets? Pocket passers get red dots on their helmets and runners get blue dots? How do we distinguish the runners from the passers? How do we protect the guy that doesn't want to run without giving a competitive advantage to the guy that wants to run? I fear this is going to be a huge problem. You can't treat the runners the same way you treat the passers. It's not fair to defenses.

Joe from Florianopolis, BR

Have you ever seen a player do very well during the Senior Bowl week and then fizzle out of the NFL for reasons other than the consequences of injury or legal troubles?

It happens. Matt Jones was a Senior Bowl star, but his career was never the equal. I don't, however, remember any Mike Mamulas. The Senior Bowl has had a lot of hits. A lot of guys have emerged at the Senior Bowl. Colin Kaepernick did. This is a good test and measuring stick.

Jordan from Kenosha, WI

I just saw a picture of D.J. Fluker at the weigh-in and read that he weighed in at 355 pounds (you wrote 335 in your article, which was his listed weight in college). My goodness, have you ever seen a guy hold 355 pounds that well? By the way, he also has a 7-2 wing span.

If you ever want to see a guy that looks the part, Fluker is it. He stood in front of me on Sunday and I was stunned by his physique. I immediately awarded him the Cordy Glenn Trophy, although John Jenkins probably should get it since he's playing and Fluker is not. I became a huge Fluker fan on Sunday, as he told the story of his family being chased from the Ninth Ward of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. I genuinely got choked up when he said he was the first person in his family to go to college. It wasn't only what he said, it was how he said it. Fluker was clearly not comfortable standing in front of us. His innocence was palpable. His humility was overwhelming.

Hector from Cologne, Germany

I am already looking forward to the combine and some comments from Tony Pauline. I hope this year we again see a lot of Tony Pauline specials in your column about possible Packers players in this draft class.

He's amazing. I said to him on Tuesday, what do you know about this defensive lineman from SMU, Margus Hunt? Tony then proceeds to tell me the kid's life story, about coming from Estonia as a shot-putter. I said to him, here's a funny name, Blidi, as in Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Tony said, "I love him," and then told me all about the injuries that cost the kid a lot of playing time at UConn. Tony's the best, and I really mean that.

Will from Madison, WI

Both defenses in the Super Bowl are 3-4. Can we stop talking about problems with the scheme?

You da man.

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