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Lockout didn't hurt 2011 rookies


Nick from Water Mill, NY

Why would any premier football athlete risk their career playing in a meaningless game called the Pro Bowl? They don't need the money, do they?

They don't need the money but a lot of the guys enjoy playing in a game that celebrates the successful season they've enjoyed. They don't, however, want it to occur at the cost of an injury, and that's why the Pro Bowl has become little more than an OTA practice. Once upon a time, selected players wouldn't think of missing the game, because they needed the money, and they played it with the fervor of a real game. I can remember from when I was young watching a Pro Bowl in which Johnny Unitas rallied the West to victory. Unitas was selected Pro Bowl "player of the game" three times.

Alex from Minneapolis, MN

How is it the Packers coaching staff was nominated as the NFC coaching staff for the Pro Bowl?

The coaching staffs of the highest-seeded divisional round's losing teams are the coaches for their respective conferences in the Pro Bowl.

Ryan from Fredericton, NB

Just saw your video with Tony Pauline; great stuff. Who are other draft minds, past or present, that you respect? What is your opinion of Mike Mayock?

I think Mayock is a fantastic evaluator of talent. He truly does work at it and he has an energy for it. He's overly technical, at times, but it's difficult not to use the jargon when trying to explain how prospects relate to their worth on the NFL level. My all-time favorite draftnik is Joel Buchsbaum who, along with Mel Kiper, is one of the original draftniks. Joel was ultra-serious about his work and, for him, it was more about his obsession for it than the money he could earn from it. His work was very respected by coaches and scouts, because they knew how much effort he put into it. Bill Belichick always wanted to know what Joel thought, and Belichick twice tried to hire Joel. He was a very interesting man. He stayed to himself, pouring over tape in his small apartment in Brooklyn, sharing his love for football with his love for his dog. Draft time was always Buchsbaum's time.

Kona from Kahaluu, HI

With BAP drafting, how much pressure is on the scouting team? Do they have to get a rating for every single player in the draft?

Every team does that, regardless of what their philosophy is. Every player is graded and ranked. Even if you're a needs-drafting team, you need to know where players rank for trade and numeric value purposes.

Cesar from Santa Fe Springs, CA

I found a statement that you might agree with: "Great football teams are built around three types of players: 1.) superstars that carry the team, 2.) young players that bring quality far beyond their paycheck size, and 3.) journeymen players that fill small but important roles." This statement reminded me of everything you've been saying for the past year.

I would agree. Every once in a while, you can add a high-priced free agent to the mix when you think he's worth the risk, but you better keep those guys to a minimum. Even when you hit on them, they still put a dent in your cap that hurts.

Jeff from Agat, Guam

How do I deal with this need to keep hating the Giants? Also, I'd like the Super Bowl to end in a tie, which I know is impossible. I think I need help.

You win, that's how you deal with it. Every team is trying to win. It's nonsensical to hate a team for having done to you what you were trying to do to them. Hating is whining.

Scott from Inuvik, Canada

Gotta admit, I never heard of you before this season. I like "Ask Vic." It's highly entertaining but one thing really annoys me. Why do people write you with comments? Why do you post them?

One of my goals with this column is to allow the readers to write it. The questions write the column; they provide the direction. The answers are just the punch line. I try to provide readers with a snapshot of the questions I receive.

Dan from Madison, WI

Vic, are the Packers in a good position with the salary cap?

Yes, they are. They don't have a ton of room to spend on free agents, but they've positioned themselves to keep the core of their team intact. I'm vigilant about the cap. I'll let you know if there are any red flags.

Gary from Appleton, WI

Please explain the qualities (skills, body type, etc.) that are needed in both an inside linebacker position and an outside linebacker position in a 3-4.

It would be easy to say the inside guys are thicker, stronger types that can take on blocks and bang with the big boys, and that outside linebackers in a 3-4 are guys that can cover and rush, but I've seen examples of outside guys that can bang with the boys, too, and inside guys that were sack artists. The first guy that comes to mind is Chad Brown. He's one of the best 3-4 rush linebackers I've ever covered, and he played inside. The 3-4 allows for creativity.

Keith from St. Louis Park, MN

You talk about targeting a player in the draft and moving to where he fits. How do you accurately determine where he will fit and is it difficult to trade with other teams on draft day?

Where he falls on your draft board is where he fits in the draft. For example, the Packers traded up to get Clay Matthews because they believed he fit where they would be picking him; they traded back to get Jordy Nelson because they believed he fit in the second round. By fitting yourself to the pick instead of fitting the pick to where you are, you maintain value. Yes, it can be difficult to execute that strategy because you might not find a team willing to trade with you, but we're seeing more trading in the draft every year because all teams are in the same boat. Even the ones drafting for need want to fit themselves to the pick, for no other reason than they don't wanna overpay the player because they overdrafted him. You want him to fit at his salary, too.

Bill from Hayden, ID

With less time able to be devoted to work with college players in OTAs as part of the new CBA, do you think NFL teams will be less inclined to take a chance on drafting small-college DEs and converting them to OLB in the pros?

No, I don't, and here's why: Anthony Villiotti of reports that rookies started 870 games in the 2011 NFL season, which is the most games started by rookies in any season in the last 10 years. Clearly, the lockout and the lack of an OTAs season had no impact on the 2011 rookie class.

Jason from Austin, TX

I remember you saying you read all of the questions, even the ones you don't post, so I thought I would pass this along. I was wondering if you heard or read about the letter to the 49ers player by the seven-year-old boy. If you haven't, I suggest you look it up because it's a great story about a boy who was disappointed and crying to his dad after the 49ers lost their playoff game. His dad asked him, "How do you think Mr. Williams feels?" So the boy decided to write him a letter to make him feel better.

One suffering person offered comfort to another, now two are comforted. It works better than offering hate.

Frank from Lampman, Saskatchewan

Will you be doing a game blog from the Senior Bowl?

No, I'm back in Green Bay. Just about everybody packed up and left Mobile on Thursday, which is what happens every year after the last practice. At that point, the scouts and NFL media turn the game over to Mobile. The practices are the most important part of the Senior Bowl. That's where players really raise or lower their draft stock, in NFL-like drills conducted by NFL coaches. The tape of the game can be used to supplement a player's grade. The scouts are at the practices to talk to the prospects. Interviews are conducted on the field after practice. Scouts ask the players direct questions about their mothers and fathers and siblings, where the players are from and what life was like growing up. It's in those interviews that scouts take a liking to a player, or get turned off by a guy. The game is a civic event. The practices are about entering the draft. By the way, you should've seen everybody trying to get out of Mobile yesterday as a line of severe storms pushed through the Southeast, extending up into Atlanta, which is to Mobile as Chicago is to Green Bay. As soon as the first flights were delayed, everybody was bonkers trying to get their itineraries re-done. The Mobile airport was a madhouse. If you're a Falcons scout, no problem; just sit and wait for the next flight out. If you're a Lions scout, just get the connector in Atlanta changed. If you're a Packers scout, however, you're looking at a long day and the flight that'll take you to Green Bay from, say, Detroit, is probably gonna be the last flight to Green Bay that night, so don't miss it. I almost did.

Tom from Richmond, VA

Vic, I am a big A.J. Hawk fan. I noticed him missing some tackles and becoming slower at times this year, and I have noticed a slew of articles saying the only benefit he brings to the defense is extensive knowledge of the playbook. What are your opinions of Hawk?

A coach that was with Hawk at Ohio State told me at the Senior Bowl that he thinks Hawk is too big.

Eric from Fort Atkinson, WI

Do you know of any teams where targeting a player did not work out as planned?

There are lots of cases when targeting hasn't worked. The strategy is only as good as the player you draft. The Jaguars targeted Derrick Harvey and traded up into the top 10 to get him, and it didn't work because Harvey didn't become the player the Jaguars thought he would become.

Troy from Green Bay, WI

Has Green Bay ever used the "46 Defense" and do you think it would be a good idea to use it as a variation?

The Packers have probably used it at some point, or a variation of it, because the "46" is essentially "Cover Zero." It's just a twist of "Cover Zero" that sends the house and puts the corners in man-to-man coverage with no help over the top. Don't get locked into names; concern yourself with concepts.

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