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McCarthy says beware of Lions


Carol from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

With the combine being the focus right now, will one of the statistics being looked at be the athlete's Wonderlic score?

Yes, it's one of the measurements, but I think personnel directors are less concerned about a prospect's Wonderlic score than they are about his 40 time, his reps at 225, his size, his game production and his character. I'm not saying football players don't have to be smart, but they have to be smart about football and the Wonderlic test isn't football specific. If a prospect demonstrates that he has instincts for football that make him a quick playbook learner who readily transfers his football smarts to the field, then, what he does on the Wonderlic test is meaningless. At the quarterback position, however, I think the Wonderlic is a credible measuring stick. You need to know the quarterback you want to draft does, indeed, have the capacity to absorb the massive amounts of information that'll be dropped on him in the NFL.

Ruppert from Elk River, MN

You've been covering the league a long time. For years, the adage was, "a team needs to be able to run the ball and stop the run." With the way the league has changed, is it now more accurate to say a team needs to pass the ball and stop the pass?

Today's game is a passing game. The league wants it to be that way and they continually tweak the rules to promote the passing game. That doesn't mean you shouldn't run the ball and stop the run, but I don't think you can win championships without being able to throw the football and rush the passer which, in my opinion, is the biggest part of playing pass-defense.

Karl from St. Augustine, FL

Are you going to put in a comment section at the end of "Ask Vic," as you did in your previous location, so we can show our appreciation of your humor ("I cried all night." Priceless!)?

I like the comment sections. I like all forms of expression and communication, but the comment sections at the bottom of stories tend to attract more responsible commentary than you find on message boards. I noticed that comments are invited in the blogs on Maybe we can add them to the other copy, too. We'll see.

Joe from Oshkosh, WI

What is the main thing the Packers need to focus on to repeat next year?

You know what's funny? It's funny that the stock answer to your question is: Stay healthy. Well, that wasn't the key to success last season, unless you apply it to the quarterback. Ah, yeah, that's where it really matters. Aaron Rodgers only missed one full game. In that sense, the Packers really did stay healthy. The key to success for any team is keeping the quarterback upright and playing. You can't lose your quarterback and expect to play at your highest level. It all begins and ends with him. The Packers have to keep Aaron Rodgers healthy. That's why you gotta get the big guys early.

Kyle from Orange Park, FL

What player do you think is ranked higher, Ponder or Locker?

They've both seen their draft stock fall as a result of somewhat disappointing seasons. In each case, however, it was due to extenuating circumstances. Christian Ponder struggled through a season marred by a sore arm. Jake Locker struggled on a bad team. Had Locker declared himself eligible for the 2010 draft, he would've probably been a top five pick. Had Ponder done the same, he would've probably been a top 15 pick. So, all of a sudden, these guys lost their talent? I don't think so. I don't know who's better, but I like 'em both. I think two lucky teams are gonna get steals.

John from Hopewell Junction, NY

The Packers could surely use a kick-return specialist. How high would you put this priority on the draft board?

As Chuck Noll liked to say: the more things you can do. Noll found return men in the first round in Lynn Swann and Rod Woodson. They were lights-out return men but, of course, they also did other things well. Louis Lipps is another example. I think return ability can take a high pick and make him a higher pick; it can put him over the top. If you're talking about a player that is strictly a return specialist, then I think that has to wait until the late rounds. That's the kind of player to whom I was referring when I said I'm OK with need-drafting in the late rounds.

Luke from Madison, WI

Do you see the Packers as the obvious favorite next year in the NFC North and do you think the Lions can make a push to compete for the NFC North title within the next few years?

Yeah, I think the Packers will be the obvious favorite, provided nothing dramatic or traumatic happens between now and then. As far as Detroit is concerned, I made a note in my story yesterday that Mike McCarthy twice went out of his way to volunteer his respect for the Lions, during McCarthy's press conference on Friday. Coaches know. When they do something like that, we should listen.

Dan from Marshfield, WI

I do not like it when college players skip the combine and instead only participate during their pro day. I would rather see how these players perform outside of their comfort area. What are your thoughts?

They're in control. With their talent, they can and will hold you hostage, depending, of course, on how much talent they have. At this stage of their careers, they are independent contractors and you have to deal with each one of them on an independent basis. You go to wherever you have to go to be able to fully evaluate their talent. As far as their comfort area, put on the tape and see how they performed on the field in the fall. That says it all. Find the players who feel comfortable on a football field on game day. At the workout time of the process, they're looking for an edge. Who isn't?

Daniel from Jacksonville, FL

I can't keep reading you or I'm afraid you'll convert me to a Packers fan. Since I grew up in Chicago, I'd be disowned by my family.

I'm looking forward to this Bears thing.

Chris from Pfafftown, NC

Has Dom Capers always been a 3-4 coach?

The Jaguars didn't play a 3-4 when coach Capers was the defensive coordinator there, and in 1999 the Jaguars went into the final month of the season in pursuit of the all-time fewest points allowed record. Good coaches can coach anything. Yes, they have their trademarks, but they can coach any scheme and most positions, too. When coach Capers was a rookie defensive coordinator for Bill Cowher in 1992, he wasn't playing the "Blitzburgh" scheme that made him famous because he didn't have the pass-rushers to do it. The '92 defense he coached played a bend-but-don't-break scheme en route to the number one seed for the playoffs.

Bob from Clinton, NY

Are the Packers the first team to beat the top three seeds en route to the Super Bowl?

I gotta wing it on this one because I'm at the combine and I don't have all my books with me, but I think the answer is no because, according to my calculations, the 2005 Steelers would've had to have beaten number three, number one and number two on the way to winning the Super Bowl. I think the question is: Are the Packers the first NFC team to do it? I can't remember if the Giants beat the top three seeds in 2007. Maybe somebody could shed some light on this for me.

Steve from Jacksonville

Friday was a good day. You answered my BAP question in your column and I received my "Ask Vic" coffee mug in the mail. Yes, a good day, indeed.

Remember, don't put that thing in the dishwasher.

Paul from Denver, CO

In the prospect evaluation process, do players from certain conferences carry a higher desirability because of the conferences they played in?

I think scouts and GMs would tend to favor a big-school prospect over a small-school prospect, if everything else was equal. In the final analysis, however, you're not drafting the school or the conference, you're drafting the player. You gotta get him right and that usually means eliminating your prejudices. Objectivity is the tool with which you evaluate football talent.

Jerome from Portland, OR

Come on, Vic. In your interview with Rick Gosselin you talk about how Donald Driver wasn't drafted? Do your research. He's the team's all-time leading receiver, for God's sake. This isn't Jacksonville where no one cares about the team or knows anything about the players.

You're absolutely right. I blew it. He was a 7b pick, the 213th player selected in the 1999 draft. What could I have possibly been thinking? I'm so grateful for your vigilance.

Wayne from Bethel Island, CA

Does the procedure of building from within help players stay with Green Bay for their entire career, and does this practice limit picking up talent through trades?

You find football players where you find football players. You don't ever want to limit your avenues of acquisition. There have been plenty of trades that have favored the acquisition of a player. Jerome Bettis was a good trade. Randy Moss was certainly worth what the Patriots gave up. How about the Matt Schaub deal? The Texans got him for a second-rounder; that was a great trade for them. The preponderance of picks-for-players trades, however, favor picks, not players. If you really think you're getting something good and you're not mortgaging your future with the picks you're trading away, go ahead and do it, but not too often, please. I thought the video I did with Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News was spot on. Rick made his point very astutely.

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