Bob from Perth, Australia
Dom Capers said something interesting; it's kind of the premise of the 3-4 defense. The effectiveness of those two outside guys makes the inside rush game much more effective because they have to account for those two guys. It was a theory I hadn't heard before and it seems to make sense. What are your thoughts?
It's what I've been saying for a long time in this column, that in a 3-4 the rush starts with the linebackers, not the defensive linemen. In a 3-4, the defensive line's first responsibility is for absorbing the blocking, holding the point of attack and stuffing the run. The linebackers are the attack guys. They're the ones playing run on the way to the quarterback. Just look at Coach Capers' history. In New Orleans, his rush backers were Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling. In Pittsburgh, it was Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd, and they opened the rush for the two inside guys, Levon Kirkland and Chad Brown. In Carolina, it was Greene and Lamar Lathon. To have an effective pass rush in a 3-4, you almost have to have two effective rush backers. I have no doubt Coach Capers will be watching closely on Monday when the rush backer candidates reveal themselves.
Jim from Des Peres, MO
How can the Packers be looking for a "few pieces" at the combine? I thought they had a BAP policy. With that policy you look for players, not pieces that fit, even if that means drafting quarterbacks and tight ends (which GB manifestly does not need). In fact, such a "pieces" thought reveals that no one really looks for BAP as such; it is always within the context of actual needs.
It's called "targeting" and all teams practice it, even those teams that are hard-line BAP. When a BAP team targets a player, it accepts the challenge to fit itself to the player it's targeted by moving to where he fits. By doing that, the team recoups the value of its original pick or moves to a place of greater value, and it then selects the player where he is ostensibly the best available player. We saw Ted Thompson trade several times in last year's draft. Yes, addressing need is every team's goal, just as maintaining the integrity of its value board is for most teams, and that's why we've seen so much trading in recent drafts. Teams are cooperating with each other to fit themselves to the players they've targeted.
Ryan from Fredericton, New Brunswick
Despite what I have seen and read in the past, Jermichael Finley seemed very humble in your video on packers.com. Vic, can you please give me some insight on Jermichael when the cameras are not rolling or when he is not on social media?
He was a very happy man last night, minutes after signing a new contract with the Packers. Obviously, he was happy for the financial security he had just guaranteed himself and his family, but there was no mistaking that he was happy to remain with the Packers. Players don't wanna uproot themselves, learn new systems, have to establish themselves with new teammates. That's especially true with a player such as Finley, who's achieved success where he's been and knows he's a player that fits prominently into the team's plans and schemes. On Thursday, Finley satisfied the business part of his career and can now turn all of his attention back to developing his craft. He used a word in that video that reveals where his thoughts are. He used the word "redeem." Fans speak often about the need for accountability, and I get the sense that they want players and coaches to bare themselves to the world and acknowledge their failures. I think we need to be more sensitive to the subtle expressions of that acknowledgement, which I believe Finley was making with that one word in that video.
Herb from Palm Desert, CA
I keep reading opinions from columnists and fans about the Packers placing the franchise tag on Matt Flynn. I'm not buying it. Can you recall a franchise tag ever being put on a backup quarterback?
Matt Cassel would've been the Patriots' backup quarterback when Tom Brady was recovered from his knee surgery, had the Patriots not franchised Cassel and traded him.
Bryce from Wisconsin
There's a lot of talk about Zach Brown possibly being the fastest guy at the combine, and that's at 235 as a linebacker. What's your opinion of him and where do you and Tony Pauline rank him?
Pauline has Brown ranked 18th overall and refers to him as a terrific athlete and a three-down linebacker that is equally effective in run support or pass defense. I saw evidence of Brown's speed at the Senior Bowl; he was on running backs in blitz pickup drills in a flash. So why is everybody talking about Brown as a weakside linebacker only? I don't get that. In my opinion, a guy with his speed has to be considered a candidate to rush the quarterback as a 3-4 linebacker.
Paul from Spencerville, IN
Vic, it seems like once or twice a week you are defending old-time NFL players because the average fan doesn't have an appreciation for the past in the NFL. The exact opposite is true in baseball, where it is blasphemy to suggest that any modern-day star could have hit better than the Babe. I've always been amazed by this difference in baseball and football fan bases. What do you make of it?
You're absolutely right, and it's because baseball has done a much better job of chronicling and revering its history than pro football has. The founding fathers of pro football were clearly more challenged with paying the bills than they were with telling a good story. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a perfect example of that. It didn't come along until the early to mid-1960s. Heck, Vince Lombardi had already won an NFL title before ground was even broken for the Hall of Fame. It's always bothered me that the old guys of pro football haven't gotten their due, as the old-timers of baseball have.
Ben from Milwaukee, WI
From all the combines you've attended, what player impressed you or had the best workout?
Tom from Cedar Rapids, IA
Hypothetical question for you, Vic: You are interviewing Ted Thompson the day before the draft. As he walks away, he unknowingly drops a folded piece of paper. Written on the front is "Rank of BAP for the 2012 draft." Do you give it back to him without reading it, read it but keep it confidential, or do you write about it, knowing you have a scoop on your hands?
Forget about the hypothetical, I'll give you an actual. It was several years ago and I was participating in a draft-day radio show. I had left the radio studio to go down the hall and do an interview with the first-round pick. When I came back to the studio, there was a piece of paper on the table where I was to sit. The paper had player names on it and I asked, what's this? The reply was, "Their board." With that, I averted my eyes and said something like, "Take it away." To each their own but, in my world, if you want respect, you have to treat your subjects with respect. I think we all understand teams' obsession for guarding the secrecy of their draft boards.
Jacob from Minneapolis, MN
Now that Finley is off the table, who do you think the Packers will use the franchise tag on? Will they tag center Scott Wells and get a bit more time to work out a long-term deal?
There is no separate franchise tag designation for centers and guards; all offensive linemen are lumped into one category, so tagging a center or guard would mean paying him left tackle money, which is why you don't see a lot of guards and centers being franchised.
Tristan from Washington, DC
How difficult is it for pro scouts to determine if a defensive end in college can make the switch to outside linebacker in a 3-4? How different are the skill sets? How many college programs run a 3-4?
College football has been running the equivalent of the pro 3-4 for a long time. The college 53, with its standup ends, is, for all intents and purposes, the pro 34. Rickey Jackson was a standup end in college; his companion standup end was Hugh Green. Identifying college ends that can make the move to outside linebacker isn't real difficult. You run them forward, and then you watch them backpedal. If they've got good forward speed and burst, and they can turn their hips and drop into coverage, they can probably play outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Trent from Clinton, UT
What do you think about Jermichael Finley's new deal with the Packers?
I think it accomplishes what both sides needed and wanted. Finley gets financial security and a chance to grow into one of the league's premier receivers. The Packers get time to grow Finley into that role. The length of the deal means it will be revisited in the near future, and I think that was also a need for both parties.
Paul from De Pere, WI
With respect to coaching success, which is more important, being a leader of men or knowing Xs and Os?
A head coach has to know the game and its schemes to earn his assistant coaches' and his players' respect, so I'm speaking with hyperbole when I say: Assistant coaches coach, head coaches lead.
Sean from Berkeley Heights, NJ
Do you feel like this is the year Ted Thompson should trade up in the draft to get a stud defensive lineman or outside linebacker, like in 2009? I like the draft best available player philosophy, but we have a lot of depth, so do we really need to draft 10 players again?
Why trade up and lose picks if you don't have to do it? I think there's a strong chance the Packers can address need and still maintain value in this draft. Do they really need to draft a lot of players? Yes, they do. Everybody needs to draft a lot of players. It keeps a team young and staying young is, in my opinion, every team's No. 1 need.
Danny from Butte, MT
Are there any Big Sky Conference players in this draft?
Bucky Brooks threw one at you in yesterday's video: cornerback Trumaine Johnson of Montana. You find football players where you find football players.