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Overcoming adversity fact of life in NFL


Kirk from Sneads Ferry, NC

What do you think the Packers should be looking for in the draft? We seem to be solid all around, so it seems to be a mystery to me.

Vic: I don't want to sound like a broken record but I wanna drive home the point that I really, honestly and truly believe in selecting the best available player, which is the highest rated available player on a team's board, regardless of positional needs; therefore, I think the Packers should be looking for that player and I have no doubt they will. You don't build the kind of roster the Packers have without being vigilant about acquiring value. In the later rounds, as the picks are running out, I'm more accepting of addressing need, but not early in the draft. Often there's a double-barrel negative to drafting for need: 1.) You're picking a player of lesser ability. 2.) You're leaving the higher-rated player for your competition to select, which means you'll have to play against him. Plus, can you really predict what your needs are going to be?

Mike from Mexicali, BC Mexico

In your opinion, who are the three best offensive linemen in this draft?

Vic: The top names appear to be Anthony Castonzo of Boston College, Tyron Smith of USC, Nate Solder of Colorado, Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin, Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State and Mike Pouncey of Florida. Pouncey is a guard, the others are tackles. It's a deep crop of offensive linemen but once somebody picks one, the run will begin because big guys are at a premium. Draft history has proven that offensive tackles are the safest pick in the draft. The hit percentage on first-round tackles in recent years is extremely high.

Ethan from Cedar Rapids, IA

What should Green Bay do about the running back position?

Vic: If one is at the top of their board when it's the Packers' turn to pick, and running back is one of the deeper positions in this draft class, then pick him. If not, pick somebody else. I don't see the desperate need.

Paul from Elkhorn, NE

I'm a Nebraska fan. Is there a chance cornerback Prince Amukamara would be drafted by the Packers? They do need someone to eventually replace Charles Woodson.

Vic: Amukamara is projected to be a top 10 pick.

Darren from Barton on Humber, UK

What are your thoughts on the potential for a new collective bargaining agreement, and do you think the current roster numbers are adequate for an 18-game season, if it happens?

Vic: Recent negotiations have provided some encouragement that a new deal can get done and, yes, I think some attention should be given to roster considerations for an 18-game season.

Walt from Skandia, MI

Will Cam Newton make it as an NFL quarterback?

Vic: He's got all the tools, in my opinion. He's big, he's strong, he's athletic, he's got a top arm, he can make all of the throws and his throwing motion is natural and allows him to throw with ease. I had a draftnik tell me Newton throws off his back foot too much, but Eli Manning won a Super Bowl doing that and, oh, by the way, I can think of another quarterback who did that a lot. The whole issue with Newton is making the transition from spread-option college quarterback to pocket passer. Can he do it? Can he step under center and go through his reads? Can he get to the depth of the pocket and still deliver an on-time pass? He's likely going to require some grooming. If you're willing to commit to his development and remain patient with his progress, I think he should be a definite consideration.

Ashton from Orlando, FL

With the 32nd pick, do you think it's a good idea to trade back and receive more picks in the draft, if there's not a player needed right away to come in and play?

Vic: Trading back is a great strategy for recouping the value of the pick and addressing need. I'll explain: Instead of picking the player at the need position and passing on higher-rated players, by trading back you can recoup the value of your original pick in the form of additional picks, and move to where the player at your position of need fits. Yes, I like trading back because I believe the draft is all about value. Some think it's all about need. I don't, but when you can match value and need, that's a home run.

Terry from New Auburn, WI

Does the ball have to cross the goal line inside the pylon to score? Or does just the player have to be inside the pylon as he crosses the goal line with the ball?

Vic: For a long time, there was an "around the world" rule in the rulebook that provided that the goal line extended around the world and that as long as a player hadn't touched down out of bounds, he could score by extending the ball across the imaginary goal line outside the pylon. As it was explained to me a few years ago, however, then director of officiating Mike Pereira didn't want it called that way and the ball must now cross the plane of the goal within the field of play for touchdown to be ruled. The pylon is in the field of play.

Brandon from Tucson, AZ

Do you think Von Miller would be a good fit for Green Bay?

Vic: He'd be a good fit for any team … in the top 10. If he follows his strong Senior Bowl performance with a knockout combine performance, Miller's stock will shoot through the roof.

Jim from Yorkville, IL

Can we put the franchise tag on Dom Capers?

Vic: I have never covered an assistant coach who had a greater and more immediate impact on a defense than what coach Capers had in Pittsburgh and in Jacksonville. Now, of course, he has had that same impact on the Packers' defense. One of the first people I wanted to see when I got to Green Bay was coach Capers, because we go back so far. We sat and talked recently and, of course, we talked about old times. His recall is amazing and I think it's that recall that makes for a great coordinator because you gotta be quick upstairs to process information and make your next chess move. Here's an example of coach Capers' recall: I told him about how I remembered the final regular-season game of the 1994 season, when coach Capers had the number one defense in the league entering a meaningless finale. Well, Bill Cowher decided to ease up in the second half by playing reserves, etc., and it resulted in an avalanche of yards and points for the Chargers. I told Dom that I'll always remember him sitting on the bus outside Jack Murphy Stadium (it was Christmas Eve), looking through the final stats and then saying, "Merry Christmas to me." Coach Capers laughed when I said that and then he said, "We had a 166-yard edge over the Cowboys going into that game." What? Are you kidding me? Sixteen years later he could still remember having a 166-yard edge over the Cowboys. It knocked me out that he could remember the exact yardage. Well, back then, coach Capers was all about turnover differential, but during our most recent chat he dropped a new one on me: quarterback passer rating differential. He explained that the Packers enjoyed a 40-some point advantage in passer rating differential during the postseason. I have no doubt that's a coach Capers original. He's an amazing coach.

Daniel from Enid, OK

In a lot of your answers, you talk about picking value in the draft. What exactly do you mean by value?

Vic: Every pick has a numeric value attached to it. The 10th pick of the draft, for example, is more valuable than the 11th pick of the draft and the numeric value assigned to each pick is symbolic of that difference. If the 10th-highest rated player on your board is available to you with the 10th overall pick but you elect to pick the 11th-highest rated player, then you have surrendered the value difference between the two slots. What you're really looking for are the players on whom other teams have passed that might represent a value even higher than the slot at which you're picking. For example, if with the 10th overall pick you select the sixth-highest rated player on your board, then you have acquired the numeric value equivalent of the sixth pick of the draft.

Jayne from Scottsdale, AZ

Just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your question and answer session. When you first introduced yourself last week, I really wasn't sure what this would be like but, as an avid Packers fan and season-ticket holder, I read every day during my lunch and now the readers' questions and your answers will be just something else to look forward to.

Vic: It's our goal to have "Ask Vic" posted each day before lunch time; I know a lot of people wanna read it over lunch.

John from St. Augustine, FL

As compared to years gone by, do you think the huge increase in sophistication of the scouting combine has resulted in less risk for the teams? Or is it still just a crystal ball business and there's a lot of wasted money in overscouting?

Vic: It's a crystal ball business; scouts must see into the future. That part will never change. The greatest gains in scouting in recent years have been in evaluating prospects' character and character concerns. Scouting departments have become much more sophisticated in looking into the backgrounds of prospects and knowing what questions to ask in the interview sessions to get a feel for what kind of person the prospect is. Legendary personnel man and former Giants GM George Young liked to say, "It isn't a game for the well-adjusted." It always gave me a chuckle and, once upon a time, it was the truth. These days, teams don't want players that aren't well-adjusted.

Brenda from Sioux Center, IA

I'm already a huge fan after having read your first "Ask Vic" article. Thank you for coming over to Having covered the Steelers in the 1970's when they won four Super Bowls, what would you say are the keys for the Packers to stay on top?

Vic: It was a different dynamic then from what it is today. The key to those Steelers teams winning four Super Bowls is having kept that team together. At the time, the WFL threatened to break up the Steelers, as the WFL had broken up the Dolphins by signing Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick. Joe Greene was the guy that held those Steelers teams together. A lot of his teammates were being courted by the WFL and Joe went to them and pleaded with them to stay. He sold them on the idea of achieving immortality and Joe was right on the button because that's exactly what they achieved. I wonder how many guys look back now and are glad they didn't bolt for the money. I bet they're all glad. Well, there wasn't free agency then as we have it now and keeping a team together in the landscape of today's game is just not possible. For example, on the Steelers team that won Super Bowl XIV, no player on that roster had ever played on any team other than the Steelers. In those days, football was a game of maintenance, not replacement. These days, it's a game of replacement. The key to success today is keeping your core players in place and being able to replace those players you lose in free agency.

Frederick from Galloway, NJ

What were the winning and losing players' shares from the Super Bowl?

Packers players got $83,000 each and Steelers players got $42,000.

Garrett from Greenville, WI

What do you think about the Packers' upcoming schedule? Easy or hard?

Vic: Aside from the six NFC North games, three intraconference games immediately grab my attention: at the Falcons, at the Giants and Saints at Lambeau Field. Those games are feature attractions and will play deep into the tiebreakers for playoff berths and homefield advantage. It's a tough schedule; I don't think it's as daunting as this past year's schedule was but the 2011 schedule is a tall order. I think it should be acknowledged and appreciated what the Packers and Steelers overcame to reach the Super Bowl this past season. Not only did each team play a killer schedule, they each sustained a rash of injuries. Packers fans know, of course, what the Packers had to overcome. The Steelers played nearly their whole season without their two-best offensive tackles, and then they lost their best offensive linemen, rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, for the Super Bowl. Ben Roethlisberger, of course, missed the first four games of the season. Overcoming adversity isn't just coachspeak. It's a fact of life in the NFL.

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