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Packers draft: What's not to like?

Needs addressed in big-guy draft


Lloyd from Albuquerque, NM

Living out here in mountain time, I saw a lot of West Coast football over the last two years, including Stanford. Blake Martinez impressed me. It seems he was everywhere, especially when it really counted. Your opinion of him and his possible impact on the defensive side of the ball?

I didn't see a lot of Stanford last year, but a reader targeted Martinez this past winter and asked what Tony Pauline thought of Martinez at the Senior Bowl. Tony referred to Martinez as a tackling machine and even compared him to Luke Kuechly. Based on Tony's scouting report, I think the Packers drafted a pure inside linebacker, which is to say an old-fashioned, drop-his-pads defender, and the best thing about those guys is you don't have to draft them in the first round. The Packers got their guy and he'll be the fans' guy, too.

Nate from Syracuse, NY

Vic, in college the left tackle is the best lineman on the team and once drafted he has the potential to play other positions on the line. Is the linebacker position going to transition into the same, where the best linebackers on a team are the outside pass rushers, but they might transition to inside once in the NFL?

They can but not as readily in the case of the long and lean pass-rush types. You need shorter, big-bucket guys inside against the run. You need defenders that can play under and up, guys with a powerful base that allows them to sink their hips and absorb a blow. If you have a thumper, you can do some creative things with a smaller chase type of inside linebacker, but the inside linebacker is still first and foremost a tackler that must take on and defeat blocks. Shorter and thicker are traditionally that player's physical traits.

Cory from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, I know right now is all about the new draft class, but what do you think the chances are of Jake Ryan making a significant contribution in his second year with the Packers?

That's the plan.

Tim from Greensboro, NC

Two big guys on each side of the ball, two linebackers and some speed. Do you like this draft as much as I do right now?

It's the "Seven Days of the Draft," right? How could I not like it? I wrote it.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

So is that what a plan perfectly executed looks like? Every perceived need addressed in free agency and/or the draft, and we haven't even talked about the undrafted free agents.

You could say the draft is about addressing needs and I wouldn't disagree, but I strongly believe needs must be addressed without leaving your board, or a team will likely regret the reach. Every year we see more trading. It's because teams are fitting themselves to the pick. When a team has a history of trading up and down, I believe it when the team says it picks the best available player. The Packers are such a team. This was a big-guy draft. That's where the value was and I wrote it in this column since before the combine. The Packers drafted according to value. I love their draft.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

What did you think of day three of the draft?

Day three is for good football players who lack the measurables for the first two days, or come from a lower level of competition, or aren't pass rushers, or don't play premium positions, etc. They can be too-small try-hard guys, or guys with prototype size and speed that didn't translate into success in college but a pro team believes it can extract that talent. The day-three guys are stories, and each of them has one. Martinez lasted to day three because we don't value tackling as we should. It's not his fault, it's our fault. Dean Lowry lasted because we don't value defeating blocks enough. Trevor Davis lasted because we don't value kick-returning enough. Kyle Murphy lasted because his best days are ahead of him, not behind him. None of that matters now. Each player was selected with an expectation in mind. Martinez was drafted to make tackles. Lowry was drafted to defeat blocks. Davis was drafted to run fast. Murphy was drafted to be a jar on the shelf. Just do your job.

Bruce from Yelm, WA

We drafted another WR, so with Nelson, Cobb, Adams, Montgomery, Janis and Abbrederis, we have seven. Who do you think will be on the outside looking in come roster time, or do we keep seven on the roster?

I knew this question was coming, so let's get it out of the way. I have no idea who won't make it. I don't think in those terms. What I can tell you is this: The Packers will find a way to keep talent. Competition was added to the Packers' roster. That's how a team gets better. Depth charts are fun, but not realistic at this time of the year.

Tim from Asheville, NC

I disagree there is no GM who is a risk-taker. Jerry Jones used a second-round pick on Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith in the last two drafts. Being the owner is the ultimate job security.

Good point.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

The theme was get bigger, but did they get better?

When you can walk away from the draft with the belief you deepened the talent in the box on both sides of the ball, you got better. The Packers got better.

Zoltan from Budapest, Hungary

What do you think about the other NFC North teams' drafts?

The Vikings are getting high marks from everyone. The defending NFC North champions are not a snowman.

William from Eau Claire, WI

No one in the media seems to like our picks. Why?

I wouldn't trust a media report that doesn't like the Packers' draft. The author of that kind of report is probably a guy who likes drama and premium-position players. He likes big names and risks, both of which make for good draft stories. The Packers' draft lacks media power. It's a block-and-tackle draft in an event that hails pass, catch and run. Be discerning in what you read.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

In the traditional 3-4, the big men hold the point and the linebackers flow to the ball. Given all that's been said in the draft run-up about sub packages, hybrid linebackers and the devaluation of the ILB position, has the basic philosophy of the 3-4 changed?

No, it's still fundamentally a two-gapping scheme, but there's no law demanding it be played that way. J.J. Watt isn't a two-gapper. Bruce Smith wasn't a two-gapper. If you have a defensive lineman that can star in a penetrate-and-disrupt, gap-control role, use him that way. There are ways to cover the gap he's vacating.

Andy from Indian Land, SC

Vic, in your experience, does leadership for NFL teams have a preference to draft players from certain programs? I found it interesting another UCLA guy and a Cal guy are joining strong contingents from their schools on the Packers. The Packers also seemed to have an affinity for Iowa and Alabama in recent drafts. Anything to this? Or is it just that these are good football schools?

It happens. A team will target a guy at a particular school and find another player they like in that program. I remember the Steelers taking a first-round pick named Aaron Jones from Eastern Kentucky. While they were scouting him they found a tackle, John Jackson, they liked, and they picked him in the 10th round. Jones was a bust and Jackson played for 14 years. Teams find characteristics they like in certain college programs. The Packers like the Iowa work ethic. They know Iowa players are coming out of a pro-like system. UCLA is now a new hot spot. If you like something and it's been good to you, stick with it.

Aaron from Santa Barbara, CA

Ratings will vary from team to team, but it seems like the Packers were drafting lower-rated guys in favor of need. What happened to BAP?

I disagree. offers their rating on each of the drafted players, and the players come off the board as though they're being picked according to their rating number. Your board isn't the Packers' board, and vice versa. The draft is subjective. There's no uniboard. Ted Thompson's track record for trading up and down is all the proof I need to believe the Packers draft according to their board.

Curt from Portland, OR

Don't know what I'd do without my daily "Ask Vic." My question involves the signing frenzy of undrafted free agents following the draft. It seems like something fans want to see more of. Are you surprised the NFL hasn't capitalized on that and made it a bigger event? Is there anything the NFL couldn't turn into an event?

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