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Packers have plan for addressing inside linebacker

Remembering A.J. Hawk: Baltimore, 2013


Roger from Auburn, CA

Vic, I think Packer nation is getting nervous about the linebacker situation. Do you think the Packers can find a couple of replacements in this draft that might be able to upgrade the position?

When a team releases its starting inside linebackers, it would suggest the team believes the answer to your question is yes.

Scott from Madison, WI

I just watched A.J. Hawk's goodbye podcast. I'm sure other players have been as gracious after being cut, but I'm equally sure I haven't witnessed it. Can you provide some perspective?

It's become the thing to do, and it's a good thing to do. Even a short-term player such as Brandon Bostick took time to thank fans. I think it's especially important for popular veteran players such as A.J. Hawk to take time to say goodbye to the people that cheered them. I'm happy for Hawk that he feels a bond with the fans in Green Bay. Memories make us rich and, clearly, Hawk leaves the Packers a wealthy man.

Drew from Minneapolis, MN

Denzel Perryman looks like Ray Lewis. What do you think?

Easy now, Drew. I think you might be letting need weight your evaluation.

Justin from St. Louis, MO

What do you think the plan is by releasing two inside linebackers?

The plan is obviously to replace them, and I think the Packers will use every means available for doing that. I'm sure there's a plan in place for the players already on the roster that might address that position, I have no doubt the Packers will turn hard toward that position in the draft, and it wouldn't surprise me if they've targeted a player in free agency.

Scott from Wasilla, AK

If I may answer your question about passing on Jameis Winston, yes, even if it cost me my dream job I would not pick him. I am not out to demonize him but, for me, the thing about petty theft is it reveals someone is willing to deceive and take advantage of people, even for trivial gain. It means to me other people mean nothing to him. Of course he is repentant; it's worth millions to him to project that image. But how could I trust him? How could I talk to my team about accountability? It just isn't worth it.

All of that is virtuous, but unrealistic. I've never known a fan base to give back the winning touchdown because it was scored by a man of suspect character. If he isn't playing for you, he'll be playing against you. You can count on that.

Mitch from La Crosse, WI

Vic, who's your Ha Ha for this year?

We don't have a Ha Ha, yet, but we certainly have a Ha Ha position.

Nick from Arvada, CO

Love your column but I need a little help. Would you please post video of a defensive back turning his hips so I know what to look for?

I think I can describe it. When a defensive back turns his hips so his lead hip is now his trail hip, he's flipped his hips. A defensive back has to be able to flip his hips seamlessly and without losing speed or he'll be unable to maintain coverage when a receiver changes direction.

Noaj from Brisbane, Australia

Vic, with Hawk's release, could this be an indicator the Packers may be looking to draft an inside linebacker in the first round?

I think it's an indication the Packers like what's available at the position and they believe talent at the position fits where they're picking or they can move to where it fits without paying too high of a price. The Packers have a plan for fortifying the position; count on it.

Jordan from Royal Oak, MI

Vic, I have always wondered why teams don't front load contracts. Why wouldn't the Packers pay Cobb more money this year and lessen the salary cap hit in the following years when they might not have as much space?

That's been the Eagles' signature move: Pay roster bonus and move money forward in years that don't look real promising, so they'll have room to swing for the fence in "championship" seasons. Remember the dream team? I prefer a flat cap. I don't like loading up in any one year. Now you're robbing Paul to pay Peter. I prefer to give Peter and Paul an equal allowance and let them fend for themselves. I want to know every year can be a championship season.

Mike from Escanaba, MI

Sad to see Hawk go. He will be hard to replace but, in the same respect, I think we need more speed inside. We need a tough guy with some speed that likes to hit.

Everybody needs a tough guy with some speed that likes to hit but, to your point, this defense has been in reconstruction since 2012, and we're seeing continued evidence of it.

Beau from Lancaster, PA

Vic, what is your favorite A.J. Hawk memory, either on or off the field?

I thought he had a career game in Baltimore in 2013. That's the game I'll remember from my time covering him.

Tim from Grand Rapids, MI

Vic, it seems to me some teams do a great job at scouting and doing their homework to find the right players. These teams seem to be performing at a higher level year after year. Why would teams that seem to struggle every year not adopt this strategy? It seems so common sense.

Scouts, not scouting. It's always about people. Get the right scouts and you'll get the right players. The Packers have outstanding area scouts. Few fans know their names, but area scouts are the lifeblood of a football team's talent acquisition.

Devan from Brooklyn, NY

Vic, when are we going to start seeing those prospect primers that I look forward to so much every year?

We shot video of 150 prospects at the combine. Those videos are in production now. We hope to begin posting them soon.

Patrick from Indianapolis, IN

If Dawson, McKinney, Perryman and Kendricks are all available at pick No. 30, who do you like best? Why?

I developed a fondness for Benardrick McKinney at the combine. I like his length, his ability to play inside or outside, and I liked what he said in his media interview about an inside linebacker needing to be a tough guy. He plays tough; I especially like that.

Tom from West Bend, WI

Is Sam Barrington a thumper?

I saw signs of him playing through blocks last season.

Phil from Red Bluff, CA

There was some positive talk of rookie LB Joe Thomas before he got hurt. Do you have any insight on him?

I liked him in training camp, but I confess to having a soft spot for South Carolina State players. They're tough guys. Donnie Shell is the best of them I've covered. As soon as I saw a S.C. St. player on the Packers' roster last spring, I circled the name in my mind. Thomas didn't disappoint me. I want to see more.

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