Jesse from Anoka, MN
Can you explain the meteoric rise of Shea McClellin? Mock drafts have him going to the Packers in the first round. His combine grade was in the 50s, which would typically not denote a first-rounder.
I've been explaining it since the Senior Bowl, from where I wrote on Jan. 24: "Nevada's James-Michael Johnson and Boise State's Shea McClellin are rush-backer prospects that flashed in pass-rush drills." Then, from the combine I wrote: "Shea McClellin of Boise State opened eyes at the Senior Bowl and then made those eyes pop on Monday with 4.6s and good drills." I'm not familiar with the combine grade to which you referred, but I know what 4.6 40s do for pass rushers. He's been on the rise since the Senior Bowl.
Garry from Eau Claire, WI
What is your take on Stephon Gilmore? Is it possible a player like that could fall to Green Bay? Or will a weak class of cornerbacks swallow him up?
Tony Pauline referred to the cornerback crop as average, not weak. He likes Gilmore a lot. Cornerback is a premium position that is commonly overdrafted. I expect Gilmore to be long gone by the 28th pick of the draft.
William from Jacksonville, FL
You're gonna love this. I heard Gil Brandt give a great need vs. BAP story on NFL radio over the weekend. He said the Cowboys had never deviated from their board until the 1979 draft rolled around. They got to the third round and the clear BAP was a QB. Tom Landry said they already have three good quarterbacks and it's not likely a third-round QB will even make the team. So they go to the next guy on the board and draft Doug Cosbie. He, of course, becomes a home-run pick, a starter for a long time and three Pro-Bowl selections. The only problem was that the QB would have been a grand-slam pick, some guy named Joe Montana. How about that for leaving the top-rated player for your competition to pick?
The crazy part about Brandt's story is that the need-pick people would still defend the Cosbie pick. Hey, who doesn't need Joe Montana?
Paul from Salem, WI
John Mara shook things up last week when he said the NFL might be considering eliminating kickoffs. I think this would be a mistake on multiple levels so I was wondering what you thought of this idea.
When I saw that story, I got sad.
Steve from Larsen, WI
You say "the draft is license to lie," and that certainly seems to be the case for the most part; however, it seems to me that Ron Wolf was as truthful as he could possibly be and Ted Thompson doesn't have to lie because he seldom says anything. They were/are pretty good drafters. Do you think maybe lying is overrated strategically?
Who said you have to speak to lie? When a team sends a scout to a personal workout for the sole purpose of leading teams to think the team is interested in that guy, aren't they lying? When teams interview players at the Senior Bowl for everyone to see, for the sole purpose of trying to deceive others into believing the team has interest in those players, aren't they lying? There are many ways to lie.
George from Scranton, PA
How much do you think teams consider character when giving a player his grade?
Every team has its own process for evaluating and grading players, but it's been my experience that character isn't figured into that grade. Usually, a character issue is represented by something commonly known as a "red dot." If a team has determined that a certain player has character issues that must be considered, then that player's name will carry a "red dot" next to it. The same applies to players with medical issues. A guy with a bad knee, for example, might get a "red dot." It doesn't impact the grade, it just alerts the team to an issue of concern that must be considered with the player's availability.
Nathan from New Orleans, LA
But you have said the Giants' ranking in the run is an inaccurate statistic.
I said it was deceiving because the Giants showed the ability to run the ball when they wanted to do it. So why didn't they want to do it more? My answer to that question would be that today's game is a passing game. It's a simple fact that the Giants didn't need to run the ball, but I think the threat of run made their passing game more effective. That's the key. You don't have to run the ball; you just need to make defenses respect your ability to run the ball.
Tim from Reno, NV
Of the teams that have yet to win a Super Bowl, which do you expect to see win one first?
Don't go to sleep on the Eagles. Last season is misleading. I think the lockout and their late barrage of free-agent signings ruined their season early. What they did late in the season is more indicative of their talent level. Of the teams that have never won a Super Bowl, I think they're the best-positioned for a run in 2012.
Ryan from Fredericton, NB
Vic, is there an advantaged time to have a bye?
The best time to have a bye is when your quarterback has just sustained an injury that requires a week to heal. The Packers' bye week is in a traditionally good spot, the middle of the season.
Andrew from Jacksonville, FL
As a dyed-in-the-wool Packers fan, I do not want to see the Vikings leave Minnesota. I don't like them, but that's why I want them around. Make sense?
Sure it does. The Vikings' history is a meaningful part of the Packers' history. It would be devastating to the NFC North if the Vikings were to leave Minnesota. I refuse to believe the people in Minnesota will allow that to happen.
Mike from Dallas, TX
Similar to last year, the Packers have a double-bye situation with the Bears game followed by 10 days off. Given that those 10 days come early in the season, does the long break help or hinder the team at the beginning of the season?
If the team is healthy, I don't think the long break would be any kind of advantage, but I think having a Thursday game in Week 2 of the season will make it a lot easier for each team to prepare for that game than if it was, say, in Week 10. A portion of each team's training camp will likely be spent on preparing for that game.
Mike from Dallas, TX
You mentioned in point/counterpoint recently that if you were given a team with 16 straight Sunday games, that kind of routine leads to the playoffs. Given that those types of columns lend frequently to devil's advocacy, do you feel 12 straight Sunday contests will lend an advantage to the Packers this year?
I absolutely do. When I asked Mike McCarthy if he liked having 12 consecutive Sunday games on his schedule, he broke into a smile that nearly made me shield my eyes. Coaches crave routine. Why? Because they crave consistency. They want to lock their team into a specific level of performance and then repeat the routine that produced that level of performance.
Paul from De Pere, WI
To me, the reporter and player question is like the chicken and the egg. If you were friends with a guy who became a player, can you cover that player objectively? What if it was the other way around? Can you become friends with a player you report on?
It's up to the player. If he can be friends with a guy who's just written that the player played poorly, then it can happen. I don't know of many players that can do that or want to do that. We have a job to do. They have a job to do. A healthy respect for each other's occupation should be the goal.
Chris from Appleton, WI
I absolutely love the NFL draft and always get a laugh when the experts deem the draft weak at certain positions. It always seems like the weak positions still find a way to produce impact players. You just watch, as this year's draft produces several great players at safety and tight end. And that is what makes it so great. You just never know until they strap it up who wants it more.
You're right. Yesterday, a co-worker sent me a picture from the 1975 draft. It was a picture of Chuck Noll standing in front of a board of first-round picks in that draft. I told my co-worker that I was sitting right there when the picture was taken. Anyhow, I looked at the names on the board and sitting at No. 4 was the name "Walt Payton." Right above Walt Payton's name was the name, Ken Huff, a guard from North Carolina; he was the third overall pick by Baltimore, as in the Baltimore Colts. I guess the Colts needed a guard, not a running back.
Mike from Spencer, NY
I love what I've read about Josh Kaddu. Might be a great late pick-up.
Late pick-up? When the run begins, Kaddu will be on the rise.
Tom from Chesterfield, VA
I've always maintained that to be the best, you have to beat the best. The more challenging the schedule, the better the chances for a deep playoff run. Do you agree?
Yeah, I think there's been historical evidence in recent years to support your opinion, but I think tough schedules are less likely to produce home playoff games, and I think everybody would prefer to play at home in the playoffs. I know, playing at home didn't help the Packers last season – it did help the Patriots – but I think if we ran a fan poll on packers.com asking fans whether they want the Packers to play at home or on the road in the playoffs, the result would overwhelmingly favor playing at home. I think this year's schedule favors the prospects for playing at home in the playoffs.
Ben from Columbus, WI
What would it take for Thompson to trade up in any round?
It appears that a lot of teams high in the order want to move back, so it might cost less to trade up this year than in other years. The Jaguars really want out of the seven spot. If we are to believe the first six picks will be Luck, RG3, Kalil, Richardson, Claiborne and Blackmon, then the best pass rusher in the draft might be available at No. 7. That pick appears to be the pivot point in the first round of this draft. It's also possible that pick No. 4 would be a pivot point, should the Browns go for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. That could send the top pass rusher down to pick No. 8, held by Miami. I hear they have a new coach.
Scott from Livingston, NJ
According to last year's winning percentage, the Packers have the second-easiest schedule. I don't see the second-easiest schedule when I look at the Packers' schedule.
I see a demanding September schedule that's perfect for focusing a team in training camp and getting a team ready to begin the season. Then I see a chance for the Packers to catch their breath before turning into a final seven weeks in which they will play within the division five times. I like this schedule because it has storylines to it: rugged first month, three straight road games, five NFC North games in the final month and a half. I don't like a seesaw schedule that just seems to go back and forth; I prefer a schedule with themes and this schedule has themes. It also includes five games against opponents that are struggling to find their identity behind young quarterbacks. I have to believe this is the schedule of a playoff team.
Nick from Fort Atkinson, WI
I consider myself to have a somewhat high football I.Q., but because of my somewhat small stature, I was never able to play. Every time I take part in a heated football discussion, someone always brings up the fact that I don't know what it's like to play. It's a cheap shot, but I suppose it's true. Help?
This is one of the most touching letters I've ever received. Nick, you don't have to have played the game to know the game, but I think you have to have played the game to feel the game, and I'm so sorry you've missed out on that part of it because I can tell you truly love the game. There's a feeling of wonderful loneliness when your number is called in the huddle for a big play in the game, and there's a feeling of abject fear and desperation when you look across the line and know the other guy is gonna kick your butt all day. I call it the human confrontation. Don't worry about others' opinion of your football knowledge. Concern yourself with your opinion of yourself. You'll find it in the personal challenges life presents. Defeat those challenges and you will have won the battle of human confrontation. That's why football is a metaphor for life.