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Speed is the pick; talent left for day two


Eric from La Crescent, MN

I always look forward to your posts. Why do teams such as Indy and Washington take the full time allotted in the first round if they know, without a doubt, who they'll draft?

It's your time, you might as well use it. What if someone called and offered you three first-round picks? What's the rush? The draft is all about value. Don't think in terms of players, think in terms of value.

Jeff from Seattle, WA

Why do fans tend to romanticize the idea of older players welcoming in the young players with open arms and mentoring them? Your answer regarding the draft party in the weight room hits the nail on the head. When someone is drafted at your position, your livelihood is at risk. Torry Holt said it best, "mentor them right to the bench."

I was sitting right in front of Torry when he said it and I loved the remark because it's the truth. I only covered Torry for one year but he's one of my all-time favorites. Fans like the mentoring thing because it's a feel-good story. The truth is that coaches coach and players compete. That's why you bring a guy in. You bring him in to compete and raise the bar of expectation at his position for everybody that plays it. For me, that's a romantic notion. I like football with an edge and I like players battling for playing time, acclaim and money. That, in my opinion, is the true spirit of professional football. I remember covering a player who said he was in his car with the radio on when he found out his team had just spent a first-round pick on a guy at the player's position. He said he pulled the car to the side of the road and sat stunned, thinking about his future.

Steve from Ithaca, NY

So did Tony have Perry as a first-round grade?

Yes, Tony Pauline had a first-round grade on Nick Perry. In a story I did on Wednesday entitled, “Is this draft a buyer’s market?” I asked Tony who would fit at pick 28 for the Packers. This was his response: "Where they're picking, if he's there, I would say Nick Perry. He's probably the purest of the pass rushers. If he's there, that's a good pick for them. He might not be there. Then, do you think Whitney Mercilus can play 3-4 outside linebacker? I think yes, but there's a lot of debate about that." As it turned out, Perry was there but Mercilus wasn't.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Perry was at 21 on some mock drafts. Any sensing you could detect from the coaching staff on how they view this pick? Did we get better than pick 28 value? Equal? Slightly below?

Perry was either at 28 or slightly above in most of the draft services I've seen since the combine, where he lit it up. By the way, we shouldn't question the importance of a player's combine performance, after Perry, Bruce Irvin and Dontari Poe rode them into the first round. The best perspective I can provide for the Perry pick is this: If I had told you as the draft began that Perry and Courtney Upshaw would be available when it came time for the Packers to pick, would you have been satisfied? I think we all would've been ecstatic. I know this is a pick Dom Capers likes because, as I wrote late last season, a lack of speed had become an issue on the Packers defense, and the selection of Perry just made the Packers defense a whole lot faster.

Will from Travis AFB, CA

Dearest Vic, I am confused, so please set me straight. Why did we take Perry over Upshaw?

Speed, Will, speed. That's why the Packers picked Perry over Upshaw. Perry ran 4.51 at the combine. Upshaw declined to run at the combine after Bruce Irvin set the speed bar for outside linebackers at 4.5. Immediately, there were speed concerns for Upshaw, and that's the worst kind of concern in a speed game. The speed cutoff for outside linebacker is considered to be 4.8. Upshaw ran an unofficial 4.81 at his pro day, and it's accepted fact that pro days are usually conducted on fast "tracks." If we ever needed proof that this is a speed game, Irvin gave it to us. He came out of nowhere to become the 15th overall selection and the first tweener picked, all on the strength of his combine 40 time.

Cory from Fort Atkinson, WI

What are your thoughts on the Packers trading up in the second round?

I almost expect them to trade up at some point, because they have so many picks, and a trade up in the second round might deliver the young defensive end the Packers need. One guy still on the board who I believe is a tremendous value is Penn State defensive lineman Devon Still. If you like bloodlines, he's got them; Art Still and Levon Kirkland are in his family tree. I've seen Devon Still as high as 18th on value boards, though Tony Pauline doesn't have him nearly as high. He prefers Jerel Worthy of Michigan State, who Tony has going near the top of the second round. The second wave of offensive tackles come into play now, too. Bobby Massie of Ole Miss, Jonathan Martin of Stanford and Mike Adams of Ohio State are available and any of those guys would give the Packers nice developmental insurance at a position from which Chad Clifton just retired. How about Wisconsin center Peter Konz? These are all good players that would address distinct needs and the Packers have the picks to move up and grab one of these guys.

Blaine from Madison, WI

What are your thoughts on the first round? Biggest surprise?

Irvin is the biggest surprise; Melvin Ingram making it all the way down to the Chargers at 18 is a close second. I think the Chargers got the steal of the first round. The other thing about yesterday's first round that jumps out at me is how more and more teams continue to incorporate "targeting" into their draft philosophy. It's now standard operating procedure. Teams are moving to where the players fit, instead of fitting the players to where the teams that want them are. The selection of Irvin is the exception. The Seahawks probably couldn't find a trade partner. There were eight trades in the first round; the number of trades grows every year. Already this morning, Tony Villiotti had crunched the numbers and offered an analysis of winners and losers in those trades. He judges the Vikings to have been the biggest winner, skinning the Browns for three picks to move up one spot. Ouch! Villiotti also gives the nod to the Eagles in their trade with the Seahawks, the Cowboys in their trade with the Rams, the Bengals over the Patriots in their deal, and the Ravens over the Vikings in their deal. He judges the others to be draws.

Morgan from Loveland, CO

You called the run on tweeners.

It wasn't if, it was when. As I said, the later the run began, the more likely it would be that a pass rusher would fall to the Packers. I always thought Ingram was the key. If he had gone early, it would've started a panic. When he started to fall, it started to look good for the Packers.

Joe from Chicago, IL

Amazing that if you sit tight and let the draft come to you, you get a solid player at a position of need. Also, anyone else glad we didn't break the bank to move up in the draft and pick Upshaw?

You not only need to do a value board to know who you should pick, you need your value board to tell you who the other teams might pick. Why? Because that tells you whether you can sit tight or if you need to be more aggressive. Your value board is your draft guide. The Packers had targeted Perry. What that means is that they accurately predicted where he fit in the draft. If your value board isn't accurate, you make mistakes, such as trading away picks to move up in the draft and pick a guy that would've fallen to you.

Richard from Dunkirk, MD

What do you think will be the hardest position to fill in the defense to correct what was lacking last year?

The Packers addressed that position on Thursday. Now it's a matter of giving Perry, who was a hand-on-the-ground player at USC, the time he needs to develop his skills in a two-point stance.

Cody from Madison, WI

So did the Vikings hoodwink Cleveland?

I immediately thought of Chuck Noll's draft mantra: "Never fall in love with a guy." The Browns fell in love with Trent Richardson. The question is: Who was the team that scared them into the trade? There had to have been a team they believed would trade with the Vikings to pick Richardson if the Browns didn't do the deal. Or maybe the Vikings bluffed the Browns into the deal. Richardson is a top player; there's nothing wrong with the pick. The price of the trade, however, is awfully high.

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