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The run-stuffers come off the board today

It’s better to be great than good


Lorenzo from Genova, Italy

Vic, I think the theme of the first three picks is clear: three big men who are good athletes. By the way, I read Fackrell has the ability to cover tight ends and has good coverage skills. Is he the player who will enable Clay to play outside?

Kyler Fackrell is a pass rusher and will be used mainly in that role, but that doesn't mean he'll have to line up outside. Fackrell could become the passing-downs inside linebacker Clay Matthews was the past two seasons. The key words are "pass rusher." Today's game is all about rushing the passer. Who was the MVP of the Super Bowl? A pass rusher. Fackrell immediately reminds me of a player I covered a couple of decades ago: Chad Brown. Fackrell has Brown's leanness and ability to rush and cover. Coach Capers used Brown as a rusher from the inside on a lot of twists and stunts, and I can see Coach Capers using Fackrell in that same creative way.

Kyle from Black Earth, WI

Andrew Billings is still on the board. What's up with that?

He's not a pass rusher. I commented in this column a couple of days ago on the difference between Billings and Javon Hargrave. I wrote: "Andrew Billings is a pure hold-the-point nose tackle who's expected to improve his pass-rush ability as he grows professionally. Javon Hargrave played collegiately as more of a penetrate-and-disrupt defensive tackle you would expect to fit better in a gap-control scheme than he would in a two-gap scheme." Right after the Packers picked Fackrell, the Steelers picked Hargrave. Billings would seem to be the perfect nose tackle for the Steelers, a two-gapping team that valued players such as Joel Steed and Casey Hampton, yet, the Steelers went for Hargrave. Why? Because Hargrave can rush the passer. Day three is for the run-stuffers. You'll see nose tackles and inside linebackers fly off the board today.

Phil from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, I'm scratching my head. Give up a draft choice to draft a kicker in the second round?

Is there any chance it's a reaction to moving the PAT kick line back? Did that rule make kickers more valuable?

Eric from Mequon, WI

A 6-5, 275-pound LB. Did the Packers draft an OLB or an ILB?

They drafted a pass rusher. On obvious passing downs, it doesn't matter where your linebackers play; they're all either rushing the passer or dropping into coverage. The run-stuffers are off the field. They're two-down players, at best, and more and more they're becoming one-down players and the weakside inside guy is equal parts linebacker and safety. In today's game, it's unlikely A.J. Hawk would be the fifth pick of the draft. That's not a criticism, just a comment on how the game has changed. Defensive backs are flying off the board, but not inside linebackers. Artie Burns? Who had Burns going in the first round? How many of us even knew his name? If you're a long, lean guy with sprinter speed and the ability to flip your hips, you're going to get drafted early in this NFL. George Young's planet theory can be applied to those guys in today's game: There are only so many of those guys on the planet and when you have a chance to draft one, you do it.

Brian from Duluth, MN

Vic, I along with many diehard Packers fans, were less than happy that we waited in anticipation of the Packers' third-round pick only to have NFL Network perform an interview with the previous Ohio State player picked instead of showing the Packers pick, and then not even mentioning it after finishing the interview which, by the way, was terrible. What's up with that?

I watched ESPN; I like Mel's BAP crawl. Maybe it's my TV, but every time a player was picked and the panel began talking about that player, they started playing that stupid music and it was so loud I couldn't hear what the panel was saying. Do we have to have music playing all the time? Is it possible to live without background music? I just wanna hear what Mel has to say.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

Vic, the Packers' board may not be our board but it obviously was also not in line with the consensus of the best players in the draft. How could the Packers' board be so much different than consensus, not only this year but also last year when they selected players not rated by most as BAP?

Whose board is the right board? Todd McShay had Jarran Reed as the No. 19 player in the draft. Reed hung on until deep into the second round. Tony had Billings as a top 10 pick. Mike Mayock trashed the wide receivers at the combine as one of the slowest and worst wide receiver crops in draft history, and now they're flying off the board and every time one of them gets picked we're told of their speed. I have to give Mel credit for hitting on Christian Hackenberg. I didn't see him as a second-round pick. Mel nailed it. This is one of the most original drafts I've ever seen. Teams are sticking to their boards, and the boards are not in agreement. I've never seen a greater variance of opinion. I like it.

Don from Billings, MT

I agree with you, the Packers do have a plan to address the inside linebacker issue: Play defense without them.

I expect they'll address it today. The bottom line is we're obsessing about a position that, by and large, is being devalued.

Chris from Upland, CA

How can an analyst already determine round one winners and losers?

It's opinion and opinion makes the draft what it is. The moment the Steelers picked Artie Burns, they were certain to be designated as one of the losers in this draft. Why? Because they dared to be different. What if they're right and the draftniks are wrong? Will the draftniks retract their collective opinion of where Burns fits? No, because it's not necessary. The draft isn't a science. It's not meant to make sense. It's just a few days in our life when everybody is allowed to have an opinion and shout it from the rooftops. In the draft, everybody is right, nobody is wrong.

Pedro from Bage, Brazil

Vic, I just have to say that in a strange, Ted Thompson way, I kind of expected the Packers to not address ILB in the first three rounds and I'm fine with it. I just wonder if Clay feels the same way?

Coach McCarthy wouldn't have offered his opinion on Clay Matthews moving back outside if the Packers didn't have a plan on making it happen. Relax.

Chris from Bowie, MD

Do you think the shorter time limits at the bottom of the draft impact selections?

If trades weren't permitted, they could drop the time limit to one minute between picks and kill the whole draft in one night. The teams know who they're picking long before they head into their draft rooms on Thursday night.

Mark from West Allis, WI

Can Derrick Henry be the next Eddie George for the Titans? What are your thoughts on their rebuilding around Mariota?

The Titans are having a strong draft; so are the Browns. The difference is the Titans have "The Man;" the Browns still have to find him.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Thirty-two teams think they just got better. Typically, how many do?


Stephen from Clifton, TX

What was your favorite pick Friday night? Mine was Jason Spriggs because we traded up one spot in front of the Bears and then they traded back to take an OL. My theory: We got who they wanted!

Stealth is one of the key ingredients of the draft. Chris Jones was my favorite pick. I thought he was going to take the commissioner to the ground.

Dan from Chautauqua, NY

Vic, we pick BAP and that's a recipe for success, however, analysts are calling our first two picks huge need picks and it has me worried. Is Ted deviating from philosophy or is this draft that perfect for the Packers' current needs?

Everybody is addressing needs and there's nothing wrong with it as long as you fit yourself to the pick, and that's why we're seeing so many trades. Teams are moving to where the player fits, up or down. The Packers came up for Jason Spriggs; the Ravens went down for Kamalei Correa. Again, it's called targeting. Teams target players they want, and then they move to where that player fits in the order. If you reach, you introduce a multitude of negatives. First of all, you leave a better player for the competition. Secondly, you don't recoup the full value of your pick. Thirdly, you'll overpay for the guy you drafted. The draft, in my opinion, is mostly about value.

Andy from Brookfield, WI

Vic, is there a GM known for taking high-risk, high-reward players?

No, because job security isn't the reward for taking risks.

Cliff from Augusta, WI

What makes Spriggs warrant trading up and giving three picks?

It's technically only two picks and, in my mind, it's really only one because the guy the Packers would've picked in round seven will likely be available to them as an undrafted free agent. Jason Spriggs became a special player when he turned in an Eric Fisher-like Senior Bowl performance.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Would you rather draft a man who is an all-around good football player, or a player who is great at one thing?

In today's game of specialization, I'd probably rather have the player who is great at one thing, especially if rushing the passer, protecting the passer, defending against the pass or passing is that one thing.

Jason from Waukegan, IL

Vic, how much do you think Clark's wrestling background influenced the decision?

The wrestlers I've covered have all been good football players. Mike Daniels is the recent example and Carlton Haselrig is the best example. He didn't even play college football. He was a six-time NCAA wrestling champion who became one of the best and most natural offensive linemen I've ever covered. I love the fact Clark has wrestling in his background. It would've influenced my decision.

Jeff from Seattle, WA

Kelvin Taylor? What do you think?

I'd love to cover him. I'd love to call his father and give him updates.

Kevin from Dubuque, IA

Vic, you rely heavily on Tony Pauline. How has he done so far?

He missed on Billings, if the intent is to predict where a player fits, but he nailed it on Spriggs.

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