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Watch for these fast-rising draft prospects

Free agency is right around the corner


Adam from Des Moines, IA

How do you feel about drafting players with checkered injury pasts? Seems it's worth taking in later rounds if the guy showed he was a stud when healthy, like a Gronk or Sean Lee did.

Curtis Martin couldn't stay on the field in college. He rushed for 250 yards in the season opener against Texas, and then was lost for the season in the first quarter of the next game in what would be his final year in college football. The rap on him was that he was injury prone. He then went on to become one of the most durable and dependable running backs in NFL history, which was largely the reason he was elected to the Hall of Fame. Bryan Hinkle was a medical reject on most teams boards in the 1981 draft. He was drafted in the sixth round and went on to play in the NFL with distinction for 12 years and is one of the most underrated players I have ever covered. I think you have to do your homework on prospects. That was the whole reason for the combine when it started; it was a place to bring prospects for the purpose of gathering medical information on them. Then somebody decided that while they had them in one place, why not get a 40 time on them? The event grew from that. If your medical people say he's a reject, then I think you take him off your board. If the player gets an OK from your medical people, then I think you decide what your round tolerance is for picking a player whose playing time has been cut by injury. Marcus Lattimore is the classic example in this draft of that kind of process.

Felipe from Edinburg, TX

Revis Island in Green Bay; would it work?

You would have to trade away a lot of picks you could use on addressing areas of weakness, to acquire a player at what I consider to be a position of strength.

John from Minneapolis, MN

What are your thoughts on Alabama center Barrett Jones? Do you think the Packers have an eye on him in the draft?

He's a great player at a position of need. Of course they have their eye on him. A lot of teams do.

Kellen from Jackman, ME

Have you looked at the Jets' salary cap? They are giving lots of money to guys they signed as free agents and traded for and have no money to retain the little homegrown talent they actually have: Darrelle Revis. Their old GM should have read "Ask Vic."

Nothing will ruin a team's future faster than free agency.

Nate from Madison, WI

Vic, what are your thoughts on Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton? He looks to me like a great weapon to add to the Packers' arsenal.

He reminds me of Greg Jennings. He's a mid-size run-after-the-catch kind of receiver. Even in a not-so-great year for wide receivers, the "woods" are full of them. Dime a dozen.

Gladdys from Rolling Meadows, IL

Regarding your terrific "Best by position at the Senior Bowl" story, how candid are scouts when discussing potential NFL players with you? After all, they are working for their teams, not the news media.

I check them out with my eyes and with Tony Pauline. If my eyes and Pauline confirm what I've been told, I use it.

Kevin from Green, CO

You're right, Vic, expectations are very high for us Green Bay Packers fans, but after listening to Charles Woodson and Mike McCarthy's postgame interviews, preparing for the read option is something done at the youth level of football. It's not that hard: QB responsibility and pitch responsibility. Hit the QB hard.

Kevin, if it was easy, anybody could do it. The scheme wasn't the problem. Winning the one-on-ones to which you are referring was the problem. Colin Kaepernick overmatched the people that were responsible for the quarterback. Ultimately, football is a game of human confrontation.

Gregg from Lyman, SC

Do you think Ted Thompson will make a push in free agency to help an offensive line that had Aaron on his back more than any Packers fan wants to see, or will it be the usual and do it in the draft?

I tend to believe whatever fix the Packers acquire will come in the draft, but you've asked a fair question because Aaron Rodgers is sacked far too often. Protecting him has to be an offseason priority.

Bob from Manahawkin, NJ

After watching a good portion of the Senior Bowl, scratch John Jenkins off my wish list. My wish list for the Packers contains the following four guys that passed my eye test with flying colors: Ezekial Ansah (BYU), Datone Jones (UCLA), Kawann Short (Purdue) and Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern).

Ansah and Jones would probably have to play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Tony Pauline thinks Jones could be made into a 3-4 end, but that would have to be down the road because he's too light in the pants to be a two-gapper right away. Short can two-gap and Williams is a classic nose tackle.

Todd from St. Paul, MN

What player in this year's draft would be worth trading up for?

It depends on what you need. If you need a quarterback, I would advise against trading up for anyone, and that includes Geno Smith. If you need a left tackle, Eric Fisher might be worth it. If you need a defensive lineman, I would say don't give away too much because the "woods" are full of defensive linemen and one is likely to fall to you. Trading up is all about targeting players. If there's one guy in this draft I would target, it's Fisher.

Aaron from Wausau, WI

The Packers are on the clock late in the first round. Stepfan Taylor and one of the numerous defensive linemen in this draft class are sharing the top spot on your board. Who do you draft? Do you take the big guy, or do you take the lone standout running back in this class?

If I want Taylor but he's down my board, then I have to trade down to where he fits or I'll just take the defensive lineman at the top of my board. Never fall in love with a player.

Craig from Rio Rancho, NM

According to most scouts, the top running backs in this year's draft are Stepfan Taylor of Stanford and Johnathan Franklin of UCLA. What are the chances they slip to a position where the Packers will draft one of them?

It's likely the top back in the draft will be available for the Packers in round one, and it's likely someone from the top of the backs class will be available in round two. Taylor might have pushed himself into the top of round two. Franklin is a guy who caught my eye when he nearly took the top off an end with a chip block. It might've been the hardest hit I saw all week. Franklin's got some Maurice Jones-Drew in him. He's a tight package and packs a wallop. The more I watched him, the more I liked him. I think he's going to climb boards.

Jerry from Hot Springs, AR

Vic, have you had a chance to check out Tyler Wilson from Arkansas and do you think he would fit into the Packers team?

Tony Pauline really likes him. I thought he was a checkdown machine, but a lot of coaches like that in a young quarterback, especially if you're drafting one to be a backup. Wilson won't be drafted to be a backup, and I think that means he'll be overdrafted. I'd rather see the Packers get the depth they need at the position in either the later rounds or off the street.

Scott from Onalaska, WI

Vic, after watching the Senior Bowl, who are some guys the average fan should look out for come draft day?

In my best-by-position editorial, I told everyone to keep an eye on Ezekial Ansah of BYU. Then he lit it up in the game on Saturday. Within the first 10 minutes of the first day of practice, Tony Pauline was gushing about Ansah. I watched and I saw the athletic ability that's going to cause some team to fall in love with him. I think Ansah is going to be this year's Bruce Irvin. Margus Hunt of SMU is another guy. I think he could be this year's Dontari Poe.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Vic, I read more about "Shouldergate." They were wearing the pads and the Packers had done the same a few years earlier but got out of the loss of a draft pick by saying they had no idea about the rule.

There's no way Al Davis was going to allow the Steelers to skate on "Shouldergate." The Steelers and Raiders were in their "Holy Wars" years and Davis was still stinging from the "criminal element" trial.

Bart from Sanibel, FL

Every other Packers media outlet I read is talking about wide receivers that might be available to the Packers in the first round. Sure, if there is some really special WR who happens to slip to that spot, you certainly consider him, but what we need are some maulers on both sides of the ball. I want a proper assessment of what we need, not flash. is providing that. Much obliged.

Nothing will turn a team soft faster than wide receiver fever.

Bradey from New Bern, NC

I am sure your inbox is full of Revis questions today.

Yes, it is, which means the mania for free agency is right around the corner. Soon, the more desperate faction of Packer Nation will be suggesting the Packers sign every free agent in the NFL because the future is now and if the Packers don't win the Super Bowl next season, everybody should be fired. As it stands with the Revis issue, the Packers could probably do it all with one trade: Give away the draft class and kill the cap. Hey, but think how it exciting it would be.

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