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What players make sense for Packers at 27?

Wide range of opinion in this draft


Jake from La Crosse, WI

Vic, I once heard Brian Urlacher described as a "Loboback." Have you ever heard of this term and, if so, what exactly is that?

"Monster" was the initial terminology to describe the eighth man in the box, in most cases a safety playing linebacker. The names were personalized to suit the college program, as it apparently was in Urlacher's case. This position was a fixture in programs that traditionally played cover three in the back, as Penn State always did under Joe Paterno, who referred to his strong safety/linebacker as the "Hero." Call the position anything you want, but the name isn't important, the function of the position is.

Rick from Omaha, NE

I see you use a pressure washer. My best buddy, a huge Vic and Packers fan, sells pressure washers. What kind do you use?

I use the Painterator 2000. It's perfect for antiquing painted porches. In the process of antiquing my porch, I mistakenly squirted my bare feet. The doctor said my toenails will grow back in about three months.

Owen from Tampa, FL

Lately I have heard A'Shawn Robinson may fall to our pick, and possibly even past it. Earlier this year you said he is talented enough to be the No. 1 pick. Am I to assume you would pick him in a heartbeat if he were to get to pick 27?

The point I was trying to make is once you get past the quarterbacks, it's difficult to predict a top-of-the-draft order. This is one of the most subjective drafts I can remember. There's a wide range of opinion on players, and I think that'll make Thursday a very interesting night. I think we're going to see players be there we didn't think would be there, and vice versa. Robinson could be one of those players.

Jeff from Saint Paul, MN

I'm grateful for what you've taught us about the salary cap, but when I look at the Browns, I'm not quite sure what to think. They have almost $40 million to spend, and that seems like good management, but they also have $18 million in dead money and that seems like poor management. Even with so much cap room, isn't that much dead money a real problem?

Their situation is common to teams in a regime change. The new regime is cutting the previous regime's mistakes, resulting in a combination of dead money and cap room. I like the Browns' situation. I also like the fact they didn't spend their new-found cap room wildly in free agency, in an attempt to immediately reverse the team's fortunes. They are committed to rebuilding the team the right way, and they recently acquired a lot of value by trading out of the No. 2 hole in the draft. All they have to do is make good picks and the team's arrow will slowly but surely turn upward.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Pauline has Billings ranked No. 9. How could he fall to the 27th pick?

Your question is symbolic of the ultra-subjective quality of this draft. Yesterday, I asked Tony to give me names that make sense for the Packers at 27. He said: "Reggie Ragland, Andrew Billings, Hunter Henry. Billings would be the best defensive pick since Clay Matthews. He has the potential to be that good, in my opinion." With those words, Tony is telling us he believes Billings is worthy of a pick much higher than the Packers', but he acknowledges the possibility others don't have the same regard for Billings and that could cause him to fall to the Packers at 27. Evaluation has never been more important; that's my take on this draft class. The teams that get it right have a chance to hit home runs.

Jeffrey from Marquette, MI

Vic, the anonymous leak about Myles Jack's knee came out this week. What would happen if the leak was traced back to a team that was trying to get him at a later pick by, in essence, slandering him? Is this lawsuit territory or NFL sanctions territory?

It's draft intrigue and it's been going on for all the years I've covered the NFL. There were rumors about Dan Marino. There was talk of Aaron Rodgers having a mysterious shoulder injury. Eddie Lacy's toe? It's all part of the experience and the intrigue that makes the draft what it is. At the end of the day, it's a personnel department's job to know what the truth is and get the pick right.

Rad from Jacksonville, FL

As someone who was not alive to witness it, I want to know what you can tell me about the 1972 Miami Dolphins? What allowed them to go undefeated? Lucky breaks, or did they have the talent and roster to take what they want?

It was a combination of talent and good fortune. The '72 Dolphins were extremely talented, but they played such a weak schedule and had the breaks fall so decidedly their way I think it's cost them points on the greatest-team-of-all-time meter. For example, the Immaculate Reception allowed the Dolphins to avoid the Raiders in the playoffs. I think the Raiders would've beaten the Dolphins. Also, the Dolphins' played in the AFC title game on a ridiculously warm day in Pittsburgh, and the game-winning play was a fake-punt run by Larry Seiple. Good and lucky is a winning combination.

Tony from Pewaukee, WI

Vic, your guy, Javon Hargrave, has been steadily rising in the eyes of the media, up to the point where one mock draft has him going to the Packers at 27. Do you really think he could go that high, or if the Packers target him, would that be a guy Ted Thompson would wait until the second round or possibly trade back?

I don't know the answers to those questions, but this is another example of the divergence of opinion in this draft. What I can tell you is this: I saw Hargrave in a game early last season. It was one of the most dominant performances I have ever seen. He reminded me of a nose guard from Oklahoma named Granville Liggins, who dominated in college football but was just too small to play at the NFL level. Hargrave has a unique shape, and it won't suit a lot of teams, but I saw a player that made me say to myself, "I want him on my team." I expressed that opinion in this column early last season, but there wasn't a ripple of interest in Hargrave until he began climbing boards this past winter.

Mark from Amery, WI

Vic, how in the Packer world did we end up with you hosting this Q&A? Are you a diehard Packers fan or just doing the job to pick up a paycheck? You don't have to be a Packers homer all of the time, but I get the feel you'd rather be covering the Steelers.


Dominic from Islington, UK

Vic, here's one for you. Where you are in your career now, would you have rather covered the birth of professional football and have no memories to look back on, or have a lifetime of memories but with no more football to watch?

My first playoff game was the "Immaculate Reception." My most recent playoff game was the "Hail Janis" in Arizona. Between the two, I covered the criminal element game and the "Fail Mary." I wouldn't change a thing, and I still have some football to watch.

Nathan from Oconomowoc, WI

Don't you think if all penalties were 15 yards there would be more fouls on deep balls, especially "Hail Mary" plays?

On deep balls, yes, not on "Hail Mary" plays, but at least we'd know they were fouls. What they're calling now doesn't justify the yardage. Mostly, I want the silly offside and false-start penalties to end.

Tim from Madison, WI

Vic, you have said multiple times Noah Spence has no chance of being available when the Packers pick at 27. It appears he has a better than decent chance of being there and could present the Packers with an interesting decision.

I'd have trouble passing on a player of his potential impact.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Have you ever watched a football game as a fan?

In a non-working capacity? I can't remember when, but I'm sure my father bought my ticket.

Dan from Madison, WI

Has a team ever found out another team was jumping ahead of them to take their targeted player and that team jumped further ahead to get the guy?

The example I like to use is the Jets' selection of Darrelle Revis. The Jaguars were ready to trade up with the Steelers to pick Revis. The Jets heard about it and traded with Carolina one spot ahead of the Steelers and selected Revis. I love draft intrigue.

John from Prescott, WI

Vic, I saw the Second U.S. District Court of Appeals upheld Brady's suspension, with one of the judges commenting "evidence was compelling, if not overwhelming" in regards to Brady's part. I then began to look at Brady's salary cap numbers. It appears on cursory review he greatly reduced his salary to prevent a loss of it during a suspension during the 2016 or 2017 season. Basically, this tells me they are guilty and continue to try and play the system. What are your thoughts on this?

This stopped being about the money a long time ago. The stakes are much higher now.

Josh from Seattle, WA

Vic, I wanna see defensive line and offensive line for the first four picks. Give me those big jars on the shelf.

If they all turned out to be long-term contributors, you'd never regret the picks. Get the big guys.

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