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What will the Packers' season look like in 2013?

We’re about to enter the age of the defensive back


Brian from College Park, MD

Charles Johnson is 6-2, 215, runs a 40 in the 4.3s and has a nearly 40-inch vertical. This is comparable to Andre Johnson when he entered the draft, the only difference being Andre Johnson was 15 pounds heavier. From what you've seen, does Charles Johnson have the hands, route-running ability, etc. to develop into an elite wide receiver if he puts on some weight?

Easy, Brian, easy. Wait at least until we get a look at Johnson in rookie camp. I think you're throwing around 40 times a little loosely. Scouts don't miss on kids that run as fast as you're claiming Johnson runs. They find the 4.3 guys and they don't last to the seventh round.

Wayne from Green Bay, WI

Any idea why Quinton Patton fell so far? I thought he was someone we were interested in, especially after his strong Senior Bowl week.

He was dynamite at the Senior Bowl. I loved the way he ran through the catch; he looks to me like he's a guy with real YAC ability. I think he falls into the same category as Johnathan Franklin, which is to say I believe both players will play above the round in which they were selected. The Packers got lucky with Franklin and the 49ers got lucky with Patton. It happens.

Charles from Statham, GA

Now that the draft is over and UFAs are being signed, what is the process moving forward for these prospects? When can they meet with the team, coaches, get playbooks, get training and guidance from the staff or others on the team, etc.?

It begins for the Packers next week in rookie orientation camp. They will be familiarized with the facility and the Packers' ways, including how they practice and, most importantly, the pace of those practices. What they're about to discover is that football is played at a higher speed and at a faster pace than it was in college.

Matthew from Blenheim, Marlborough NZ

Why did they pass on Barrett Jones in the fourth round when he was still on the board when they drafted David Bakhtiari?

Obviously, the Packers had a higher grade on Bakhtiari than they did on Jones. You don't draft the hype. You don't draft the school or the conference, you draft the player. Jones is a wonderful player but the knock on him is that he has physical limitations. Bakhtiari is very athletic and he's coming out as a junior, which means he has that extra year, so to speak, to spend on getting bigger and stronger and learning pro-style technique. In other words, Bakhtiari's ceiling is thought to be higher than Jones', and that's what you're really drafting, a player's ceiling. You don't want a guy who's as good as he's going to get. You want a guy whose best football is ahead of him. I think the Packers drafted Bakhtiari for that reason.

Robert from Klamath Falls, OR

Why would the Packers take relatively unknowns in the late rounds if they could pick them up later as undrafted free agents?

They're not unknowns to the Packers. This is a process that began at this time a year ago, when teams began identifying senior prospects and collecting information on them. There are no unknowns. If a kid can play, they'll find him, and the scouts don't care for what school or conference the kid plays. Eric Fisher played for Central Michigan. When I first laid eyes on him at the Senior Bowl and saw him finish a pass-blocking drill against Alex Okafor by driving him back across the line of scrimmage and pancaking him, there was no doubt in my mind I was watching a top prospect. I didn't recognize the helmet so I asked Tony Pauline, "Who's Mr. Wonderful and where will he be picked?" Tony told me who it was and said he'd be picked near the middle of round one. I said, "Not anymore." The Senior Bowl was Fisher's coming out party. I doubt anyone that was reading my glowing reports on Fisher knew who he was; I didn't know about him until I saw him. My guess is that people reading my reports were probably saying to themselves, "Why is Ketchman bothering us with all this information on this kid from Central Michigan?" Would you put Fisher in the category of an unknown? Now look; he's the first overall pick.

Jessie from Hemet, CA

I've read that the 49ers and Broncos were interested in Jordan Rodgers but ultimately it was Jacksonville that pulled the trigger. Do you think he's a good fit there and we could see another game with two brothers as starting QBs?

He's a good fit in Jacksonville because the quarterback situation there is unsettled and that means there's opportunity. That's as far as I can go right now. I'm a romantic, too, but I'm not that romantic.

Bart from Grants Pass, OR

Why should I be convinced the Packers will get any deeper into the playoffs this year? I foresee a real possibility that both Rodgers and Lacy don't make it through the season. The OL is poor in run blocking and protection. The defensive backs don't tackle well and there still isn't a proven complement to Matthews.

I know it rains a lot in Oregon but, in your world, does the sun ever rise? Bart, you shouldn't be convinced of anything. There are no guarantees. Uncertainty is why we watch and worry. That's why football is fun. I knew Alabama was going to beat Notre Dame, and that's why I didn't watch much of the game.

Nick from Peterborough, Ontario

Vic, I remember not long ago when people were calling for Ted Thompson's head for losing the Steven Jackson sweepstakes. I'm pretty content with how things worked out, as Lacy and Franklin provide the team with way more upside. Chances are at least one of the two will develop into a solid back.

Thompson had a plan; that's obvious. He targeted Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin and then traded to where they fit. Maybe we should wait a little bit before we start calling for heads. Maybe we should consider the possibility that a guy who spends every day of his life studying football personnel might know more about the process than we do.

Jeff from Waukesha, WI

The Packers' toughness has been in question. With their talent they should be able to hang with the Niners and Giants. Did this draft fix/answer our worries?

They questioned the toughness of the Air Coryell Chargers and even the toughness of the 49ers that won Super Bowl XVI. Why? Because they were teams that lived on the pass. Those kinds of teams have always struggled to prove their toughness because passing games aren't built for expressing toughness. Your offensive line is in retreat and your receivers are getting knocked around in the secondary. Meanwhile, defenses on passing teams have traditionally struggled against the run. Why? Because they don't practice against a team that runs the ball very much in practice or runs it very well. You have to have a strong passing game to win it all in today's game, but you need a strong running game to be able to express your toughness. The Packers haven't had that and that's why they've been criticized for lacking toughness. Lacy and Franklin and a commitment to the running game will change that.

Jeff from Wildomar, CA

Is the 3-4 or 4-3 better set up to stop the read-option?

Nobody knows. That's what we're going to find out. In the evolutionary process of finding a way to stop the read-option, a particular scheme will be identified that allows players to best use their skill to stop the read-option. In my mind, the 3-4 is naturally better equipped to stop the read-option than the 4-3, because there are more play-in-space athletes on the field in the 3-4, but I have a feeling something closer to a 4-2 or 4-1 will be the answer. I have a feeling we are entering the age of the defensive back and we're going to see rosters swell with them. They are the best athletes on the team and, in my opinion, that's what's going to be required to stop the read-option.

Monica from Green Bay, WI

Say it's final roster cutdown day. Can DuJuan Harris be put back on the practice squad or has he used up his practice squad eligibility?

A player loses his practice squad eligibility when he is on a 46-man active roster for nine games in a single season or he has been on a practice squad for three seasons (according to practice squad guidelines). Harris still has practice squad eligibility.

Adam from Wausau, WI

As defensive linemen and linebackers get smaller, longer and more athletic, do you see the NFL switching from a pass-happy game to a ground-and-pound game again?

It could happen. If it does, the NFL will change the rules to promote the passing game. Fans want passing. That's what drives ratings and sales. The fans will always get what they want.

Brian from Appleton, WI

Why is the read-option so complicated to defend? The front seven focuses on the QB, the secondary on the RB. The key is to punish the QB. He is a runner when that play starts and is fair game to get pounded. Am I oversimplifying?

Scheme isn't the problem. Execution is the problem. Colin Kaepernick is a stud. The challenge is to put players of equal ability in the positions responsible for tackling Kaepernick. Players, not plays.

Wayne from Aurora, CO

They're saying Jason Collins is the first guy from the major sports to announce he is gay. He is not; the Packers had a running back that said he was gay.

One of the things I love about Packers fans is that whatever the issue is, the Packers had a guy who did it first and he did it better than anyone has done it since. This proves it.

B.T. from Ripon, WI

The Packers did not draft a center. Does this mean the Packers are satisfied with Evan Dietrich-Smith?

It means they have a plan and Dietrich-Smith is likely at the heart of that plan. I get the sense the plan might include J.C. Tretter being developed as a center.

Don from Watertown, WI

Who did the Packers pick up as free agents?

I regret to inform our readers that this is a bad place to go for information on undrafted free agents. Why? Because the Packers don't release that information until the contracts have been officially signed, and is obligated to the same. It hasn't happened often that a player has reneged on his verbal agreement, but it has happened, and that's why nothing is announced until the ink is dry.

Adrian from Pittsford, NY

Vic, what does it mean to clear waivers like Tebow just did?

It means no team claimed him, which means he's free to sign with any team in the league, which means the insanity gets taken up a notch. This will never end.

Angel from El Monte, CA

What's your prediction for what our season will look like this year?

My prediction is that the Packers will be in the thick of the playoff race in December. They'll be playing for the NFC North title, but the race will be much tighter than it has been in recent years. My prediction is that the Lions and Vikings will be legitimate threats to the Packers' division reign, but I also believe the Packers will be a better team than they were a year ago.

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