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Where is draft strong, weak?


Dave from Madison, WI

I'm wondering what teams you think are up and coming and which divisions you think will likely have shake-ups this year?

I think the Bills and Dolphins are on the rise, and I think the AFC East is a division that could undergo a changing of the guard. In the NFC, I think the Falcons are ready to pop and the Panthers' Cam Newton, change in Tampa and the turmoil the Saints are having to endure could make the NFC South an interesting division to watch. In the NFC West, Jeff Fisher will make the Rams better, Matt Flynn will make the Seahawks a contender and I've long thought the Cardinals are a sleeping giant.

Paul from Lexington, KY

How can Fox Sports scoop you on the signing of the new defensive lineman? I'd love to see more detail and comments but is historically slow when it comes to transactions.

We're probably the slowest, Paul, and the reason for that is's policy to not publish stories about players having signed contracts with the Packers until their contracts have, in fact, been signed and the player has passed his physical, which is usually a condition of the contract.

Matt from Madison, WI

I enjoyed your take on replay. I think the NFL has a dirty little secret: They love controversy. In fact, they know it drives clicks on the Internet, tweets and ESPN scroll bars. Any chance you agree the dirty little secret is the owners want to drive emotional reaction to their football teams?

I agree that the league loves controversy, as long as it doesn't involve attorneys and lawsuits.

Allen from Omro, WI

I'm thinking of taking a day off work for the third day of the draft this year and coming up to Lambeau. I'd like to meet you in person and talk a little Packers football between picks, if possible.

I'd love to talk Packers football with everybody who reads this column. I honestly, truly mean those words, which is why I want to have a golf tournament. I can't stop to talk on draft day, Allen. On the day of the draft, I'm busier than a caddy carrying the bags of a couple of sportswriters, one of whom hooks and the other slices. I have a feeling Ted Thompson is going to be trading up, down and around, and that won't make my job any easier.

Ryan from Manitowoc, WI

What would be the one question in your career that you wouldn't mind answering over and over in your column?

What did you shoot?

Caleb from Branson, MO

What position in this year's draft has the most depth and which has the least?

I'm not a scout, just a reporter, so this is what I'm hearing. I'm hearing that this is not a good year for offensive linemen, especially tackles, or defensive ends, 4-3 and 3-4. Strangely, the most dominant player I saw at the Senior Bowl is an offensive lineman, Cordy Glenn of Georgia. I'm hearing this is a risky year for wide receivers because the proven ones tend to lack speed and the speedy ones tend to have either been unproductive in college or played in systems that didn't showcase their talents, which is clearly the case with Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill. I know a scout who has his eye on Derek Moye of Penn State as a sleeper. That's the one thing about wide receiver I like; there appear to be sleepers. I'm hearing it's an OK year for cornerbacks but a horrible year for safeties. Tony Pauline loves Alabama's Mark Barron, who Tony thinks could fall to the Packers due to hernia surgery. There are some quarterbacks in this draft and one in particular, Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State, I believe will be underdrafted because of his age. If Weeden was 22 instead of 28, I think he'd be a top 10 pick. If I needed a quarterback, I'd draft him in the second round and sleep like a baby that night. Where do I think the draft is strongest? I think it's strongest at the 3-4 rush-backer position, which is to say I think the draft has a wealth of tweeners. I love tweeners. I don't think they're risky at all because their athletic ability allows for a variety of ways they can be used. Mike Vrabel was a tweener and he turned into a touchdown-maker. I also think this draft is deep in running backs, though it's thin at the top. I love Doug Martin, Vick Ballard and a lot of other under-the-radar type backs. One of my sleepers, Lennon Creer from Louisiana Tech, struggled at the combine, which will probably make him a late-round steal. I think this is a funny year. It's not cut and dry, and those tend to be the kinds of drafts that good drafting teams eat up.

Zachary from Stickney, IL

Do you think Ted Thompson's uncharacteristic dipping into free agency this year is a lack of faith in the draft class or a change in philosophy to help take care of a need?

The Packers had a desperate and immediate need at center and it's a good year for centers in free agency, and they need big guys up front on defense and it's a bad year for defensive ends in the draft.

John from Stoughton, WI

I have been hearing a lot of talk from fans and writers that Ted should trade up in the first round. Is there really one player that would be worth trading up for?

There are a lot of tweeners in this draft. If Ted Thompson views one of them as a difference-maker, he certainly has the ammunition to go up and get him. He's done it before.

Christopher from Green Bay, WI

Where do you think the team is going to go in the draft?

Remember the dodge cars at the amusement park? Do they still have those? I don't know. Anyhow, sometimes I feel like I'm in one of those dodge cars and everybody has decided to ram into me. Chris, the Packers don't draft according to position, they draft according to their draft board. If they can address need and maintain value, they'll do it, but the focus is always on value. I think it's a wonderful philosophy because it affords total respect to the process of scouting and evaluating prospects. Why even bother to scout players at positions you don't want to draft if you're only going to draft players at your positions of need? I don't like need drafting because it takes a large pool of players and makes it smaller. Under Ted Thompson, the Packers personnel department took over a team that needed to be rebuilt. It needed young players that would provide a nucleus for the future. Since then, they have won a Super Bowl and 19 games in a row en route to a 15-1 season. I see a bright future. I'll be retired and this team will still be winning games with that nucleus. I encourage you to embrace the personnel philosophy of your hometown team. It's a winner.

Nathan from New Orleans, LA

Some folks are saying Quintin Coples was misused at DE his senior year and is more of a power rusher than an edge rusher. At 6-6, 285, could Coples perform well at DE in a 3-4, playing the rush and disrupting the line of scrimmage on pass plays?

He's not a 34 end. Coples is a classic blindside 43 end. He's Julius Peppers, except Coples didn't display the same kind of dominance at North Carolina last season. I know a defensive line coach whose team is in position to draft Coples. The coach went to the Senior Bowl with the hope Coples would be convincing, but he wasn't. At the combine, however, he was. Coples is the ultimate tease. He more than passes the eye test. So why wasn't he more dominant last year at North Carolina? Was it because of a coaching change? Did he turn his focus forward to the NFL? These are big questions that need to be answered because Coples is a high-pick prospect.

Tom from Chesterfield, VA

Who's to blame for our playoff debacle last season, McCarthy or Thompson? Was it scheme, execution or personnel?

It was the Giants. They're good and they got hot at the right time. I think they are deserving of respect for what they accomplished. I think it's sour grapes not to afford them that respect.

David from Seattle, WA

I just read an opinion article saying the Packers would be well suited to switch to the 4-3 defense. Just wondering what your take on that is?

They've got the linebackers for it. They've got the "over tackle," but I don't see the three-technique tackle and, clearly, their ends aren't 4-3 types. I don't understand the desire to change to a 43. One player could make all of the difference in their 34.

Damion from Milwaukee, WI

When you listed the five best quarterbacks from 2000 to present, I noticed you didn't mention Brett Favre. I know he threw a lot of interceptions, but he has to be in the top three for most wins during that time span. What gives?

I place a premium on postseason wins and performance.

Bill from Tea, SD

Is there a college stadium you think compares to Lambeau, as far as set up and crowd noise?

Notre Dame Stadium; it's a beautiful place with a tradition you can feel in the air, but it's not an especially intimidating place to play.

James from Chicago, IL

The league should leave replay out of the game, in my opinion. I like the element of human error (even when it goes against my team). Part of the fun of being a sports fan is talking endlessly about the events that transpired in a game.

Nothing impresses me more than seeing someone who has suffered a crushing defeat offer congratulations to the victor and speak not of his loss. I guess Kipling got to me: "If you can make one heap of all your winnings, and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss." Kipling probably didn't have replay in mind when he penned those words.

Chris from Cedar Rapids, IA

Vic, let's say the Packers had the No. 1 pick in this year's draft. Would they stick to their BAP philosophy and take Andrew Luck or RG3, even though they have an MVP QB in Rodgers, or would they fill a need like getting a pass rusher?

They'd call the Redskins and recoup the value of the pick. I love dodge cars.

Jeremy from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, I have three pounds of ground beef, eight pounds of New York strip steaks, six pounds of catfish and I'm down to my last chicken breast in the freezer. If I only have $10 on me and I go to the store looking for chicken but find strip steaks on sale for $2.99/lb., I'm going to bring home the steak. It doesn't matter to me that I already have a lot of steak at home, because you can never have enough steak.

I drafted Tony Boselli No. 2 overall and signed Leon Searcy to the largest contract of any offensive lineman in NFL history a year later. Now I have a choice between a linebacker I need, and an offensive tackle, Jonathan Ogden, who I clearly don't need. Who doesn't need Jonathan Ogden?

Steve from Orlando, FL

I was watching an old game tape from Steelers vs. Dolphins in the '70's. I was struck by the screen. It assumed the viewer has a reasonable amount of brain capacity and was clear of the clutter so prevalent in today's TV. Any chance of a return to the no-clutter screen?

No robot?

Mark from Portland, OR

How would you rank Dan Devine's trade for John Hadl?

Payback for Devine's dog?

Jimmy from Cedarburg, WI

You're old and almost dead. Can I have your job when you kick? It seems pretty easy.

You'll have to get in line behind Spofford.

Travis from Stoughton, WI

I'm curious when/how you got your break in sports journalism? When did you know you arrived?

Chuck Noll said you never arrive. I shouldn't have doubted him.

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