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Who I would pick and other thoughts on draft

Deep safety crop leaves prospects in the middle rounds


Dean from Clarkston, WA

So Finley has now said he would rather be cut than take less pay. He is due a roster bonus in March. My question is does that bonus hit immediately once it is March 12th, or do the Packers have that day to trade him without having to pay that money?

The roster bonus isn't scheduled to be paid until late March. Trading may resume on March 12th.

John from Palmyra, VA

If you could pick one player from the combine to add to the Packers roster, regardless of position, who would it be and why?

Eric Fisher left a big impression on me. I'm not saying he's the best player in the draft, but he plays a premium position and he really caught my eye at the Senior Bowl playing real football against top competition. I interviewed him on the field with other players, and he not only impressed me with how he spoke, he also impressed me with his presence. He's 6-7, 305, and he's thin. After he steps into an NFL weight room, I shudder to think at what might come out. He talked about having difficulty keeping weight on; I see that as a good thing because it suggests a long career. He reminds me so much of Tony Boselli in Fisher's natural athleticism and the ease with which he pass blocks. Fisher was fluid in everything he did and he stoned everyone he faced at the Senior Bowl. In my opinion, if he was coming out of Ohio State, Alabama, USC or one of the big power schools, he'd be the first pick of the draft. He'd be my pick.

David from Racine, WI

I've watched a bit of Datone Jones and he has certainly impressed me. He looked good at the Senior Bowl and at the combine. Do you think he could play defensive end in our base 3-4, despite weighing in at only 280 pounds?

Tony Pauline was the first guy I heard say it. I wrinkled my nose because Jones didn't appear to have the body type of a 3-4 end. In uniform, he has the look of a long, lean 4-3 end, but the popular opinion now is that Jones can put on weight and play end in a 3-4, and that's based largely on the fact that he holds up very well against the run. Having seen him up close at the combine, I got a very different opinion of his body type than I got from watching him at the Senior Bowl. Jones is a slab of man. He's got the classic egg-in-a-cup look you like in a big guy. If he puts any size onto that frame, I'd have to believe he could hold the point against anybody.

Andrew from Rockford, IL

I've watched the hit Nick Perry put on Andrew Luck probably a thousand times in the past month. Do you think it was a clean hit?

I was aghast at the penalty. It infuriated me. Perry's hips were sunk and his head was up. Seeing that tackle flagged saddened me. I had difficulty concentrating on the game for a few plays.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

Vic, are the college coaches 100 percent honest when they are discussing their players with the NFL scouts? For example, if a player is talented but a jerk, would the coach say so? Wouldn't such honesty drop the player's ranking and thus cost him money?

So you'd lie for a kid and estrange your relationship with a member of your profession, who would likely then spread the word to other coaches and scouts that you can't be trusted? You might have trouble finding another job someday. It has been my experience that coaches tell the truth. They trumpet all of the good traits in the kids they coach, but they make sure they warn NFL people of things that require change.

Wallace from Jacksonville, FL

If only Baltimore and Minnesota had been able to make that trade before the clock ran out. Jack Del Rio wanted Terrell Suggs, right? Imagine the difference in both franchises if Jacksonville had drafted Suggs and the Ravens had drafted Leftwich. Without Leftwich on the roster, do you think the Jaguars would have drafted Roethlisberger? The what ifs here are virtually endless and provide a stark example of how draft-day decisions can impact a franchise for a decade.

What if the Jaguars had drafted Suggs in 2003 and Ben Roethlisberger in 2004? Does Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls? What if the Jaguars had drafted Suggs in '03 and Aaron Rodgers in '05? Do the Packers have another Super Bowl title? What if the Jaguars had drafted Suggs in '03 and Joe Flacco in '08? Would Baltimore have won the most recent Super Bowl? That's how fragile fate is when you apply the draft to it. It's not only about who you pick, it's about who you leave for the competition to pick. That's why I'm a big supporter of drafting the best available player. When you pick a lesser-rated player because you have need at his position, you leave a higher-rated player for the competition to draft.

Dale from Raytown, MO

Vic, I'm confused on letting the clock run out on your pick. What is the rule on this? Does that team lose that pick?

No, it does not lose its pick. Once a team goes on the clock, it may make its selection at any time. It doesn't get a new clock; it expired its clock. The team can merely exercise that pick any time it wants by handing the commissioner a slip of paper with a name or trade on it. Picks are recorded in the order in which they're received.

Skip from Rozet, WY

Yesterday you stated the NFL will exist and it'll be bigger than ever, it just won't be the same. My concern is that youth football is in for bigger changes, as lawsuits follow at lower levels of play. What do you see happening at high school and below? Is the sport going to disappear?

I agree with you; high school football could be at a crossroads. I worry that schools will have to drop football because they can't pay to insure the players. I worry that the cost of insurance will be passed onto the parents, which will put football programs at Title I-type schools at risk. I worry that the only high schools that'll be able to field teams will be the private schools because they have players whose families can afford the insurance, and they have alumni willing to back those star players who can't afford insurance. I worry that high schools with great football traditions will have to drop the sport. I fell in love with football at a very young age, when I happened to wander upon a high school practice in my hometown. I went back there every day; it was the most important thing in my life for all of my very young life. When I became a sportswriter, I always made sure I went out on a Friday night and covered a high school game. It kept me connected to my roots. The players I saw play high school football are their own Hall of Fame. My first memory is of lying across my parents' lap and shivering at a high school football game. Cookie Gilchrist was the star of that game. The first pro game I saw was between the Giants and Steelers. My dad took me to the game because Dick Modzelewski played in it for the Giants and he was from our hometown. I sat on our porch on a Friday night and listened to the cheers and the fight songs coming from down the street, and I knew exactly what the score was. High school football was central to my life and it's still a big deal back there. I worry that the lights might go out on Friday night. That's what the lawsuits threaten. They threaten to turn out the lights on the kids, not the NFL.

Allen from Omro, WI

Manti Te'o broad-jumped 9-5, ran 4.8 and didn't play well against Alabama and Stanford. Does that move him out of the first round?

LeSean McCoy had a bad broad jump at his pro day. The scouts decided McCoy lacked explosion. Have you ever seen a runner who can go from zero to 60 quicker than McCoy? I think we have to be careful in applying that gym class stuff to a real football game.

Jan from Jena, Germany

Vic, you are drafting BAP and you are on the clock. There are two guys you like available, same position and same grade on your board. One had a stellar college career and could help your team immediately but you feel he has nearly reached his full potential and won't get much better. The other player wasn't as productive in college but has all the potential in the world. Which one do you take?

Always take the upside. You're not drafting a guy for what he was in college, you're drafting him for what he'll become in the NFL. The draft is a crystal ball business.

Michael from Vicksburg, MI

Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope ran the second-fastest 40 at 4.34. A specific knock on him is that he body-catches too much. A reception is a reception, right?

That's not the book I have on him. "Quick, reliable hands to pluck outside body," is one report I've seen. You don't want body-catchers, you want guys who can catch the ball outside the framework of their body because that increases their catching radius. The knock I'm seeing on Swope is that he has short arms and small hands.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

Vic, I know it's a little early, but with the trade for Alex Smith and the hiring of Andy Reid, do you think the Chiefs could be one of those teams that makes a big, one-year turn around?

Yes, I do. I think they're more talented than their record last season would suggest. Smith gives Reid a quarterback who knows how to manage a game, and Reid will give Smith the kind of finesse offense Smith played in at Utah. John Dorsey might've fallen into something real good.

B.T. from Ripon, WI

I have to ask, because some consider it a need, would you pick a safety in round one? Who would you consider worthy and do you think they will still be there?

In the old days? No. Now? Yes. Safeties were a dime a dozen in the old days. You could get a guy late in the draft and he'd play 10 years for you. Donnie Shell might be the best safety I've ever covered and he was undrafted. These days, safeties are used more aggressively. They're required to do more by offenses determined to create mismatches. This is a great safety draft. Kenny Vaccaro is a safety that can play corner and that's what you want in today's game. LSU's Eric Reid is a first-round prospect. The guy I like is Georgia's Bacarri Rambo (pictured). He's not a banger, he's an interceptor, but the Packers have some safeties that can bang. Morgan Burnett and Jerron McMillian are thick guys that can hit. I wouldn't mind seeing the Packers find a guy who has a nose for the ball. Rambo is a mid-round prospect, which I prefer because I think you need to get the big guys early before they're all gone.

Jim from Winterville, NC

Two words, Vic: fantasy soccer.

The winner would have two points.

Ronald from Monteverde, Costa Rica

This may seem a little dumb, but seeing as the Packers looked like they had no real intention of keeping Jennings or Woodson at season's end, why not trade them and get something in return? We are in essence letting them go for nothing.

In Greg Jennings' case, it couldn't be done. The trade deadline isn't lifted until the first day of the league year, March 12th, which also begins free agency. At the exact time you could trade Jennings, you would lose Jennings to free agency. In Charles Woodson's case, trading for him would mean you'd inherit his contract, and nobody was going to do that. You could get around that, but why would anybody agree to do it? Everyone in the league knew what Woodson's cap number meant. Any team that wanted him would only have to wait for the inevitable to occur.

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