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Who's the best available tweener?


Mathew from Albany, NY

Is there room for romantic sports writers in today's sports with all the analysis that has taken over, or has romanticism gone the way of the dodo?

Which lead would you rather read? "Outlined against a blue, gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again." Or, "Playing a rolled-up version of cover two, with matchup principle, the Packers defense did real good." It's all in what you like.

Ed from Jacksonville, FL

I certainly understand why GMs wouldn't want to reveal their draft board before the draft, but what is the downside of letting it be known afterwards?

What's the upside?

Simon from Copenhagen, Denmark

I understand a GM has to take the abuse and never speak in his own defense, but why not just point at the ring and say just trust me?

Because even if you win five Super Bowl titles in a row, as soon as you have a bad season the fans are going to rip you and demand that you be fired. Dom Capers is the best defensive coordinator I've ever covered. He is one of the two most esteemed and prominent defensive minds in football over the last 20 years, but the comments I read in this forum last season made me wince. Words are meaningless. You rest on your record. Victory is the only defense.

Franklin from La Crosse, WI

Whenever I hear draftniks talk about certain potential draftees, they often give them a round designation. What is this grade based on?

A player carries a second-round grade, for example, when the grade at which he's been evaluated falls into the range of grades assigned to second-round prospects. For example, if I grade you at 6.25, and if the first-round range is 7.0-6.30, then you would carry a high second-round grade. Different teams have different grading systems, and that's the kind of information they don't want to share.

Holger from Guayaquil, Ecuador

How many first overall draft selections have succeeded in the NFL?

Let's look at it over the last 20 years. In the success category, I would put: Drew Bledsoe, Keyshawn Johnson, Orlando Pace, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Mario Williams, Jake Long and Matt Stafford. In the bust category, I would put: Steve Emtman, Ki-Jana Carter, Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, David Carr and JaMarcus Russell. Dan Wilkinson doesn't fit in either category, and more information is needed on Alex Smith, Sam Bradford and Cam Newton.

Kevin from Orlando, FL

Exactly how long is that season ticket waiting list?

Too long for somebody my age.

Hansen from Waukesha, WI

Will the Packers opting to not use the new Nike material put them at a disadvantage at all, or will it make no difference?

I'm going to vote for no difference.

Chris from Wausau, WI

I've often day-dreamed about working for the NFL, especially for a team like the Packers. Even if it was something simple and trivial, I would just love being involved. How difficult is that to make a reality? Any tips?

Get a journalism degree, find a job that pays $7,200 a year, rent the downstairs of a house for $145 a month (utilities included) and make sure you have an assortment of kitchen chairs you can put in the street to save the parking place you'll have to shovel out in the winter, cover a whole lot of high school football and basketball games (you'll have to do your own stats), and do that for a long time until you get old and people think you know something. Or you could elect to go to med school. I have limited intelligence so med school wasn't an option.

Tim from Ashland, WI

You mention cross-training. Is that more of bringing a mindset to the new position? Like Bennett bringing a halfback mindset to receivers?

It's about teaching your coaches how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit to make a winning picture. Lombardi coached on the high school, college and NFL levels. He even coached basketball at Fordham. He coached the offensive line at West Point and running backs with the Giants, for whom he was also the offensive coordinator. He achieved playing fame as a defensive lineman on Fordham's "Seven Blocks of Granite" teams. Good coaches can coach anything. We pigeon-hole coaches too much these days. Cross-training develops coaching skills more fully. It brings new ideas to them and they bring new ideas to their positions. That's creativity.

Jason from Austin, TX

Imagine a year where maximum player safety was achieved. The entire season went through and not one player missed a game due to injury. What kind of impact do you think this would have on the league, and what do you think would happen to the league after five years of this?

Imagine there's no anger,No replay review.No unsportsmanlike conduct,And no bounties, too.Imagine no concussions,What would Roger Goodell do?

You, you may say I'm a dreamer,but I'm not the only one.I hope someday you'll join us,And the NFC North will live as one.

Imagine there's no salary cap,No signing bonus, too.No players union,No lockout to boo.Imagine all the owners,Letting us in for free.

You, you may say I'm a dreamer,But I'm not the only one.I hope someday you'll join us,And the NFL will live as one.

Imagine no sports writers,Ex-players and cover two.Cosell said it would happen,What are we gonna do?Imagine all the media,Saying only real nice things.

You, you may say I'm a dreamer,But I'm not the only one.I hope someday you'll join us,And we'll go to the game and have some fun.

Larry from The Villages, FL

If half the teams follow BAP draft strategy, there cannot be a run on tweeners because the teams would not stay true to their boards if they pick tweeners before their rated position. A run on tweeners is, in effect, drafting for need and not BAP. Am I correct or am I thinking like Jane's grandma?

I've decided that this whole BAP vs. need issue is a left brain, right brain thing. I'm not sure which is which, but the people on one side just seem to be able to get it and go to sleep at night, while the people who think with the other side of their brain spend the weeks leading up to the draft making that noise you get when you brush your index finger across your lips as you blow. Larry, Tony Pauline said Shea McClellin is moving up boards. He's moving up boards because his postseason workouts are causing his grade to improve. The tweeners were the stars of the Senior Bowl and combine. That's where the speed is in this draft. That's where the strength and talent is in this draft and I think teams are going to see that, Larry, and there's going to be a run on tweeners for two reasons: 1.) They'll be the best available players. 2.) Everybody needs pass rushers.

George from Scranton, PA

I understand that everyone is obsessed with who the Packers are going to pick. I have generally been the same way. I always thought they would pick who they needed, but they don't do that. Picking Jordy Nelson when we didn't need another receiver seemed pointless; well, I was wrong. Oh, and they don't pick the big names either. Who was Greg Jennings? Oops! Wrong there, too. So let's let Ted be Ted and pick good players. It makes for a comfortable draft experience.

I apply the same philosophy to the draft that I apply to games: I like to watch. I like to see who the teams pick and listen to their explanations as to why they picked those players, then I like to keep a record of all of the selections in the draft in my draft forever and ever book, and then I like to go back and look at the book and see who screwed up. Hey, ain't my life, ain't my wife. I'm just a spectator in this. That's the fun part.

Jeff from Kent, WA

Vic, you always talk about ranking players on the draft board, but since they play different positions, how do you compare an offensive tackle to a wide receiver?

You don't compare players, you grade them according to their individual skills and the criteria you use to judge those skills, and then you rank the players according to their overall grades. If you're evaluating a wide receiver, you would grade him, for example, on his hands, his route-running, his speed, his ability to run after the catch, etc. A 1.0 might be the top grade a player can receive in a particular category. When you've completed your evaluation, you add up all of the scores and that's the total score that earns him a ranking place on your value board. All teams do something similar to that. The needs-picking teams then separate those players according to the positions they play. The BAP teams pick right from the overall value board.

Anthony from Portage, WI

If it really is the best way to build a team (which I believe it is), why don't more teams try to use the same philosophy the Packers, Giants, Patriots and Steelers use?

You have to draft well to make it work. Those teams draft well. A lot of other teams are committed to the same philosophy, but they don't execute it as well. When you don't draft well, you have to throw money at players in free agency to replace the busts you've drafted. The more of that you have to do, the more creative you have to be with your salary cap. The more creative you have to be with your salary cap, the more likely it is you'll have to gut the roster and rebuild.

David from Honolulu, HI

What makes our 20-plus years of success different from the lean years of the '70s-'80s?

Drafting is the difference. It's the difference between Aaron Rodgers and Rich Campbell. Same school, same round, very different result. You are what you draft.

Christopher from Kansas City, MO

Vic, I love your column and I read it every day. I agree with a lot of what you say. Anyway, I was wondering regardless of who is available at the 28th pick, who do you think is the best all-around or most pure pass-rushing tweener, and who would be the best fit opposite Clay?

BAT? Best Available Tweener? OK, I'll play along. Of all the tweeners, I like Melvin Ingram the best. Whereas others shake their heads at his lack of height, 6-1, and his short arms, I see a James Harrison-like power in a very similar body. In a game that is being played too high, compact players such as Harrison, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren Sproles are finding success in getting under people. I envision the same success for Ingram. He has eye-popping athletic ability. He is, in my opinion, a true run-and-hit kind of player. I envision him making plays all over the field. I think he has to play linebacker in a 3-4 – play in space – to max out his ability. I sat through his interview with the media at the combine. He was amazingly direct. There was a kind of swagger in his answers that didn't come off as bravado. He has a magnetic personality. He caught my fancy.

Ryan from London, England

You are allowed to take one offensive and one defensive player from the Packers history and put it on the current team. Who do you pick? I instantly thought Reggie White but the offense is a little harder to choose. In the end, I went for Jim Taylor.

White would probably be the consensus pick on defense, but I'm going to go with Dave Robinson because this is a 3-4 defense and I think Robinson had L.T. talent before we even knew who L.T. was. I think Robinson would be a 15-sack guy in Dom Capers' defense. On offense, the pick is easy: Forrest Gregg. Taylor just wouldn't fit in this offense.

Jesse from Sioux Falls, SD

Ever since Woodson came to the Packers, I have idolized his leadership and impact. Can you elaborate more on the White House experience?

Memories make us rich. Enjoy your wealth. Here's the video.

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