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Young tackles address Packers' need


Kerry from Margate City, NJ

Didn't you interview Moses early in your career?

Ah, yes, Moses of Galilee. Good first step. Got to the edge of his blocks. High ceiling. Good motor. Could club and swim. Knee bender. Played with leverage. Struck the rising blow. Long hair. He had tools. I wonder what happened to him.

Mark from North Bay, WI

The Los Angeles hill-grazing Rams actually started in the hills of Cleveland.

And that's why they had to move to Los Angeles, because the hills in Cleveland weren't big enough.

Ron from Chicago, IL

How does Northwestern QB Dan Persa go out and set the NCAA record for career completion percentage and then not even get an invite to the combine and get rated no better than seventh-round, and that's if he's drafted at all?

Persa is a spread-offense quarterback, a kind of run-and-shoot passer. I loved watching him play. He was very entertaining, but the pro game is a very different kind of game than the one Persa played at Northwestern. Jason White won the Heisman Trophy, but he wasn't an NFL prospect. The step up to the NFL can be too much for some players to make. As much as fans fall in love with players' intangible qualities, that's not what got those players in the door. You have to have the goods to be able to play in the NFL, and a player's college stats aren't the gauge teams use to know if a guy is, indeed, a prospect to play in the NFL. Can Persa make that step up? Maybe he can.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

Vic, it seems like every week you have to defend the BAP philosophy. Why do you think people struggle to accept or grasp BAP?

I think the struggle to understand it is indicative of the difference in people's shopping habits. Some people wait until they need something and then they go out and buy it, which often means they have no choice but to buy it at a price higher than it was or might be. Others plan their shopping. They don't allow themselves to fall into desperate need. When they see something offered at a price that represents value, they buy it and save it for when they will need it.

Ian from Milwaukee, WI

I recently read and learned of Len Bias, drafted by the Celtics, and his tragic death. Is there an NFL equivalent?

In terms only of a great talent lost, and not in any way in terms of how they passed, Ernie Davis would be the NFL equivalent. Davis was the most dominant player in college football when he became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. His talent was so perfectly suited to the pro game – his predecessor at Syracuse, Jim Brown, was doing pretty well in the NFL – that there was almost no chance he wouldn't be successful. NBA experts felt the same way about Bias. The loss of each player touched American sports fans.

Troy from Coleman, WI

With the release of Clifton, who would you say is the front-runner for the starting LT position, Newhouse or Sherrod?

Left tackle will be one of the focus positions in training camp. I thought Marshall Newhouse was progressing nicely until he got hit with the Jason Pierre-Paul, Tamba Hali one-two punch late in the season. I think Newhouse has a bright future ahead of him at a premium position. Does he step back into the position, or do the Packers move Bryan Bulaga to the left side? Will Derek Sherrod need more time to recover from his severe leg fracture? As far as drafting a tackle, it's entirely possible one will present himself, but it is not considered to be a position of strength in this draft. I don't have an answer for you, but I think I've touched on the issues.

Tom from Plymouth, MN

Can you think of any instances in which a team moving actually helped both the team and the city it moved from?

There are a lot of such instances because the loss of a franchise usually involves a stadium impasse, and the team moves on to a place that has agreed to build a stadium, and the town it left eventually realizes what it lost and builds a stadium for a new team. I'll use Houston as the example. The Oilers couldn't get a new stadium and couldn't keep playing in the Astrodome, so the Oilers left for Nashville and got the new stadium they needed. A few years later, a new team surfaced in Houston, where a colossal, retractable-dome stadium was built and a Super Bowl was granted. There are several other examples. It would seem to be a game of bluff poker.

Alex from Green Valley, AZ

When the endless discussion of BAP takes place every year about this time, I remember something Ted Thompson said years ago. Believe it or not, BAP is not the Packers' draft plan. What he said was something like this: When you organize your draft board, team needs is one of the things you consider, then on draft day and your turn to pick comes, the guy on the top of your board is not at a need position, and some teams draft the need player above their top-of-the-board player. What this does is it puts a double emphasis on need, and that is where he believes mistakes are made. So the process does account for need, but just not twice.

Congratulations! You have achieved absolute perfection in BAP confusion. I don't understand a word of any of that.

Fats from Pleasanton, CA

When evaluating QBs in the draft, people always talk about arm strength. Why are there no measurement stats for arm strength?

All you need to know is whether a guy's arm is strong enough, and you'll know if it is the moment he throws from the far hash to the far sideline. They can put a radar gun on a guy's throws, but the sound a ball makes as it cuts the air will tell a scout all he needs to know. I'll never forget the sound the ball made when Joe Gilliam threw it. It was at a higher pitch, which means the ball was spinning faster.

Brandyn from Cross Plains, WI

Vic, having seen the response on to the news that Chad Clifton was released, I have to wonder, do the players ever look to the feedback to news stories involving them? In this instance, I would hope Clifton can see how much those of us respect him as a player and a person.

Sure they do. It's an emotional experience to walk away from the kind of career Clifton has had. His identity will always be that of a Packers tackle. This is a time for perspective. Players and coaches talk about not looking back and staying in the moment. This is when they stop and look back, and they want to know they have fans. We all want to feel loved and the comments at the bottom of the story on announcing the release of Clifton no doubt send him into retirement feeling loved and accomplished.

Joe from Franklin, WI

When a team changes cities, or even names, do the franchise records carry over, or does the new identity clear the slate?

The name "Browns" was returned to Cleveland and so were the franchise's records. The name "Colts" stayed with that franchise when it moved to Indianapolis and the franchise's records from when the team was in Baltimore continue to be published in the team's media guide, even though Johnny Unitas asked to have his name taken from the media guide because he never played in Indianapolis. The "Oilers" name is gone but the Oilers' history and records remain in the Titans' media guide.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

I'm sorry to see Chad Clifton go. He was a solid player for a long time. Does this mean the Packers are confident Sherrod will make a full recovery?

That doesn't have anything to do with the release of Clifton. He had reached the end of his career and the Packers have to move on. Fortunately, they have acquired young tackles in the last two drafts that will allow them to move on. The premium on big guys is extreme. Fans like it when their favorite teams draft wide receivers, but personnel departments are obsessed with not getting caught short at the big-guy positions. "The Good Lord made fewer big people that can do it," Ted Thompson said last week in his draft preview press conference.

Don from Lake Alfred, FL

My wife and I are trying to plan our summer vacation and can't seem to find any dates for the Packers training camp.

Hey, I'm an old-fashioned guy. I don't think married people should date other people.

Jeremy from Stony Plain, Alberta

Vic, this may sound a bit silly, but do you think coaches use simulations to help create plays? For example, I know it's just a game, but Madden 12 could theoretically be used to create a play and test out its effectiveness. Forgetting that it's just a game for a second, could computer simulations help create better plays?


Trevor from Grand Haven, MI

Was I the only one upset over the choice not to bring back the Acme Packers uniforms? They looked great and seemed to bring a little energy to the team. Please tell me you loved the old-school look as much as I did.

I did not experience anxiety when I learned the Packers would not wear throwback uniforms this season.

Austin from Mount Horeb, WI

I find it weird that outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw's stock has been falling in the draft process, even though he was the defensive MVP of the national championship game. If he was available at 28, don't you think he'd be the perfect pick for the Packers?

A scout at the Senior Bowl told me Upshaw is the perfect guy for a team looking for a forward-only player. He called it "sic 'em football." Tony Pauline agrees, except he doesn't think Upshaw has the speed to play linebacker. Pauline's is one of a growing belief that Upshaw has to play end in a 4-3, and Upshaw doesn't have ideal end size, and that's why his draft stock has fallen.

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