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Ask Vic

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Be patient, your safety will fall to you

Posted May 2, 2014

A new “horse” has entered the race


Chris from Wolcott, CT

Vic, OK, I’ll bite. Where’s the best place to get shrimp?

Wintzell’s in Mobile.

E.J. from Long Island, NY

So where’s the best shrimp near Green Bay?

Wintzell’s in Mobile.

J.P. from Djibouti City, Djibouti

Vic, who do you and Tony believe would fit for the Packers at say, number 26 or 28?

Weston Richburg is a name that comes to mind in that range. I think I used to date a girl from Djibouti City.

Zach from Billings, MT

Bradshaw also had a stout defense for his four titles. Score one for Rodgers.

That’s not entirely true. The “Steel Curtain” peaked in ’76. After that, even though the rankings stayed high, it started to show signs of rust. By ’78 and ’79, the last two Super Bowl years, Bradshaw was carrying that team on his back. Compare the scores and yardage totals of Super Bowls XIII and XIV to IX and X. People that don’t completely know the facts use that argument against him, and it’s unfair. If you want to fully appreciate what the rules changes of 1978 did to professional football, study the differences between those four Super Bowls. The switch was flipped in ’78. Prior to that season, football was in the equivalent of its dead-ball era, and Vince Lombardi is largely responsible for that dead-ball era. First and foremost, football was a running game. Quarterbacks didn’t concern themselves with stats. They judged themselves and were judged by others on their ability to win. Now, 50 years later, we’re judging them on their stats. That’s not fair. In 1974, for example, when the ball was snapped an offensive lineman would grab his shirt with his hands. At the same time, he was being hit on the side of the head. If the offensive lineman got his hands the least little bit away from his body, it was holding, and holding was 15 yards back then, not 10. Drive over! Defensive backs jammed receivers all over the field. Five wide? That’s funny. Two wide receivers and a tight end. There was no such thing as a three-step drop and get the ball out early. It was all seven-step and nine-step drops and wait for your receivers to get off the jam and come open. Yards came grudgingly and painfully. There were no protections for the quarterback. He was live to the ground. “We’re the trophy,” Joe Namath said. “The quarterback must go down and the quarterback must go down hard,” Al Davis said. A 200-yard passing game was rare. Bob Griese’s Super Bowl VIII stat line was six of seven for 73 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions. Quarterbacks didn’t nibble. When teams threw the ball, it was usually downfield to make a play. The rules changes of ’78 changed everything, and quarterbacks prior to ’78 can’t accurately be compared to quarterbacks after ’78. Bradshaw is one of those rare quarterbacks whose career was divided by the rules changes. It’s accurate to say he could play in any era because he did. Look at him before and look at him after and you will understand the divide between the two eras. Johnny Unitas invented the modern game. Bradshaw, the MVP for the first two Super Bowls of the post-’78 rules changes, invented the rules-changes game.

Luis from Boca Raton, FL

Vic, what are the draft prospects for Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch (Mount Carmel H.S, Chicago)? I know he’s small, but he’s accurate, tough and intelligent. Your thoughts?

I love him. I think he’s a great football player and I’d want him on my team because I would find a role for someone as athletically gifted and dedicated as he is. I don’t think full-time quarterback is that role. His hand size would concern me. I’m big on hand size. The pro ball is fatter, the season lasts longer and I want a guy whose hand covers the ball in January. I think Lynch can be an outstanding “Slash.” That’s how I’d use him.

Jack from Madison, WI

The Seahawks absolutely stoned the best offense in NFL history. So how do you think the Seahawks’ defense will be compared in history?

It’s an outstanding defense but it won’t be compared to any of the great defenses in history unless the Seahawks do it again and again, and that’s an unfair disadvantage salary-cap-era teams have in being compared to teams from before the salary cap.

Elliot from Eugene, OR

Pauline ranks Pryor as the 20th-best player in the draft and Clinton-Dix as the No. 24 overall prospect. You’ve said Tony didn’t have first-round grades for either. How is being ranked as a top 32 player not make you a first-round talent? Or what has changed his opinion of both players?

I think he explained both pretty well in the story I wrote. First of all, he’s moved Pryor and Clinton-Dix up because he’s moved several guys down. Teddy Bridgewater, for example, is in free fall. I didn’t get the sense that Tony’s opinion of the two safeties has changed much; it’s just that he’s downgraded several players that previously fit above the two safeties. Tony doesn’t think this is an especially good draft class for first-round picks. He grades on talent and he said he believes there are only 20-21 players worthy of first-round grades. It’s after the first round that Tony believes this draft gets good. According to Tony’s opinion, the good news would seem to be that the Packers are going to get the last first-round pick.

Matt from Green Bay, WI

Vic, Lonnie Ballentine appeared in Gil Brandt’s 49 no-name prospects on the rise list on nfl.com and apparently ran the 40 in 4.39 and 4.45, he’s 6-3, 219, also had a vertical of 38 inches, played all four years, is still only 21 and could be taken in the sixth or seventh round. What’s not to like?

And out of nowhere comes a “horse” named Ballentine. He’s gaining on the field. He flies past Loston and he’s moving up on Ha Ha and the incredible shrinking man. Here comes Ballentine!

Daniel from Columbus, OH

While watching Ted Thompson’s press conference, edgeless is the adjective I kept thinking of in my head. I know you like edge. What do you make of the way Ted Thompson carries himself?

There are no pep talks in the draft room. Good drafting isn’t about having an edge or getting fired up. Good drafting is all about calm and measured intelligence. If Thompson is anything, he is calm and measured.

Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, while I don’t watch the daily draft specials often, I do think Bill Polian offers very good and measured insight. What’s your take on him?

He’s an outstanding evaluator of talent; one of the best ever. He’s also the voice of needs picking, and he represents it well enough to make me think. The problem I have with his drafts is that they have tended to be boom or bust. His last several drafts with the Colts weren’t very good.

David from Sweetwater, TN

Vic, let’s talk about what immediately stands in our way, our division’s draft. They all are right there and may be a few good picks away from taking us down. Which team do you feel may be able to do that with a decent draft?

Detroit could find itself in a very interesting position. Do the Lions trade Ndamukong Suh and replace him with Aaron Donald, who would fit beautifully next to Nick Fairley? Or do the Lions keep Suh and pick a cornerback, which they desperately need? Trading Suh and picking Donald would address a long-term need to solve the contract problem the Lions are facing with their two defensive tackles. Keeping Suh and drafting a cornerback would likely make the Lions more formidable in the present.

Jeff from Cottage Grove, PA

Vic, what’s your favorite Fred Taylor story from your Jacksonville years?

I’ll never forget the smile on Fred’s face when he told me they found his rookie bonus money in the Cayman Islands. All of a sudden, the anger was gone. He was a changed man. Good fortune can do that to a person.

Scott from Fort Atkinson, WI

If the Packers have their draft board set and they pick the best player available when it’s their turn, why is it such a terrible thing to see their list? I would be curious to see if Lacy was higher than Ball or the Steelers guy.

You would immediately turn it into a controversy; that’s why it’s a terrible thing.

Joe from Appleton, WI

I understand and agree with the best available player draft strategy, but how is the best player determined?

You rank ’em, you pick ’em. I don’t know how it can be any easier to understand than that, however, there’s a new twist to this tale, I’m being told. Targeting has become such a hot trend that I’ve been told a lot of teams have a target board and tend to work from that exclusively. A target board might include the names of 50 players and their grades. These are the players the team has decided it wants to draft. They see them as their prime targets, especially considering where the team will be picking.

Chris from De Pere, WI

Vic, with the amount of players coming back from injury, and the amount of young players Green Bay is not likely to cut, do you see Green Bay trying to trade up their nine picks into six?

I think this would be a good year to turn nine picks into 11 picks.

Bob from Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA

Vic, as an Army officer, I completely understand the concept of evaluating personnel for their potential more than their performance. So what are some of the things scouts look for in players that indicate they haven’t reached their full potential?

If a guy plays bigger than his body, and you think his body has growth and development left in it, he’s your guy.

Marc from Roxbury, WI

Vic, top five players that would have been great in any era?

Top five? There are hundreds, maybe thousands of players that would’ve been successful in any era. Aaron Rodgers would be Johnny Unitas if he had quarterbacked the Colts in the 1958 title game. Here are five old guys, other than Unitas and Jim Brown, that jump out at me: Chuck Bednarik, Dave Robinson, Larry Wilson, Big Daddy Lipscomb and Hugh McElhenny.

Ben from Las Vegas, NV

Please throw out three names you think will most likely be on the board for pick 21.

How about three names that would seem to fit at that pick? Tony Pauline has Calvin Pryor at 20, Louis Nix at 21 and Ryan Shazier at 22. I have a feeling C.J. Mosley will be available at 21. He’s been available in nearly every mock draft in which I’ve participated.

Patrick from Palm Coast, FL

Best shrimp in Jacksonville?

Singleton’s in Mayport.

Beaumont from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, the Packers defense is thin on mean men. I wish they had a mean man. Are there any mean men in this draft? I mean it, man!

Jordan Zumwalt is mean. I got a warm feeling interviewing him at the Senior Bowl, as we walked off the field and blood trickled down his forehead. It made me feel young again.

John from Palmyra, VA

If you could add any player in the draft to the Packers, who would it be and why?

Clowney; he’s special. Dom Capers would run out of chalk if he had Clowney. Whatever motivation Clowney needs, Mike McCarthy would give it to him.

Dylan from Scranton, PA

I really enjoy the Packers journalist staff. Whether it’s you, Cliff or Mike, I can always count on a well-written and knowledgeable article. Thank you guys for not putting out pointless drivel like most. Do you think picking Mosley if available and then trading up for a safety in the second round is the best route?

Tony would say, “Be patient, your safety will fall to you.”

Justin from Neenah, WI

As an American History teacher, I loved the Civil War reference. What area of history have you or would you like to study the most?

I’m fascinated by the Civil War. Far and away, more Americans died in the Civil War than in any war this country has ever fought. Americans killing Americans. It’s difficult to imagine. When you spend much of your life traveling up and down I-95, you become exposed to the names: Antietam, Fredericksburg, Cold Harbor, Chancellorsville, White Oak Swamp and, of course, Gettysburg. I’d see the signs and I’d think to myself that one day I’m going to stop and visit these places. I better start.


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Vic Ketchman

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