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Why don’t the draftniks ever say ‘this guy stinks’?

Posted May 14, 2014

I’m picking Johnathan Franklin for MVP of OTAs


Bryan from Madison, WI

Vic, I have to say, I am getting pretty tired of hearing concerns/anxiety/remorse from your readers. When all the mocks had us taking Shazier or Mosley, everybody wanted Ha Ha. Now we have Ha Ha and everybody is worried he is not going to be as impactful of a player as Shazier or Mosley. Vic, can you please tell me why the Packers didn’t address their most glaring need on defense in the first round and draft Chris Borland? Why didn’t they trade up and draft Clowney?

You’re just being sarcastic.

Axle from La Crosse, WI

During the recent draft, listed next to each choice for each team was an expert rating. The highest I saw was 7.6 and the lowest was 5.02. Is that rating only about the player, or does it consider their cost (draft pick number) in the valuation? My point is shouldn’t rating be based on skills, ability to learn and cost to acquire as a combination?

In my simple world, a good football player gets a high grade and a bad football player gets a low grade. I think it’s time to put Mel and his hair back in the closet, say goodbye to all of this draft evaluation baloney and all of the ex-jockos getting free money for being wrong, and begin preparing for the start of another exciting Underwear League season, also known as OTAs. Who will be the MVP of this year’s Underwear League? I’m picking Johnathan Franklin. What are your thoughts, if any, on the upcoming underwear season?

Lorenz from Berlin, Germany

Vic, you always criticize fans for being too emotional and I think you’re missing the main point. Being overly emotional is the best part about being a fan. Having your happiness for the day depend on your team is fun. I’m not only a football fan but also a soccer fan.

There’s the problem.

Jack from Madison, WI

Why do you think a move for Clay Mathews to inside linebacker would be insane? We have Perry, Neal, Peppers and Bradford at outside linebacker. I think he would be a beast in the middle.

OK, Jack, I want you to tell everybody why Clay Matthews’ $10.9 million salary cap hit should be used to shed blocks and tackle the ball carrier, instead of sacking the quarterback. I’ll sit back and listen.

Gary from Kenosha, WI

With the Packers’ first pick, you had Ha Ha and Joe Football still on the board. Did you look at Joe as a possible choice?

I was never a big Joe Football guy.

Daniel from Fredericksburg, VA

Vic, while I believe Michael Sam getting drafted was monumental in terms of historical milestones, I find myself worried the Rams have placed themselves in a tough position. What if he doesn’t make the final roster? What if he never plays a single snap? Is there any reason to worry about the media’s role in his story?

Historical milestones, to use your words, require media coverage. They must be chronicled for future generations to enjoy and examine. If the Rams don’t have a plan for managing the media coverage, then they should’ve never drafted Sam. It’s not the media’s job to worry about becoming a distraction.

Jake from Eagle River, WI

Every source I read before the draft stated Carl Bradford would be moved to inside linebacker when he comes to the NFL, so let’s stop talking about how the Packers didn’t draft an inside linebacker.

I am so gullible. Shame on me for reporting what the Packers said.

Sam from Nashville, TN

I’m not worrying about Packers personnel, but I’m still genuinely curious about what we are going to do with all these outside linebackers with so few inside linebackers. There’s gotta be a story somewhere. Maybe we’ll find out in training camp? Someone moving over?

Maybe they don’t believe they have a need at inside linebacker. Or maybe they have a plan for addressing the need they’re perceived to have at inside linebacker. Time will tell and I can wait without worrying.

Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

I watched a pre-draft show where they followed prospects to their neighborhoods and high schools. Marqise Lee said he didn’t even watch NFL football because it was so far removed from him that he never even dreamed he could make it there.

I don’t know who said it, but I remember from a long time ago hearing someone say that if football was the toughest thing you ever did in your life, you had no chance of being good at it. For many, maybe even for most of these players, life is the toughest thing. It’s been that way for a long time, from when football was a way out of the mines and the mills, to when a lot of great football players came back home from World War II. Chuck Bednarik was a B-24 waist gunner who flew 30 combat missions over Germany. You think football was tough for him? For these men, football has always been a game. It’s been an escape from the hardships of poverty, abuse, war and rejection. These are men whose hard-scrabble lives will always help them keep football in its proper perspective. We can learn from them.

Patrick from Appleton, WI

Vic, when I look at the Packers’ defensive personnel, I start to wonder if Coach Capers may be thinking about switching to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Do you think Dom would consider that?

He’s coached it before. If his personnel is a better fit for a 4-3 than a 3-4, then I have no doubt he’d play a 4-3. Let’s not forget, however, that Coach McCarthy has already gone on record as saying the Packers will continue to play a 3-4.

Paul from Wauwatosa, WI

Vic, I’m not an X’s and O’s person when it comes to football. I just watch the games, have fun seeing the draft and enjoy the ride. What changes in the game today have caused the running back position to be one that hasn’t been addressed as early in the draft by NFL teams as it used to be?

Football on all levels has become a passing game. It’s that way because rules changes and adaptations have made it easier to throw the football than ever before. Last year, Drew Brees led the league in completion percentage, 68.6. In the ’70s, prior to the rules changes of 1978, it was common for good quarterbacks, championship quarterbacks, to complete fewer than 50 percent of their passes. The quarterbacks didn’t get better, passing the football got easier. So why run it when you can pass it more easily? With the explosion of pass attempts, passing yards, etc., there was a shift in premium positions. Once upon a time, left guard and right tackle were premium positions because they were the primary blockers in the running game. John Hannah was the fourth pick of his draft. Now, left tackle is the premier position on the offensive line because he’s the chief pass blocker. The premium positions are passer, pass blocker, pass rusher and pass defender. The rules caused that shift, and the rules were altered to achieve that effect because the fans want passing. College football has also played a big part in this downgrading of the running back position. Beginning in 1972, a running back won the Heisman Trophy every year for 12 consecutive years. Since 2000, a quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy every year except two. The great backs aren’t there in the numbers they once were because we’re using them differently and we attach less value to running the football. LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing last season and also caught 52 passes. He’s one of the stars of the game, but he was a second-round pick because there’s been a shift in importance of positions.

Simon from Aalborg, Denmark

Vic, with a large number of receivers currently signed, who do you see making the final roster?

It’s way too early for that kind of stuff and, frankly, I don’t think it’ll turn out to be nearly as dramatic as people think it will. Draft-and-develop football teams always find a way to keep players they believe offer the potential for development.

Derek from Prince George, BC

Last year, after drafting Lacy, you said nobody calls Alabama soft. Do you think that’s what Ted was going for in getting a few more prospects from the Tide?

That’s where I’d go to find block-and-tackle football players. Alabama plays the game the way it should be played.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

Vic, it’s OK having a big-letters statement that the defense will improve, but after last season’s showing, that wouldn’t be too difficult, so the burning question is by how much will it improve? Do you see a significant improvement to make us a more respected team on defense?

It sounds to me as though you’re looking for an argument, and I don’t think that’s fair because Coach McCarthy called his shot last year. He pointed to centerfield and then hit it out of the park, and that has my respect. What he said on Saturday is what I wanted him to say at the owners meetings. I guess after he had some time to think about it, he decided to say it. Why not? It worked for the running game last season, maybe it’ll work for the defense this season. How much did the Packers’ running game improve in 2013? It went from No. 20 to No. 7. The Packers defense was No. 25 last season. Is No. 12 OK?

Buck from Santa Fe, NM

Ray from Antigo asked a perfectly honest and interesting question. Your flip answer seems inappropriate. You say we’re to enjoy the game, the draft, the whole (thing), yet you often sound like the Packers man behind the curtain.

I had already answered the question in a direct and respectful manner a couple of times previously. I’ll do it again. IT WAS A REALLY BAD DRAFT FOR INSIDE LINEBACKERS. If you wanted one, you had to get him early, and by the time the Packers reached their third-round picks, the inside guys were gone. I know, everybody loves Chris Borland. I love him, too, but let’s not forget that he’s 5-11 and Bill Polian, who is one of the finest evaluators of talent the game has ever known, absolutely trashed Borland in Polian’s evaluation of Borland on Saturday. What I was trying to convey in my response to Ray yesterday is that you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken feathers. You can draft an inside linebacker, but that doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem at inside linebacker. I don’t even know there is a problem. All of a sudden, there’s this huge perceived need there. Is it because we need something about which to obsess? Here’s some advice from behind the curtain: Be patient and let’s see what the Packers have in mind for the position. If there’s a real need there and they have failed to address it adequately, I’ll come out from behind the curtain and acknowledge that failure.

Randy from Medicine Hat, AB

A friend of mine and I were having a discussion at work about Michael Sam’s draft position. He said he thought Sam could have gone as high as the second round, but the publicity negatively affected him. I said he may have been an undrafted free agent at best that got pushed into the seventh round. Have either of us come close to hitting the nail on the head?

On the first day of the Senior Bowl, I asked Tony to point out the prospects to be pass-rushing linebackers in a 3-4. He pointed to Dee Ford, Jeremiah Attaochu, Marcus Smith and Michael Sam, and a few others. I asked about Sam and Tony said he could push himself into the bottom of the first round with a big Senior Bowl week. Sam did not have a big Senior Bowl week. He had a very bad Senior Bowl week and his stock dropped dramatically. By the time Sam made his public announcement, he was in free fall.

Dawson from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Vic, what are your thoughts on Sam Barrington? Do you think he could challenge Brad Jones or A.J. Hawk for a starting position?

Barrington is what I like to call a jar on the shelf, which is how I classify young players in the development process. We tend to forget about them because they weren’t high draft picks, but a lot of them emerge and become long-term fixtures. Barrington has measurables similar to Carl Bradford’s. Barrington will have had a year in the Packers’ strength and conditioning program, and he will have had a year to assimilate himself into the pro football regimen. You don’t take a kid out of South Florida, bring him to the frozen tundra and expect him to make a seamless transition. The culture shock is enormous, not only in making the transition from college to professional football, but in lifestyle, too. Barrington is an athletic and motivated player. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make a big jump this summer.

Mahmoud from Laredo, TX

I was reading about how a draft analyst believed Tajh Boyd’s fall in the draft had to do with his numbers being inflated because he had an explosive receiver like Sammy Watkins. Can we really attribute the success of a position to another in football? I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Boyd’s fall has nothing to do with his numbers. Boyd’s fall has everything to do with a complete loss of passing accuracy. I really liked him going into the season, but the guy I saw at the Senior Bowl was so bad it was hard to watch. I can remember one of his passes sailing over the fence at Ladd Peebles. He’s got a live arm, but you don’t know where the ball is going and that’s a result of terrible mechanics. Boyd’s got more release points than Luis Tiant. It has to be fixed. Can it be fixed?

Ryan from Platteville, WI

I think Joe from West Bend, WI, is going to be disappointed. The NFL Total Access crew gave the Packers a B-minus on their draft. The rest of the NFC North got B’s or B-plusses. Whatever are we going to do?

These grades are meaningless because seldom does a team get graded lower than a C. You know why? Because the draftniks seldom trash a prospect as Polian trashed Borland. Go back and look at the list of first-round picks through the years. It’s loaded with busts. So when David Carr and Akili Smith, for example, were drafted, did Mel Kiper or any of the draftniks say “these guys stink and they will be terrible pro quarterbacks”? No, all you heard was how great they were going to be. So how can you give any team a bad grade when all of the guys they’ve drafted are players you praised? I give Kiper credit for having created the show that is producing eye-popping TV ratings, but until I hear one of these TV draftniks say “this guy stinks,” I won’t take any of them seriously.


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