Bill: Definitely necessity for Clifton. Who else are they going to have play left tackle? Chances are you're not going to get a ready-made starter at No. 23. For Tauscher, that sets up a good battle with Lang this summer.
Q: I agree. Good signing. I thought they'd go with Lang at RT.
Bill: I assume they battle it out. Or they can go with their best five, and if that means sliding Lang to left guard with a week left in camp and two preseason games to play, maybe that's the way to go.
Q: Bill, is it safe to say that the Packers are eyeing 1 or 2 OT's for the #23 OA pick?
Bill: I think that's probably safe to say. I know they like Charles Brown. The guy is a machine as a pass blocker, and since your No. 1 job is to keep Rodgers upright, that's a good trait. Or they could wait til the second and hope Saffold of Indiana is around or Veldheer from Hillsdale, though I keep hearing that Veldheer might wind up in the first round yet.
Q: Any chance Charles Brown falls out of the 1st?
Bill: I don't think so. Left tackle is such a premium position. In 2008, the Packers wanted Sam Baker of USC and thought they'd get him at the bottom of the first round. Instead, the Falcons took him in the mid 20s and Thompson wound up trading out of the pick.
Q: I realize that Colledge had an off year, but has he fallen that far off or is it just the fact that with Spitz and Colledge both restricted, they'll wait to see which plays better this year?
Bill: I don't think Colledge has fallen that far. Among the fans, yes, but not among the people that matter. Did he have a bad year? Yes. But he's got enough good games under his belt. He was pretty good in 2008. If Clifton can stay healthy and Colledge doesn't have to practice there half the time, maybe he's better at LG.
Q: I think I would almost prefer Jerry Hughes in the first round.
Bill: Hughes has 27 sacks over the last two seasons. That's big time. If he's not ready for every-down duty right away, at least you've got a situational rusher until he figures it out.
Q: Did you guys see Pat Kirwan's mock draft at nfl.com?
Bill: What did Kirwan say?
Q: I think he has us taking Iupati.
Bill: Iupati is great. I know we've talked about this in our last couple chats. When he was at his customary LG at the Senior Bowl, he was dominant. Not just good or really good but dominant.
Q: Hughes Round 1, OT Fox Round 2
Bill: Miami's Jason Fox is good. Sort of slipped under the radar after needing his knee cleaned up and not being able to compete at the Combine. He's another really good pass protector. He gave up only one sack as a senior and was a four-year starter.
Q: Is there any hope to see an upgrade at the corner position?
Bill: Corner is really good in this draft. At 23, maybe McCourty is there. It's later where there's some value. The kid from Indiana of Pennsylvania, I talked to him about an hour ago. He's got the height the Packers love. Probably second-rounder or maybe a third. He blew away the Ohio State kids at the pro day last week. Virginia's Chris Cook is another second- or third-round guy who has the height the Packers love.
Q: Bill, was Meredith that bad in training camp that they cut him over Breno?
Bill: Good question. I didn't think much of Meredith. Not like I thought after doing my research before the draft. Not much of that killer instinct to finish a block. That and he couldn't get through practice half the time. But Breno? geez. They still like him though. Somebody must see something in him or they wouldn't have kept a guy who wasn't good enough to replace Barbre early in the season. I agree though ... given the choice of one or the other, I would have kept Meredith. Unless they weren't convinced that Tauscher would play and needed a fallback at right tackle if Barbre couldn't get his act together.
Q: Bill, with the advent of no cap and the Pack is front loading there contracts for the UFAs what is it that you are hearing about TT taking advantage of this no cap with the RFA's? Any idea whom they would prioritize i.e. Jolly, Williams, Spitz? This might be the year to do invest for we have potentially only one year uncapped.
Bill: I think you're right about the RFAs. I would be pretty shocked if the guys you listed don't get a deal done before midseason. Especially Jolly and Williams. With Spitz, wait and see if he's won a job and go from there. Williams, there's no doubt they need to sign him. Corner is such a premium position. They can't let him get away next year.
Q: I really believe a good third-down back would do wonders for an already potent third down team. Is there any one TT might be eyeing
Bill: It's a good draft for those kind of guys. Couple late-rounders I've already written about are Toston of Oklahoma State and McNeal of SMU. Hardesty from Tennessee has great hands. Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech played in a wishbone in college and had only five catches last year. But he's got really good hands and the Packers are one of the teams showing a lot of interest.
Q: I really thought Chester Taylor could have been a very valuable acquisition.
Bill: Couldn't agree more. Wrote about Taylor in the FA part of the recent magazine. Back-to-back seasons of 40-plus catches and not a lot of wear on his tires even at 31 years old.
Q: I know TT probably would rather go the draft route for this, but keep thinking that if the time is now (based on the OT signings), it wouldn't be a bad time to offer a contract to Leon Washington as a returner/3rd down back. Though a lot of money for Grant already and a 2nd-round pick.
Bill: Great point, and considering the Jets just signed Tomlinson, maybe there's a deal to be made. It's a second-round tender but that doesn't mean you can trade a third-rounder to get him. He's coming off a knee injury though, so that's an issue.
Q: Bill, what is the GB internal scuttlebutt on Atari? My gut tells me that they will have to prioritize a safety because they can not trust Atari i.e. injury & part of the problem against passing teams i.e. Pitt, Arizona.
Bill: Safety class is great this year. Really great. There were two pro days on Monday ... Georgia Tech and LSU ... with big-time safeties. The Packers met with Morgan Burnett at the Combine and talked to him again today, I was told. Safeties are just phenomenal though. There's going to be great value in the third round with guys who have second-round grades. Burnett had seven INTs in 2008 and four in 2009. Jones from LSU is a missile in the run game with great range in the secondary, even though his timed speed isn't so hot.
Q: Bill, Do you think the Packers could draft in any of the rounds Trindon Holiday from LSU?
Bill: Depends on what they get earlier. Maybe they draft a corner or safety or running back who can return kicks. The Packers haven't been a team to have a specialist as a returner since Thompson took over.
Q: Do you really believe the Pack will take Mays if he is the BPA at 23?
Bill: Sure, I could see Mays but my gut tells me his tools are just too much to resist. There's going to be a coaching staff that sees a 230-pounder with 4.4 speed and think that they know how to bring out the best in him.
Q: There seems to be a lot of "value" in late 1st through 3rd. It takes two to tango, but I'd like to see them trading down for an extra 2nd or 3rd.
Bill: You've done your homework. There isn't the star power in this draft (ie quarterbacks) but it's a really good draft. There probably will be eight or 10 guys who are worthy of going with that pick when the Packers are on the clock. You know Ted. He loves trading back. Last year was the year to be aggressive to go get the guy. This year, you can sit back. I think trading back makes sense. And that's where a guy like Mays or someone like that figures in. At some point, a team might want to get their guy and that lets you get a deal done.
Q: Bill, Do you think C.J. Spiller could fall to the 23 pick for the Packers?
Bill: No, I think he's too fast and too versatile. I know some mocks have him getting to 23 but that doesn't seem likely to me.
Q: Bill, did more juniors enter this draft than usual, considering the possibility of a lockout or rookie cap next year?
Bill: Nobody has come out and said that but it's true. With the possibility of no football in 2011, why not get paid now? I know I would.
Q: I know Harrell is a four-letter word around these parts, but they have nothing to lose keeping him around. I think he could be good as a DE in the 3-4. If healthy and that is a huge if!
Bill: I said that about Harrell last year too. They've already paid him. Might as well see if you can get something out of him. He was really good for those few days of live contact that he participated in last summer. But I think you're kidding yourself to think he's going to pan out. Back injuries are such a pain (pardon the pun).
Q: Bill, do you think the Packers really think highly of A.J. Hawk's play? TT loves his boys but A.J. as much I like him is not producing. Let's keep in mind that the backup linebacker from Cal has another year understanding the 3-4 which was his weakness, mentally adjusting on the fly...
Bill: Hawk was a big reason why the Packers led the league in run defense. And if you can't play the run, you can't do anything else that you want to do. So I think he's fine. He won't play here in 2011 at $10 million though. In the 3-4, you need one LB to take out blockers and the other (Barnett) to get the tackles. So that's part of it. It's easy to beat on the guy who was the No. 5 pick but not producing big plays. He's been a disappointment, no doubt about it. But there's a reason why they finished No. 1 against the run. If Hawk stunk, they wouldn't have been No. 1.
Q: Do you see Brady Poppinga making the team?
Bill: At this point, yes, because Kampman is gone. But if they draft a guy early, then I'd say no. It wasn't like Poppinga was a standout on special teams. Jeremy Thompson is a wild card there too as far as Poppy's future.
Q: we all know TT loves to surprise us and wideouts typically are his forte for surprise. Any two or three guys he might go for this year's draft?
Bill: Sure ... the guy I've written to death about either with two stories or in the forums, Dexter McCluster. There's your returner/receiver/third-down back right there. A little later, you've got Clemson's Jacoby Ford who is sort of the same guy. I know they like Notre Dame's Golden Tate, too. I think they need a big-time speedster. Ford was great at the Senior Bowl. I thought he was the best of the pure receivers there outside of Roberts, the kid from The Citadel. Really good hands, and he's got good "size" even at 5-9. National sprint champ, proven kick returner too.
Q: MM seemed to uncover his thoughts on Dom Capers game plan against Arizona at the Combine. The gist was we did not disguise our coverage. Do you think Dom has an issue with MM calling him out? Dom really looked dejected in that AZ game. MM made it seem so simple yet I am sure it wasn't.
Bill: No, I think Dom is fine. He's a big boy. Honestly, what was Capers supposed to do? Warner had guys open so quick that it didn't matter how many guys were rushing.