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NFC North weekend mailbag

Next week at this time, we'll be knee-deep in draft coverage. So on our final weekend before Draftapalooza (Overused suffix? Yes? No?), let's see what's on your mind. Remember, I read everything submitted to the mailbag portal, to our rollicking Facebook page and to the NFC North Twitter feed. Whether I respond is based on a complex algorithm I developed during my time in Oxford. (#slightresumeexaggeration.)

On with it:

Nathan in Phoenix writes: With Brandon Marshall in Miami, can we officially revive the Ted Ginn Jr./Cliff Avril trade talk?

Kevin Seifert: I selected this question and wrote most of the answer minutes before Miami traded Ginn to San Francisco on Friday afternoon. If the Lions were interested, they missed out. But I still think Avril-Ginn remains an interesting conversation topic. (And I don't like wasting work time.) The trade means the Lions certainly had an opportunity to grab Ginn if they wanted.

We first discussed this rumor -- and I still have no confirmation it was anything more than that -- in February. At the time, I was in favor of making the deal if I were Detroit. I didn't change my opinion, even though pass rushing is generally more valued than pass receiving in the NFL.

Ginn received a fair amount of grief in Miami, but much of it is related to his status as the No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He hasn't produced like a Top-10 pick, but it's amazing what perception means to a player's production.

Take a look at the chart to your right. Ginn caught 38 passes last season and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. If the Lions got that type of production from their No. 3 receiver, which is what Ginn would have been behind Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, I think everyone would have been awfully pleased.

At the same time, there would have been some risk in parting with Avril after two seasons. As the chart shows, Avril has 10.5 sacks his first 28 NFL games. Those aren't exactly Reggie White numbers, but they're notable in the context of the Lions' otherwise horrendous pass defense over that stretch and suggest future growth is possible on what should be an improved defensive line this season.

If it were up to me, however, the benefit of adding a proven offensive playmaker with room to grow would outweigh the risk of giving up on a pass rusher who might or might not advance beyond five sacks on an annual basis.


Responding to an earlier post, Lvmagicman54 wants to know why Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo wouldn't give up his 2011 first-round pick to move up this year and draft a starting-caliber safety. If the gambit doesn't work, reasons Lvmagicman54, someone else will replace him to clean up the mess.

Kevin Seifert: I understand this sentiment, which has surfaced from many Bears fans who recognize that Angelo and coach Lovie Smith have entered "Or Else" territory in their tenures. That status should put them in a mode of maximum aggressiveness, but I still don't think it should make them reckless with the Bears' future assets.

Even if they can grab a quality safety in this manner, the trade would leave the Bears short-handed in next year's draft. Assuming they gave up the 2011 pick for a second-round choice in 2010, that would leave them in a debilitating stretch of three consecutive drafts without a chance in the first round.

If the Bears were a safety away from winning the Super Bowl, it would be a smart move. But I don't think safety is an important enough position to make that claim; regardless, the Bears are more than one player away from a championship.

Let's say the Bears make such a deal and play well enough in 2010 for Angelo and Smith to keep their jobs. They'll remain employed, but with at least one more year of scraping the barrel for talent. They need to take that scenario into account as well. I can see gutting a draft for a quarterback or pass-rushing defensive end. But not for a safety.


Rick of Grand Rapids, Mich., quotes a certain blogger as writing: "I would say that player's last name rhymes starts with an 'S', ends with an 'r' and has a 'u' in the middle." Either I am really bad at riddles or perhaps you had a few beers with lunch ... or both.

Kevin Seifert: I wish I could use that as an excuse. I wish I could claim to have concocted a riddle so complex that no one could figure it out. I wish I could claim my "delete" button was broken and/or that the "r" button is next door to the "h" button.

Alas, I have no excuse. At the time I wrote that fated sentence, I was a word that starts with "i," ends with "t" and includes "dio" in the middle.


Jordon of Rapid City, S.D., writes: How far do you think Jimmy Clausen would have to fall before the Vikings begin seriously thinking about trading up to draft him?

Kevin Seifert: If you go by this trade value chart, which has its flaws, you see the Vikings probably would have to give up their second-round choice if they wanted to go as high as No. 20 overall for Clausen. So I'm guessing he would have to fall to the mid-20s before it becomes a reasonable possibility.

But before we get too far down that road, I'm not getting the feeling that the Vikings have a ton of interest in Clausen. When he took the field to throw last week for the first time this offseason, neither coach Brad Childress nor vice president Rick Spielman were in attendance. Instead, both Childress and Spielman traveled to Gainesville, Fla., for a weekend of activities that included working out Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

At this time of year, you have to be careful attaching too much significance to that scenario. There is always the possibility that the Vikings are trying to hide their interest. But Clausen also wasn't among the players the Vikings brought in for a private meeting at their facility earlier this month, according to reports.

Given the importance attached to drafting a quarterback in the first round, would the Vikings really pass on so many opportunities to evaluate him in order to mask their interest? If I had to guess, I would say not. It's more likely that they don't plan to draft him.


Nick of Princeton, N.J., writes: In talking about the Packers needs. I've noticed that many people point out the obvious: LT, CB, and OLB (although I think we're just fine there). Here's the question: Why aren't too many people looking at safety for the Packers? You have a Pro Bowler in Nick Collins, you have the oft-injured Atari Bigby, and then after those two, you have Derrick Martin and the hateable Jarrett Bush. I mean looking at that group, you'd have to think that safety was a pressing need. Right?

Kevin Seifert: I guess I don't see it that way, Nick. When your concerns are mostly centered around backups, then the priority can only be so high.

It's true that Bigby missed three games last season and nine in 2008. But he's starter-quality when healthy, and unless he has a chronic condition, there's no objective reason to anticipate future injuries. Past injuries isn't enough to rearrange the Packers' draft priorities, in my opinion.

I agree the Packers could use more depth behind Collins and Bigby, but that's not as important as finding a future starter at both tackle positions and finding more pass-rushing sources.


Via Facebook, Craig writes: In your most recent chat you stated, "I think last summer gave us all the evidence we need on [Tarvaris] Jackson and [Sage] Rosenfels." You also stated, "[Jackson] was horrendous in training camp and lost in the first preseason game. What he did after that, which is when [Brett] Favre signed, is immaterial to me. When he had the pressure of actually starting, he wasn't up to it. Nothing personal against him. I just think I'm in line with a lot of people who don't think he can play."

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't he get hurt early in camp? If that is true, then maybe that is the reason why he didn't start the first preseason game, and only went 7-15 in it. But if you look at his entire numbers in preseason (23-36, 306 yards, 3 td 0 int), a fair person wouldn't state that this is someone who can't "play." ... While I know you can't reveal sources, you can inform your readers if you have spoken to anyone on the coaching staff, or players, who don't have confidence in Jackson?

Kevin Seifert: Thanks for the questions, Craig. We'll start with the final one. I can unequivocally state I have spoken with more than a few personnel people and NFL executives who expressed strong doubt that Jackson would ever become a successful NFL starter. But don't take it from me. We saw that belief in action during the offseason.

Jackson was a restricted free agent, but to my knowledge, no NFL team showed interest. It's true that few RFAs changed teams this year. But the quarterback position is an entirely difference species. If there is someone available with potential, teams will jump. Seattle traded for San Diego's No. 3 quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst. He's never started an NFL game. Seattle's new general manager, John Schneider, had a front-seat view of Jackson's career while working for the Packers' front office.

As for last summer, you're right. Jackson did sprain his knee on the second day of camp. In the interim, Rosenfels took over working with the No. 1 offense. That's why he started against Indianapolis. I realize that it might seem hypocritical to criticize his performance against the Colts and then write off his success in the other three games, but it is what it is: He played poorly when competing for the job and much better when he had no pressure on him.

I don't want this to appear to be a personal campaign against him. I think Jackson is a pretty decent guy. But on the field, it's my opinion that he has never demonstrated the capacity to be a long-term starter in the NFL. And I'm not the only person who thinks that.