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He set the standard for talent evaluators

Posted Mar 10, 2018

And that's why you prepare for every scenario

Anthony from Connecticut

Hoping there is a plan here. You just don’t go trading potentially your best corner for a backup QB when you are already weak at the position. I’m baffled.

The trade won’t be confirmed and official until Wednesday, the start of the new league year, but the swap of Damarious Randall for DeShone Kizer would strengthen one area for the Packers while weakening another. This would indicate there is a plan to address the cornerback position. We’ll just have to see what it is.

Blake from Orlando, FL

Ty Montgomery is a real intriguing player to me. I feel we never got to truly see what he could do as a WR. I think he is at his best when he gets the ball in open space, and I feel by him playing more at WR he will have better opportunities to get the ball in open space than RB. Correct me if I am wrong.

I agree Montgomery is at his most dangerous in open space, but I don’t think he needs to be playing as a traditional receiver to make that happen. Teams are using screen variations more than ever before and backs constantly are motioning wide. Montgomery is a playmaker. Why limit his versatility by putting him in a box?

Jason from Lake View, NY

With free-agency frenzy now only a couple of weeks away, I am wondering whom the Inbox demands the Packers must sign so that we will win the Super Bowl again?

Whoever is the most recent cap casualty appearing on the ESPN bottom ticker? I think today that’s Richard Sherman.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Did you see the video of Alvin Kamara pulling the Jeep while carrying a weight rack? The entertainment value is through the roof. Can you tell Jones and Williams to post a video of them pulling an airplane with their teeth by a rope that is on fire?

The offseason is for getting better…and building your brand.

Wayne from Green Bay, WI

Much has been made about Brian Gutekunst’s philosophy about FA and how it will differ from Ted Thompson, but do you think he will differ in certain philosophies of college player evaluation? For example, Thompson liked drafting college tackles to play guard, or liked receivers with experience returning kicks.

Gutekunst will have his own style as GM, but he and Thompson were raised in Ron Wolf’s school of scouting. These past two months have been a reminder of the undeniable impact Wolf had on Thompson, Gutekunst, John Dorsey, Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider. He set the standard for talent evaluators. That’s the baseline of Gutekunst’s philosophy, but I’m sure he’s ready to put his own twist on things after two decades in the organization.

Tom from Arizona

A few days ago, a reader wondered if the Packers spend much time performing due diligence on top prospects expected to be selected in the earliest part of the first round. If memory serves me correctly, didn't one of those players expected to be chosen in the top five back in 2005 tumble to 24th...and Ted Thompson was there with a net to catch him.

And that’s why you prepare for every scenario.

Kevin from Starr Pass, AZ

It seems every year there are one or two solid prospects from North Dakota State University. Who are teams looking at this year?

Nick Deluca, a 6-foot-3, 251-pound outside linebacker, is the big prospect for the Bison this year. James Fisher also is a long snapper to keep an eye on.

Greg from Green Bay, WI

How can the Packers be aggressive in free agency if they don't have much money for the cap?

Being “aggressive” doesn’t necessarily mean signing the top five free agents on the market. Spoff said it perfectly in a recent conversation I had with him – the game these GMs and financial executives play is three-dimensional chess. There is room for flexibility with every transaction. At least, until the pen is put to paper.

David from San Francisco, WI

Do fans and you see guard as a big position to watch this year? Seems there are a number of them who could be available at No. 45 and if I’m the GM, I don’t want to put all my marbles on Evans (despite his great season).

Fans probably see it as a bigger position than I do. Drafting natural guards wasn’t the Packers’ modus operandi under Ted Thompson. The Packers signed a good one as a college free agent in Lane Taylor, but I think the last time they drafted a true guard was 2011 (Caleb Schlauderaff). I believe they’ll take an offensive lineman in this draft – they have in 12 of their last 13 – but I would be surprised if it was a guard in the early rounds.

Julian from Menasha, WI

What do you think are the odds of the Packers targeting Minkah Fitzpatrick, if they choose to let Morgan Burnett walk?

I also was asked this same question regarding Derwin James. I see both in the same light – uber-talented safeties who can play multiple positions. They’re top-10 players in my mind, but one of those “sure bets” seems to fall every year. That’s where preparation comes into play for GMs. I’d have both on my draft board.

Owen from Oakland, CA

How long do you think it will take Kevin King to reach his full potential, if he ever does? And what do you think his full potential will look like?

There is no kitchen timer on developing prospects, but the 380 defensive snaps King received on defense in 2017 are going to benefit him in the long run. He faced off against some of the best receivers in the league as a rookie. King’s ceiling is high once he’s cleared from that shoulder. He’s the prototype for a press-man cornerback.

Mitch from Oak Creek, WI

Aren't we forgetting about somebody on defense? How about Kentrell Brice? I don't remember the last time I saw such a hard hitter in Green Bay. Get that man healthy and there’s no telling how much of a boost he could be for our secondary.

It’s too bad Brice hurt his ankle last season. There was a massive opportunity for him to play significant snaps with Morgan Burnett playing cornerback and linebacker for most of the year. Brice has room to grow, but he’s a willing tackler who loves the game. He’ll be in the mix this summer.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

I have heard that DeAngelo Yancy figures to be a factor at WR when training camp begins. Would you happen to have a scouting report on him?

He has an NFL frame with active hands and big-play ability. I spoke with someone close to Yancey in Indianapolis. He was disappointed not to crack the roster last year and is hungry to show everyone why he was a fifth-round pick. That’s been a big motivator for him this offseason.

Rex frin Laramie, WY

I just finished Cliff Christl’s essay on Lombardi’s “improvement by subtraction” philosophy. Why is it so hard for fans like me to recognize the reality of the football business, and instead want the team to hang onto our favorite players after they’ve lost a step, or whatever?

Name recognition is a powerful thing. Scouts make decisions based on what they see on the field, whereas (most) fans draw conclusions based on what they see on paper.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

There’s always talk in the Inbox of wanting to retain all your own free agents. Well, nfl.com just put out its list of the best 101 free agents and there is only one Packer on it (Morgan Burnett at No. 25). Do you think any other Packers deserved to make the list? If not, then is the Packers keeping all their own still a sensible strategy for improving next year when there are so many better players out there?

Jahri Evans probably could have been on there, too, but he is going to be 35. It’s worth mentioning Davante Adams and Corey Linsley would be on that list if they hadn’t re-signed in December. As for the rest of the list, there are players the Packers can realistically keep (Jeff Janis, Richard Rodgers, etc.) who won’t break the bank.

Tom from Minneapolis, MN

I’m very happy for Sam Shields, signing with the Rams. I just wish the Packers gave him another chance. Happy health to him in the future.

Shields’ story is one of perseverance and determination. Shields earned everything he got in his seven seasons in Green Bay. The Packers made it clear they didn’t feel comfortable putting him back on the field. The Rams obviously didn’t have the same reservations. To echo Spoff’s comments, I just hope for the best for Shields and his family. I’ll be watching with bated optimism.

Patrick from Park Ridge, IL

Aqib Talib, a five-time Pro Bowler and NFL leader in picks since he was drafted in 2008, was traded to the Rams for a fifth-round pick. I ask again, can you please help me understand trade value in the NFL?

It’s pretty simple. The heftier the contract, the smaller the compensation.

Wes from Minneapolis, MN

Living in Minnesota has been awful for the last month. Not because of the weather, but because of the Vikings fans talking about Kirk Cousins. Will Kirk make his decision by the end of next week?

I sure hope so. I expect that domino to fall fast.

Brian from Mesa, AZ

Ron from Boise asked about the Rams and Chargers sharing a stadium, and Jets and Giants already do. How are those locker rooms set up? Does each team have their own locker room or do they share the home locker room and use the visitors’ when they play each other?

They each have their own locker room. From what I understand, MetLife Stadium has four locker rooms.

Paul from Cumming, GA

In reference to Shaq Griffin's ability to play at a high level, Packers fans need only look at Nick Perry's performance with the club. That seemed to go well, didn't it?

None of this is new to Griffin. He’s learned to live – and play sports – with only one hand for the past 18 years. Will he have some natural limitations? Sure, but he’s adapted. I look forward to watching his career unfold. I feel he’s going to open some eyes – and minds.

William from Pittsburgh, PA

I don't buy the Shaquem Griffin skepticism. When's the last time you saw a defender only use his hand to tackle? You (should) use your whole body to tackle. He proved at the combine that he has the strength, speed and grit to play in the NFL and that shows up on tape, too. I'd love to see him in Green and Gold.

Exactly.

Ralph from Oklahoma City, OK

In response to Luke from Dorchester, Shaq Griffin possess technique, fundamentals, gap integrity and discipline to overcome his handicap. That makes him a leader on the field and in the locker room.

Hearing Griffin speak to the media in Indianapolis had me wanting to run through a wall for the guy. He has infectious enthusiasm. Every team needs that kind of energy in its locker room.

Joe from Kansas City, MO

Luke from Dorchester made a good point about how Shaquem Griffin would translate to the NFL. I would add that while his speed is off the charts for a linebacker, his current size: 6-2, 185 pounds wouldn't cut it. Can he play safety?

I agree. It’s a good thing Griffin weighs 227 pounds. There are plenty of 227-pound guys playing linebacker in today’s NFL. Mark Barron once played the position at 214 before bulking up, right?

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

The Bears have put a transition tag on Kyle Fuller. I have watched his play a lot (my wife is a Bears fan) and have been impressed. Wouldn't he be a better option than drafting another developmental corner?

Some fans see “transition tag” and think that player is easy to sign since teams aren’t required to give up a draft pick. However, transition tags are tricky. You’re practically bidding against yourself and then the team has the right to match. I remember Jacksonville giving Alex Mack an “unmatchable” contract. You know what happened? The Browns matched it. More often than not, it results in overpaying for the player.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

With a $177 million salary cap and QB salary of $30 million, 17 percent of the cap is in the quarterback. If QB salaries increase at a greater percentage than the salary cap, at what point does it become untenable?

Never. The cap was $123 million when Joe Flacco signed his six-year deal, which averaged $22.1 million per year. That was 18 percent of the cap at the time. The cap has increased more than $50 million over the last five years. Of course, the cost of quarterbacks is going to rise with it.

Bob from Colby, KS

Since the stadium is no longer going to be expanded, does that mean Packer stock will not be sold again? How about selling stock to help pay Aaron Rodgers’ new contract?

The salary cap is one thing, but actual money is completely different. The Packers are well-previsioned financially to handle an extension with Rodgers.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Has there been any thought about letting Rodgers finish out his current deal, then just franchise tag him a season or two? What would be the drawback to that?

The franchise tag is based on the average of the top five annual salaries at your position. We’re talking about $30 million a year for a quarterback in 2018. What is the price tag going to look like in 2020? Kicking the can down the alley ensures only one thing – having to kick it again.

Oscar from Cottage Grove, WI

Is the game of football won in the trenches or the middle of the field? That should tell you how the Packers should draft.

I agree 100 percent. Football is won in the trenches –  of the middle of the field.

Kurt from Frisco, TX

Since Mr. Murphy declined my idea for a mausoleum at Lambeau Field as a source of income for the organization, could you ask him about selling “fly on the wall” privileges to the Packers’ draft room?

You’ll probably have better luck getting a mausoleum built on the 50-yard line.

Brian from Madison, WI

Does the Inbox get a lot of spam?

We certainly get enough “questions” that could be considered spam.


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