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How much clarity can be achieved is the question

Posted Feb 28, 2018

Overall disruption is on film, not in the stats

Fred from La Crosse, WI

My second favorite part of the NFL season is upon us. Spring is in the air. Everyone is looking for the perfect inputs to improve the harvest. Mother Nature plays her part. We live with the result. Football imitates life again.

Welcome to the NFL Scouting Combine, folks. We’re here, and we’re ready to roll.

Andrew from Front Royal, VA

In my opinion, OLB, CB, RG, TE, WR are the positions of emphasis. Do you think it’s possible to fill these positions via draft/free agency in one offseason? Also while providing depth and not breaking the bank.

With 12 draft picks and a few mid-level moves in free agency, all those areas can get help, but you aren’t going to get every position exactly where you want it to be. Nobody can.

Carter from Moscow, ID

I know that drafting a guard isn't a fan-appealing pick, but if Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame falls to 14, don't we have to take him?

It sure sounds like it, but it also sounds like there’s absolutely no way he’ll last that long.

Andrew from Dayton, OH

Who helps the front office (Gute and Ball) set up what I can only imagine to be the most complicated Excel sheets ever? Do they bring in Bill Gates?

There are many behind-the-scenes, unsung folks at 1265 who are really good at their jobs.

Rob from Hollywood, FL

Damarious Randall made some good steps last season after a second season plagued by injury. Unfortunately, Quinten Rollins ended up on IR after his injury-plagued season. What does that do to a player's development? Is there any chance he makes his "second-year leap" two years late?

Of course there’s a chance. Rollins was having his best training camp in three years last summer before his season went south due to injury. It’s on him to stay healthy and play his best football. In the final year of his rookie deal, his own career depends on it now.

Luke from Oconomowoc, WI

It seems like the magic number for an OLB is 10-plus sacks a year to be considered elite. What would that number be for a player on the interior defensive line?

I would say probably six, if I had to pick a number, but it’s about overall disruption for interior D-linemen, which is on film more than in the stats.

Adam from Racine, WI

I understand that the roster belongs to Gutekunst, but who decides who is active on game day? Does McCarthy pick who is active and who isn't?

Pretty much. McCarthy and the doctors.

Michael from Philadelphia, PA

What can we expect to be changed or added to the Packers’ offense with the return of Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator?

I’m as anxious to find out as the next person. You wonder how many times, in Miami and Indianapolis, Philbin worked on an offensive concept and thought about how Rodgers might execute it.

Wayne from Kissimmee, FL

Re: Hall of Fame backfield. San Francisco actually used three running backs. The third was John Henry Johnson, who is also in the HOF.

True enough, but Johnson’s Hall of Fame accolades were earned more so in Pittsburgh than San Francisco.

J from Rice Lake, WI

Lots of pundits though the Pack would get some higher picks from the compensatory bucket. Just wanting your perspective on if the compensatory pick calculation may have changed with the new trading option being a factor?

I don’t think so. For whatever reason, the league seemed to draw the line at the contracts that averaged $10 million-plus per year for the third-round compensatory picks. Lang’s contract was just under the eight-figure average.

Joe from Broomfield, CO

Mike or Wes, could you explain the situation, in this case, the new defensive line coach’s decision on wanting to take the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M only to back out and come back to Green Bay? I know he states that family was what made him come back to the Packers. I mean, talk about putting your life in a tumbler and shaking it up until you don’t know which way is up. The assistant coaches lead a very unstable life, along with their families.

Many career paths require significant sacrifice by family members, but that of assistant football coach ranks way up there. I can’t speak to all the details of Jerry Montgomery’s situation, but at certain times, the next big sacrifice might not be worth it.

Jake from Salt Lake City, UT

I now anoint you the GM of the Vikings. What do you do with their QB situation? Did you see enough of Case Keenum to sign him to a long-term deal, or is Bridgewater going to be guy? Makes one glad the Packers aren’t in this situation right now.

I think Bridgewater might still end up back with the Vikings, but all signs are pointing to Minnesota entering the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. The situation has no obvious right answer or there wouldn’t be this much discussion. I can understand going after Cousins, but here’s the thing – what if you lose out and Keenum has already signed elsewhere by then? Richard from Clearwater, MN, asked the same question. Do you go back to Bradford and cross your fingers he stays healthy? I don’t know. The Vikings feel they have a window here and they want to maximize it, but how best to do that is the question.

Stefan from New York, NY

I've noticed some pot shots from you guys at the sports media lately and its click-baiting. It certainly has become more and more sensationalized, which is a huge reason I come here for some level-headed analysis. So thank you for giving me an escape. Do you think the media shapes the public or is shaped BY the public? Or is it a snake-eating-its-own-tail type of situation?

The explosion of the digital age has created so many “media” outlets there’s a never-ending struggle for an audience, and a large segment of the current audience focuses more on what’s interesting than what’s real, because more and more consumers turn to the media for entertainment rather than information. On its face, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the trouble is when the lines are blurred and there’s no accountability for being wrong. The audience stays for the entertainment, even if it has no basis in reality, yet it starts to become reality because it’s “in the media.”

Braden from Aurora, CO

Randall Cobb will only be 28 this season. I believe we haven’t seen his best season yet. What do you think?

I think we saw his best season in 2014, but he’s capable of more than he’s shown since then, for a number of reasons. I think he would be the first one to say so.

Leander from Koln, Germany

Have you had the chance to watch “The HawkCast” with A.J. Hawk lately? Very entertaining and insightful watching Packer players on the show. Corey Linsley said the worst thing a player can hear is a coach taking the blame for a loss or bad performance. They know exactly what's coming the following week in practice. Is there any other info you can give from your years of experience listening to coaches after games?

I’ve always felt a coach publicly taking the blame for a bad performance is setting an example of how to be accountable, and he’ll soon be figuring out who is and isn’t picking up on his message.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Which best describes the road trip to Indianapolis? A. Lloyd and Harry driving to Aspen; B. Tommy and Richard selling brake pads; C. Thelma and Louise; D. Andy driving to Zihuatanejo.

I asked Wes while he was driving and I was writing. His immediate response: “Definitely not D, though I wish it could be.”

Dan from Madison, AL

Spoff, need your help could Wes name three active (non-QB) players that are a lock for the HOF and not include Joe Thomas?

I didn’t have any problem with his picks, nor Thomas (also mentioned by Andrew in the Cayman), though I could see Peppers having to wait longer than the first ballot. J.J. Watt was the other player who immediately came to mind for me.

James from Appleton, WI

Looking at the free-agency market for tight ends, I'm not impressed. Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, ASJ, Tyler Eifert, all are respectable-to-fading receivers with questionable blocking ability. They will also cost an arm and a leg. I'm much more interested in drafting a guy like Mike Gesicki or Dallas Goedert. Good hands, average-at-best blocking, and a fraction of the cost. Thoughts?

The price has to be right in free agency for me to buy, but it will be difficult to upgrade the position immediately through the draft alone. As Wes said the other day, tight end is becoming a position with a more difficult and lengthier transition to the NFL, primarily because of the proliferation of spread offenses in college.

James from Reedsburg, WI

Following the Super Bowl, I saw several internet posts stating Nick Foles has won as many Super Bowls as Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre. Not sure when this idea if a QB doesn't win multiple Super Bowls it somehow diminishes his accomplishments, but to show how ridiculous it is Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Archie Manning, Fran Tarkenton, and Dan Fouts combined have the same number of Super Bowl wins as me.

Me, too!

Fearn from Rolling Meadows, IL

Spoff, if you went (ice) fishing with any two Packers players that you have covered, who are you taking (or, who is taking you)?

T.J. Lang, and anyone T.J. wants to bring along.

Michael from Milwaukee, WI

I agree that mock drafts are noise between now and the actual draft. Regardless, people who are discrediting Marcus Davenport in the media (not you guys) for being from a non-Power 5 conference need a two-word reminder. Khalil Mack.

Guys like Mack and Carson Wentz have changed some old perceptions.

Rocco from Green Bay, WI

Everyone knows potential draft picks can make a lot of money with a strong combine showing. Do you have any memorable instances of players losing value in Indy?

A player’s stock may plummet in the public eye with a bad workout, but NFL teams usually aren’t as shocked. A bigger drop is more likely to occur through a medical red flag, which often doesn’t come out until much later.

Dan from Golden, CO

Can you recall a time when the Packers (or any team for that matter) traded back in the draft because they were certain "their guy" would be there, but ended up being taken before the pick?

No one would ever admit it, and if a team is counting on one guy to be there, it probably shouldn’t trade back. Trades back happen when a team has multiple players similarly graded, and it would be happy with any of them, so it plays the odds that at least one will be there at a later spot, gaining an extra pick or two in the process.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Here's a football/political history trivia question from my older brother. There have been three colleges (or universities) who have had a Super Bowl-winning quarterback play for them AND a U.S. President attend? Can you name them? Bonus points if you can name the QBs and Presidents.

Tell your older brother there are four, unless he’s putting the U.S. Naval Academy (Carter, Staubach) in a separate category. I knew that one, and I knew Michigan (Ford, Brady), but I had to look up the other two – Stanford (Hoover, Elway) and Miami of Ohio (Harrison, Roethlisberger).

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, I remember when Aaron Donald was in the Senior Bowl and at the combine. His numbers and performance were off the charts, but he was too short to be a high draft pick. The Rams ended getting stuck with Aaron at the 13th pick. Are there any undersized guys in this year’s draft class that have caught your eye? We could use an Aaron Donald at 14.

I remember when Vic came back from that Senior Bowl and he couldn’t believe scouts were dismissing Donald as a top-10 pick. His story is part of what makes this process great. I haven’t heard of anyone making the kind of noise Donald did this year, but we’ll see what the next few days bring.

Nick from La Crosse, WI

The NFL announced today it is considering changing pass interference penalties from spot-of-foul to 15 yards. I understand the nature of the rule, but what happens if a wide open receiver is tackled on a pass 60 yards down the field? Would the NFL ever consider a two-tiered PI penalty structure similar to the facemask rule? Fifteen yards for "incidental" pass interference, and spot-of-foul for more egregious ones?

That’s what I’ve been saying all along, if the league is serious about changing the rule.

Matthew from Alton, IL

How does the Bennett decision affect the Packers’ cap? I'm thinking the cap room remains unchanged but would have gone up if the arbitrator ruled for the Pack. Is this correct?


Mike from Algoma, WI

If Dez caught the ball, how can we expect the catch rule will be any clearer than last year?

We’ll have to see what they come up with, and even then, we really won’t know how much clarity (or lack thereof) has been achieved until the real games begin again.

Julie from Gresham, OR

Who would win the Sports Reporter Combine? The keyboarding contest. The quickest game write-up. The most questions answered in the Insider Inbox.

I have to pass the medical exam first. Enjoy the week with us from Indy, everybody.


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