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It takes two to tango on defense

Posted May 1, 2018

The Packers' three new receivers enter a situation built for success


Amy from Bayport, MN

Finally! The prognostications are over and we have ACTUAL draft picks to talk about. Although I suppose now the power rankings will start.

The best part of the NFL offseason is when the draft concludes and all is quiet for the next two or three hours. Then, without fail, the draft grades, power rankings and 2019 mock drafts all begin. Rise and repeat. Good morning!

Abel from Tucson, AZ

If you count Damarious Randall, seven first- or second-round picks in the last five drafts, that’s a lot of investment in the secondary, and with how good the D-line is, I think now it’s time to perform and take the defense to the next level.

That’s the idea. A primary focus on the secondary is geared towards taking the defense to the next level.

Ralph from Naples, FL

Insiders, there has been a lot of concern regarding our pass rush. Has anyone spent time looking at film to determine how long it is taking for our rushers to put pressure on the quarterback?

It takes two to tango, but there are no set rules about whether pass rush or coverage must lead the dance. Brian Gutekunst made a good point before the draft. There have been prolific defenses with great pass rush and so-so coverage, and great coverage and so-so pass rush. It’s about finding balance.

Mark from Fayetteville, NC

The most intriguing pick to me was Oren Burks. He's as big and probably as athletic as Kendall Donnerson. What's the outlook on moving him to outside linebacker as another edge rusher?

Burks will be an inside linebacker, but he has the hybrid traits teams are looking for in the middle of a defense. That versatility is the most exciting part of his potential. He played safety and slot cornerback at Vanderbilt before passing the eye test at linebacker as a senior. He’ll help fill the shoes of Morgan Burnett and Joe Thomas as a coverage linebacker.

Kyle from Spooner, WI

Help me understand this "EDGE" designation. I get that the player is an edge rusher, but did we just rename the OLBs or what? Where did it come from? Is it a draft-only thing?

It’s just a term that’s become popular in recent years with lines blurring between 3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends.

Dennis from Ratingen, Germany

Thank you very much for your great work. As a fan from Germany, it is a great opportunity to get a lot of information and to learn a lot. The Packers have a large fan base in Germany. Therefore, the joy of many was naturally great when Equanimeous St. Brown was drafted. You think he can make it into the roster?

That’s up to him, J’Mon Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. What I like about the Packers drafting three receivers is it’s a situation built for success. Just look at what happened last year at running back. Those three rookie receivers have gifts you cannot coach and now they get the chance to show what they can do with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. In St. Brown’s case, it also reunites him with DeShone Kizer. You couldn’t ask for a better stage.

Patrick from Saint Louis, MO

I think the practice battles I'm most interested in are those between Jaire Alexander and our slew of tall receivers. What about you?

I’m with you. It’s a bunch of young and hungry cornerbacks competing against a bunch of young and hungry receivers. Iron sharpens iron.

Matt from Eureka, IL

Something that sticks out to me is the freak athleticism of Kendall Donnerson: 4.4 40 and a 40-inch vert for an edge. Woah! He is a seventh-rounder so obviously raw. Is he a guy to try to keep on the roster and play special teams while trying to develop?

I believe it was Eliot Wolf last year who said teams picking late in the third day are looking for raw prospects with traits – a good 40 time, impressive strength, tremendous size or agility. It’s inevitable these players will have flaws in their game, but those traits give prospects a foundation to build on. Donnerson will be making a big jump from the FCS to the NFL, but that 40 and vertical gets your attention. He’s a rookie to watch this summer.

Paul from Hartland, WI

Gutekunst’s first draft looks good and I look forward to seeing how the guys perform. However, I'm just as excited to see how the '16 and '17 classes continue to develop. Blake Martinez, Kenny Clark, Jason Springs, Dean Lowry, Trevor Davis, Kevin King, Josh Jones, Montravius Adams, Vince Biegel, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and others still on the roster with a lot of potential.

It’s a bonus when a team gets immediate production from a draft class, but real improvement comes from prospects taking off in their second or third seasons. Clark and Martinez made quantum leaps last year, but it should be fun to watch what King, both Joneses and Williams do in Year 2 in addition to whoever else breaks out in 2018.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

With 11 players drafted and over 15 UDFA players brought in to help fill the 90-man roster, what positions of need might still be addressed before training camp? How far away from 90 is the current roster?

The Packers most likely will be at 90 players once the rookie orientation camp is over. They’ll sign and cut players from there.

Austin from Schuylerville, NY

J'Mon Moore reminds me a lot of Davante Adams after watching his film. Route-running and elusiveness are spot on. Do you think these traits will help his rapport with Aaron?

Route-running and catching what’s thrown to you is the quickest way for young receivers to earn Aaron Rodgers’ trust. If Moore can put his drops behind him, he has the tools to be a player in this league. He has great size for the position and produced in arguably college football’s best conference.

Travis from Minersville, PA

Insiders, so after the draft what position group do you see as having the most competition to make the team and for playing time?

Defensive back, receiver and both sides of the lines should have the best competition for not only roster spots later this summer, but also significant roles once the season begins.

Stephen from Fort Atkinson, WI

Do you think the Saints estimated where they will be in the draft next year to decide if giving up next year's first-round draft pick was worth it?

I’m sure they used winning the Super Bowl as the calculation, but that pick is still worth 590 points on a draft-value chart. They must have felt they were one rusher away from completing their defensive overhaul. Risk and reward.

Brian from Sussex, WI

I don't get the criticism about not getting an OLB as if it was the biggest need. The DL is a strength, and the back end got significantly better. There are still two high-end starting OLBs on the roster. The need was based on uncertainty in depth, and getting a jar on the shelf to replace current starters.

I know the Packers were extremely deep at edge-rusher from 2014-16, but I’d argue their current depth chart is still better than the first four years under Dom Capers. Green Bay once started Dez Moses, Frank Zombo and Brad Jones opposite Clay Matthews. The Packers obviously need players to emerge behind Matthews and Nick Perry, but the cupboard isn’t bare. There are four guys returning with NFL experience from that OLB rotation.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Given Marquez Valdes-Scantling's size and speed, any idea on why he did not get offers from larger Division I programs? Seems like the type of prospect that most premier schools would want.

Valdes-Scantling actually did start his college career with a large D-I program. He played two seasons at NC State, catching 44 passes for 538 yards. Valdes-Scantling said he opted to transfer because he felt he wasn’t fulfilling his potential. He wound up setting a single-season receiving record as a senior at USF.

Sam from Nashville, TN

"I’m very interested to see what 6-4, 206 looks like running a 4.37." It looks a lot like Jeff Janis.

With all due respect to Jeff Janis, there is a big difference between dominating in the GLIAC and the ACC/AAC.

James from Louth, Ireland

What time did Josh Jackson run at the combine?

4.56, but he played faster at Iowa than he timed in Indianapolis.

George from North Mankato, MN

How active do you think the Packers will be in the late free agency period between now and opening weekend? There are bound to be some players who will be available at the right price point. I have to believe that this avenue of player acquisition was discussed during the draft.

I could see Green Bay bringing in a free agent or two once the May 12 deadline passes for unrestricted free agency. It just seems like they tend to sign a guy (Ahmad Brooks, Quinton Dial and Cedric Benson) late in the process.

Mike from Columbus, GA

I look forward to the Gutekunst interviews. Very personable and he doesn’t try to be coy. The Packers seem to be in good hands.

I thought Gutekunst knocked it out of the park last weekend. He was courteous, gave thorough explanations of his decision-making process, and even had some funny moments like the reference to his garage fridge.

Jon from Salem, MA

We've all heard the stories that the Packers had a fourth-round grade for Donald Driver, yet were able to draft him in the seventh. Why did they then continue to pass on him as the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds rolled by? Obviously they got more value, but if you have that high of a grade on a player, how could they be so sure another team didn't also have a similar grade?

I’m guessing the Packers felt like Driver would be on the board in the late rounds since Alcorn State isn’t really known as a football powerhouse. Value matched availability in his case.

Wayne from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Hello from Canada! What do you think the chances that GB will not select a player with the pick from NO next year? I just wanted to raise the possibility that GB may trade the pick before this season even starts.

It depends on how the season unfolds. If all goes according to plan and the Packers make a run in 2018, then that extra pick could be used to get them back into the top 15 again.

Forrest from Tofoa, Tongatapu

How is Vogel's job in question? Man can kick the heck out of a football. So can JK, but are we missing something here? Drafting a punter is a big commitment and one that many Packers fans have bitter memories of. B.J. Sander anyone?

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about JK Scott before Saturday. I barely looked at punter at all. However, many pundits had him as a third- or fourth-round pick. We don’t know how the Packers’ draft board looked, but they got good value for him. It’s not like trading up to take Sander in the third round. Green Bay wants to improve its special teams. This move increases the competition at that spot.

Philip from Fishers, IN

How long after the final round of the draft do the teams have to wait in order to sign athletes as UDFAs? And, if I may, do players make more money being drafted in the final round as opposed to being an UDFA?

Teams can start signing players as soon as the draft is over, though most start recruiting players throughout Day 3. Players who are drafted make substantially more – the signing bonus for a seventh-round pick last year was around $70,000 – but the silver lining for UFAs is they can sign wherever they so choose.

Espen from Fond du Lac, WI

At first, I was puzzled by the high punter drafts this year. Then I read up on JK Scott and saw his field goal history. I was intrigued. With kickoffs an endangered feature, do you see teams moving toward punters who can do field goals?

I don’t think Scott is going to challenge Mason Crosby for the Packers’ kicking job, but his past experience gives Green Bay an emergency option. It kind of reminds me of Craig Hentrich, who made eight field goals and six extra points during his career.

Greg from Downers, IL

Just saw the Pack released Callahan. Where are we going to get our brake pads now? Looks like Gute has set up an interesting QB scenario. With the addition of DeShone Kizer, there is a definite battle for backup. Do you see the Pack keeping both Kizer and Hundley on the active roster in September?

It’s possible. Like I said before, the two years the Packers didn’t keep three on the 53-man roster were the same years Aaron Rodgers went down. Hundley and Kizer are the favorites to battle for that No. 2 spot, but we’ll see where things stand once the UDFA signings come in.

Karl from Santa Fe, NM

Don't know when you'll have the go-ahead to comment on the UDFA signings, but wow! This group is way more talented than many previous years. Your thoughts?

We’ll get into the nuts of bolts of the college free agents once physicals are passed and contracts are signed, but the group looks good on paper. There are several prospects with intriguing backgrounds.

Bill from Champaign, IL

Just an easy question and something I'm sure the Ravens thought about. But they traded up to get the last pick of the first round. And those contracts offer the fifth-year options. Could they have waited and not turned in their pick until Friday before Cleveland? That would have been the second round and paid him less but lost the fifth-year option. Maybe a way to work the cap and still get their guy.

I guess there’s nothing stopping the Ravens from doing that other than getting ugly looks from everyone in Dallas.

Roger from Phoenix, AZ

Could we please stop "Gute,” "The Gute,” and "Gutey?” His name is Gutekunst. This childish need for nicknames is getting ridiculous.

No prob, Rog.

Bill from Eagle Lake, MN

Any thoughts on a veteran blocking tight end that is available? Seems to be the biggest need on the roster.

There aren’t many tight ends left on the market, let alone blocking ones. The top options are Marcedes Lewis, Brent Celek and Anthony Fasano.

Robert from Saginaw, MI

Wes, will the Packers be unveiling Jerry Kramer's name in the ring of honor at a game this year?

Yes, but no date yet.

Matt from Park Ridge, IL

I may be old school in a Mitch, Beanie, and Frank kind of way, but I really enjoy reading the Insider Inbox and articles and I rarely watch the videos. Which medium do you prefer creating? Does it change based on the message you want to deliver?

Our video department does a tremendous job, so I definitely suggest checking out its phenomenal content. However, I’ve always been a writer first. It’s my passion. You can convey so much more information in words than the constraints of video.

Glen from New York, NY

I am a Packer backer over 50 years and I think the cutting of Joe Callahan is the worst thing I've seen since the Hadl fiasco in the ’70s. He never got the chance to play in a regular game that he deserved last season, and I know he has the tools. What say you?

I say you have a doctorate in hyperbolism.


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