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Can you spot the diamond?

The best players adapt their game to every stage of their career


Gretchen from Dousman, WI

Wes, great article on the GMs. You did great honor to a wonderful man who is stepping aside and hinted at the future with a lovely man stepping up. Well done and thanks.

I thought Brian Gutekunst's comments were illuminating. He was just a college scout at the time all the Brett Favre stuff went down. He didn't have a permanent residence at Lambeau Field until he was named the director of college scouting in 2012, but he always was aware of the happenings at 1265 Lombardi Ave. The best GMs take risks. Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson sure did with Favre and Aaron Rodgers. It says a lot about Gutekunst he was paying attention. That experience will benefit him in the long run.

Andrew from Columbus, OH

Moving forward, what do you feel are the Packers' biggest need(s) to address on either side of the ball heading into the 2018 season?


A lot depends on how free agency unfolds, but edge rusher and defensive back are tops on my list. You never can have enough. Also, maybe a young receiver to pair with the returning veterans. **

Tim from Toronto, Ontario

Hey Biff and Spoff, can you list the players that have been selected with the 14th pick in the last five drafts? Cheers.

DE Derek Barnett (Philadelphia), DB Karl Joseph (Oakland), WR DeVante Parker (Miami), DB Kyle Fuller (Chicago) and DT Star Lotulelei (Carolina). While those last five drafts present a mixed bag, the previous four included DT Michael Brockers (Rams), DE Robert Quinn (Rams), DB Earl Thomas (Seattle) and DB Malcolm Jenkins (New Orleans).

Steve from Middletown, KY

I like the new structuring. As a manager, I always tried to train my staff to handle whatever was thrown at them. When you have a staff that's competent, you can do your own job. Of course, you're still there to mentor them, but they're free and able to make good decisions. By restructuring, I think Murphy is saying he has confidence in the guys he has in place. He will be able to work with and mentor them with his knowledge and experience.

Similar to what I wrote earlier this week, this is more about getting everyone a seat at the table and opening the lines of communication between departments. Never downplay the value of dialogue inside a corporation. Another key component of Murphy's decision nobody is talking about is the fact he's going to continue to leave all options on the table in the future.

Nate from Amherst, WI

So with the new power structure, does that mean Mark Murphy is also in charge of picking Ty's new number?

Take a bow.

Randy from Billings, MT

Come on Wes. You answer one question regarding decline due to age by saying every player declines differently and then say Rodgers should be good for many years because Brady just had a great year at age 40. Which is it?

I was speaking more from position to position. Quarterbacks are a different breed, Randall. I think Rodgers proved he could adjust to being a pocket quarterback after injuring his calf in 2014. The best players adapt their game to every stage of their career.

Josh from Denver, CO

Kevin King's shoulder issues trace back to his college days. Is there any reason to think that this won't be a recurring issue in the future?

That's impossible to know for certain. However, there's confidence King's shoulder surgery – performed by the renowned Dr. James Andrews – will clean up the lingering issue and allow him to play to his full potential. One of the things I'm most excited to see in 2018 is how King plays without any physical limitations.

Paul from New Richmond, WI

So with some of the brain trust that has been guiding the team for so many years now residing in Cleveland, how could this affect this year's draft as all of their knowledge goes with them along with knowing this team inside-out?

I don't think it's going to have a significant impact, especially since the Browns and Packers are drafting at entirely different positions. Whomever Cleveland picks at No. 1 and No. 4 likely wouldn't be there anyway. There could be a mid-round sleeper the two teams are vying for, but I don't see it changing much in the grand scheme of things.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Does the longer offseason due to missing the playoffs help the players mentally/physically heading into next season?

There are two unfortunate benefits of not making the playoffs – a higher draft pick and a chance for guys to get healthy before starting their offseason training. Players now have three full months to heal up before the offseason program starts in mid-April.

Joe from Menomonee Falls, WI

To the comment about scouting college vs scouting pros – it seems pretty obvious that these require different talents. A college player has no professional body of work in which to evaluate. A good college scout has to be able to identify players who will be able to transition into the pros. A pro player already has a body of work which can be evaluated. However a good pro scout could identify a player which has talent but isn't being fully utilized (Jared Cook when he came to the Packers). That being said, signing pro FAs usually has more financial risk.

Cook is an excellent example of a free agent who just needed a system and a quarterback to complement his skill set. College scouts have a tough job because they have to determine whether a player's skill set will A) translate to the NFL and B) fit with your team. Yes, there's more comparable film to draw from for pro scouts, but it also makes it that much more tricky to spot diamonds in the rough like Cook, Jahri Evans, Justin McCray and others. Every personnel evaluator must answer one question – can you spot the diamond?

Eric from Elkhorn, WI

Additional thought for previous question...If safety is paramount in the NFL and if players agreed to it, would it be ideal to dedicate practice time to safety concepts? Sounds like it would be a good avenue to explore for increased practice time.

I think the NFL and the NFLPA are going to have to sit down in a few years and decide whether the reduced practice time actually benefited players. As Mike McCarthy said in his final presser, injuries are up league-wide.

Scott from Los Angeles, CA

I guess the Packers are playing in Los Angeles this coming season and was wondering if you guys are coming out to host an event the Saturday before the game like you do in some cities? I host a very large Packers group out here called the L.A. Cheeseheads and would love to work with you guys.

That's all getting sorted out as we speak. Once we know, you'll know.

Sean from Boonsboro, MD

This may be premature, but would it not make sense for the Packers to go ahead and re-sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a long-term contract this offseason along with Morgan Burnett? It seems that locking up the back end of the secondary by doing so could be an important step in reinventing the defense. P.S. – I can't get enough of the Insider Inbox. You guys are top-notch at covering the team.

The Packers have another year to make a decision on Clinton-Dix because they exercised his fifth-year option. While it's possible the front office could approach him about an extension this offseason, Green Bay also needs to make a decision on Burnett and its upcoming free-agent class.

Tom from Vista, CA

Have any Packers running backs gone more than two seasons without fumbling? Has any RB?

Eddie Lacy went a full calendar year between fumbles, from his first NFL game against San Francisco on Sept. 8, 2013, to Week 3 the following season against Detroit on Sept. 21, 2014. That's the closest I can remember. League-wide, Steven Jackson ended his career with the most impressive stretch without a fumble. Jackson went four seasons without a fumble, with his last being on Nov. 13, 2011.

Jeriah from Las Cruces, NM

Last year I was fortunate enough to watch a friend of mine go through pro-day drills here at New Mexico State University. At first I was surprised to see a scout from the Packers at the pro day. Until I thought about us drafting Davon House. It makes me proud to see our scouts out at the smaller schools leaving no stone unturned. On another note, I was happy to see House come back and visit the facility on his Instagram earlier this week. I'm hoping we bring him back in 2018.

The Packers send their scouts everywhere. They keep tabs on every level of football – college and pro – to make sure all their bases are covered.

Nicols from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Do you think the Vikings will draft a QB this year or will they stick with Bridgewater/Keenum? Maybe even trade for Alex Smith?

It's hard to say which quarterback(s) they'll bring into 2018, but I'd be surprised if they drafted one. It seems like they're still high on Bridgewater, Keenum has played well and Sam Bradford is still around. I don't know who starts Week 1 of next season, but I'm guessing it's one of those three.

Ryan from Chicago, IL

If a player is eligible for a bonus for making a Pro Bowl per their contract, does it matter if they make it due to another player's injury or unavailability? Or do they have to make it in on the first vote?

I don't chase contracts like I used to, but it's been my experience most bonuses and contract escalators are based on players making the Pro Bowl upon initial balloting, not as a replacement.

Travis from Atlanta, GA

Can you explain what the "franchise tag" is and what it means for both player and team? Thanks for entertaining me during lunch every day.

The franchise tag allows a team to block a free agent from hitting the open market by tendering him a one-year contract worth the average of the top five players at his position. You can either use the tag to keep the rights to a player (Washington and Kirk Cousins) or give you more time to work out an extension (the Packers and Ryan Pickett in 2010).

Ryan from Staten Island, NY

I'm sure you guys saw Le'Veon Bell is threatening to retire if they use the franchise tag on him. Obviously the players don't like the tag. Could you ever see the NFL getting rid of the franchise tag and comp-pick system and instead using a qualifying offer system similar to how it is used in baseball?

I don't see it changing. There are more pressing matters that need to be collectively bargained. I think the system works. You can keep tagging a player if you choose, but his pay increases exponentially in Year 2 and Year 3. I see Bell's point, but I think he'd have a better argument if long-term contracts were fully guaranteed. The shelf life on running backs isn't great, but the franchise tag still has made Bell one of the league's highest-paid backs.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I'm wondering what the dates are for the scouting combine and the draft are this year? Also, Indy is about a two-hour drive for me. Is there any access to Lucas Oil Stadium to the public for the combine? It's a bucket list thing.

This year's scouting combine runs Feb. 27-March 5. I'm not sure which portions are open to the public, but the NFL is trying harder to increase the fan experience by allowing fans to watch the bench press and creating a combine course.

Bob from Green Bay, WI

Just curious...when a guy like Eliot leaves, does he give a two-week notice like is customary in other jobs, or is he just done?

I can't speak on Eliot Wolf's specific situation, but coaches and personnel executives usually are just done.

Matt from Manchester, UK

So you're not coming to see us. Again.

Maybe next year.

Dylan from Houston, TX

Based on the three games announced for London this year, it appears your prediction of the Packers against the Chargers in 2019 will be correct. How many pounds did your crystal ball cost?


Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

Would the Packers play in the UK in the international series as an away team if given the chance?

*Absolutely. The reason the Packers are one of only three teams that haven't made the trip over the pond is because of how well their fans travel. Opponents don't want to sacrifice a likely sellout (i.e. Jacksonville, 2016). The Chargers game makes sense because their current stadium only holds 30,000. *

Evan from Durango, CO

The Chargers are playing the Titans in London next year. Do you think this will affect the chances Green Bay plays them there in 2019? The Jags play in London every year, but they're an East Coast team. That's a long trip from LA to London.

The NFL can force relocating teams to play in the international series once per season until their new stadium is built, so the Chargers could easily go back-go-back.

Bob from San Antonio, TX

I disagree. I am rooting for the Vikings to get to the Super Bowl...but then melt down in their home stadium. Yep, I'm still bitter from this season.

Now that's one way to end the season…and today's column.

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