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How valuable is availability?

Rookie orientation sets the table for incoming draft classes


Dave from Savage, MN

Today must be a special day with all the rookies showing up and their careers beginning. There must be a lot of energy...and some wide eyes.

It's always interesting watching the incoming rookies navigate the Lambeau Field facilities for the first time. I have to imagine there's a lot of excitement and nervous energy. That's what rookie orientation is for, though. These three days are a crash course in Packers football and what life is going to be like in the NFL. It sets the table for a draft class.

Sean from Helena, MT

Do you enjoy watching Jeff Janis as a punt gunner as much as I do? It makes for an exciting play every time.

Janis has been a factor on special teams since he was drafted. He played a big role in the Packers resetting their net punting yards in 2015 and remains one of Ron Zook's greatest weapons as a gunner. He's too big to jam and too fast to stick with down the sideline.

Gerald from Karlsruhe, Germany

So there is no well-known special-teams experience from our draftees and UDFA? We lost some guys there, too. No returner, at least? Is the NFC title game in Seattle that long ago?

With the exception of maybe Ryan Taylor in 2011, I can't think of anyone who was strictly known as a special-teamer in college. Many of the incoming rookies were the best players on their college teams, so they didn't play special teams very often. Two of the Packers' most consistent special-teamers, Janis and Jayrone Elliott, barely played at their respective schools.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

When the Packers traded down in the fifth round with the Broncos, what did they get? I looked and didn't see any extra picks this year, so did they get one for 2018?

They received the 238th overall pick in the seventh round, which they used on Utah State running back Devante Mays.

Christopher Sean from Nashville, NC

What can we expect from Davon House?

I've always liked House. He has the length and power required to be successful in press-man coverage. House had his moments during his first run with the Packers. He was on the precipice of winning a starting job in 2012 and then injured his shoulder. He was healthy during his two years in Jacksonville. The hope is he can put it all together now that he's back in Green Bay.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, have you ever watched Aaron Rodgers highlights and said to yourself, "How does a human being become this good at something?!"

Every time I watch Rodgers play. There are more than 300 million people in this country and only a handful of them can come close to Rodgers when it comes to the art of professional football. Ridiculous.

David from Eau Claire, WI

Would you rather have an average backup QB and a decent backup RB or the other way around?

If given the choice between the two, I'd rather have the decent backup running back. You're still going to have a substantial drop-off regardless of whether you're backup quarterback is OK. Sometimes that decent backup turns into something special (see: Montgomery, Ty).

Charles from Omaha, NE

This is my first question. Do you think that our D-line and linebackers could be effective in a zone blitz. The D-line would drop into coverage and the linebackers blitz?

Welcome to the party, Charles. The defense is, by design, a zone-blitz scheme. There were several times over the past three years when Julius Peppers and Datone Jones would routinely drop back into coverage after lining up in a three-point stance. If they continue to use those concepts, I'm curious who steps in there moving forward.

Bob from Colby, KS

I'm sure you've answered this question before, but what can Letroy Guion do and not do during his suspension?

He can participate in training camp and the preseason, but he's not allowed to practice or attend meetings once the regular season begins. He's allowed to use the facilities, a change the NFL made a few years ago.

Kevin from Machesney Park, IL

After all the time spent reading and selecting questions, then crafting appropriate answers, how much time do you typically spend monitoring the comment section afterwards? Do each of you monitor after your own postings, or take turns?

It depends on how busy my day is. If I have 20 or 30 minutes to chat, I love interacting with readers. Unfortunately, the day can sometimes spiral out of my control. I've made it a point to be more active in the offseason.

Scott from Green Bay, WI

We read that the speed of the pro game is incredible, at an entirely different level than college. Rookies may have a hard time adjusting and that makes sense. But how about the rookie adjustment to money and a higher profile? Seems to me that might even be more difficult, and maybe a greater barrier to pro success for some.

It varies like in any walk of life. Every individual responds differently to greater responsibility and a change in landscape. Handling success off the field is just as important as how you manage it between the hashes.

Adam from Wausau, WI

I always viewed James Starks and Eddie Lacy as very similar backs that didn't complement each other very well. How do you see our new stable of backs complementing each other?

I disagree. I thought Lacy and Starks complemented each other well because of how they could play all three downs. I like the running styles and size of the three rookie draft picks, but I need to see them on the field before determining how they'll mesh. On paper, it's a good blend.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

How do the Packers know the three drafted running backs will be better than Christine Michael and Don Jackson?

They don't know that for a fact, but they need to find out. All three of those rookies – and Ty Montgomery – need reps and touches this offseason. That education begins today.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

There has been a lot of mention about Josh Jones and his potential impact on how Morgan Burnett can be used as a hybrid LB in some sub-packages. Do you believe a second-year jump from Kentrell Brice might have more to do with allowing Burnett to move around in the defense next year?

The more the Packers can move their safeties around, the better this defense is going to be in 2017. Everyone knows what Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is capable of. Morgan Burnett might only be scratching the surface of his potential in a hybrid capacity. Kentrell Brice allowed the Packers to be as flexible as they were with Burnett and Micah Hyde last year, and I'd expect the same will be asked of him going into the summer. Jones also could factor into that equation. The opportunity is endless on the back end.

Joseph from Mooresville, NC

Does Kevin King have any weaknesses or questions in his game? Coaches say he has size, speed, arm length, can play in the slot, his ability to bend and flip his hips is a strength for him, and bump-and-run is his best asset.

There were some questions about his upper-body strength after he had only 11 bench reps at the NFL Scouting Combine, but Eliot Wolf said the Packers didn't have a problem with that. That happens with lengthier cornerbacks. Most of the things scouts and pundits pointed out in the pre-draft process were fundamental issues. I imagine Joe Whitt will help clean that up. King's athleticism and ability to flip his hips are major positives for a 6-3 cornerback.

Don from Albuquerque, NM

You think drafting three RBs might also be for special teams? Aaron Jones punt returner?

Absolutely. Before Ty Montgomery was the Packers' starting running back in December, he was blocking punts and returning kickoffs in September. Special teams is the first step for many of these rookies.

Mike from St Paul, MN

How does the salary cap work with the 90-man roster? Do just the 53 highest-paid players count? Do all 90 players count?

Only the top 51 contracts count towards the salary cap right now.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

Here's a non-draft question that has always puzzled me: why is the physical profile of a center different than a guard? Intuitively, it would seem like you'd want the same body type for all three interior linemen.

Centers come in all shapes and sizes, but I see what you're saying. They tend to be the lightest member of your average offensive line. They're usually responsible for assisting in pass protection and getting to the second level quickly on running plays. While that's also important at the guard position, they tend to be the ones responsible for keeping the 325-pound defensive tackles at bay.

Andrew from Vancouver, Canada

Regarding Chris from Katy's question about academic conflicts, I believe the schools were Northwestern (Lowry), Stanford (Martinez, Murphy, and previously Montgomery), Cal (Davis), and UCLA (Clark), all of which are on the quarter system (trimesters plus summer). Apparently Martinez graduated a quarter early, so he was exempt. I'd be curious to know if any of those players regret missing that time learning the system or developing chemistry with their teammates

*I don't fault any player for leaving school early if they've done their due diligence and decided it's the right move at the right time. NFL careers are only so long and someone like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a perfect example of a young player who entered the NFL early, but yet has still found time to finish his degree. Kenny Clark said last year it's his hope to eventually finish his degree, as well. *

Omar from Morelia, Mexico

In a BAQ philosophy, a board with grades is needed. How do you grade our questions?

*It's just like the NFL – blue for legendary, red for exceptional, purple for good, green for decent, yellow for below average, white for needs replacing and brown for the Inbox Hall of Fame. *

Charlie from Cameron, NC

I may never ask the BAQ, but I have shown promise being published three or four times, and my best questions are ahead of me. Would you take a chance on me in the later rounds, or is my best chance in UDFA?

That's the spirit. Depending on how our board falls, I definitely think you're worth a late-round flier.

Steve from Toronto, ON

It's been reported that the Patriots have guaranteed part of a top-priority UFAs contract in addition to his bonus. Is this Belichick once again finding loopholes around rules like the undrafted rookie bonus pool, or have other teams taken this approach in the past?

This isn't new. Each year, there's a team or two that guarantees a portion of an undrafted rookie's contract to woo them, but as a personnel executive once told me in 2013, that doesn't mean squat come training camp. The real question is how valuable is the opportunity with the Packers he's getting?

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

What's with some fans' constant fascination with trading Hundley? Some seem to think TT gets calls daily asking if Hundley is available.

The only thing fans love more than quarterbacks is talking about quarterbacks. Everyone seems to want to know what Hundley is worth on the open market, but don't forget what kind of luxury it is to have a promising third-year player at a marquee position, either.

Matt from Roanoke, VA

I have not heard anything about Trevor Davis. Everyone was excited about him this time last year because of his 40 time and hands. Is he a "miss" or should we expect a jump of production in Year 2?

You mean like how Davante Adams was a miss at this time a year ago? Every player develops at a different pace. Is this an important offseason for Davis? No question, but not every receiver is Greg Jennings. These things can take time.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Is a player's greatest trait availability?

Without question. It was interesting hearing Jahri Evans talk about how veterans in New Orleans preached to him the importance of taking care of your body. A.J. Hawk took a very similar approach here in Green Bay, as well. That's how you play 10-15 years in the NFL. How valuable is availability? You see it every Sunday.

Kweku from Racine, WI

Now that the draft and free agency are pretty much over with, how many compensatory picks are the Packers in line to receive in next year's draft?

The Packers lost six unrestricted free agents (T.J. Lang, Micah Hyde, Eddie Lacy, JC Tretter Julius Peppers and Datone Jones) and signed two (Martellus Bennett and Jahri Evans). While the devil is in the details, it would appear the Packers are in line to receive the maximum of four picks next year. That's assuming everything stays the same with one week to go in the unrestricted period of free agency.

Nathan from Fennimore, WI

Hi Insiders. Seeing that we now have a date for the shareholders' meeting in July, is there any chance of having an Insiders Inbox day? The Ask Vic days were great and I am really hoping to do it again!

It's like Mayweather and McGregor. I'm game, but Spoff's agents keep putting up the red tape.

Mike from Hartland, WI

Biff, thanks for all you guys do. It's obvious both you and Mike enjoy this job, as it shows in your work. I love the Thrones reference! I'm getting a little itchy for the start of the next season.

July can't get here soon enough.

Bob from Greenfield, WI

I watched the entire draft and got all the player info on this site. On Saturday, the articles were coming hot and heavy. I'm wondering if the bleeding has stopped and callouses have formed from all the pounding on the key board. You guys did a great job, thanks.

Thanks for staying locked in on We greatly appreciate it. Those are three of the most hectic – and gratifying – days of the year in my book. Once it was over, well, let's just say I wasn't very productive Sunday.

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