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If you control the clock, you control the game

Who was the NFL's best seventh-round draft pick?


Jon from Wright City, MO

Insiders, thank you for all you do. I love press conferences and interviews. I enjoyed the Mark Murphy and Ted Thompson interviews at the owners meetings. Do you know when Mike McCarthy's next press conference will be scheduled?

McCarthy met with the Green Bay reporters Tuesday afternoon and is scheduled to participate in the NFC coaches breakfast this morning. We have stories and videos already on the website with more coverage to follow.

Troy from Milwaukee, WI

Wes mentioned in the column Tuesday the Packers run defense was statistically their best since 2010. In 2010, we won the Super Bowl, and in 2016, we were one step away. Do you think there is a formula in there? Teams always want to run the ball to reduce the clock and keep great QBs off the field.

I'm a pretty staunch believer in the game being won in the trenches. Obviously, there are exceptions. You've probably heard me talk in the past about the Colts winning a Super Bowl with the worst run-defense in the NFL. However, I think teams that can run the ball, defend the run and out-physical the other team typically are the ones left standing at the end of a season. If you control the clock, you control the game.

Ben from Kewaunee, WI

I think my favorite regular season memory last year was Davante Adams catching that long TD against Seattle, then continuing to run through the end zone pumping his fist. I felt like that was the exclamation mark on his bounce-back season.

I still love that touchdown catch against Jacksonville when Adams fought off Davon House, and immediately turned and pointed to his name plate on the back of his uniform. It was kind of a "Remember me" gesture. Whatever the outside perception was, Adams never lost confidence in his abilities.

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

When the Packers hosted the Vikings in 2013 (the Matt Flynn comeback game), the Vikings kicked the tying field goal with 3:54 left in overtime. After playing a five-quarter game, the Packers were blown out four days later on Thanksgiving by the Lions. How much would the proposed shorter overtime have helped the Packers in that situation?

The proposal was put on the table to help teams in situations such as these. How much of a difference would it have made? I'm not sure, but it's a topic worth considering and probably needs more flushing out. Tabling the discussion until the spring meeting gives the NFL and Competition Committee more time to look over the proposal.

Tim from Superior, WI

With the running back situation up in the air and the possibility (even remote) that Adrian Peterson will come down in price and consider the Packers, I started to try and recall the last Green Bay running back that was a threat to opposing defenses to take it to the "house" any time they touched the ball? I have watched Packers football for nearly 50 years and I can't recall the Packers ever having an explosive running back. Am I missing something? Or someone? Sure would be nice to have breakaway speed in the backfield for once.

Ahman Green definitely fits into that category. He's one of the greatest running backs in franchise history and had a carry of at least 70 yards in four of his seven seasons with the Packers. He was a game-changer. Lacy wasn't the type of back who routinely broke 40-yard runs, but his style wore defenses down. You don't need a guy who runs a 4.3 to beat a defense. You need someone who knows how to use their strengths to get to the next level.

Dave from Philadelphia, PA

Wes, laughable that someone asked you about the quarterback of the future when Rodgers has stated he's not even close to done. Rodgers is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and we have him. Packers fans might be in a rude awakening. Remember the time period between Starr and Favre? Enjoy it while it lasts.

It's a problem, but not one exclusive to this column. People fixate on the future, but I'd caution against that in Rodgers' case. He's going to go down as one of the greatest players in NFL history. Yes, he won't play forever and someday the Packers will need to find another quarterback, but that's not a conversation worth having about right now. Breathe easy. Enjoy the moment. Plus, what's this talk of Tom Brady playing another six or seven years?

Jerry from Wausau, WI

There are a few very good football players coming into the league this year such as Washington CB Sidney Jones and Michigan TE Jake Butt who will still be rehabbing when we draft. How are these guys slotted on the big board when it comes to drafting them? Do they go immediately to IR or how do they fit in a team's roster makeup?

It's hard to predict where players with injury situations will fall. I'm sure many of you recall how the Willis McGahee situation played out with Buffalo in 2003. We won't know for certain where they'll land until draft day. If they're not ready by training camp, they'll be placed on the physically unable to perform list. It gives NFL teams more flexibility for when a player could return. If they're not cleared, they just stay on PUP all season like Derek Sherrod did in 2012.

Malte from Odense, Denmark

I recently learned that Ricky Jean-Francois was a seventh-round pick in 2009, which made me wonder who is the best seventh-rounder ever are in your opinion?

I don't think you can have the conversation about the best seventh-round pick ever without including Donald Driver, who enjoyed a 14-year NFL career and finished as the Packers' all-time leading receiver. Marques Colston was a special receiver, as well. Gary Anderson played 23 years in the league. Scott Wells also had a solid career in Green Bay after entering the league in 2004 as a seventh-rounder.

Jordan from Stockton, IL

Insiders, how do the Packers identify and develop good people for their front office and scouting positions? The Packers are a franchise that is consistently successful in the NFL and they continuously make smart moves and withstand various changes in front office positions over the years.

Thompson has been asked about this before and he points to finding good people who are detail-oriented and work hard. One thing that's been passed down from Ron Wolf's tenure is how the Packers embrace developing young scouts. When a personnel executive leaves for a GM job, they've promoted guys like Eliot Wolf, Brian Gutekunst and Jon-Eric Sullivan up the ladder. The formula has worked.

Chad from La Crosse, WI

It seem like a lot of my coworkers forgot that we have Clay Matthews on our roster. I think he can still play at a high level. Do you think Clay will return to Pro Bowl form this year?

He's been voted to the Pro Bowl six times in his seven NFL seasons, so the odds appear to be in his favor given the nature of his position as a pass-rusher.

Pete from Sheffield, United Kingdom

Do you envisage new contracts for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Davante Adams prior to the start of next season? Would hate to lose either of them.

That's still a little ways down the road, but the Packers covet both players. There is a little more flexibility with Clinton-Dix's situation because the Packers can exercise his fifth-year option as a former first-round pick, keeping him under control through 2018.

Jesse from Bismarck, ND

I'm not for teams moving but the Raiders move seems like a legitimate fit to me. I have some Raider friends here in ND who haven't gone to a home game because a flight to Oakland is more than $1,000. Vegas, however, can be booked for usually $150-$200. We all know that the Raiders have a cult following of rabid fans who now can afford to fly in for home games, but so can visiting team's fans. As long as it's not the Packers moving, I'll consider it.

You hate to see any city lose its NFL team, but the move to Vegas has grown on me over the past year. It started with all the attention the NHL received for putting a team there. It's the 40th biggest market in the country, but the constant stream of visitors increases its viability in my eyes. Over the coming years, I believe a solid fan base can be cultivated.

Drew from Waterloo, IA

Why do you think the Dolphins were the only team that voted no to the Las Vegas Raiders move?

Miami owner Stephen Ross said it was his contention teams should stay in the communities that have supported them. His exact words, via the Mercury News, were "we as the owners and as a league owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted." That was his reasoning.

Jeremy from Grande Prairie, Canada

I was reading up on Packers President Mark Murphy, and was surprised to learn that he completed his MBA while an active player. He somehow managed to graduate from a top program while earning All-Pro honors. Can you give us a sense of how common or rare that approach would be for active players today?

That also caught me by surprise when I was editing his section in the Packers Gameday programs last year. Murphy has a very unique resume. There are many players who go back to school to get their degrees during the offseason, but I can't think of anyone getting their MBA while still playing in the NFL. I believe Murphy is also the only individual in NFL history who won a Super Bowl as both a player and CEO. Not too shabby.

Greg from Chicago, IL

Is there much chance of B.J. Raji playing in 2017? DL would not be such a need if B.J. was back.

I don't see defensive line as a need. If there was one, Jean Francois helped fill it. Also, this is the last B.J. Raji question I'm taking until there's a new development. Nothing has changed. If anything happens with Raji, you'll hear about it. Believe me.

Blake from Dallas, TX

I noticed during the season Clinton-Dix would be on the field for kick attempts a few yards off the line of scrimmage but would never seem to approach the line. Is he the contingency plan in the event of a fake? Do the Packers just figure the benefit of that outweighs the one extra guy going for the block?

Exactly. It depends on what the call is on the play. I never asked Ron Zook about this directly, but I think what you're seeing the Packers in a safe-man alignment. You can sellout and send everyone for a block, but that can leave you susceptible to a fake. Like I'm sure many of you, I was curious whether Clinton-Dix would leap over the snapper at some point.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Week 1 at Atlanta? Close out the Georgia Dome and open the Mercedes-Benz Stadium a year after opening the Vikings Stadium?

It would be a good matchup, but less than ideal for the Packers having to open the season again on the road in an extremely energized and hostile environment. I can't imagine U.S. Bank Stadium being any louder than it was last September. It took until last week for my eardrums to recover.

Dave from Graham, WA

Based on the current roster and recent history, what position(s) do you see an undrafted free agent making the team?

Outside linebacker, offensive line and defensive back tend to be the leaders in the clubhouse each year.

Chris from Menomonee Falls, WI

With Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari as the bookends of the offensive line, both with multiple years remaining on their contracts, why did the Packers trade up for Jason Spriggs a year ago, only to have him serve as a backup tackle? I understand you never know what will happen on the injury front and it's important to have jars on the shelf, but taking a reserve lineman in the second round, and trading up to do so, seems a bit high.

The 2015 season proved why it's essential to have another starting-caliber tackle ready in case of emergency. The position is just too valuable to be in a situation where Josh Sitton has to bump out to protect the blind side in a game with such important ramifications. The Packers liked Spriggs and the price was right. If you want a good tackle prospect, you usually have to pay for it. A left tackle like David Bakhtiari doesn't often last until the fourth round.

Garrett from Saint Paul, MN

Fellas, what is the biggest hurdle a "hand in the dirt" DE has in converting to a stand up edge rusher like used in a 3-4, and vice versa? I am guessing most of it has to do with leverage? I guess I'm just curious to see how Datone Jones will fare in his more natural role in the Vikings 4-3 defense this season.

I think most of it is comfort level and familiarity. Nick Perry is a good example of this. He came in and immediately showed the necessary strength to be an effective pass-rusher at this level. He just needed to expand his repertoire past the bull rush. The other big hurdle is dropping into coverage when asked to do so. That's something many guys have to learn once they get here.

John from Chippewa Falls, WI

On Tuesday, you talked about the Packers gaining a 2018 pick from the Lerentee McCray trade. Do you think Ted Thompson was anticipating the free agents the Packers lost this year and was trying to add to a growing stockpile of picks for the 2018 draft?

I think the Packers had some tough decisions to make on cut-down day. They saw they could get something for McCray and got a deal done.

Greg from Ann Arbor, MI

Forrest Lamp, Dion Dawkins, Dorian Johnson, Pat Elflein, Nico Siragusa, Isaac Asiata: all are among the players the Packers might draft to replace T.J. Lang at right guard. I love the Prospect Primer videos, but will we be seeing some for the interior O-line prospects soon?

We produce the Primers by conference because that's how the video is made available to us. The files are too large to have them all the prospects on our server at the same time. Be patient. They're coming.

Jack from Manitowoc, WI

All this talk about the oxford comma; here's the final word. Truck drivers in Maine won a $10 million lawsuit against their employer because of a missing Oxford comma. The Oxford comma should be used; end of story. Search the Internet for "ten million oxford comma" if ya don't believe me.

OK, OK, OK, I'll use the Oxford comma.

Davy from Chetek, WI

You're running out of time to do something crazy while you've got the Inbox all to yourself. How about a day where every answer is in limerick form (or at least haiku)? Or give away Mike's stapler, or an exclusive Biff-led tour of Lambeau Field, or that last missing "thing." Or answer in Morse code. Do something different.

I'll have to come up with something. I'm open to suggestions.

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