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Inbox: An NFL season is a daily exam

Zach Tom is the ultimate piece for a unit built around adaptation

LB Rashan Gary
LB Rashan Gary

Dennis from Ottawa, IL

Hey Wes, how do you say, "Go Pack Go" in Portuguese? Just want to know to get the season started right.

Vá, Packers, vá? Brazilian Packers fans, did I get that right?

Samuel from Skokie, IL

Are you going to do a post-draft "Packers Unscripted"?

Both pre- and post-draft, Samuel. We're actually shooting our return episode here in a couple hours. "Unscripted" will run twice a week through minicamp in June except for next week when we'll just have one Tuesday episode to preview the draft.

John from Worthington, OH

Mike, you mentioned Brian Gutekunst's reluctance to moving Zach Tom within the offensive line. I would think the decision where a given player plays is Matt LaFleur's, with input from the position coach(es). And BG's responsibility is finding the pieces needed to fill gaps and provide depth. Is that correct?

There are regular discussions between the coaching staff and front office, but ultimately LaFleur and his coaches cook with the ingredients they're given. You really can't go wrong with Tom. He's out of the Elgton Jenkins mold in that he's a talented offensive lineman who'll thrive wherever he plays in the starting five. Tom is the ultimate piece in a unit built around adaptation.

Steve from Scranton, PA

In a league based on parity, Mike's factoid regarding the Packers not having a top 10 draft pick in 15 years is stunning. An "average" team should have five top-10 picks during that time. "G" remains a perennial contender. I could possibly see this happening if a team consistently traded away high picks for veterans (like Washington did in the '70s) but not for over a decade. The brilliance of the late Ted Thompson, Gutey and their colleagues in roster-building.

According to my math, which could be wrong, the Packers and New Orleans Saints are the only teams that haven't made a top-10 pick in the last 15 years. New England also was in that group prior to this year. Pittsburgh hasn't held a top 10 pick but traded up to No. 10 to select Devin Bush in 2019.

Ross from Summerville, SC

Gents, I foresee a big trade up for the Packers with tackle Joe Alt being the new franchise left tackle.

The Packers going 15 years without drafting in the top 10 and then trading up to take a tackle would be very on brand. As Thompson used to say, the good lord only made so many athletic big people.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Watching Bears fans get excited about all their high draft picks every year (and before them, Lions fans), I'm so thankful that the Pack's picks are always much later. In the same way, it's never a good sign when a bunch of rookies make it to your 53. "It's a young man's game," sure, but may the Packers always pick very late and may it always be nearly impossible to make the roster!

I mean, the Packers made it pretty far with the NFL's youngest team last season, but I get what you're saying.

Richard from Madison, WI

In Mike's enumeration of defensive leaders within the locker room, he rattled off a bunch of guys who are outstanding on-field performers. Is that what it takes to be considered a leader? Is it simply having been around for a while (experience)? In this regard, Marcedes Lewis springs to mind. Is it some intangible sense of confidence? Is it a way with words? Empathy? Having been BORN in Green Bay? Could a brilliant rookie ever just seize the leadership reins?

Leadership is not easily described. There's no checklist. It's something you feel. Experience is important. You need a few pelts on the wall to command the respect of a locker room. More than anything, it's understanding culture and what makes your team tick. Lewis was exceptional at that. More recently, I feel like that's a role Preston Smith has assumed more, at least publicly.

Jeff from Mequon, WI

Hey Wes, I thought this might be a good offseason question. I have been to many Packers games at Lambeau in many different seats – club seats, front-row seats, nosebleeds, you name it. There seems to be an issue of fans wanting to stand, yell, and bring lots of energy, and fans who want to simply sit down and watch the game. It doesn't seem fair to ask your home crowd to dial it down, whilst also understanding folks who want to sit down have rights too. What is your opinion on standing?

What I've never understood about this perceived problem is it's not all or nothing when it comes to standing or sitting. Fans can sit down and be quiet as church mice when the offense is on the field. Yet, that's when some fans feel an undeniable urge to do the wave for some reason. What do I want? I want fans standing and shouting until their heart's content when the defense is on the field. When the offense is out there, that's the time for everyone to warm the bleachers.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

With 11 draft picks and several free agents signed, I imagine that it will be very difficult for all rookies to make the 53-man roster, assuming there are no trades in the draft to reduce the number of picks. I'm curious to know, in Packers history, who is the highest draft pick to miss the cut of the 53-man roster?

I'm sure there were higher picks that didn't make the initial 53-man, but Brett Conway (third round, No. 90) is the highest pick I could find in the free-agency era of a draft pick who was cut at the end of training camp.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, thank you for your article on the Packers’ "Pre-draft picture." You cannot imagine my relief after learning "...the NFL owners approved a change at last month's league meeting that allows teams to dress an emergency third QB regardless of whether that player is on the active roster." How often has the third QB had to enter a game in recent years?

The measure only returned last year after the Brock Purdy incident in the prior NFC title game, and I couldn't give you a specific example of its utilization last year. However, the emergency QB has a history in the NFL. Having the option to dress the emergency QB regardless of whether he's on the 53-man roster is the right move. Most teams bring their practice-squad QB on road trips as an insurance policy anyway.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Weston, please play Sonny Weaver Jr. for a moment and give us your thoughts on the top picks of this year's draft. Do you see a Vontae Mack, a player who could surprise by being a higher pick than most people expect? Or is there a Bo Callahan, a guy who could slide for reasons prognosticators aren't noting?

I'm not calling Caleb Williams Bo Callahan by any means, but I'm interested to see how Williams does in Chicago. He's been viewed as a can't-miss prospect for awhile now, but the results were what they were last year at USC. The Bears may say they'll be patient but that fanbase is clamoring for a winner. The pressure will be on. For a Vontae Mack pick, I'll go with Chop Robinson.

TK from Grafton, WI

I know there is debate over the "grades" PFF provides for players, but it does make me curious. Let's say Rasheed Walker steadily improved throughout the season in pass blocking. His "season score" (all the games averaged) turned out to be a 72. However, if, over the last month of the year he was consistently in the 80s, would the team look at that and say, "a score of 80 or above is reasonable to expect" heading into the next season? BTW, all numbers were made up by me.

That's why "Madden" moved from rating adjustments at the end of each season in franchise mode to every few weeks. An NFL season is a daily exam, not a final. I think back to Kenny Clark's first couple NFL campaigns. He was a vastly different player in the final month of the season than Week 1. Teams take all the data when assessing their player performance, but it's essential to understand where guys grew the most by year's end and where they still need to develop.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

As a journalist tied to a specific team, what is your favorite part of draft season in the NFL?

Meeting people from all walks of life who have devoted their lives to earning this opportunity. I'll never forget the first time I met Corey Linsley, Clark, and Aaron Jones.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen: Just an opinion about the Eagles game in Brazil and not opening the season at home. I don't live in the Green Bay area, so I can't express my feelings about missing out on the excitement of this type of special event, but another angle: Playing in Brazil after the "bye" after the last preseason game and not having to play the Eagles in Philly, which I think is one of the toughest places to play. Your expertise opinion awaits! Thank you.

Perhaps, though you never know what the crowd might be like in Philadelphia late in the season if the Eagles are having a down year. I fully expect every international game the Packers play to be favorable in terms of the atmosphere. So, playing in front of friendly fans in Brazil certainly trumps the Linc in that regard. All that concerns me is the aftereffect of such a long road trip. Hopefully, the long weekend is enough to alleviate jet leg.

Josh from Playa Majagual, Nicaragua

Considering the Packers now only need two interior defensive linemen in both their nickel and "base" 4-3 formations, is that position "off" the draft board, similar to WR? We have a recent first-round draft pick and a Pro Bowler in our starting duo of Wyatt and Clark, a re-draft first-rounder (Karl Brooks) and an ascending run-stuffer (T.J. Slaton) as primary backups, and recent draft picks in Colby Wooden and Jonathan Ford fighting for the fifth spot if the Packers decide to go that deep. It seems to me that the pantry is well-stocked.

The Packers' defensive line has parallels to receiver, as positions where Green Bay made significant investments and received several major immediate contributions. That doesn't mean the Packers won't draft a defensive lineman in two weeks but it's also a position I'd feel good about regardless of whether another body is added.

John from Livermore, CA

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the UFL? Is it a good thing for the NFL? Can it be a feeder system for talent?

I haven't watched it but having a spring development league around is never a bad thing. Just ask Daniel Whelan.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

Is it too soon to be planning for the NFL Draft in Green Bay? How exciting will that be?

That process is ongoing but begins in earnest once the No. 257 pick is announced in Detroit.

Tim from Rosario, Argentina

Hello Insiders, do you think the Friday international game as second game to open the season will become the norm going forward? If the NFL wants more exposure internationally, the Friday game appears to be a good fit.

I offer no predictions other than this: If the Packers can take a 12-hour flight to open a season, one could argue any other team can do the same to every corner of our globe.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Wes, what was your favorite fight of UFC 300? Nothing topped Max Holloway-Justin Gaethje for me.

It may never be topped, particularly the ending. Expectations for UFC 300 were modest, but it goes down as one of the best fight cards, start to finish, I've ever seen. It was cool to see Marcedes in the crowd, too.

Jason from Austin, TX

I always enjoy reading about players who were in the NFL while other, older players, were still in the league. It sometimes makes different eras not seem too long ago. For example, Tom Brady's rookie season had a league that still included Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, and Reggie White. It got me thinking that when Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby were still on the Packers, they were the last players on the team who also played with Favre. I'm sure Favre has a good-era timeline range.

And within a few years, there will be no NFL players left from Brett Favre's playing days. My favorite example of what you're talking about is the highlights of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant playing each other in December 1997. Two icons passing in the night.

Doug from Pardeeville, WI

Hey guys. Just wondering if there will be a Saturday II on draft weekend, then going back to the Mon-Fri routine until late summer when OTAs and training camp get underway? I look forward to reading II every day (and other content as well) thank you for all of your efforts!

Saturday Inbox will be back the opening weekend of training camp. Mike will recap Day 1 next Friday, April 26, and the whole draft on Monday, April 29.

Mark from De Pere, WI

I was reading Inbox yesterday and saw Terry from Kolberg wondering what if the Packers had the sixth pick this year. I'm almost positive if that was the case, we would be looking for a QB just like Chicago, Minnesota and etc. Makes you appreciate picking where we are!

With respect to Terry's query, ain't nothing fun about holding the sixth pick, even in theory. Make it a great Tuesday.

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