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Inbox: First-round picks who perform just expect it

The board is built to last

Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander poses with his jersey on stage after being selected by the Green Bay Packers during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

I can't wait for the Packers to draft a WR, OT, C, DT, ILB, and a CB all with just that one first-round pick! Is it Thursday yet?

Almost, mercifully.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

Hi guys, it's often observed that, historically, team X doesn't draft a WR, LB, RB, etc., in the first round. That seems contrary to BAP drafting philosophy. Do you think there is actually organizational bias at work in those histories, or something else?

As I said the other day, I believe positional value gets factored into BAP calculations all the time, depending on the club.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

With the draft two days away I warn my fellow Packer fans to not get caught up with the shiny toy and focus on substance. The team that controls both lines of scrimmage is the team that wins the prize the majority of the time. I will be disappointed if the draft doesn't go something like OT, IDL, ILB, CB with the first four picks and not necessarily in that order. There will be some new toys left over in the bottom of round 4 and in round 5 to satisfy the fast trackers.

There's merit to that line of thinking, but I think the contract situations at receiver and the lack of a jet-motion weapon in LaFleur's offense right now puts a slightly different perspective on that position this particular year.

Jeff from Athens, WI

I am looking forward to the draft this weekend. Not because of the prospects the Packers could add, but because thanks to the talent the Packers have on their roster already, they don't have to be perfect in this draft to be able to contend for a title in the upcoming season. Sure there are "would be nice" picks that can be made, but Gutey can truly take the best player available approach this year.

Whether he's signing a bunch of outside free agents in 2019 or re-signing his own this year, he has set himself up to comfortably take that approach in the draft every year he's been GM.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

I was so glad to hear our GM defend the team from those clamoring for more action in free agency. I too have found myself guilty of that misguided interpretation of facts as well, but I know I would have been much more disappointed had we not re-signed David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones and Kenny Clark. If any other team in the league had acquired those three guys in the same year or perhaps even over two years, they would be paraded around by the media as the perfect example of a team going "all in."

He defended himself Monday not once but twice, and rightly so. Given the cap environment, it was obvious from the moment Jones was re-signed that significant outside moves in free agency were not likely in the cards. I said so over and over.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

Following the NFL Draft all teams then sign free agents to the roster. This certainly must be a chaotic and frenzied period of time. The respective team needs to bring in players at most all positions. Do the undrafted players have a measured period of time to decide which of the teams they will commit to?

They have to decide quickly, because teams aren't waiting around for decisions during the post-draft free-for-all. They have lists and are constantly making calls. Players know whether they're viewed as one of many options or a priority guy based on the signing bonus offered ($5K vs. $15K or more, for example). Plus, every team has only 90 roster spots and while there's some flexibility until all the draft picks sign their deals, teams aren't keen about handing out signing bonuses to players they'll end up cutting before training camp.

Cliff from Alexandria, VA

If franchise tagging a player risks creating ill will between the player and the team, why isn't the same true of the fifth-year option?

Because first-round picks who perform just expect it. They know from the day they're drafted if all goes well, the team will pick up the option, and it has no one else to use it on.

Justin from Oliver Springs, TN

Do you, like I, think there is more value trading up in the second round of the draft this year? With all the need at QB, it seems like every mock I see still has studs left at 29 and beyond.

If Gutekunst doesn't trade up in the first round (or trades back), to me the odds rise considerably, if not exponentially, for a trade up in the second round.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Mike from Somerset mentioned Sheldon Richardson. Do GMs ever look at a draft like this year and say DT is weak and I can sign a veteran, like Richardson, for a year or two and revisit the position when the draft is deeper?

Some might, but the price of the free agent is a factor, and most will still wait and see how the draft falls first.

Brian from Trego, WI

All of the young men who are being considered for the draft are extremely talented and have been committed to their craft and development. How much emphasis do teams place on assessment of a prospect's passion for the game knowing that could be the difference between a good player and a great player, or maybe even a player who losses their will to play at the next level, aka Chris Borland?

Borland was a very unusual case no one saw coming, because he was as passionate about the game as anyone when he entered the league. All teams try to gauge how much a player loves the game, because in the NFL it's your full-time job, and yeah the money is nice, but the physical, mental and time demands go way beyond the college level. It's not for everyone, and the attrition rate among high draft picks proves it.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Mike, you asked BG a question regarding college players who opted out. There's a lot to digest there. Do you have comments on his answer?

I thought it was interesting his answer didn't mention the on-field/film evaluation of the player really being an issue, but the motivation behind the opt-out decision is what they really want to know. I think that speaks to the commitment element noted above.

Robbie from Guelph, Ontario

We have had very few coaches on our staff poached by other teams over the last few years despite our success. Other contenders haven't been so fortunate. It has to be a contributing factor to the stability of our win-loss record. Do you have any ideas why Packer coaches aren't as hot a commodity?

Shhhhh. No, seriously, I think it's partly because the staff isn't loaded with coaches who have experience as coordinators in the NFL. But I also think it's only a matter of time before the interest ramps up.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

The draft is such a crapshoot. In my opinion, if you have your franchise QB, then the next obvious for me is a BIG GUY. There are so few of those that if you land one, if healthy, he could be a 10-12 year guy. For my money, if we can get Teven Jenkins, a true tackle, that is the pick. Then you do not have to move Elgton Jenkins. Your thoughts please?

Wes and I are both high on Teven Jenkins, as we've discussed on "Unscripted." He makes a ton of sense, and he strikes me as a player who'd be very difficult to pass on if he's there at 29. What's harder to gauge is whether he's worth trading up for if he's there in the low to mid-20s. Only Gutekunst knows how the Packers really feel about him.

Al from Green Bay, WI

A non-draft question, if I dare: As I look over the past 50 years, it's very easy to create a Mount Rushmore of Packers QBs. Starr, Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Dickey. Easy. But it you had to create the top four from the rest of the NFC North, who would make the cut? Fran Tarkenton and Matthew Stafford? Probably. Jim McMahon? Greg Landry? Maybe? The pickings are surprisingly thin. What have you got?

If the timeframe is since the creation of the Central/North division in 1967, then it is difficult because that rules out Sid Luckman and Bobby Layne. There's Tarkenton for sure. McMahon would be the only Super Bowl winner for another Central/North team, so I think you'd have to include him for that reason alone. Stafford would be a worthy choice. But then it gets tricky and it feels like throwing darts at a board. Tommy Kramer? Daunte Culpepper? Doug Williams from his Tampa Bay days? I don't know.

George from Manassas, VA

Good morning gentlemen. Is my memory faulty (old age) or was Ron Wolf's record with first-round draft selections pretty poor, despite the rest of his work earning him a position in the Hall of Fame?

He missed on a few, but I'd say he was still better than 50-50. Wayne Simmons, Aaron Taylor, Craig Newsome, Ross Verba, Vonnie Holliday and Bubba Franks were all pretty solid picks. John Michels, Antuan Edwards and Jamal Reynolds did not work out as hoped, and folks can debate Terrell Buckley and George Teague, I suppose.

Lori from Broomfield, CO

Do the long-term and present needs of DL and OL supersede looking to take a player limited in positional contributions but brings to the table explosive game-changing ability?

It all depends on how the players are rated. If that explosive game-changer is the next Davante Adams, then all bets are off. If that lineman is not just a need filler but the next Kenny Clark or Bryan Bulaga, he's a lot harder to find later in the draft.

Todd from Marshfield, WI

What's more important, a scouting department who finds talented players with great potential, or a coaching staff who is able to get the most out of the players they're given?

I don't know, but I do know teams that have only one or the other don't get very far.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

"I believe the Packers beat the Buccaneers if they're at full strength on the offensive line." I thought playing the game at home was all the Packers needed. Oh, I also thought there was no such thing as "one player away." I'd stay away from "what-if" scenarios in the future. They aren't doing you many favors lately.

Losing your five-time All-Pro left tackle for the playoffs – which factored into allowing five sacks to edge rushers in the conference title game – isn't even in the same ballpark as "one player away" discussions. Different planets. And I absolutely never said playing the game at home "was all the Packers needed." It was emphasized as an opportunity they hadn't had during Rodgers' career, and as it turned out, getting it in front of 8,000 fans obviously doesn't compare to 80,000. Any other comments from which you'd like to draw false equivalencies, misrepresent, or pull horribly out of context to fit your narrative of frustration?

Robert from Verona, WI

How late into the evening does the draft team work after Day 1 and Day 2? When drafting BAP, it seems like they should be able to walk away and trust the board they built for the upcoming rounds. However, that can't be the reality of the situation. The team clearly needs to evaluate how the day went, what players are falling that might justify a trade, and even evaluate what other teams did as it could impact trade partners. Does all of this lead to an extremely late night?

They'll debrief at the end of the first two nights and then regroup after a chance to step away and sleep. There's always a subtle "resetting" of the board after each day, based on some unexpected happenings or trades that shifted teams around, before the clock starts ticking again. But the board is built to last, yes.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

Brian Gutekunst guarantees all your questions will be answered soon.

Right, as though no one will have any questions about the players he selects.

Bob from Oconomowoc, WI

What helps you deal with filtering out the upcoming Inbox vitriol from self-righteous armchair general managers whose carefully crafted mock drafts go bust this week?

The same thing that helps me filter out fantasy football considerations and discussions. I really don't care.

Doug from Green Bay, WI

I see the draft starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, so we can expect Atlanta to be on the clock by 7:04 right? The first three teams have long ago made their decisions so there is no reason to dilly-dally around.

That would be nice, but I don't expect the league's TV partners to fast-forward through the first three picks.

Harry from Chandler, AZ

What time do you think the Packers first pick will be in?

I'd guess the 29th pick to be on the clock around 10:30 p.m. CT, give or take 10-15 minutes.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

Those of us in the Eastern time zone would like to know whether we need to stay up until the Packers pick at 29 or if Gutey intends to trade out of the first round, in which case we can get a good night's sleep. Would you please shoot him an email and see what he says and let us know? Thx.

Sure thing.

Brett from Boonsboro, MD

I say we trade up to the top 20 and just put it on the Underhills' bill.

That doesn't even make sense but it still made me smile. Happy Wednesday.


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