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Inbox: Football is a never-ending development process

Christian Watson looks to be the latest in a long line of second-round studs

WR Christian Watson
WR Christian Watson

Jeff from Wentzville, MO

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA: "Do you know if any Inbox All-Pros (Lori/Dar/Dean/etc.) are hosting an offseason training camp, so I may hone my skills..."

Spoff: Would an Insider Inbox boot camp include a math class?

Me: There is NO MATH in II, but if there was, the final would include 88 questions. I'll see myself out. Thanks.

Yep. It's April, all right.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Continuing on the TE theme, seemingly the Packers saw something in practice from Robert Tonyan, but it wasn't until he took his good shots from the practice range to the course that he became a player. Some do, some don't. In Gutey and Matt we trust.

The Packers are one of the best in the NFL at finding talent and giving players time to grow, especially if a player is moving to a new position. Tonyan began his transition to tight end with Detroit in 2017, but the Lions didn't give him many opportunities to learn, and play, the position. By the end of training camp, Detroit sort of washed its hands of the whole thing. The Packers saw Tonyan for the long-term prospect he was and carried him on the roster for two years (with one huge moment in Seattle) before he finally broke out in 2020. Football is a never-ending development process. The best GMs remember that.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. I appreciate the Prospect Primers, but I use them in a different way. I don't have the time (or desire) to follow all the mock drafts or potential draftees. I wait until the draft and then read the primers of the players that the Packers actually drafted (if one was done on them). Saves me lots of time in learning about the players I really have interest in: potential Packers. Am I doing it all wrong?

Not at all. Our Prospect Primers typically get the most views after the Packers draft one of those players.

Bob from Houston, TX

Is it pronounced "pry-mer," or "primm-er?" I've heard conflicting pronunciations.


Dennis from Parrish, FL

The answer to almost any draft-related question is Sam LaPorta, Iowa!

I think the best part about this tight end class is at least a portion of the Packers' fanbase will be over the moon with whomever the team drafts. LaPorta (6-3, 245) is the shortest of the top tight ends, but you can't argue with the college production. The kid majored in YAC at Iowa.

Brian from Urbana, IL

Elite QBs with multiple Super Bowls sans a HOF tight end: Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Aikman...

Like Spoff said, premier tight ends can make a big difference but it's also not the only way to be successful on offense. What's more, tight end is still a relatively young position. There are only 11 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Johnny from Salt Lake City, UT

Wes, Happy Easter to you and your family. Sticking with the theme of the weekend, which Packers receivers over the years have had the best "hops"? I'm thinking James Lofton is definitely on that list!

Lofton definitely has a place on the Packers' all-athlete team. In my lifetime, the best I've seen is Davante Adams. The catches were incredible. No doubt about that, but what I'll forever have burned in my memory bank is the image of Adams leaping over former Packers personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith at practice. Zo, who played at 6-foot-1, 234, wasn't even stationary. Highsmith was walking near the sideline when Adams just crept up and hurdled him without skipping a beat. It's one of the most impressive things I've ever seen.

Ross from Summerville, SC

Gents, I know it would never be admitted by the Packer execs but drafting a first-round WR for the first time in years would be a nice addition for Jordan Love and a slight dig at Aaron Rodgers on his way out the door.

Nobody is digging anyone. If the Packers were to draft a receiver in the first round, it's because Brian Gutekunst and the personnel staff feel that individual is worth the pick. But as we've said ad nauseum for years, Green Bay hasn't drafted a receiver in the first round because it largely hasn't been necessary. Adams, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Greg Jennings would all be top 10-15 picks in a re-draft. Christian Watson is only one season into this thing, but he already looks to be the latest in a long line of second-round studs.

Andy from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I'm a little surprised Ryan Longwell didn't make your special teams Rushmore consideration list. I did not expect anybody to break his all-time scoring record so soon. And maybe I have a little recency bias, but Jeff Janis held on to his roster spot for a number of years because of teams, whereas Travis Jervey seemed like a flash-in-the-pan if I recall. Although, my memory research could be wrong.

There are no right or wrong answers here, but Longwell is an honorable mention in my book. He's not a Pro Football of Famer (like Jan Stenerud) and didn't win a Super Bowl (like Chris Jacke). Over the past 10 years, Mason Crosby has blasted Longwell's records into orbit. In my humble opinion, Crosby is the only unanimous selection based on his production, longevity and success.

Randy from Billings, MT

I like the emphasis on returning core special-teams players as they not only help impact that phase of the game but also are usually adequate backups at positions on the other two phases. I have always considered Janis a very good special-teamer as both a gunner and returner. I wonder why he didn't receive more credit and playing time? Did anyone ever ask him why he was a "body" catcher versus a "hands" catcher? He would have had a great wingspan as a "hands" catcher?

I don't wish to re-enter the debate of "why Jeff Janis didn't become the next great Packers receiver." However, I remain surprised his NFL career didn't last longer. In my estimation, Janis was the best special-teams player the Packers had after Jarrett Bush wasn't re-signed in 2015. I had no issue with Green Bay letting Janis walk in 2017. I just thought another team would bring him on as a returner or special-teams coverage player. Undoubtedly, Janis would've benefited from today's expanded rules that allow NFL teams to carry a couple players on their practice squad with unlimited NFL experience. Janis didn't make the Browns' roster in 2017 and that was all she wrote.

Robert from Verona, WI

In the days leading up to the 2021 draft, I asked what pick/trade/move would rile up the Insider Inbox the most. Wes basically responded by saying that nothing could top the events of 2020, but we all remember the drama that ensued on the first day of the draft. I'd kind of like to ask the same question again, but I'm afraid it may be grounds for being banned.

It would probably be drafting a QB early or selecting a receiver in the first round (for the aforementioned reason). Truthfully, I never know what Gutekunst is going to do on the first night of the NFL Draft. I've seen him trade back, trade up and draft players no one expected. Last April, Gutekunst broke a 16-year run of not taking an inside linebacker in the first round. All we know for certain is that we don't know…not until that card is turned in April 27.

Guillaume from Nantes, France

After Jerry Kramer and LeRoy Butler, who should be the next Packers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Cliff Christl thinks Verne Lewellen. But what about Bob Harlan? He's the one who turned the Packers around by hiring the right people and propelled the Packers into the 21st century!

If you haven't read Cliff's story on the top 10 players from the Lambeau era, please be sure to check it out. It's been 89 years since Lewellen retired but Cliff has worked tirelessly to make sure his career gets the credit it so richly deserves. I'm not educated enough on the 104-year history of the NFL to tell you where Bob Harlan fits into the league's hierarchy, but the man unquestionably pulled this franchise back from the brink of extinction. To this day, Harlan remains one of this franchise's greatest stewards.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

A shout-out thanks to Joe from the UK for the tip on the book, "When Men Win Glory." Living in Phoenix for over 40 years, I was lucky enough to see Pat Tillman play at ASU and for the Cardinals. He was not big or fast but very intelligent and a "Bull Dog" competitor. To give up the fame and money of the NFL to serve your country and make the ultimate sacrifice – THAT IS A HERO! I am going out to get that book.

I'll have to check that out, too. I've had several interesting conversations with friends who covered Tillman's career in Arizona. He's beloved down there for the way he conducted himself with the media, the people inside the Cardinals' organization and the surrounding communities. Tillman was the real deal.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2022 Green Bay Packers season.

Matt from Waterloo, IA

Would Matt Ryan not be a logical choice to sign as Love's backup? He has familiarity with ML and would not only be a great sounding board but could get us some wins if he had to play in a pinch.

Ryan has connections to the Packers, but I don't know if it would make dollars-and-cents…sense – not when there are top-end backup QBs getting between $5-10 million a year. Ryan is in a weird spot as a former MVP in the twilight of his career. Does he still want to be a starter? If he's willing to be a backup at a modest price, Ryan will have a suitor. But at 38, I don't know what know what Ryan desires.

Clem from La Crosse, WI

Karas, McCord, Brown, and Williams. The year was 1962 and Detroit Lions had the "Fearsome Foursome" as their defensive line. It was also the final time, as a high school Lions fan, that I believed they had a real shot at championship teams. Fast-forward until today and I see writers seemingly truly believing they can overcome more than a half century of mediocracy. I don't see it. Do you guys?

Like I said last year, I think the Lions are a very talented football team. My only question is whether Detroit has the quarterback or running back(s) to be a championship contender. They're OK at both spots, but not elite. In my opinion, that reality builds a barrier for how high a team's ceiling runs.

Dale from Green Bay, WI

Hello II family, I took my dad – platinum-level Insider – to the Brewers' home opener Monday. Neither of us had ever been to an opening day before and some rare circumstances put two free tickets in my hand. He took me to my first game back in '89. It was cool to see the childlike sparkle in his eye as we dominated the Mets, 10-0. Probably the same one he saw in me in those first Brewer/Packer games. It truly is the memories that make us rich! Happy offseason everyone, my pick is Lukas Van Ess, Iowa.

"Premium-level Insider" has a nice ring to it. Thank you for sharing that story. Likewise, some of my favorite childhood memories are those shared with my father.

Brian from Bemidji, MN

Well, I'm waiting for the snow in my yard to START melting! Three feet yet.

I'd keep playing.

James from Appleton, WI

For the sake of competitive balance, I think the Inbox should refrain from mentioning any other golfers competing at this year's Masters. Let's try to keep the jinxing damage limited to Rory.

The first two days have been great…other than my jinxing of Rory. I should've picked Patrick Reed.

Mike from Hastings, MN

I'm with you on no mustard on brats. Frankly I wouldn't put it on a hot dog or burger either. But I've found that barbecue sauce goes well with brats. You may want to try it.

I eat mustard on hamburgers and nothing else. I couldn't tell you why.

David from Owasso, OK

While enjoying opening night at the local minor league ballpark, I honored "The II" by indulging in a jalapeno-cheddar kielbasa with sauerkraut and spicy mustard. Thanks for helping us get through the offseason. Happy Easter to everyone!

Happy Easter to you, as well. But if you were really honoring II, you would've indulged in a pumpkin-spice sausage. Now, if you'd excuse me, I have some fresh and smoked polish sausage awaiting me at Grandma Mary's Easter weekend brunch. See ya next week!

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