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Inbox: He has the biggest opportunity

S Darnell Savage
S Darnell Savage

Simon from Santa Clara, CA

Well, the draft is in the books. Can we get on with the very important business of not paying attention to the NFL for a couple of months?

The appetite for baloney is in the belly of the beholder. At the end of this week, we will officially cross the halfway point between the Packers’ last game and their next one. With that, let’s proceed.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

With the defense’s major overhaul this offseason, what do you think will be its biggest asset?

The volume of pass rushers who can attack from different places. Daniels, Clark and Lowry are inside guys. Fackrell is an outside guy. The Smiths and Gary could be on the edge or interior. The variety, on third down in particular, should be valuable to Pettine.

Derek from Alden, IA

I think the biggest phrase I saw Gute use to describe the Gary pick was that they need to affect the passer on third down. This has been a huge weakness over the years. Sack numbers can be deceiving when you don't know context. Sack on second down, then give up third-and-11 isn't really helpful. A pressure leading to three-and-out is. I'm excited to see if Gary can force QBs to climb the pocket into Daniels and Clark, or throw a rushed pass to Jaire and Savage.

The metrics show the Packers had a high number of sacks last year relative to their total number of pressures. Logic and the law of averages will dictate it’s not sustainable, and I think Gutekunst and Pettine both know it. Also, when 11½ of your 44 sacks – more than 25 percent – come from inside linebackers and DBs, that’s a lot of blitzing, and a lot of vulnerability on the plays those guys don’t get home.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, are you able to expand on Brian Gutekunst's comment that the NFL is a third-down league? How has this changed over the last 10 years?

I think he’s referring to the volume of scheme employed on third down, on both sides of the ball. It’s grown exponentially, and the roster has to be adaptable to it or you’ll get pencil-whipped.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Going into training camp, what are the areas of greatest concern, thinnest position group, and most intriguing group to watch?

My greatest concern right now is backup left tackle. The thinnest groups are probably inside linebacker and safety, though you have interchangeable parts between them so it’s tough to gauge. The most intriguing group to watch will be the wide receivers. They’re all learning a new offense, but they aren’t new to the NFL.

Craig from Milwaukee, WI

Who do you think will be the most productive draft pick out of this year’s class?

If it’s Darnell Savage, that would be best for the 2019 Green Bay Packers. He has the biggest opportunity in front of him.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Some of the undrafted players have a choice of several interested teams. If you are representing the Packers and you job is to convince them to come to Green Bay, what's your sales pitch?

Track record of undrafted players making the 53 out of camp, and the usage of the practice squad. The latter is really important, because the Packers truly use it as a developmental group, not a “just in case” for roster needs. Guys like Allison and Lancaster started on the practice squad their rookie years and were playing significant roles in games by season’s end.

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

How do you think our Bucks will do?

Hopefully better than Sunday. I felt going into the playoffs the Celtics would be the toughest matchup in the East. They’re a squad that underachieved all season but has a ton of talent and a terrific coach. That’s a tough combination when the games finally matter.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

Do you think the Packers missed big by not drafting Drew Lock when they had the chance?

I made my stance on that clear before the draft.

Zach from Virginia Beach, VA

Right now the WR room has Adams and not a lot behind him. I like the draft and I trust the club to know more than I do. I'm just curious who they think will step up to the WR2 spot.

I think it’s Allison’s to lose. He was on pace for a 1,000-yard season last year when he got hurt.

Jeff from Chandler, AZ

I was very amused watching Larry talk about his long wait to be drafted. That was a great story. He’s very funny and knows his stuff, too. I have to believe working with him is enjoyable. I like watching your reactions when he gets going, too. Is Larry as unpredictable as he seems?

Every bit. He never tells us what his “thing” is. We tell him what we’re going to say before we turn the camera on, and I think Saturday night was one of those times the first two things took away his ideas, so he went the tangent route, which never ceases to entertain.

Brian from Schertz, TX

Is the signing and inviting of undrafted college free agents just a total free-for-all? Do you know how many people in the Packers’ front office are calling these young men and/or their agents? It seems like these announcements are made within minutes to hours of the draft ending.

They are, and it is. Everyone in the personnel department is working the phones, and the calls started Saturday long before the draft even ended. Just a heads-up, as usual, packers.com won’t have the list of undrafted signings until the end of the week when the players get here, pass their physicals, and their contracts are official.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

Could you please kick off the week following the draft with a name pronunciation guide for our new picks? Thanks!

Ra-SHON. EL-ton. KEE-kee. WHOLE-man. Those are the ones that are not self-explanatory.

Gardner from Circle Pines, MN

Christmas in April! Looks like the Packers were given the gift of speed and/or versatility. Looks like this draft (and free-agent signings) reflects the realities of defending today's offenses. Your thoughts?

The first quarterback, receiver and running back off the board in the first round on Thursday night were all 5-foot-10 or less. What does that tell you? You’d better be fast on defense.

Jerry from Belmont, NC

Now that we have Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos, could we move Tramon Williams back to cornerback?

That’s the plan, Stan. I mean, Jerry.

Tim from Normal, IL

Insiders, when you win 10-plus games every year as we were used to doing, the draft is to build depth with time to develop players. We won six and seven games the past two years, so the expectation is we draft Day 1 starters and major contributors, not “guys that will learn” from others as you both have written. Do you feel we accomplished that expectation with this draft?

Savage is a Day 1 starter in my book, but four starters were signed in free agency to rework the lineup from the one that produced just those 13 wins the last two years, as you mentioned. That allowed Gutekunst the flexibility to go into the draft and select the best players he saw, not plug holes.

Doug from Mission Hill, SD

I keep hearing and hoping how our defense will take that second-year leap under Pettine. However, with the additions in FA and now the new draft additions, can we really expect that second-year jump? They all have to learn the Pettine way and that might take some time. Hoping I'm wrong but we still might be a year away from a very special defense.

The majority of the new faces on defense are veteran players, the free agents brought in last month. They know the league; they’ve proven themselves already. While I do expect the Packers to be a better defense in November than in September, health willing, I don’t think it’ll take as long for the new veterans to get in tune with Pettine as rookies might.

Aaron from New York, NY

Is it just me or did Gutekunst just show that he came up under Ted Thompson? If taking Gary at 12 after signing two top edge rushers doesn't scream BAP drafting, then I don't know what does.

No doubt.

Matt from Boston, MA

In Gute we trust! It is clear to me that we are having an even more amazing legacy unfold before us. How amazing is Ron Wolf’s GM tree? Maybe in the conversation for most important Packer since Vince.

Less than no doubt.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

When will the rookies be next available to the media?

At the end of this week during the rookie minicamp, but we don’t have the exact schedule yet.

Bruce from Menomonee Falls, WI

I put 11 mock drafts from "experts" in a spreadsheet and recorded the results. Of the 11, one hit on nine first-round picks, one on eight, a couple on seven, a couple on six, etc. It made me think that maybe weathermen don't deserve such a poor reputation.

I’ll put more faith in a weather report than a mock draft any day.

Brad from Spirit Lake, IA

"As for the Vikings, they got a center. They seem pretty excited about it." I read the column every day, but there are few times I actually laugh out loud. Thanks, Weston!

While I appreciate Wes’s humor as much as any reader, the Vikings’ focus in this draft made all the sense in the world. In 2016, they started 5-0, their offensive line fell apart, and they finished 8-8. They shored up the line in 2017 and went to the NFC title game. They had troubles up front again last year and missed the playoffs again at 8-7-1.

Kris from Kronenwetter, WI

Wes, that reader was me. I simply saw the talent level and production from Tyreek Hill and didn’t think about who he might be as a person. I now see how wrong I was. A learning experience for sure. What I am most thankful for is having amazing parents and family who raised me right, and it saddens me deeply knowing not everyone in this world gets that, too. I read II every single day and I wanted to reach out and say thank you both for being our voice of reason.

We do our best. Short programming announcement: Wes is going to be gone for a couple of days early this week, so you’re stuck with me through Wednesday. Then he’ll be back to finish out the week.

Eli from Yardley, PA

I know everyone's talking about an improved defense. However, with all the picks on the third day of the draft, I'm really thinking special teams will see an improvement as well. Spoff picked over on a 1.5 line of Prospect Primers. What was the final total hit?

Only one, unfortunately, Jenkins in the second round. But Mike Mayock’s first four picks as Raiders GM, and five in all, had Primers. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

Tim from Lino Lakes, MN

I really enjoyed watching the press conferences. It was fascinating getting insights into what the scouts saw, the process, and the picks themselves. Through all of that, one thing really stuck with me and that was when Gutekunst said Rashan Gary "wrecked it." That not only excites me for what Gary brings to the table, but the potential this defense has. Here's to hoping "wreck it" becomes his nickname.

A cartoon character named Ralph might object.

Brian from Menominee, MI

I have zero problem with the Packers’ aggressive move to get the player they perceived as the best safety in the draft. Gutekunst mentioned he knew for a fact he wouldn't last to 30. Any idea how he'd get this information? Is it a coincidence that the Raiders sent their scouts home last week, had picks 24 and 27, and took a safety? I wonder if Gutekunst has some friends over there.

Maybe his old friend Schneider in Seattle told him when they made the trade he was going to take Savage at 29, but he just needed the extra picks more. Or other readers have pointed out Baltimore immediately traded back from 22 after the Packers took Savage, who would have been a local product from Maryland the Ravens – who just moved on from Eric Weddle at safety – presumably would have had a strong handle on. I don’t really know. But I know Gutekunst well enough to say he wouldn’t have made that statement at the podium if it weren’t true.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

Last week I asked why teams would care about what other teams need or other teams want and you answered "knowledge is power." I get it now. Thanks.

No problem.

Mark from Dallas, TX

Question about draft mechanics: It takes a while from when a pick is made until it's publicly announced; at some points in the later rounds the announcements are a pick or two behind what's actually happening. How do the other 31 NFL teams know immediately what pick a team has made, especially if they're next on the clock and it may affect their plans?

There’s a live, electronic system everyone in the league is plugged into throughout the draft. Once a pick is turned in, it’s posted, and the next team’s clock starts ticking.

Casey from Frisco, TX

GM picks guy with low college production but insane athleticism. Crowd reaction: "How could he pick someone who did so little in college?" Same GM later picks guy with insane college production (only three sacks allowed in four years as a starter in arguably the toughest conference) but less athleticism than others. Crowd reaction: "How could he pick someone who doesn’t have as much athleticism?" Is it just me, or is this a tough time of year to be a GM?

Only if they can’t block out the noise. The best ones always do.

Mike from Holton, MI

With the draft over...what needs remain for the Pack?

Victories.

Brett from Oshkosh, WI

Now that you’ve successfully avoided telling us who the Packers were gonna pick beforehand, can you at least tell us which ones of the draft class will be busts, decent, and HOFers? While you’re at it, can we get a regular-season win-loss record too? Also, winning lotto numbers? Asking for a friend.

Happy Monday, everyone.

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