Presented by

Inbox: He's a hard-charging back who's all ball

That’s why scouts have to trust their eyes

200505-insider-inbox-2560
RB A.J. Dillon

Bob from Basking Ridge, NJ

Having weathered some lean years after the '60s and thoroughly enjoying the Pack's resurgence from the '90s forward, I am grateful pundits want to talk about the Pack. It means the team has been successful, has good players and a plan, whether some pundit agrees or disagrees. In this pandemic and having just lost my best friend to COVID-19, this team will once again be a source to provide a wonderful distraction. I only hope we emerge from this and have football this fall. Be glad they have a plan.

That's good perspective to have right now. My sympathies for your loss, Bob. I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe.

Marc from Aachen, Germany

You guys have done a great job of giving us reasonable insight into your thoughts pre- and post-draft. Thoughts. Not expectations. Because you know you are reporters, not scouts. Therefore I just wanted to let you guys know Mike's reply to Doug was on point. If I may quote somebody here: "THERE IS YOUR DAGGER!" (II 1-0-0, Doug 0-1-0)

Inbox response of the year.

Ryan from Franklin, OH

"Head sewn to the carpet surprised," nice subtle "Christmas Vacation" reference.

That was a nasty line, too. And made me want to watch "Christmas Vacation" in May.

Kerim from Sarajevo, Bosnia

I've been bored the last couple of days and decided to re-watch this year's Super Bowl. What I noticed is just in how many ways Shanahan uses Kyle Juszczyk, and it made me wonder if Coach wants to make Josiah into that kind of player, given the similarity of the offensive schemes they use and the coaching tree they both belong to?

Matt LaFleur basically admitted that during his post-draft news conference. Now, I expect Deguara's menu of plays to be a bit more expansive than Juszczyk but I think the Packers want to add a Swiss-army knife to this offense who can move around and play multiple spots.

Bob from Rossford, OH

Thanks for providing the A.J. Dillon highlights. Beyond his size, strength and speed, what caught my eye was his workmanlike attitude on display. Big run? Get up, hand the ball to the ref and get ready for the next play. Turn a screen pass into a big gain? Get up, hand the ball to the ref and get ready for the next play. Score a touchdown? Get up, celebrate with his teammates, hand the ball to the ref and get ready for the next play. That is a teammate everyone wants.

Again, I want to keep expectations modest until we see this guy play. If you read Spoff's profile, Dillon has future fan favorite written all over him if his success can translate to the next level. He's a hard-charging back who's all ball.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

I'm in favor of safety and football. Can we condense the season so we play the six games against the division? The eight division winners go to the playoffs, seeded by record and ties broken by point differential. All games on Sunday except the season kickoff would be Thanksgiving. Maybe we will have a better grip on this pandemic by Thanksgiving. I'd rather we had a condensed season, than no season, or some awkward summer league.

The NFL will officially unveil the 2020 regular-season schedule Thursday night and I, for one, will be paying close attention to the way the 17-week calendar is built. The league is planning for every possible contingency. If the season is shortened, it would only make sense to place more emphasis on division play.

Jim from San Antonio, TX

Wes, careers tend to be pretty short for new coaches, and even new GMs when there is not a successful product on the field. How much do you think the successful 13-3 year in their back pockets contributed to Gutey and LaFleur's willingness to draft for a QB of the future? Isn't it possible that with that season fresh in people's minds, and a Hall of Fame QB at the helm, that it may buy them enough time to actually still be around to see their first-round QB perform?

Very little. The Packers didn't hire Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur to just achieve short-term goals. Yes, everyone wants to win championships but those hires also were made to build for the future. Jordan Love was the guy Gutekunst and Co. wanted to develop so I don't think last year's record had anything to do with it.

Matt from Manhattan, KS

I disagree that it's not the Packers' MO to trade and target a specific player. Gute has traded up three times in the first round of his three drafts to get somebody. On a different note, I'm excited to see Rashan Gary grow this year. Every time he hit the field he was close to the action, even if he didn't quite get home. Based on Kyler Fackrell being gone, how many extra snaps do you think he might get this year?

Spoff's point was it's not the Packers' practice to trade future draft picks in a current draft. Fackrell played 415 defensive snaps in 2019. I could see a majority of those reps getting thrown Gary's way, especially in the dime package.

Wes from South Saint Paul, MN

People quickly forgot the Favre retire/not retire fiasco the Packers went through. I am a fan of Aaron Rodgers, but just because he wants to play into his 40s doesn't mean he can/will. The team has to be ready for whatever happens. They also need to remember names like Hasselbeck, Brooks and Brunell – Packers backups that didn't become the starter, but went on to successful careers elsewhere. If Love develops and Rodgers stays healthy and plays into his 40s, Love will reap great draft capital.

That's an excellent point, Wes (I've always wanted to say that, by the way). As Spoff pointed out on "Unscripted" Monday, there's also something to be said for if Love would have to make a crucial spot start here or there over the next few years.

Andy from Verona, WI

Any predictions on who and where the Packers will play the last game of the regular season next year?

Anyone but the Lions. Anywhere but Detroit.

Eric from Honolulu, HI

How will the rookies go through rookie training camp this year?

The 2011 class did it, despite the obstacles of the lockout. Whenever the doors reopen, it's going to take a lot of hard work, focus and ingenuity for those incoming rookies to succeed.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

As much as I'd like to have seen a WR drafted, fans and pundits need to realize that there were five receivers gone before the Pack's first pick. There's no way I'd spend a first-rounder on the sixth-best (theoretically) receiver, even in a WR-heavy draft. And just because the draft was deep at the position...just how deep? Seems to me there was a dramatic drop-off once those first five were gone. Gutey's talent evaluation on the last draft and free agents should buy him a strong benefit of the doubt.

Gutekunst said there were several receivers the Packers were really high on but the cream of the crop was off the board by the time the Packers picked. Undoubtedly, a receiver or two will shine who was taken in the second round or later but that doesn't mean picking a receiver at No. 26 or 30 was a guarantee. The last three receivers drafted at 26? Calvin Ridley (who looks like a good pick), Breshad Perriman and Jon Baldwin. The last three at 30? A.J. Jenkins, Kenny Britt and Craig Davis. The risk is real…that's why scouts have to trust their eyes.

John from La Crosse, WI

Do you think that Packers are "OK" with what they have currently as WRs, or do you think that the Packers are still interested in signing a free agent or two at the WR position before the season starts?

I think it's more likely the Packers proceed with the young receivers they have than signing any other veterans at this point.

Chun from El Monte, CA

What are the Packers planning at nickel CB? Seems like it would be a good fit for Josh Jackson if he can step up this year or they would need to re-sign Tramon Williams if he isn't ready.

Gutekunst has said the Packers haven't closed the book on possibly bringing Williams back but he also showered praise on Chandon Sullivan for how he performed as the dime cornerback last year. He's probably the frontrunner today but frequent readers know how high I remain on Jackson's upside.

Dave from Roswell, GA

The Packers ranked 23rd against the run last year and the narrative is that this can be addressed with adjustments to scheme. What do you think is a reasonable expectation for this upcoming season?

It sure seems that way, assuming Christian Kirksey stays healthy and whoever wins the No. 2 inside linebacker job can hold his own.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

Watching highlights of A.J. Dillon, it looks like he doesn't take too many hard hits. He appears to be very nimble and quick changing directions. A lot to like about this kid.

You hear 6-feet, 247 and think bowling ball. But Dillon is built much more like a driver – smack.

Mitch from Orange, VA

I haven't heard any talk about Raven Greene lately. I know he missed last season but looked great the year before. Is he still on the team?

Greene was the second of the two players the Packers designated for return from IR. Greene was activated in time for the NFC title game, so he should be good to go for 2020.

Jared from Tampa, FL

With all due respect (which, in my opinion, is very little) to Doug, what is there to debate? The picks are in. The draft is over. The team is moving in a new direction. Hopefully, we won't know if this draft was a "dumpster fire" for a few more years. Also, does anyone really want to offend their boss? That seems like a worse strategy than drafting a raw QB in the first round.

Everyone likes to pull the "Oh, you work for the team" card because it's the lowest fruit hanging on the creativity tree. But anyone who covers the team on a daily basis – and I'm talking about on-the-ground reporters here, not some blogger in his basement – curbs his/her opinion when analyzing a draft class because none of us can say definitively how this draft class will perform until we all see it on the grass.

Dave from St. Michael, MN

Does the CBA limit practice time for each player, coaches, or is it for the entire team? Is it time at the facility? In this virtual practice time, could the position group meetings be staggered throughout the day allowing Matt LaFleur to join in on most of them? During on-field practices and classroom meetings, the head coach can't be in more than one meeting at a time. Could this unusual offseason be turned into an advantage for ML (and other coaches) to teach his system?

I literally wrote an entire story on this, housing the answer to every question you asked.

Forrest from Portland, OR

Has an undrafted player ever won rookie of the year?

Not that I'm aware of.

Turgi from Schönenwerd, Switzerland

Hello II. Hope you guys are doing well. Just curious about how the practice squad works. If I understood it correctly, any team can pick any player from the practice squad? But what if a team puts a first-round draft pick on the practice squad (let's say Love). Can then still any team pick up Love? Or are teams trying to avoid that by not putting any first-rounders on the practice squad? Thank you and take care.

You won't see rookie first-round picks on the practice squad. To get a player through to the practice squad, the team must expose that individual to waivers. If the other 31 teams pass on adding that player to their active roster, then he can sign to the former team's practice squad. The biggest change you'll notice this year is practice squads expanding from 10 to 12 players and two players being eligible each week to be elevated to the game-day roster. It'll mirror more of a traditional minor-league setup.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares more of his best from 2019.

Caleb from 'Aiea, HI

Insiders, sadly, coach Don Shula passed Monday morning. A legendary coach, just as Lombardi. How much did the Packers and Vince Lombardi's running backs of the '60s (e.g. Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung) influence Don Shula's offense of the '70s with Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris?

I think Lombardi and his offensive systems had a big impact on Shula. Cliff actually has a story coming on Thursday about how much Shula was interested in the Packers' job in 1970, prior to Miami contacting him. Be sure to check that out. Shula was so far ahead of his time. While staying true to his principles, Shula evolved his coaching philosophies as the decades passed. He was a timeless legend. May he rest in peace.

Michael from Madison, WI

Good morning II! I get a kick out of these armchair GMs, expert opinionator, and philosophers! Do you know what the difference between a philosopher and a large pizza is? The difference is a pizza feeds a family of four.

I laughed at this because my brother-in-law was a philosophy major. I've heard that one-liner before.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes and Mike, when my husband passed away recently, I came to greatly appreciate the voice you gave me through II, the feeling of being in an extended community at packers.com, and the comfort of going to the website for Green Bay updates, wisdom, and humor. Please know how much your hard work helps me and your readers navigate the turbulent waters of life, COVID, and football. I am so grateful for you.

My goodness, Lori. I'm terribly sorry to hear that. We had no idea. Like I said at the beginning of this pandemic, it's our hope and intention this column brings folks a little escape from the trials and tribulation of everyday life at the moment. We write this column for people like you, Lori.

Advertising