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Inbox: He's off to a whale of a start

There’s no tried-and-true formula

LB Preston Smith
LB Preston Smith

Michael from Portland, OR

Speaking of special-teams players, was there a Packer player on the four core seven years ago?

Please see yourself out.

Travis from Green Bay, WI

According to several sites, Lane Taylor  should have been traded or cut by now to save money. Do you see this as something still likely to play out in training camp?

With the offseason going as is, it'll be very difficult for the Packers to really know what they have in their three sixth-round draft picks on the offensive line prior to the first couple of preseason games.

Jay from Portsmouth, UK

Hi guys, of the three defenders drafted which one do you think has the best attributes of making an impact on defense? Keep up the good work.

They all have attributes to like, but it'll be about opportunity. Kamal Martin has a chance to be the No. 2 inside linebacker, whereas Vernon Scott  and Jonathan Garvin are at best most likely No. 4 at safety and outside linebacker, respectively, barring injuries or other unforeseen developments.

A.J. from Brisbane, Australia

Curtis Bolton: Before his injury, he seemed like a surprising gem at inside linebacker. What are your thoughts on him returning this year?

His chances all depend on getting back to his pre-injury self. If he's able to do that by the start of training camp, I could see him finding a role on defense.

Tom from Keota, IA

Hey II, I'm interested in your opinion here. Excluding Aaron Rodgers from this discussion, which single player would it hurt the Packers most to not have on the field? I'm guessing a lot of people would say Davante Adams after this draft, but is there another player at another position whose absence would create a bigger problem for the team?

My other pick on offense right now would be David Bakhtiari. Dan has my choice on the defensive side.

Dan from Tomah, WI

I'd ask why we are still on this Jordan Love over WR thing but that's a wasted question. The young WR talent to go with Adams and Devin Funchess already seems like an upgrade to 2019. I'm more worried about interior DL. If Clark goes down, we have no quality backup in the middle. How was this not addressed in FA or the draft?

I thought this was the draft the Packers would find the next Clark, with the idea the two would be paired together for the foreseeable future. I said it several times. It wasn't the focus I thought it would be.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

As second- and third-round picks, are AJ Dillon and Josiah Deguara going to be catching all of Rodgers' TD passes?

Nicely done.

Bill from Graniteville, SC

Thanks for all you guys have done these past few weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed all your draft coverage. Can you please explain to me why those in the media, and even some fans, who have been crushing Aaron Rodgers for the past three years regarding his eroding skills, his lack of leadership, and myriad other elements of his game are now crushing the Packers for drafting a player they hope will be able to replace him in two or three years?

Great question. No, not great. Superb.

Kevin from Rockton, IL

How common is it for a team to decline the fifth-year option on a player before the fourth year of the rookie contract is played? What would be the benefit to the team (or the player, for that matter)? Can the team renege on the declination, after the fourth year is played, if the player has a breakout year?

It's in the terms of the CBA that teams have to decide on the fifth-year option in early May prior to the player's fourth season. It's a hard-and-fast deadline, no backsies.

Justin from Sammamish, WA

I saw something interesting about the top 10 picks from the 2017 draft. It said half have had their fifth-year options declined. Just further shows how uncertain a draft pick's future can be.

The draft in general is loaded with uncertainty. I'm pretty sure Wes and I spent a good chunk of this column between the combine and the draft trying to deliver that message.

Nicholas from Portland, OR

I'm now purposefully not clicking on any articles speculating about when Rodgers is leaving the Packers and how passively aggressively mad he is right now...minor victories.

In passive-aggressive fashion no less.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi Mike, how many running backs were selected before A.J. Dillon? Is Dexter Williams in danger of being cut? He didn't see the field last year, but I was interested in seeing him get a chance to show his skill set.

Dillon was the sixth running back selected, and those first six were all taken between picks 32 and 62. A lot of folks are asking about Dexter Williams. All I know is it's up to him to put the coaches and the personnel department in a difficult position. He also has practice-squad eligibility.

Ron from Bethesda, MD

Was there a player in the draft that the Packers wanted but didn't get?

I'm quite certain of that, but when you're picking 30th, have just one pick in each of the first five rounds, and give up one of those to move up a few spots, you don't have a lot of maneuverability left to target specific players without sacrificing future draft picks, which has never been the Packers' MO.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

Aside from the obvious, how much tougher will it be for you to report on "virtual" workouts and the rest of the offseason?

We'll just have to see what kind of access we're afforded as the spring progresses. Normally, when OTAs would start in late May, we'd have a media access day once per week for three weeks, and then full access to the offseason-concluding minicamp in mid-June. None of that is happening. I'm just taking it week by week at this point, and we're going to do the best we can to continue providing content on Right now, for me and Wes, the focus is on follow-up stories on the draft picks from talking to college coaches or other past connections, which started with Friday’s piece on Dillon.

George from Olympia, WA

Which rookie will stand out the most this year?

The best thing for the Packers is if it's Dillon, Deguara or Martin.

Andrew from Green Bay, WI

Who will be the best player this year out of the free-agent pickups?

The best thing for the Packers is if Christian Kirksey, Rick Wagner and Funchess are all in the discussion for the right reasons.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

Are the Bears truly bailing on Trubisky or is this a prove-it year for him?

He has to keep his starting job first. In the competition with Foles, the outside assessment appears to be Trubisky's the underdog.

Jake from Shoreview, MN

Preston Smith had a nice season...12 sacks looks great! We had a debate going about whether or not he was a "good" free-agent signing or if the Packers overpaid for him. Do you feel that he lived up to his contract? What areas can he improve his game further?

Preston Smith was a high-impact player, and you'll take that any time with a free-agent signing. He had four games with 1½ or more sacks, plus a two-sack playoff outing, and he made plays in key moments. The one additional step he can take is to get the ball out more often on those sacks. He had just one forced fumble. I'll reserve judgment on whether he has lived up to his contract when he completes the final three years, but he's off to a whale of a start.

Ken from New Berlin, WI

What are the chances that a receiver of significance gets picked up by the Packers by the time the season starts?

It's hard to define significance right now, but I think it's safe to say all the returning receivers in whom Gutekunst and LaFleur have placed the utmost confidence have to show progress, and they know it.

Ross from Hudson, WI

How the heck did Rodgers throw for 4,000 yards when we need a receiver to save the team? How did the Packers score 44 touchdowns when they were one receiver away? How did the team make it to the NFC Championship so lacking? Perspective is a great thing.

I'm as inactive on Twitter as I can possibly be, but I really enjoyed the tweet by Adrian Amos last week declaring everyone would think the Packers went 4-12 last year judging by all of the talk and analysis the past week.

Jack from Wauwatosa, WI

I say Mike and Wes deserve a Pulitzer Prize for keeping Packer fans sane during the crazy world we are living in right now. What say you?

I say Doug would disagree.

Doug from Storr, CT

Yes, we could keep debating the pick if you actually did. Instead, you pick only the softball questions from people who suck up and help you brush the dumpster-fire draft under the rug. Shame on you. It's getting harder and harder to read your work when you run and hide in fear of offending your bosses.

I don't know if you're talking about me or Wes, but I don't really care. If you followed any of our pre-draft coverage (here, on "Unscripted," and elsewhere), you'll know we were both on record believing the Packers didn't need to worry about their QB of the future right now. Post-draft, we said we were surprised. We didn't see it coming. From there, I'm supposed to pound my keyboard ranting that the Packers never should have done this? Declare the regime that got the franchise one game away from the Super Bowl less than four months ago is suddenly clueless because it didn't follow my pre-draft assessment? I watched probably 90 seconds of Jordan Love highlights, not 90 hours of film. I understand the move and I've explained the rationale. The rest is for the future to tell us. I'm not sure what else you want.

Jon from Andover, MN

Is it OK to express displeasure in the pick? Just checking. I realize I am firmly planted between my armchairs, and understand Gutekunst is the GM, but I get to be disappointed with the choice to pick a QB in the first round. That doesn't mean I won't cheer and support Jordan Love. I want him to succeed. Who in their right mind wouldn't? What I do see from my chair is a defense in need of help at the middle linebacker position and a player (Queen) passed over.

I think your position is a reasonable, well-stated one. But I do think the debate over the decision must be pushed aside for now. Wait, are you between armchairs, or between the arms of your chair? Just checking.

Tinger from Red Wing, MN

Why wouldn't every opponent run up and over Green Bay using the game plan San Francisco used in the playoffs last season? Green Bay has not done anything to address that failure. Why wouldn't every team simply run, run, and more runs against the Packers?

Because not every team can run the ball like the 49ers. But the Packers certainly do have things to shore up with their run defense or more teams will be trying to replicate San Francisco's game plan.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Do you expect our visit to the pirate ship will be in prime time? Somehow I imagine Rodgers vs. the turfmonster won't be the marquee matchup this time...

We'll find out later this week. I will be head-sewn-to-the-carpet shocked if Packers at Buccaneers is not in prime time.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

I was excited to see our division foes lose key players in the backfield in FA/trades. But is it a be-careful-what-you-wish-for situation? Rodgers knew their tendencies and none of them had his number. Seeing the Bears, Lions and Vikes all invest and reload in the draft has me praying they haven't found a bunch of Jaire Alexander picks. Regardless, has there been another year where Aaron has gone in with so many unknowns in the division backfields?

I can't recall a year with this much personnel turnover in NFC North secondaries. Rodgers may have gotten the better of them more often than not, but Darius Slay, Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes all had their moments making life difficult for him. On the whole, the lack of experience of the new opponents should work to Rodgers' advantage.

Dan from Rosthern, Saskatchewan

I've never been much of a basketball fan, but "The Last Dance" has got me hooked! Is there any NFL player you can think of that, from a physical standpoint, completely dominated his position as much as Jordan did?

Apples to oranges, sorry. But that has been one heck of a documentary.

Robin from Kenosha, WI

I wanted the Packers to draft a top receiver because adding another star next to Adams seemed like the quickest path to a dominant offense. Maybe not. I read an interesting stat yesterday that only five teams in the NFL had two 1,000-yard WR last year (Dal, Cle, TB, LAR, LAC). None made the playoffs!

That's interesting, but to be fair, the closest the Packers got to the Super Bowl in the past decade, when they were 3:52 away, they had two receivers with 1,200-plus yards and at least a dozen TDs each, with an 1,100-yard rusher to boot. There's no tried-and-true formula except winning enough games, and then winning the ones that really count.

Patrick from Gulf Breeze, FL

I did some digging on A.J. Dillon's 75-yard run against Louisville. The unblocked corner that failed to tackle him? Jaire Alexander. That should be an interesting introductory conversation in the locker room! I hate to think who the safety was that he stiff-armed into the ground.

The Inbox was all over the Dillon-Alexander highlight, or lowlight for the latter, I guess. I lost track of how many readers pointed it out.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

The parallels between our '19 and '20 offseasons on either side of the ball are notable. In '19 DC Pettine got upgrades at key positions that allowed him to transition to the scheme he wanted to run all along. In '20 it seems that ML on the offensive side of the ball is getting the same in his second year via our draft resources at some key positions for the scheme he wants to run.

This is an angle worth revisiting at some point.

Bjorn from Dusseldorf, Germany

Not a question, just an opinion on Wes's puzzle analogy. I think it's rather the other way around. We know (most of) the pieces, but have no clue what the complete picture on the box is going to look like. We'll have to wait and see which picture Matt LaFleur will put together with the pieces inside.

I like that. Happy Monday.