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Inbox: He’s the definition of a grinder

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Ryan from Watertown, WI

A ban? Aren't I allowed to have more than just football?

True story. I worked until 1:30 a.m. CT, woke up at 7, got a start on Inbox at 9, went to “Endgame” at 11:30 and still reported for Day 2 of the NFL Draft with hours to spare. Brilliant! Good morning!

Sam from Melbourne, IA

Hey, do you guys have any idea on the plans for Elgton Jenkins? I’m assuming to compete for a guard spot, but do the Packers think he can play at tackle?

His starting point will be guard, according to area scout Charles Walls, but Jenkins played all five positions at Mississippi State before settling in at center the past two years. He’s a big, athletic man with experience in an outside-zone blocking scheme. I also love his story. A former one-scholarship recruit, Jenkins earned everything he ever got. The definition of a grinder.

David from Janesville, WI

As I sit here in the hotel waiting for my coat to dry (pretty wet night on Broadway Street last night), I can't help but wonder if the Packers shrewdly swooped in to snatch Savage before other teams or if they were fooled into giving up draft capital by rumors. I'm guessing we'll never know, but we will know soon enough if Savage was worth it. I'm rooting for him.

I’m always for taking who you feel the top player is at his position. Savage was the first defensive back to be drafted. That says a lot about the Packers’ belief in the young man’s talent.

Don from Juneau, WI

It’s interesting one of the Packers' fourth-rounders traded was from Washington for Ha Ha to draft his replacement.

That is interesting, but hey, picks are power.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

The best way to beat Brady in the Super Bowl is to make him uncomfortable. Do you like where Gute is going?

It’s a quarterback league now, with lightning-quick players at every skill position. You better be able to counter that or you won’t be playing deep into January.

Cory from Janesville, WI

So I am a slight sports nerd and like to every year watch video of all the top prospects and even do my own mocks for my own amusement. So when I saw them take Rashan Gary, I was excited. Then, I saw fans’ reactions and that they didn't like the pick. He was a top 10 pick before the news of his labrum came out. Everyone says his stats were low. Why is everyone about stats? There are a lot of qualities that we don't quantify that make someone great. His top quality is disrupting plays!

Every player’s journey is different. What jumps off the page with Gary are the measureables, which is ultimately what you want out of a top 15 pick. The guy ran a 4.58 in the 40. That’s absurd. I agree potential must match production at some point, but we’re also talking about a top-of-the-line talent who has greatness in him. Once you put that NFL cap on, it doesn’t matter if you have 9½ college sacks or 90. Past is prologue; this is the real story.

Matt from Toronto, Canada

Do you see any similarities with how the Packers are building their defense with that of the Bears? Signing Amos and drafting Savage to be their version of Eddie Jackson; having a solid group of corners; adding Gary and the Smiths to replicate the Bears' speed-athletic edge rushers of Mack, Floyd, and Lynch; Kenny Clark to provide the inside rush as does Hicks; and Martinez to be the run stopper like Trevathan while Burks will be the coverage LB like Roquan (similar in role, not talent).

I hadn’t really compared the two until you mentioned it, but there are similarities between how Green Bay and Chicago rebuilt their defenses. Ultimately, I think the Packers wanted to get younger and faster on that side of the ball. After watching last year, Green Bay felt the need to address its pass rush and safety positions this offseason, and the team certainly did just that in free agency and now the draft.

Douglas from Overbrook, KS

I saw the pictures of ML in the draft room. Are the other coaches and coordinators in there? Did Pettine crack a smile after the first-round picks?

I cannot confirm or deny whether Pettine smiled, but Joe Hueber said the Packers’ DC was pleased after Green Bay took Gary at No. 12.

Wayne from Seoul, Korea

Will the Packers want Gary to lose some weight to be a part of our OLB group? 

That’s not as big a deal as it was 10 years ago. It’s a different game now. Julius Peppers played the position at 285. Za’Darius Smith is listed at 272. The Packers didn’t draft Gary to have him cover slot receivers.

Brandon from Fairfield, CA

Such a fun time. I noticed that Rashan Gary immediately had a Packer hat on once he was drafted. How do players not at the draft end up with those hats? Do teams or the NFL sell/donate hundreds of hats to each prospect or their agent? What happens to the hats left over?

I think players projected to go in the first round usually have caps readily available. I believe it was Blake Martinez’s parents who bought a hat and shirt for all 32 teams back in 2016, so they all had gear to wear as soon as he got picked.

Chris from Texarkana, TX

Does the Gary pick remind you of the Clark pick? Everyone was talking about Jack before that draft, but instead we took the force that made his rushing lanes possible.

Only in one regard – much like Clark in 2016, I think the selection of Gary speaks volumes for the direction of the defensive front under Mike Pettine. Clark was a new-age defensive tackle who could rush and stop the run. That signaled a seismic shift in Dom Capers’ defense. Gary has position flexibility and now can develop under Za’Darius and Preston Smith.

Kurt from East Peoria, IL

Do everything possible to build a top five defense and then take our chances with one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever put on a uniform. This Packer defense has a chance to be just plain nasty. What do you think?

I’ve lost so much breath over the years on platitudes. Play hard, play disciplined and be consistent. That’s all I’m looking for.

Perry from Jefferson, WI

Hello! Darnell Savage Jr. was not on my radar, at all. Watching his college highlight film, he immediately reminded me of another first-round pick. The way he plays the ball, and jumps routes, I said out loud, "Charles Woodson." I know it's early, fingers crossed that he makes a quick adjustment to the pro game. Was he on your radar? And do you see what I see?

Savage popped onto my radar over the past two weeks. It doesn’t sound like the Packers were late to that party, though. They’d been watching him for some time. A 4.36 40 and seven picks in two seasons aren’t numbers to sneeze at.

Andrew from Memphis, TN

I understand not doubling down on a perceived draft bust, but is Gute writing off Josh Jones too quickly? I understand he wasn't "his guy," but at this point there is little room for him in the defensive backfield, and he has yet to reach full potential. Is it alternatively possible the defense carves out a LB/S hybrid position for him moving forward?

Nobody is getting written off. The Packers didn’t write Kyler Fackrell off and they’re not writing Jones off. If last year proved anything, defenses need multiple safeties and defensive backs. Jones is still in position to compete.

Craig from Seymour, IL

Why did the Packers move up nine places and give up two draft picks to get a player who still would have been there at No. 30?

Please refer to my recent Inbox post about how Gutekunst should attack the board if there’s a player he can’t live without. Savage was that guy.

Nick from Irmo, SC

When they traded up to 21, I thought they were going to take Andre Dillard, who went 22 to the Eagles. Of course, I had no idea just like everyone else outside of the draft room. How much of that pick was based on need at safety versus Dillard's perceived lack of rush-blocking skill coming out of the Mike Leach "Air Raid" offense and Coach LaFleur's emphasis on the run? Cole Madison's return may also play into it...we will most likely never know all the reasons. 

I haven’t the slightest clue. Dillard was my pick at 12, though. I’m now 0-for-6 since picking Datone Jones in 2013.

Phil from Portland, OR

OK, real talk, how worried were you when Haskins was still on the board at 15? Part of me thought that the Packers may take a flyer on someone like him, and then my next thought was RIP to the Inbox. Bullet. Dodged.

Not a single bead of sweat. You know why? Because I knew Green Bay wanted to build around its once-in-a-generation quarterback – not take a chance on the third one available. To those who want to draft Rodgers’ successor, please keep fast-forwarding through the career of a two-time MVP QB, though. Meanwhile, the Patriots have no problem winning title after title with their soon-to-be 42-year-old.

Thomas from Grand Rapids, MI

This was written on Friday morning. Is it just me or does it seem like the Steelers always find a way to snag the player that seems destined to the Packers just a couple picks ahead of us? I was lickin’ my lips with Devin Bush falling to us Thursday night and it brought back to mind their pick of T.J. Watt a couple years ago. Still love our two picks, but is that specific team taking our guy something that's stuck out to you?

The coordinators are no longer LeBeau and Capers, but I still feel those two defenses are like first cousins. I get fans’ infatuation with Watt, but the real steal I felt was Ryan Shazier back in 2014. I liked the idea of Micah Hyde moving to safety, so I picked Shazier in my mock draft. I felt Shazier could be a dynamic, versatile galvanizing force in Green Bay’s defense, which was teasing that 4-3 front at the time.

Mike from McFarland, WI

All the draftniks were wrong once again. And yet next year at this time once again I'll have to suffer through fans acting like all the mock drafts are predictive.

I’d still take pre-draft drafniks over post-draft experts. Gutekunst and his scouts live, breathe and eat football 365 days a year. That is their universe, but Tom from Ninth Street thinks so-and-so was a reach.

Cam from Pekin, IL

With all the moaning about not selecting an O-lineman in the first round, do you think Cole Madison's arrival may have changed the draft landscape? BTW, I was very impressed with his interview. Too many young men and women ignore warning signs regarding their health, both mental and physical.

If you’re asking whether Madison’s return changed the outlook for the Packers in the first round, I would say no. We still haven’t seen him put on the pads yet. There was value in the first round on both the offensive line and defensive front. Green Bay chose to address the latter.

Take a look at Packers TE during his college career.

Dan from São Paulo, Brazil

Hello, Insiders. I used to like Ted Thompson's press conferences quite a bit despite his somewhat reserved manner, but Brian Gutekunst seems to be a really eloquent guy and listening to his answers has been a real eye-opener to me as someone who still has quite a bit to learn about football. And that got me curious, from a reporter's point of view, which of the two you guys enjoy interviewing more?

I’d say Gutekunst is the right guy at the right time for the right team. Ted, in his prime, was a fun interview. He didn’t say much, but his dry Texas wit was always on point. The common thread is both treat people fairly and are consummate pros in dealing with the media.

Ken from New York, NY

When teams trade away their first-round picks, they know what they're getting themselves into. That being said, do you think it was frustrating for the Bears to be bystanders on Day 1, or did they just watch it like cool-headed professionals? I would think that Day 1 of the 2020 draft will be more prone to emotion, depending on the outcome of their 2019 season.

It wasn’t frustrating because the trade worked out. A reminder – that’s not always how that play ends, though.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Rumor has it that Darnell Savage was No. 3 on Eliot Wolf’s name rankings.

God, I miss those rankings.

Take a look at photos of the Packers' second round selection, G Elgton Jenkins during his career at Mississippi State.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

John Dorsey looked like he was headed to the Hall of Fame with what he did in KC and what looks promising in Cleveland. Do you think his selections of Hunt and Hill will tarnish his legacy, whatever that may become?

That’s a fair question and one that’s difficult to answer. Some may recall my reply a few months ago when a reader pointed blame at Ted Thompson for taking Trevor Davis over Hill in 2016. My reply was drafting isn’t only about the player on the field. It’s who he is off of it, too. The audio released Thursday night was troubling. Does it tarnish Dorsey’s legacy? Probably not. He drafted Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield, and engineered two quick rebuilds. However, you can’t overlook the Hill and Hunt chapters.

Erik from Sisters, OR

What's your take on the rest of the NFC North draft picks? I feel the Packers got better, faster for sure, but not certain the rest of the North did. Thanks gents!

I loved the T.J. Hockenson pick for the Lions. I firmly believe he’s a can’t-miss guy. I’m excited to watch him play. As for the Vikings, they got a center. They seem pretty excited about it.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

Mike said, "We were severely limited on available video footage of Big Ten players this year to produce quality Primers, and lo and behold we pick two from that league right out of the gate.” Or was that some of that subertu... sufferbu.... sneaky stuff Mr. Gutekunst mentioned?

That is some sneaky stuff, indeed. Enjoy the last day of the draft everybody.

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