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Inbox: Here's a key player in the improvement-from-within equation

There’s plenty of value in chemistry and continuity

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DL Kingsley Keke

Paul from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England

Boddingtons?! Lancashire dish water! Get yer sen ova to Yorkshire for a pint of Theakstones amid rate folk lad. GB/Bears may be a storied rivalry, but Yorks/Lancs have been at it from at least the year 1455.

This may be my favorite opening post in a column, ever.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

Let's pretend you are the GM for a second. On draft day when you are up to make your first pick you see that there is a player for every single position with the exact same draft grade. What position do you choose with your first pick and why?

Assuming I don't need a quarterback, I'm taking a big guy. Offensive or defensive lineman.

Mark from West Springfield, MA

Maybe is just me. But angry Spoff equals funny Spoff. I'm all for more submissions that test his patience. I'm sure he is not, though.

Ha. Wes is back tomorrow, and then our more normal rotation will resume (I think).

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Mike, is it wrong for me to fantasize about the Packers making a move on draft day to lock up a corner like Greg Newsome Jr.? The thought of someone like him playing opposite of Jaire Alexander has me dreaming of defensive dominance … the pass rush gets better … run reads get easier … everything is easier when you make one phase of the game harder.

I don't think the Packers are one corner away from "defensive dominance," but Newsome sure appears to be a potential need/value fit at the bottom of the first round from what I'm hearing.

Robert from Verona, WI

Looking at the Packers' roster, which player(s) do you think will start garnering national recognition this season? It feels like Rashan Gary is the most likely candidate, but I could see AJ Dillon making waves as well.

Those are two worthwhile choices. I'd throw in Darnell Savage as well.

Jeff from Littlefork, MN

I've seen the II asked recently if players read the Inbox. Adrian Amos just tweeted, in part, "ain't no lasers on the field..." I guess we know one stud safety that does NOT read the Inbox. I used to like him so much, too.

I don't blame Adrian one bit for steering clear of here.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers CB Ka'dar Hollman from the 2020 season.

Dave from Adelaide, Australia

Hi II, longtime reader since the Vic days. Drew Brees had an amazing career and deserves all the plaudits he is receiving. AR12 has arguably a more impressive resume, yet his achievements seem to be overlooked in comparison. Both have been unlucky in NFCC games, and either could have arguably been to more Super Bowls. I'm interested in your take on why they seem to be viewed via a different lens.

This is a common question, and a reasonable one. I've said before I think it has mostly to do with the circumstances of the two franchises and their histories. Brees brought the Saints up from nothing, especially after Katrina. That team was in the doldrums for a long time, with one playoff win since their founding until Brees arrived. Aaron Rodgers took command of a perennial playoff contender and one of the most storied franchises in league history. Fair or unfair, those contexts have influenced perceptions.

Matthew from Teaneck, NJ

So we're at 17 games in an 18-week season. Any thoughts as to having the bye week be dead center in the season? That would be fair and consistent for all, right?

The TV networks would not have upped the ante as considerably as they did if a dark weekend were part of the deal.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Mike, now that there is a 17th game, how long do you think it will be before the owners become bored and start clamoring for an 18th game? Or is 17 just about the apex?

I'm sure the owners will push for 18 games in the next CBA negotiations at the end of the decade, unless there are more pressing issues for the league to address.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

Looks like the Chiefs are trying to add more fuel to an old II fire with their rules proposal. Of all of these proposals which do you feel are the most and least likely to pass?

I vowed never to discuss jersey numbers again. I just can't do it.

Scott from New Orleans, LA

Roster turnover is a constant in the NFL, but this year we have seemed to maintain the majority of our main contributors, which leads to continued chemistry on the field and in the locker room. What is your opinion on how the Packers have approached the offseason so far?

There's plenty of value in chemistry and continuity when you've been as successful as the Packers have the past two years, but I think the salary-cap constraints for this year and next have limited Gutekunst's offseason options. I do believe we'd have witnessed more turnover under normal circumstances. We'll see what the draft at the end of the month brings, but the majority of this team's improvement will have to come from within – particularly players from the last two draft classes making significant strides.

Patrick from Murfreesboro, TN

Cornerback seems to be headlining the "needs attention" discussions, and I understand the concern. But isn't D-line perilously vulnerable after Kenny Clark? What's the outlook on the type of DL profile that would best fit a Barry defense?

I'm not sure if there's a particular profile. Another Kenny Clark would do just fine. As I've mentioned before, I'm just not sure if one will be there late in the first round. In the middle rounds it becomes even more hit-and-miss with those big guys. You can find a solid performer like Dean Lowry (fourth round, 2016), or it might not work out as hoped with a Montravius Adams (third round, 2017). In that vein, here's a key player in the improvement-from-within equation: Kingsley Keke (fifth round, 2019).

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

What are the chances the Packers take an offensive lineman or tackle with the 29th pick of the draft?

Based on what I'm gleaning about this draft, the chances appear better for an offensive lineman at the bottom of the first round than a defensive one.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers DL Kingsley Keke from the 2020 season.

Nik from Moore, SC

Which "Wisconsin athlete" has the best chance of winning the next MVP … Giannis, ARod, Yeli, or someone else?

I wouldn't bet against any of the three you mentioned.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

In your opinion, which NFC North team has had the best offseason so far (pre-draft)?

It's a tough call between the Packers and Vikings. Re-signing Aaron Jones I think is the biggest move anyone in the division has made, but losing Corey Linsley is significant, too. Minnesota's signings of Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander will certainly help Mike Zimmer get his defense back to its more accustomed place in the league rankings.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

Mike, reading the Packers' release on the schedule change and remembering that there is now a bye week between the end of the preseason and the regular season just clicked; do you think we'll see starters play more in Week 3, knowing they have a whole bye, or will they play less knowing you have one less game to evaluate guys in?

I suspect it'll be the latter. I think we'll soon reach a point where veteran starters won't be taking any preseason snaps at all.

Rick from Milwaukee, WI

If NFL teams play a regular-season game in Canada is it on an 80-yard field?

Oh boy.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

I was watching Aaron Jones highlights from last year (because offseason) and right after his receiving touchdown against the Falcons I saw Big Bob Tonyan counting the defenders around him (4) that left Aaron Jones wide open. I remember Davante Adams also counting defenders around him in a game against the Bears. I laughed both times, but I also think it showcases just how many weapons the Packers actually have.

Fans also don't like to hear "miscommunication" as the reason for a bad play on defense, but it does happen.

Mike from Ames, IA

With the 17th game added, do you see coaches becoming more conservative with injured players? The NFL is still the only of the four major sport leagues where it's uncommon for players to get games off to rest, but the added risk of injury has to be considered against the need to have your best players on any given Sunday.

I think most teams will make their active/inactive game-day decisions similarly. If anything, more conservatism could creep into how coaches handle players' practice regimens.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

I think it is important to point out in the strength of schedule debate the idea that every year the strong teams change. We had this same discussion last year and sure enough look how our daunting trip out to SF on a Thursday night turned out in '20. Of all those playoff teams posted on the schedule it is a reasonable argument that over half won't be the challenge we anticipated in the offseason.

Likely true.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers G/T Billy Turner from the 2020 season.

Kevin from Starr Pass, AZ

Mike, welcome back as you wrap up your first week back. Your answer to Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA, yesterday got me wondering what a draft board looks like. It sounds like it's much more complicated than a 1-N list of best to worst players.

This is a vast oversimplication, and I've never actually seen the Packers' draft board long enough to study it. But in a basic sense, think of a horizontal and vertical grid, with one axis representing positions, the other the various grades/evaluations/round projections, and player names arranged accordingly in the matrix. Then names get removed when players are picked. So as the draft progresses, the board can have depth horizontally or vertically at given moments depending on when/where there are clusters of players at the same positions or with similar grades. When the grades are bunched, it can be a signal to trade back if possible. Conversely, if it's looking like the board will be thin by the time your pick arrives, a trade up might be the way to maximize value. Hope that admittedly rudimentary description helps.

Dale from Lima, NY

If the last pick in the seventh round of the draft (No. 259 this year, I believe) is nicknamed "Mr. Irrelevant," then what should we call all the UDFA players who make it onto a team's active roster?

Profiles in perseverance.

Bobby from St. Petersburg, FL

If you're doing London you have to be having an Old Speckled Hen or on a stretch a Wexford's Cream Ale (I know, Wex' is Irish but so is Guinness). You'll love it! London is my favorite city internationally speaking. Always "look right first" and "mind the gap"!

Duly noted on all counts.

Ben from Spokane, WA

Can anyone stop the Zags? My money is on no.

I think Baylor can give them a game. I'd like to see Gonzaga against that defense. Any other matchup in the final would disappoint me, frankly.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Spoff: After decades of following the NFL Draft this is what I know to be true. Higher picks are better than lower picks. More picks are better than less picks. And when it's all said and done you're usually more wrong than right. Is there anything you'd like to add?

Nope. You've pretty much covered it.

Levi from St. Paul, MN

The modern NFL is a year-to-year league now more than ever. I've decided to stop paying attention to AR contract talk and 2022 salary cap issues and look at the possibility of 2021 being another big year for GB and let the chips fall where they may. Look what they did this year to keep the team together. I have trust that they will draft well and "cut the fat" so to say with bad contracts to stay competitive. So Packer fans r-e-l-a-x and enjoy the process. Worry gets you nowhere.

I don't quite follow the concluding Marvel universe reference, so I'll let Wes sort it out.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

I have no question so I leave it up to you Mike to enlighten us with something nobody is asking about.

One down (or, gratefully, up), 161 to go. Happy (Good) Friday.

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