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Inbox: It certainly is intangible

Everything was more difficult

TE Marcedes Lewis
TE Marcedes Lewis

Jim from St. Paul, MN

Mike, glad your back.

Me to.

Peter from Ellison Bay, WI

Who do the Packers like in the draft as far as receivers go?

I just got back so give me a chance to ask Brian. I'm sure he'll tell me everything.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Welcome back, Mike. Did you enjoy your break from II? Now that the locker room will be open to reporters, do both you and Wes get to do them? Or do you rotate that responsibility? Who (excluding AR) do you most look forward to interviewing in person?

Wes and I will both be in the locker room when it's open to reporters unless other assignments or schedules prevent it. I feel just like Wes, that I'm most looking forward to actually talking to the draft picks from the last two years that for the most part have only heard our voices through a Zoom call. It'll be good to reconnect face-to-face with some of the veterans who have been around awhile too.

Walt from Skandia, MI

Since we have two first-round picks this year (as of now) do you think the fifth-year option comes into play for the GM when deciding on a position to pick? In other words, down the line, would you rather have an offensive lineman, or wide receiver tied to a fifth year of relatively cheap salary?

I've seen this question a few times, and I'm not sure it matters. Exercising the fifth-year option on a player is usually an indication he's in the long-term plans (it's not all that cheap, really), and the team wants to work out a second contract. The option buys more time to get that next deal done.

Steve from Richmond, KY

I'm sure I was asleep when it happened, but what even happened to Chauncey Rivers?

Rivers went on IR with a knee injury in Week 5 last season and then was not tendered a 2022 contract by the Packers as an exclusive rights free agent. The Packers tendered six of their eight ERFAs contracts. The other one they didn't was Henry Black.

Dan from Tallahassee, FL

To follow on Wes's suggestion to get field-level seats at a game, my favorite brother used to work on-field security at Lambeau. He said it's the *sound* of players hitting that is unforgettable.

I've been fortunate enough in my career to watch portions of games from the sidelines at both Camp Randall and Lambeau Field. The difference between the two that struck me right away, bar none, was the speed. The NFL players, and game, move so much faster it's mind-boggling, and it's really the speed that creates the sound to which you refer.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Don't trade up. Don't panic. The best receiver in the NFL was a second-round pick! Keep your draft capital. Draft BAP expecting that across five picks in the first three rounds you will have a WR as BAP on your board when your turn comes up. Cooper Kupp was a third-round pick!

I tend to agree. I'm not sure about waiting until late in the third round, but with four picks in the top 60, I do believe the best available player will be a receiver once (or twice) in that span. For those who saw Larry's one-on-one with Gutekunst at the combine several weeks back, he explained that the acuteness of the team's roster need does factor into how the Packers build their board (BAP). The Packers believe in their process and are going to trust it.

Jason from Austin, TX

I've taken the temperature of the Inbox questions and there's no doubt the fans have a serious case of Wide Receiver Fever. God bless the Friday's Insider Inbox after round one of the draft if the Packers don't draft a WR with one of their first two picks. That would be a good day to call in sick and say you need an Inbox Detox.

That's a good one. Inbox Detox. I'm going to use that when appropriate from now on. That Friday Inbox after the first round of the draft will be mine to write (if previous patterns hold), and it's worth saying right now I would not be surprised, let alone any sort of head-sewn-to-the-carpet shocked, if the Packers don't take a receiver with either of their two first-round selections (see above).

Josh from Eagan, MN

Will "Davante Adams 2014-2021" end up in the Ring of Honor?

I'd say there's a good chance, but it's not a lock just yet.

Don from Aurora, Ontario

Does the Insider Inbox accept and answer questions that are not about wide receivers?


Jonathan from Saskatoon, Canada

Morning II! Just wanting to expand a little off of Ralph from Germany's thoughts. How much do you think last year's red-zone efficiency is tied to being without Bakh? It seemed like early on in the season a big reason Robert Tonyan and Allen Lazard had a slow start was because they were left in to chip the ends and help out? This made for late timing getting out on those routes thus rendering them almost ineffective from a receiving standpoint. Do you think this impacted red-zone efficiency?

I don't peg it to this player or that player necessarily. I don't have any stats in front of me, but my eyes told me the Packers didn't run the ball in the red zone nearly as well last year. Without a consistent run threat in close, everything was more difficult. To that extent, it does relate to David Bakhtiari's absence because in '20 I believe the Packers were at their best running the ball when Elgton Jenkins and Bakhtiari lined up next to each other on the left side.

Micah from Morton, IL

It seems like every year we hear about players who are great "leaders in the locker room." Is this just an intangible colloquialism and, if not, what makes someone a leader in the locker room?

Commanding respect from their teammates. It certainly is intangible, but the true pros know they're setting an example for any young player who's new to that room – by talking one-on-one about something that happened in practice without making a big scene in front of everybody, by being approachable and willing to answer questions, by being punctual and not having to rush out to barely make a meeting on time, by how they interact with the equipment staff and the medical staff, who are daily touchpoints for players. The list is almost endless. Aside from the paychecks, all that stuff is what puts the professional in professional football.

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

Are some scouts in the Packers organization more trusted or influential than others?

Sure, but we don't really know which ones until we see them get promotions.

David from Janesville, WI

Mike – culture question. The Packers' special teams have been less than special for a number of years. Last season it cost them one regular-season game for sure and most argue the playoff game as well (although the offense didn't help). It is obvious they are serious about turning things around. Hiring Bisaccia is a great first step as he's got years of experience and a great reputation. Realistically how many years of focus will it take to change the culture of special teams to be special?

I'm not making this my expectation, but I think it's possible for this to occur right away. I really do. For the first time since the start of McCarthy's tenure, the Packers will have a special teams coordinator who has held that same position in the NFL within recent seasons. That fact shouldn't be undersold here. It's a major shift in the leadership commitment. As for the players, while the number of veteran-leader types the Packers can bring in for those units right away is hard to gauge, young players will still be filling a lot of spots on special teams, and those young players will be responding to a voice that's been there, done it, and done it well as recently as last year.

Salvatore from Toms River, NJ

Is a draft-day trade to get into the top 10 a viable option?

The Packers have the capability to move into the top 10, but even if gambling weren't illegal at Bushwood, I'm not betting on that being Gutekunst's approach.

Kary from Sheboygan, WI

Say the Packers do not draft a WR in the first two rounds as expected. What positions could you envision being drafted with those first four picks instead?

Defensive line, offensive line, edge rusher, corner, safety, tight end, inside linebacker … pretty much anything except quarterback, running back or a specialist.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning and welcome back to II, Spoff! Why does the NFL always go halfway on the overtime rule? Again, they change the overtime rule for the playoffs, but leave it unchanged for the regular season. What's good for the goose is good for the gander?

I understand changing the OT rule for the playoffs when seven of 12 postseason OT games have ended on the first possession (including two that ended Packers' seasons, not that I have to remind anybody). That's a higher percentage of one-possession OT games than in the regular season, with considerably higher stakes, so it makes sense. In general, though, I think I'd still rather have a pure sudden death with the spot-and-choose method. Call me a sucker for strategy, I guess.

Larry from Carney, MI

Beginning last season the nightmare red-zone defense was 0-for-something. How did it turn out for the entire season?

The Packers ended up ranked 28th, allowing 33 opponent TDs in 50 red-zone trips (66%). After foes started 15-for-15 through six games, the Packers allowed 18 TDs in 35 trips over the last 11 games (51.4%), a rate that would have ranked seventh if that had been the full-season percentage, for what it's worth.

Gary from Arvada, CO

Mike, which gets blown up faster – a March Madness bracket or a mock draft?

I'll go with the latter, but that's a tough call.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

A 17-game regular season and a postseason can be quite demanding physically. The Packers organization is missing a huge opportunity if Chris Gizzi and the rest of the Packers' strength-and-conditioning staff aren't providing training to the II team so you all are in peak physical condition.

I'll stick to exercise bikes and racquetball games, thanks. No way I'd last one workout in Gizzi's protocol.

Steve from Eau Claire, WI

What, no April Fools' Day question? I was hoping to see that the laser goalposts were coming to a stadium near you next season. I guess all travel and no play takes the creative juices away.

Go easy on Wes. I don't blame him for not being in the mood for April Fools' jokes. By my count, Wes worked overtime (I'll see myself out) to produce 14 of the previous 17 Inbox columns while I was burning through my PTO over the past three weeks. I'm sure I owe him at least a case of root beer by now.

Ryan from Milwaukee, WI

It's the offseason: Where everyone's right and the points don't matter.

Have a great weekend, everybody.