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Inbox: It’s a game of ecological balance

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Trevor from Carmel, NY

Well, we made it through February, arguably the worst month of the year. Soon we'll have free agency, brackets, real baseball and milder temperatures. Happy March!

I’ll sleep well knowing March couldn’t possibly be any worse than February. Good morning!

Chadd from La Crosse, WI

A lot of buzz around LaFleur lately going with a committee approach to the running back situation and snagging another running back in the draft. Given Aaron Jones’ talent, it’s frustrating to think he might get held down once again this season post-McCarthy as well as waste a round 1-4 draft pick when the team has bigger needs. I don't mind picking up another back in the later rounds but the priority list should be: edge, safety/tight end, offensive line.

Fans take the term “committee” too literally. It doesn’t mean Jones and Jamaal Williams are going to alternate every other carry. It’s an acknowledgement both players will be part of the plan. There will be times when they feed Jones and times they feed Williams. It might not be great for your fantasy team, but the organization believes it’s a winning formula. One thing I can promise, though, the Packers will run the ball with purpose in 2019.

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

Do you anticipate a resurgence in the power running game in the NFL?

I view the NFL game as a straight line. You may see the balance periodically shift to the passing game, but there’s a gravitational pull bringing it back to center at some point. It is the ebb and flow of football, tidal gravity. It’s a game of ecological balance.

Max from Carmel, IN

If we draft Ed Oliver at No. 12 as the best available player on the board, how would we best go about thinning out our already crowded DL room? What examples around the league are there of a team clearing out a deeper roster section after how the draft lands?

Defensive line is arguably the deepest position on the roster, with only one veteran (Mike Daniels) currently on a second contract. Why would you want to thin that out?

Andy from Verona, WI

Wes, while listening to a local radio show interviewing Gutey, I heard your laugh in the background several times. Hopefully your time at the combine has been as enjoyable as possible, while being away from family. Which conversation or interview has been the highlight of the combine for you up to this point?

I enjoyed chatting with Alec Ingold on Thursday. I covered him at Bay Port in wrestling. The area I covered has had only two products – Mike Taylor (Ashwaubenon) and Kahlil McKenzie (Green Bay) – receive a combine invite over the last seven years. It’s neat both Ingold and Northern Illinois tackle Max Scharping (Green Bay) got to participate.

Michael from Dover, PA

This question is for both Mike and Wes. Spoff alluded to being “...keenly aware of how little he knows (about football)...” after talking to Coach LaFleur. Does that help or hinder your writing or reporting and if so how? Thanks. Love II.

I think it’s a reporter’s job to know enough about the game of football to be able to make it understandable for readers. However, I’m also self-aware enough to tell you my overall knowledge doesn’t compare to anyone in our personnel department. That sounds obvious, but not all writers are willing to concede that. In the end, I think it helps my writing. It keeps me asking questions and trying to make the answers as relatable as possible for folks.

Ryan from Hartland, WI

Who do you think is standing out at the combine?

Elon offensive lineman Oli Udoh gained my attention. He’s dropped down from 384 pounds to 323 and ran a 5.08-second time in the 40. He also has an 85-inch wingspan. That’ll do.

Brian from Sussex, WI

Um...companies send non-managers to college job fairs all the time. They are there to recruit and interview their future co-workers (teammates), not replacements.

This is all I’ll add – if you ask 100 current NFL players, I guarantee each and every one of them will say one trip to the combine is enough for a lifetime.

Jeremy from Evansville, IN

The Packers do have a compensatory pick in this draft. It’s higher than any comp we might have gotten in 2020, it’s guaranteed at the 118th pick overall, and we get to use it a year early. That’s some savvy general managing.

It’s an astute observation. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a good player, but the safety position doesn’t historically pull in the high average salaries that result in third- and fourth-round compensatory picks. What’s more, the Packers don’t have to worry about a potential free-agent signing affecting that compensatory equation in 2020. It’s a win-win.

Douglas from Overbrook, KS

I hear reports about Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and about Gute targeting pass rushers in FA. At times, I think writers just want to write about exciting possibilities and not what will actually happen. How much of it is just smoke and mirrors and how much is legitimate reporting? (Also, “East of Eden” by Steinbeck is my favorite book, just saying.)

It’s all smoke and mirrors until something actually happens.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

When a GM completes a trade during the draft, do they follow a value chart or go with their gut when receiving offers?

Good question. I still reference the DVC, but my interactions with Ted Thompson and Gutekunst over the past five years suggest GMs and personnel execs don’t follow it as rigidly as maybe 25 years ago.

Jason from Austin, TX

Could a team trade cap money for a pick? I guess the closest thing I could think of would be when the Browns traded Houston for Brock Osweiler. The Browns didn't need the player and had plenty of cap space and Houston needed to get rid of that awful contract. Have there been other examples of that type of trade happening?

That’s about as close as it gets – and it only happened because the Browns had a boatload of cap space to absorb the money the Texans guaranteed in Osweiler’s contract. It can’t think of another trade where it literally was a player and a draft pick for practically nothing.

Paul from London, England

I’ve seen a couple of questions about “new” franchises over the last few days? If a city, maybe London in the future, is awarded a new franchise, how is the team and management structure assembled? One previous comment mentioned getting “picks” from existing teams. Is that how it would work and would they be active in the draft their first season? Also, I just booked up a trip to Vegas for SB weekend in February with six NFL fans from London. Hoping to be wearing the green and gold SB Sunday!

I appreciate your question, but I don’t see the league expanding past 32 teams anytime soon. If a team goes to London, it would have to be relocation.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

How does a GM get remembered for players who are drafted, but only make it big on another team? Matt Hasselbeck comes to mind. Who should get credit for those careers (other than the player, obviously)? The GM who saw the talent and drafted him, or the GM who saw the talent and signed him?

In Hasselbeck’s case, why can’t it be both? Ron Wolf and the Packers gave him all the tools to be successful, while the Seahawks developed and appropriately utilized them.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, I've often wondered why the Badgers don't attract better QBs. They always seem to have road-graders for OL, several RBs that rush for lots of yards and WRs that are above average. If I were a HS QB of any note, I would be salivating to get in that huddle with all of those options. Any thoughts?

The same could be said of Alabama and the Crimson Tide as the most consistent program in the country. Quarterback is not an easy position to play and there are 130 FBS schools wooing a handful of 18-year-olds who can do it at an elite level. Hopefully, for the sake of Badgers’ fans, Graham Mertz can be “the man.”

Craig from Laramie, WY

Kyler Murray seems to have his choice of sports for his professional career. I understand he's already been drafted into MLB but am hearing that Murray is going toward the NFL instead. As much as I love and prefer football, it seems like MLB would be the easier, more lucrative path for Murray. Would you share your perspectives on the considerations (likelihood of success, income potential, average career length, etc.), specifically pertaining to Kyler Murray?

Murray will get paid faster in the NFL (free agency after the fourth or fifth season) than MLB (team control for six or seven seasons after being added to the 40-man roster), so I understand his logic. I think history shows, on average, it’s easier to turn to baseball in your late 20s than trying to break into the NFL at 28 or 29.

Rick from Pacifica, CA

Why would Miami trade draft positions with the Packers if they are interested in a QB? I've read twice that the Giants or Miami might be interested in trading with the Packers if they want Kyler Murray. It doesn't make sense for Miami. The chances that the Packers would pick a QB are zero to none.

But there’s also a really good chance another team will try to move up and take him before the Dolphins. There’s a reason the Bears traded all that draft capital two years ago to move up one spot and take Mitchell Trubisky.

Joe from Asbury, IA

Bench press, 40-yard dash, broad jump, three-cone drill. Between Wes and Mike, who's the leader in each category?

Anyone who doesn’t have to watch it.

LeeAnn from Carefree, IN

In response to a question about how the 300 players are selected for the combine, you mentioned they are chosen by an NFL panel and also teams put in requests for specific players. I would assume those requests would be about lesser-known players that wouldn't automatically be chosen. Wouldn't teams want to keep their under-the-radar players "under the radar" rather than put their talents on display for all to see?

Yes. But there are also prospects flying under the radar whom teams don’t have much film on. The only thing scouts love more than secrecy is information. If you’re drafting a small D-I or D-II stud, there are always questions you want answered.

Andrew from Falls Church, VA

Even if I've never played organized football before, do you think I would be drafted in the first four rounds if I had 11-inch hands and could run a 4.25 40? All of this combine talk sure makes it sound that way.

I don’t know how good the chances are of getting picked inside the first four rounds, but you’d definitely get a look from NFL teams. It reminds me of Moritz Boehringer, the German-born football player who became a sixth-round pick of the Vikings after putting up insane numbers at FAU’s pro day a few years ago.

Jordan from Lawrenceburg, KY

As the media fights for time to ask questions to the players and coaches during press conferences, have you ever seen different media members get in arguments/fights with each other? What’s the craziest thing you have seen happen at the combine as a media member?

I can’t recall any media arguments at combine news conferences. It’s usually pretty laid back, especially after reporters begin to thin out over the weekend. Honestly, I’ve seen bigger scuffles in the food line inside the media center.

Photos of PK, ST, OL & RB prospects working out at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Friday, March 1, 2019.

Ian from Waupaca, WI

If the Packers draft David Montgomery, would he need to change his number to No. 88?

We are not friends.

Clay from Waukegan, IL

330 million dollars! For that much money, Bryce Harper better not ever strike out and he should hit a home run every time up to bat. What are your thoughts?

My thoughts? I’m signing Cilli up for baseball.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Did y'all hit up Steak ’n Shake yet or not?

Ha. Good one.

Scott from Martinez, GA

An update for everyone: the tumor (nicknamed Venom) has been removed from my wife's head, and she is recovering well in the ICU. Much gratitude to those who expressed their support for us. But I have to know, if there are seven things we want to know about Spoff's hair, are there six things that we don't?

There is so much to love about this submission – positive news, good recall and a sharp wit. I can think of no better way to start the weekend. Have a good one, folks.

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