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Inbox: It's a small world after all

Eric Stokes has all the ability in the world. It’s up to the Packers to harness it.

T/G Cole Van Lanen
T/G Cole Van Lanen

Terry from Arcadia, WI

In the II on Monday, Spoff wrote, "All I know is I'm not living in the same society I grew up in..." If that is the case, what do you think has changed since you grew up to cause this change in behavior?

I felt some major Ed Tom Bell vibes from Spoff on that one.

Josh from Melbourne, Australia

We're talking a lot about what Amari Rodgers and Kylin Hill can bring to the special-teams game but what about Eric Stokes and Shemar Jean-Charles as gunners? Or will Stokes be focused on earning a starting spot opposite Jaire Alexander? I feel like this draft class has a lot more to offer on special teams than previous years.

Time will tell which direction the Packers choose to go with Stokes. Three years ago, Alexander started the season as a reserve before quickly jumping into the starting lineup. Two years ago, Darnell Savage was lining up with the starting defense in organized team activities. Stokes and Jean-Charles sound ready and willing to do whatever is asked of them, though. I cannot wait to see these guys in two weeks.

Nick from Onalaska, WI

Where do you expect Eric Stokes to be at the beginning of the season? Starting opposite Jaire or somewhere further down the depth chart?

That depends on where the Packers want to play Stokes. In 2018, Green Bay lined up with Kevin King and Tramon Williams as its starting outside corners with Tramon moving inside in the nickel and dime when Alexander was on the field. Stokes is a special talent. He has all the ability in the world. It's up to Joe Barry and Jerry Gray to harness it.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

I've noticed when you talk about defensive backs and cornerbacks you never mention Ka'dar Hollman's name. I seem to remember his 40 time was quite fast and possibly on par with Stokes. Is he still in the competition for playing time?

Definitely. Hollman is still very much in this thing, but it's going to be a tight battle for playing time with Chandon Sullivan, Will Redmond, Josh Jackson and KeiVarae Russell competing for roles. Plus, the Packers also landed coveted undrafted free agent, Christian Uphoff, out of Illinois State.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Another thing learned during the 2021 draft: Brian Gutekunst does not read II or view "Unscripted!" Wes's preferred and projected first-round player, Teven Jenkins, was on the board at 29 yet Gutekunst passed. Side note: I sure hope that Wes is wrong in his assessment of Jenkins now that he's with Chicago.

And I very well might be wrong. Again, I'm paid to work on the second floor, not the third. It's just one man's opinion. The more I learned about Jenkins, the more I liked him.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

Am I the only Packers fan not totally stressed about Aaron Rodgers? Jordan Love has some serious talent, even if he needs another year or two, and with the way there have been so many QBs coming out of college and playing at high levels quickly, it hopefully wouldn't be the doldrums for long if it didn't work out. It seems like the NFL has been adapting some to what college has been producing at QB more so recently than 10-15 years ago, no? Either way, Go Pack Go!

It's OK to be nervous. Nobody needs to act like a tough guy here. Last weekend shocked everyone and certainly left me with more questions than answers when I closed the laptop Saturday night. Maybe I'm naïve but I still hope cooler heads can prevail. The Packers made a lot of moves, in free agency and the draft, geared towards bringing the Lombardi home in 2021-22. But Green Bay needs Rodgers to do it. It needs his talent, his leadership, and his voice.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Can we ever honestly evaluate our WRs in the II? We may never know 100% for sure what is behind AR's discontent but the top two reasons seem to be his lack of weapons and the failure to discuss last year's draft moves ahead of time. We're a pass-oriented offense and it's obvious Aaron isn't happy with his current weapons. WRs need to catch balls! Are you confident with the group behind Davante Adams? How many years do we give them to prove themselves?

As I've said, I'd never presume to speak for Rodgers but I don't think a perceived lack of weapons is part of it at all. The guy has said for years how much he liked Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, Marcedes Lewis and so on. Rodgers really seemed to click with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, as well, last year. Maybe there's something there with Jake Kumerow's release but I wouldn't put this current situation on the receivers.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning Wes. Notwithstanding the current situation with ARod, are you as surprised as I am that we haven't signed a QB3 by now? Even when the current situation gets resolved, I would think you would want at least one if not two potential backups. Although this would be cheaper in the UDFA pool, the highest rated of those have already signed. I am not sure what the current veteran FA list looks like.

Yes and no. Yes, because I can't recall another time when the Packers had only two QBs on the roster after the draft. No, because rookie minicamp isn't this weekend. So, the Packers have a few days here to come to terms with either a veteran or undrafted free agent.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

You mentioned Kylin Hill reminding you of Aaron Jones. In Kylin's highlight reel there's a clip of him doing the same "brushing off chest with both hands" move that Aaron Jones often does, and if you put them side-by-side the similarity is uncanny.

I have no clue why Hill was still on the board in the seventh round but that guy has "sleeper" written all over him. Hill was an All-SEC running back who opted out after three games last season. He's talented, played good competition and fumbled just once in his college career.

Cam from Pekin, IL

Good morning, Wes. I like what we did in this year's draft. We addressed our needs at CB, OL, and a WR who looks to be an answer to the return game. What I found to be quite cool is Josh Myers and Corey Linsley both attended Ohio St. and wore the same number, No. 71. Here's to Josh being every bit as good a player as Linsley was in Green Bay.

The bar has been set high but Myers has everything you could want at the position. At 6-5, he's a new-age interior offensive lineman, as well.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Probably not a popular opinion, but I'm most excited about the offensive line competition in training camp. We've got three returning second-year players and three rookies while Elgton Jenkins, David Bakhtiari, and utility man Billy Turner solidify the trenches. My feeling is that we'll unearth one Pro Bowler out of the bunch of newer big guys.

No, I'm with you. It's going to be a great position battle. With six draft picks the past two years and three undrafted free agents on Monday, the Packers have given themselves options on the O-line entering 2021.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

May the fourth be with you, Wes! Is there anything else that you would like to add about COLE VAN LANEN?

I just love how the last high-school athlete I covered at the Press-Gazette just so happens to be the one who actually gets drafted by the Packers. As successful as Cole Van Lanen has been on the gridiron, my longtime colleague, Andrew Pekarek, and I actually covered him during his state championship pursuits in shot and discus. It's a small world after all. But I'll tell you this – Van Lanen is a good dude. He's an extremely personable guy who is held in high regard at Bay Port. It's awesome he gets to live every Wisconsinite's dream, playing in-state at all three levels.

Matt from Minneapolis, MN

Do you think Amari Rodgers' weight is what made him so appealing? He weighs 210 pounds, which is big enough that he can take some hits in the backfield off a jet sweep, break some tackles, and won't be a liability as a run blocker. There were eight WRs taken before him that weigh less than 200 pounds. Some may have been more explosive on a jet sweep or may have run a faster 40 time. But in an offense that prioritizes run blockers such as Lazard and Lewis, I don't think there is room for a twig at WR.

I keep seeing that same line about how Rodgers may not be the tallest receiver on the field but he's definitely not small. He's a good fit for Matt LaFleur's style of offense, as well.

Andy from Danvers, IL

Now that we are a few years removed from it, how would you rate the 2019 draft class?

B-plus. They drafted a Pro Bowl guard (Elgton Jenkins) and three promising defensive contributors in Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage and Kingsley Keke. Meanwhile, Jace Sternberger, Hollman, Ty Summers and Dexter Williams are all still with the team.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

It will be a great story if Amari Rodgers picks up where Randall Cobb left off. What confuses me is this: Last year, the Packers traded pick No. 135 to move up a few spots in the first round. This year, the Packers again traded pick No. 135 to move up a few spots in the third round. Shouldn't the first trade-up have been much more costly? Or were the Packers just that anxious to make a deal after multiple attempts fell through?

If you go by the draft value chart – the 135th pick is worth approximately 38.5 points. So, the Packers got really good value to pick at No. 26 last year and paid a little more to move up to No. 85 this year. But the DVC is just a guide. Circumstances, and value, can change depending on how the board looks.

Bill from Savannah, GA

I know chortling is not allowed in the Inbox, but man, the Bears make it difficult. Is there any real reason to think trading up for a QB will work out better for them this time? How did the rest of the division do in the draft?

You gotta keep trying. With all due respect to Andy Dalton and Nick Foles, I don't know how Ryan Pace could survive the season without a quarterback of the future on the Bears' roster. Justin Fields was their guy and they got him.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

I hope many fans have stepped away from post-draft and AR chatter to watch the NFL Network's lovely posthumous induction of Bobby Dillon into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Long overdue for his family, and obviously well-deserved. He seemed like a good and interesting man in addition to being a great player. Just remarkable that he overcame having only one eye. That's Hollywood movie stuff!

An incredible achievement. Dillon is one of the NFL's most prolific ball hawks with an inspiring backstory. While it's too bad Dillon isn't here to enjoy this honor, I'm glad he's taking his rightful, albeit overdue, place in Canton.  

Paul from McKinney, TX

Not a GBP question, a Bay Port Pirate question. I was class of '78. There was a girl Hodkiewicz about my age at BP. Julie? Any relation to you?

We're all related. But oddly enough, any Hodkiewicz who went to Bay Port isn't directly related to me. My dad's side of the family hails from Lena, about 30 minutes north of Green Bay. There's a Shawano/De Pere branch but that's all like second and third cousins.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

From start to finish with all those involved, how long does it typically take to put one Insider Inbox together for print?

A lot longer these days.

Hannes from Vienna, Austria

Good morning II. Answering a question from Robert regarding the worst-case scenario for Day 1 of the draft the answer from Wes was, "Nothing would compare to last year." Though all drafted players look promising to me, there are questions remaining about this estimation. Here's my question to Wes/Hod: How many times during the last days did you regret that jinx? My question to Mike/Spoff: How many extra lunch boxes does Wes owe you now? Apart from that little bug – thank you for your work.

As a firm believer in karma, I truly wish I could erase that entire Inbox. It was a flippant statement I wish I could take back.

Dominic from Chesapeake, VA

Guys, I think we checked most of the boxes in the draft. I like who we got! Thank you both for your contributions to the Packers and us fans during this draft and upsetting weekend. There's a huge thing missing within our Packers right now – forgiveness – on both sides. Clean that up and we have ONE hell of team heading into next season! I stay hopeful that the ego loses and love prevails!