Presented by

Inbox: It's a whale of a foundation

That’s what all the work is for

210409-insider-inbox-2560
LB Za'Darius Smith

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

If passer, pass rusher, pass protector, and pass defender are the four premier positions, I just want to acknowledge how impressive it is that the Packers have first- or second-team All-Pros at all four (plus an extra bonus All-Pro WR). That's a success rate I'll take any day from a GM.

The previous GM provided two of the four (plus the bonus), and the current GM the other two. It's a whale of a foundation.

Blake from Itasca, IL

My heart hurts for the Jones family. Seeing that this is probably the best chance of fans' words reaching the eyes of our players, I want to let Aaron Jones know that he's always got a family in us. My thoughts are with you, bud.

I'm sure he appreciates all the thoughts, published or not. I thought Wes's words yesterday were heartfelt and very moving.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Last year's draft had the best collection of wide receivers in over 100 years! Now they are saying this year's draft has the best wide receiver class in 101 years! Recency bias anyone!

I've been saying for years there's no position the college game is churning out in greater abundance than receiver. Spread offenses, and not enough quality cornerbacks to go around in the Division I ranks, will do that. It's become the easiest position for any NFL team to revamp/restock if necessary.

Rusty from Eustace, TX

My apologies if this has already been asked and I'm just suffering from CRS, but what's the timeline concerning restricted tenders for Robert Tonyan and Chandon Sullivan?

I believe the deadline for them to sign their tenders is April 24.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Sure, Packers fans watch the draft with keen interest. But I can't help but think of the players' emotions as the draft unfolds. I'm sure players want what's best for the team in general, but they would prefer draft picks don't threaten their roster spot. Have you had conversations with the players in which they said as much?

Not specifically. I'm sure it's back-of-mind for any player who does not have total contract/roster security, but the ones who worry about it the most are usually the ones who don't have staying power anyway. It's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Benjamin from Evergreen Park, IL

My question is about arm length in a tackle. There doesn't seem to be that many 310-pound-plus guys with 35-inch arms walking the earth. Inspector Gadget meets The Hulk. When selecting a prospect at tackle, does our personnel staff put a big onus on physical traits? Or do smarts and footwork factor in equally?

Scouts study the whole package, and when deficiencies show up on film, it's on them to figure out why. If it's an inherent physical characteristic limiting a player, that's a different evaluation than, say, lacking a certain technique, which can be taught.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander from his Pro Bowl season.

Gary from Malta, MT

I have seen many comments about going to 17-game season being tougher on the players and the possibility of more injuries. How about changing the 53-man limit to 55 or 56?

That would have to be negotiated through the CBA, and it's unlikely to get anywhere. The players aren't going to want increased roster size without a cap boost because they'd essentially be giving themselves a pay cut, and the owners aren't going to want the increased expenses.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Mike, regarding the 1999 draft and the first three QBs taken, didn't two of them eventually sign with the Packers?

Yes, both Tim Couch and Akili Smith did at certain points sign with the Packers, but neither ever played in a game for Green Bay.

Stan from Merrill, WI

I know I'm not the only Krys Barnes fan out here. But am I the only one who believes he will be an elite inside linebacker? In his rookie season, he played hurt, was playing in a new system and was calling the defensive signals. In spite of this, there were times when I was truly excited with the speed at which he played. What is your opinion regarding his ceiling?

There's no telling where it is right now. It would be a big leap for an undrafted player to become "elite" as you suggest. That's pretty rare. But Barnes showed he belongs and now we wait and see where this goes.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Now that all parties have passed, what do we take away from the return game of '19-20? Often times it was league worst statistically except for a stretch of games late in '19 for Tyler Ervin. Does that tell us that it is more the scheme and coaching, or does that tell us that it was just about having a healthy and explosive returner?

In his most recent media session last month (I can't recall if it was the on-camera Zoom or the off-camera Q/A with writers) Gutekunst indicated getting a dynamic return man back there is the first step toward improving the return game. It was a comment that, to me, adds even more intrigue to the upcoming middle-round draft decisions.

John from Des Moines, IA

Vic always said each coach had a different approach for winning; McCarthy was matchup-based. What is LaFleur's approach?

Every coach's approach is matchup-based to a certain extent in the NFL now. It's all about finding where the edge resides, personnel-wise. Coming from the Shanahan-McVay pipeline, LaFleur's offense adds an element of duplicity and deception – making concepts look the same when the intent is to do something different.

Tom from Palatine, IL

I thought I saw that Lane Taylor was visiting a few teams. Has there been any talk of bringing him back as a depth piece, or have they moved on from him due to what they believe they have in "jars on the shelf" from the last draft?

I haven't heard anything one way or the other regarding Taylor. Whether it's in Green Bay or elsewhere, I hope he can get healthy again and continue his career. He's a good dude who's had some rotten luck in recent years.

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Hey Insiders, it appeared to me the Smith brothers had a down year in 2020. Did you think so also, and if so what was the reason? More importantly how do they and the new DC fix the problem?

Preston Smith's production obviously fell off, and his restructured, incentive-laden contract is a reflection of that. But he's a proven pro who's certainly heard the negative chatter out there, so I'm curious to see how he responds on the field. Za'Darius Smith still had 12½ sacks and four forced fumbles, so it's hard for me to call that a "down year" even if other metrics showed his total pressures declined. His 2019 season was off-the-charts good in so many ways, he may have set an unrealistic bar for himself. It's up to Barry to get the most out of the Smiths-Rashan Gary trio through scheme, opportunities, etc. I doubt he sees it as something to "fix."

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers LB Za'Darius Smith from his Pro Bowl season.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

Will 10 wins still be the goal/benchmark to get to the playoffs?

Good question. By and large, with seven teams making the playoffs in each conference now, I doubt there will be too many 10-7 clubs that don't get in. But we already saw a 10-6 team in the AFC last year not make it, so year-to-year it'll vary.

Matty from Durango, CO

This might be a Mark Murphy question but maybe you have some insight. Do our drafters agonize over each and every pick down to the seventh round or is there some emotional letup after, say, round 5? Personally I'd be worrying that the Vikes or Bears picked the next Donald Driver just before me.

Teams trust their boards. The only time they get caught up in what the division rivals are doing is if those teams take a player they were high on and hoping would fall to them. They don't agonize, but they take every pick seriously. That's what all the work the other 362 days of the year is for, to do their best to make it count.

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

Is there a better time for GB to make a splash in the draft by trading up for a perceived superstar? Draft capital, check. Tight cap space and looking for impact from rookie contracts, yes please. Need to secure top talent at key positions, always. Can you win now with said upgrades AND win in the future? Indubitably. This year more than most poses an opportunity to be aggressive in the draft and trade into the top 10 for a chance at the likes of Sewell, Pitts, or Chase. Your thoughts?

Top 10? Based on the draft trade chart, it would cost the Packers the rest of their draft to move up from No. 29 to No. 10. So, no. Not gonna happen. Individually, the value of their second-round pick could gain them about 10-12 slots in the first round, their third-round pick maybe a half-dozen slots, and each of their fourth-rounders perhaps two spots. But before anyone says, hey, that sounds like a total of 20 spots or so, and they'd still have all the round 5-7 picks, it doesn't work that way. The values between spots are much greater the higher they go in the first round. That third-round pick might be worth six spots to move up from No. 29, but that same pick is only worth 2-3 spots in the top half of the first round.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

The 49ers trading away three No. 1's to move up to pick No. 3 is a huge risk that could set them back for years if they don't nail the pick. If they draft a bust, imagine how high those first-round picks will be that they won't get to use to atone for the mistake.

It's not called gambling for nothing.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Given what you know about this year's prospects at positions of perceived need for GB, would you prefer to see GB pick at its current slots in first and second round, or trade the first-round pick in a package for two seconds? I ask because it seems there are so many more CB and OL that are being given second-round grades this year instead of first-round grades.

But be careful. Just because players have second-round grades doesn't mean they'll be available in the second round. A lot of analysts will complete their work and only have 20 players with first-round grades. That means at least 12 guys with second-round grades are going to go in the first round.

Curly Lambeau, who co-founded the Packers in 1919, served as head coach through 1949 and led the Packers to six NFL titles, was born on April 9, 1898.

Paul from Cottage Grove, WI

What effect (if any) will the shortened college season have on players entering the NFL? I'm curious if it will either be detrimental because there are fewer reps or helpful because the wear and tear is less. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

I think it cuts both ways. The larger question might be after the shorter season with a lot of early entries (and some top players who opted out in 2020), how will their bodies handle an abrupt switch to a 17-game regular season?

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

I don't like the 17-game schedule, but the NFLPA agreed to it and the owners were not going to leave money on the table. Not only has player safety suffered playing an extra game, but team success has been further penalized. We already have the reverse order draft, salary cap, and two games (of 16) scheduled based on previous division finish. Now division winners play three games against better competition instead of two. That's a 50% increase in the division winner's "success tax."

At least half the teams have no complaints.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

If the ship is on course, then three starters per year seems successful. If the ship is lodged in the Suez Canal, then three might not be enough to save the captain's job.

That's what free agency is for, where mistakes are more expensive.

Hap from Graham, WA

II: As a lifelong fan, I find my past fan-ish experiences emerging as I observe our current leadership and their decisions. I am a strong believer in the MM, BG, ML team, with as much trust in their processes as I had in the Wolf/Holmgren era. What I appreciate the most is the behind-the-scenes factors they use in weighing draft decisions (draft wisdom), especially after going through dozens of mocks myself. QUESTION: What is your feel for the current level of fan trust in their process? Thx!

The level of fan trust is inversely proportional to the degree to which said fan measures success solely via Super Bowls.

Zak from Somis, CA

Totally agree with Mark from Byron, IL. Vic wouldn't put up with those nonsense questions. Not everyone cares about every team from Wisconsin and seriously do you need 20 questions a day about the 17th game? Many of us are hoping you take this as constructive criticism and not use this opportunity to give another one of your smart aleck responses.

OK.

Matthew from Clarkston, MI

Are either of you working on a series of statements for Aaron Rodgers's next press conference to allow him to answer with a question?

I'll have to give that some thought. Happy Friday.

Advertising