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Inbox: It's just a hunch

If the board is built right … 

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Earl from Marietta, GA

How many more days? I can't take it anymore.

It's finally … less than a full week away.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Writing II six days a week – even with a two-man rotation – is a daunting task that it appears that writers for all other teams are able to avoid. But unlike your peers from other teams, you two have thousands of unpaid, volunteer researchers to help out with arcane questions about the salary cap implications of a voidable year. So you have that going for you.

Which is indeed nice.

Bill from Savannah, GA

As a longtime reader, and longer time grammar nazi, I felt I had to speak up. Spoff, I'm incredibly disappointed in your incorrect use of the phrase "mean feat." "Mean" in this case is referring to the mathematical term, as in "regression to the mean," so the colloquialism should be "no mean feat." As in, having two thousand-yard rushers on the same team would be no mean feat.

I must've been typing too fast.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Good morning! As far as wear and tear is concerned, do you think there is a difference between the running back getting a touch by pass versus by run? In the event it was possible, would the Packers have to worry about Davante Adams getting 20 receptions a game?

A lot more receptions than carries end with a player going out of bounds and not getting tackled or taking a hit, especially catches by wide receivers. It's really not fair to compare.

Matt from Oshkosh, WI

Gentlemen, with Coach Barry emphasizing zone coverage could this be the year Josh Jackson comes alive and contributes more to the team? I re-read his draft profile and it seems quite a few "experts" felt he needed to go to a team that utilized a lot of zone coverage.

This is an immensely popular query. I guess I'll just say count me curious. Both as to whether Barry will use as much zone coverage as many seem to think, and how he sees Jackson fitting in. It's worth watching, to be sure.

Al from Green Bay, WI

If you were viewing this draft through the lens of Aaron Rodgers, would your top priority be more protectors (O-line), more weapons (WR) or more defense?

To pick one from his perspective, I'd say offensive line, because for as adeptly as the unit managed all the injuries and position shuffling last year – with Rodgers only getting sacked 20 times in the regular season – the loss of David Bakhtiari finally caught up to the Packers in the NFC title game with the five sacks from the Bucs' edge rushers.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Teams often draft receivers with return abilities especially in the later rounds of the draft. What, if any, is the ideal size for a return specialist? If there is one?

I don't think there is one. Not when Devin Hester (5-11, 190) is one of the best ever and Cordarrelle Patterson (6-2, 220) is one of the best currently in the game.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

I've heard that towards the end of the draft, teams start calling players they want to sign as undrafted free agents to let them know of their interest. Do they also ask how many other teams have expressed a similar interest in that player? And would a player (or his agent) ever try to convince teams that everyone wants to sign him if he goes undrafted, so it would be better to just go ahead and draft him?

I'm sure that goes on, but teams making the overture generally know at that point they have enough draft targets still on the board the player in question won't crack that group. If they like him enough, they'll compete for him in the undrafted market by offering a higher signing bonus.

Chris from St. Louis, MO

Good morning. At what point in the first round could we realistically start expecting GB to trade up? Obviously they won't trade their entire draft stock to go into the top 10 or even the teens.

My eye is on the early 20s. That's when I think a realistic possibility of a trade up will first exist.

Jeff from Seminole, FL

From what I have seen in your Draft Digest and other media outlets it looks like Packers could get an impact player at several positions. I would rather see them move up in the second round rather than the first and get possibly two.

Or a trade back out of the first, maybe followed by a trade up in the second. Something along those lines feels more likely than a trade up in the first round, but it's just a hunch.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Hi Mike, I remember you making a passing remark in II that you got a brief glimpse of the Packers' draft board one time. I'm surprised no one followed up to find out how 007 Mike Spofford got that close to the draft board! Were any disguises involved? And for the laser-loving community, did lasers shoot out of the ceiling the closer you got to the board?

Back when my desk was on the third floor (pre-2015), I once walked by the draft room when the door happened to be wide open and I caught a passing glimpse. That was it, really. I think if I had slowed my walk any more than I did the lasers would've started firing.

Andy from Verona, WI

When the Packers are on the clock for their first pick, a center and offensive tackle are tied for the highest-rated player on their board. Which player would you take this year?

Based on how the roster is currently constructed, I take the tackle in a heartbeat.

Eric from Port Richey, FL

I loved your comment about scouts remembering their guys that didn't get drafted by their team. It reminded me of Vic raving about Aaron Donald really passing the eye test during the Senior Bowl and hoping the Packers made a move for him. If only we had all listened to Vic.

To be fair, the Packers held the 21st pick that year and Donald was drafted 13th. They likely would've had to give up their second-round pick to move up that far, and that was used to select Davante Adams.

George from North Mankato, MN

Good morning, just wondering how many Packers are wearing helmets that are no longer recommended by the league? Will they be allowed to continue using them or will they be forced to switch? Also, not trying to open Pandora's Box. If the NFL allows for changes to the numbering system for positions, are there any Packers who might switch jersey numbers?

Players now must wear helmets from the recommended list. There was a grace period a couple of years back for players without an approved helmet to switch, but to my knowledge that time has passed. Regarding jersey numbers, I will not discuss the number I no longer discuss, but I would suspect any jersey changes would involve preferences for single-digit numbers, and the Packers don't exactly have an excess of availability. Nos. 3 and 4 are retired, 1 and 5 are (practically speaking) out of circulation, 2 is spoken for by the franchise's all-time leading scorer, and 6 belongs to the current punter.

Take a look at the top prospects at defensive line heading into the 2021 NFL Draft.

DT from Bozeman, MT

What QBs would you put on your Mt. Rushmore of most exciting to watch? My list would start with Brett Favre and John Elway. Not quite sure where to go from there.

Most exciting still playing? Mahomes, Jackson, Wilson and Rodgers. No longer playing? Favre, Elway, Tarkenton and Vick.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

Wouldn't it stand to reason that if the Packers improve their interior defensive line and inside linebacker play the secondary wouldn't get exposed? We all saw what Tampa did on their Super Bowl run. So wouldn't it make sense that our first couple picks in the draft focus on defensive line and inside linebacker? Don't you feel that our secondary is more than adequate if we're able to apply they kind of pressure Tampa did and San Francisco does on a consistent basis?

I do, as it currently stands, but I'm not "focusing" the first picks on specific positions if the best guys at those spots are gone and there are better offensive tackles or cornerbacks available. As I've said for weeks now, I do think another interior defensive lineman who can collapse the pocket like Clark is the needed complement to this defense's edge rushers and cover guys. But there's no guarantee the opportunity will be there to pick the right player.

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Insiders, with pandemic protocols improving, can we look forward to locker room interviews or any other coverage changes this season?

I sure hope media access to the locker room returns this year, but we're a long way from knowing if or when it'll happen.

Anthony from Wausau, WI

You say the way to make a Super Bowl is to "put together the best roster you can." Do you really think the Packers did that last year when they drafted a third-string QB with their first- and fourth-round picks? The simplest answer is no they did not. Instead they hedged for future years. There is a right and wrong time to hedge. Last year was the wrong time.

There's validity to that argument. But I would counter there was ample opportunity to win the NFC title game and get to the Super Bowl with the team they had. The vast majority of the miscues that cost them were made by players who'd been counted on and come through all along, not by players who would've been replaced by rookie draft picks.

Cam from Fort Atkinson, WI

The word keys for audibles have always fascinated me because of the amount of memorization and speed of recall required. I'm assuming teams will use decoy words to throw off opponents, but how much preparation do they put into the decoys? Do they have a list of decoy words or just make them up on the spot? Do they use the same words but change what they mean, or is that too confusing for the offense?

Anytime they're changing the hot words and dummy calls, they do it before the first practice of the week on Wednesday, so everyone gets a full slate of practices to use and hear them.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

What are the limits to the number of scouts for an NFL organization, if any? I assume each scout specializes in specific positions, is that correct?

Scouts are assigned geographically, with personnel executives serving as cross-checkers and taking on a broader range of duties. The only limit really is a team's budget and what it's willing to spend.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

Has there been any discussion about when or how many "mock drafts" or scenarios the front office goes through in preparation? Player X, Y and Z are available and we can trade back seven spots, or playing out the scenario of what if player A falls (e.g. Aaron Rodgers)? I'd imagine the scouts each pose as a team and draft and do trades and create scenarios to learn from to be prepared starting early April.

They do, and they will run through expected and unexpected (but within reason) scenarios to process thoughts. Ultimately, though, if the board is built right, a GM will be ready to react to just about anything.

Richard from Menasha, WI

I am curious about draft-day trade conversations. About how many separate trade calls are there on Day 1? How long into the draft will the Packers have their first call? Are all final decisions made by BG or do others have authority to say no to an unreasonable trade? Any insight into the behind the scenes of draft-day trade actions would be interesting to hear.

The calls start in the days leading up to the draft as teams explore options and potential trade partners depending on the various scenarios they anticipate unfolding. Anyone tasked with working the phones will have enough experience to know whether a trade offer is worth taking to the GM or not.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

I'm amused at the mock draft experts always picking a WR in the first round for the Packers, especially this year. Our left tackle probably won't play until midseason and Wagner was cut at RT. Wouldn't you say offensive tackle is the Packers' biggest need in this draft?

For the gazillionth time, in whatever order you want to put them: Offensive tackle, defensive line and cornerback stand out to me as the biggest needs, with wide receiver at the top of the next tier. Regardless, they're only going to address one need next Thursday, and there will still be six rounds to go.

Kenny from Wild Rose, WI

It seems like every year all the draftnik talking heads speak endlessly for weeks about the current year quarterback class and elevating them higher up the draft boards than many should. But historically these QB darlings on draft day will not live up to their position. For every Peyton Manning, there is a Ryan Leaf. For every Andrew Luck, there is an RG3. In the Inbox crystal ball, of the five mentioned QBs for round 1 this year, who stands to be the one that may not have the right stuff?

If I knew that, do you think I'd be talking to you people every day? No offense of course.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Good morning, of the two folks penning II for us each day, who is more likely to not finish reading the query, before producing a rejoinder which doesn't exactly respond to the proposition?

Happy Friday.

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