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Inbox: It’s just the nature of the draft

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Nate from Kewaskum, WI

What's your favorite name of a player you've ever talked to at the combine?

Hercules (Bad) Mata’afa. Greetings from Indy.

Josh from Minneapolis, MN

Are there any players in particular you are most interested in seeing at the combine?

I have a list of guys at several positions that interest me in this draft – tight end, offensive line, edge rusher, slot receiver – and I’m going to try to catch their press conferences. Then I’ll see what materializes into some (hopefully) good stories.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

But what makes the juice not worth the squeeze, so to speak, for the combine QBs?

A lot of QBs would rather throw at their campus pro day, where they can set the route patterns and progressions and work with receivers they’re familiar with. Usually the top QBs, who don’t have as much to prove, can control their circumstances more. A lesser-known guy just trying to get drafted is going to throw every chance he gets.

Mike from Madison, WI

At this point in the offseason, who do you think is our biggest competition in the division? The Bears seem to be back on top (for now), but giving Kirk Cousins another offseason with the Vikings could get them back on top.

Still awfully early, but I think the answer hinges on which QB makes bigger strides – Cousins in Year 2 with the Vikes or Trubisky in Year 3 with the Bears.

Ken from New York, NY

I was intrigued by Rich's summary of the NFC North. I was aware of Chicago's draft situation, but not aware of Chicago's and Minnesota's cap situation. The league has become unforgiving if spending a lot of money or trading draft picks for players doesn't work out. I guess it's like choosing between driving very fast or optimizing your gas mileage to get to your destination. Each has its upside and risk.

The Bears were already short on cap space when they took another financial hit cutting their kicker. Welcome to the NFL.

Jacob from Ironwood, MI

How does one's chance of entering the HOF increase over time? Their credentials haven't changed from 10 vs. 20 years after retirement. Thanks for the enlightenment.

What changes is how their credentials look against newer Hall of Fame inductees or candidates, such as the following example.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

I'm not holding my breath on Sharpe, but I think a new angle on his candidacy could be brought to the table if Tony Boselli ever gets in. Very difficult to compare positions, I know, but every argument for Boselli applies to Sharpe. It really could get interesting if they open up that can of worms...tons of new names would have to enter the discussion.

Indeed.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

What changes in a draft room to make a bad selection? Does somebody pound a table hard enough to void the months of work put into the board? Is it a GM overriding his staff? Could it be bad evaluation from the start? How do consensus great picks fail?

It can be all those things, but it’s also just the nature of the draft. It’s a horribly inexact science, though that’s nobody’s fault. Just look at any first round, any year, and see how many guys wash out quickly. Everyone swings and misses at some point.

Robert from Salem, WI

What do you see the team doing this offseason with respect to the TE?

Building for the future.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

When the Raiders fired Reggie McKenzie as their GM, I was hoping the Pack could bring him back in some capacity. I agreed with your earlier comment on this that he would probably get another GM job somewhere. Since, unless I missed it, he hasn't landed any job, could he still come back? He is too good at talent evaluation to not get another job.

McKenzie was hired as a senior personnel executive for the Miami Dolphins.

George from North Mankato, MN

You are able to fix special teams in one of the following two ways – punt team gives up less than five yards on every return, or return team gains at least 10 yards on every return. Neither unit gives up a penalty. Which do you take and why?

I’ll take the returns of 10-plus with no penalties and hope the coverage team can draw some flags.

Andrew from Green Bay, WI

Do you think the Packers made the right decision with keeping Pettine?

Absolutely. I don’t think LaFleur could have asked for a better situation on that side of the ball to be coming in just after Pettine got started.

Andy from Avondale, AZ

You guys should get out of the cold and head out here to AZ. I'll treat you to a spring training game. I got to watch the Cubs vs. Brewers on Saturday in 70-degree weather...just saying.

Didn’t some places in Arizona get like three feet of snow? It’s supposed to be around 40 degrees most of this week in Indy. I’ll take it.

Caleb from Bedford, IN

What is the most important physical aspect of the combine?

Stamina. The schedule they have these guys on for three days is grueling. It’s a test in itself.

Take a look at photos of Packers LB Blake Martinez from the 2018 season.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

Next Wonderlic test question: The Big Ten Conference includes how many universities?

I wouldn’t fault anyone for getting it wrong.

Antonio from Kimberly, WI

Is Jonah Williams a candidate to switch to guard?

I’ve seen reports that he might, depending on which team drafts him.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Would you expect to see the starters on offense play more in the preseason as they try to learn a new system and get on the same page, or do the injury concerns still outweigh the extra experience?

Running the new offense in training camp practices against Pettine’s defense will be better experience than the preseason games. Preseason opponents will keep their defenses very basic, so it’s not really game-like. Pettine will empty his bag in camp to work on everything. The first month of the regular season will establish the offense’s baseline. We aren’t going to know much before that.

Theologos from Athens, Greece

Hi Mike. Do you think that playing for years for one team can alter the way some free agents approach their own FA? For example, is it possible that guys like Cobb or Matthews will consider a discount for the privilege of not having to learn a new team and live in a new place?

It depends on the player, and on how he perceives his former team’s actual level of interest in him, which usually is determined by the offer.

John from Sioux Falls, SD

Insiders, Spoff’s comment about not understanding the need for the Packers to find a “feared” defender seems a little myopic to me. For about five years now the Packers have had a soft defense that misses tackles, can’t get to the QB when it counts, and can’t get off the field on third. They desperately need someone who keeps OCs up at night and brings an attack mentality on D instead of “hold ’em under 30 and hope.” The D needs a makeover. Thankfully I see Pettine as just the guy to do it.

My point was attitude is overrated. The way you play is far less important than the plays you make. Mentalities don’t keep OCs up at night, playmakers do.

Brent from Abilene, TX

Hey Mike, like every Packer fan, I am excited about FA and the draft, but who are some guys currently on the roster that people might have forgotten about that could come out of nowhere this year? Anybody you'd feel comfortable going out on a limb for? Have a great combine!

Trying to pick out-of-nowhere emergences is a shot in the dark, obviously. Two current players who fall into a more veteran category whose progress I believe can have a huge impact on the 2019 Packers are King and Allison.

Ryan from Westfield, IN

You mentioned signing a veteran and a draft pick at guard, then seeing what sticks. How many positions can you do that with in an offseason? Or would you have to question your talent evaluation?

I’m all for overkill if you’re not killing your cap in the process. Some positions it’s too expensive. Generally guard is not one of them.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Let's say the Packers take the MLB Devin White from LSU at 12 to pair with Martinez. Is it possible to maintain a steady pass rush running stunts up the middle in the NFL? Or are edge players still the key, regardless of strength in the middle?

Offenses will eventually focus their protection help in the middle, leaving the edge guys one-on-one. The edge guys still have to win.

Joe from Milwaukee, WI

I can imagine there have been some major changes in the life of a sports writer in the past 10 years (Twitter and digital boom) Any ideas or predictions on how the profession will change in the next ten or so years?

If I had that kind of foresight I could get out of the business and get exceedingly rich. Nearly 25 years in, I have not found that foresight.

Blaine from Fennimore, WI

Looking at the draft order it looks like the first team in need of a QB would be the Giants at No. 6 or Jags at 7. Do you think 6 is when the first QB comes off the board?

Unless someone really falls in love with a QB and feels the need to trade up into the top five to ensure getting him. But the early reports are this is not the QB draft of a year ago.

Paul from Overland Park, KS

I try to hit up Insider every day as it is very insightful and I learn a lot about my team, but lately I find myself scrolling through the questions and I am only reading the ones NOT about football. My question...am I Packer-saturated, bored or is it winter doldrums? And should I be concerned?

Sounds to me like you’re a healthy fan. For now.

Jake from West Allis, WI

If you were a GM, and on one given year you drafted one future HOFer, and the rest of your picks ended up out of the league in two or three years. Looking back, would you consider that a successful draft?

It depends. Did the Hall of Famer help win a Super Bowl?

Todd from Eau Claire, WI

The question about Rodgers retiring got me thinking. Has there ever been an NFL team with three QBs in the HOF, back-to-back-to-back?

No.

Scott from Martinez, GA

Spoff, I need to ask for support from Packer Nation. Having been a part of this particular community since the start, I know how much Packer fans support each other. Tomorrow (Thursday) my wife will be having surgery to remove a brain tumor. I ask that you pass this along to our Packer family for all of your thoughts and prayers. Thank you!

You’re welcome, and all the best to your family.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Don't you think a "safety" and a "touchback" are misnamed? Think about it...if a player tackles the opponent in the opponent's end zone, it's called a safety. That should be a touchback – it’s at the opposite end of the field from where a touchdown would score. Touchdown going forward, touchback going backward. And, if the receiving team's player takes a knee in his end zone on a kickoff, it's a touchback. He's not running the ball out, he's playing it safe – safety. Doesn't that make more sense?

So would playing with a ball that doesn’t bounce so funny. But this is what everyone signed up for. Happy Wednesday.

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