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Inbox: One cannot succeed without the other

This is take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt season

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
Running backs coach Ben Sirmans

Jason from Lake View, NY

Just figured out what the huge news will be while Spoff is on vacation – Wes signs a 3-year-deal to be Aaron Rodgers' backup. That form was amazing on that Twitter video!

I was really disappointed more people didn't realize it was an homage to Uncle Rico and "Napoleon Dynamite." I guess this is what it's like to get older and no longer have younger folks understand your cultural references. By the way, Tim Boyle sent me a DM saying simply, "Sack." I don't think he feels threatened. Good morning!

Al from Green Bay, WI

It's the offseason, and players have the opportunity to garner some new experiences, including participating in TV commercial shoots. As "director for the day" which three Packers players do you want to feature in your commercial, and why?

Boyle, Davante Adams and the Smiths, so I guess that's four. All four have unique personalities I feel would translate to a TV screen.

Ben from Neenah, WI

Some organizations continue to draft early-round busts, while others continue to find late-round gems. Much of the success or failure is credited to drafting. How much of this credit is actually due to the development of the player after they are drafted?

I feel like drafting and developing prospects is like cooking. You need good ingredients and a good cook to make a good meal. One cannot succeed without the other. David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Tramon Williams and Aaron Jones all had the talent and drive to succeed but brilliant coaching helped them realize their true potential.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

One thing I appreciate about Wisconsin is that despite never having top-ranked recruiting classes, it almost always seem to have two or three players go in the first two rounds of the draft. This year looks to be no exception with Zack Baun, Jonathan Taylor and Tyler Biadasz. Beyond those three, any other Badgers we should be keeping an eye on?

Quintez Cephus.

Derek from Minot, ND

Just curious what your thoughts are on Lucas Niang tackle from TCU, if the Packers do let Bryan Bulaga head to free agency.

Niang probably needs a full season to develop into a starter but I love his size (6-6, 315) and length. He offers a lot as a run-blocker, too.If the hip checks out and he has a good pro day, Niang could be a really fine developmental prospect.

Mark from Monrovia, CA

Just read the article by Mike on Dayton tight end Adam Troutman. What a story. He sounds like a great kid with a lot of heart and determination. With his size, do you think that he would be around in the mid-to-late rounds?

Maybe it's just me but it seems like tight end produces more top-shelf NFL talent from off-the-wall college destinations than any other position. Travis Kelce (Cincinnati), Antonio Gates (Kent State) and Delanie Walker (Central Missouri) didn't exactly come from football powerhouses. Troutman has such an interesting backstory. He very well could be the next tight end to blossom from humble college beginnings.

David from Cable, WI

Strengthen the defensive line and keep Blake Martinez. Like Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde, I don't want to see us develop a player and not reap the rewards.

I don't sign the checkbook but I will say you'll be hard-pressed to find many better locker-room guys than Martinez. He's a tireless worker and stand-up guy who was always accountable to the media for what happened every Sunday. Like Hayward and Hyde, I'll be happy to see Martinez rewarded this offseason with a contract regardless of whether that comes in GB or elsewhere. Like Hayward, Martinez won't be as easy to replace as some want to believe.

James from Clarkston, MI

Honest to goodness, my friend from high school's sister and JC Tretter got married last month. Any memories of JC during his time in Green Bay?

I don't have any funny stories other than the time Tretter and T.J. Lang worked the locker room to get the story behind two reporters who got into a tussle at practice a few years ago. Tretter exuded professionalism at all times, even in the face of injury early on. It's great to see him stay healthy and thrive in Cleveland.

Tom from New Berlin, WI

Who do you feel is the better LB prospect: Isaiah Simmons or Kenneth Murray?

I really like Murray but Simmons caught my attention with his 4.39 40 in Indy.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Several days ago, you mentioned that you thought David Bakhtiari was probably the greatest value pick ever for us. I always thought the same, but put in some research to see if our perception was correct. That year had 254 players selected. The ONLY player that you can say unequivocally is better than David is DeAndre Hopkins. Players such as Travis Frederick, Le'Veon Bell, Travis Kelce, and Keenan Allen you can argue either way. After seven years of play, Bakhtiari is a top six player! We are correct!

I think I've said this before, but what makes Bakhtiari's fourth-round selection so special is 2013 was considered a very good draft for offensive linemen. Five tackles went in the first round. Bakhtiari was the 10th to come off the board and an argument could be made he's the best of the bunch.

Jeff from Mesa, AZ

Wes, any news on Lane Taylor and speculation for how he and Elgton Jenkins will be used going forward?

Jenkins looks like a 10-year NFL starting guard to me, so I expect him to be in the starting five next year. I haven't heard anything on Taylor yet. I don't want to get into the specifics of Taylor's contract but it's really not that expensive. He's a good player and solid person. We'll see what the Packers choose to do in the next two weeks.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Wes, I've seen numerous articles from reporters indicating the Packers are interested in a specific free agent (i.e. Hooper, Littleton, Schobert, etc.). My question is how are they able to make this claim as I'm sure Gutekunst and his staff are not divulging this? How is it known what free agents a team is planning to go after given that teams aren't 'legally' supposed to be discussing free agents for a few more weeks?

This is take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt season. There seems to be more roster analysis today than 10 years ago, especially in the month leading up to free agency. Sometimes there's value in reporters offering educated guesses but the danger is fans who cannot decipher the difference between speculation and actual reporting. Just be mindful of that. It's all guesswork until the ink is dry.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

With all the talk of expanding rosters, the XFL, the CFL, etc., would you agree that the best "farm system" the NFL has is its practice squads? I would think the idea of draft and develop really fits well into the idea of an expanded practice squad. I'm sure the experience for those players is invaluable, while at the same time it is an economical value for the team.

I love the CFL and XFL. The more avenues for players to make money playing football, the better. However, the best development tool for the NFL remains the practice squad. It allows players to develop and gives them ample time to learn an NFL playbook.

Wayne from Winnipeg, Manitoba

With the possible expansion of team and gameday rosters, do you see them also increasing the number of rounds in the draft? Or do you think it would stay the same and the number of undrafted player signings would increase to fill the additional roster spots?

I don't see anything changing. There would still be 90-man rosters and a seven-round draft with 32 compensatory picks distributed to NFL teams. The only change would be how many players get to stick around after training camp.

Brian from Sussex, WI

May need to remind people another way to improve ILB play is by improving the defensive line.

The two go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Bob from Racine, WI

Who would want the GM's job? You do your best to get quality players and locker room. You're faced with free agency. Do you let Bryan Bulaga walk to save dollars? Can you find a quality replacement that will protect your quarterback? If not, then saving dollars doesn't mean much if you lose Rodgers. Such tough decisions for those at the top.

It takes an individual with ironclad resolve and courage of conviction to sit in that GM seat. I think the past two years have proven Gutekunst to be a great fit in that role.

Russ from Henrico, VA

Much is made of Nelson, Cobb and Adams taking a few years before finding sustained success. Is this the nature of the position or does it reflect that each of them started out in pretty deep receiver groups?

It takes time to adjust to every position at the next level but receiver is one of the trickier ones to master. Some guys run only a select number of routes in college. In the NFL, you need to know the entire route tree and beat the best defensive backs in the world to win your assignment. Oh, and catch the ball. That's why it's difficult to be an overnight success as a receiver or tight end, I feel.

Raymond from San Antonio, TX

Hi II, sticking with the topic of Jimmy Johnson's draft value board "making sense." If I'm offered extra picks to move back 10 spots in the draft and still feel there are 10 high quality players left, doesn't it always make sense to take the deal? Isn't the draft value determined by the talent left in the draft and not the actual pick itself?

Exactly. Gutekunst has been more open discussing this topic than Thompson but I think their beliefs are very similar. If you're picking 30th and have eight players with a first-round grade still on the board, it makes sense to work the phones a little bit and see if you can create more value.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I doubt that Gutekunst and his staff pay much if any attention to the mock drafts but do you think in the days leading up to the draft they put together their own mock to get a better feel on who will be available or who they might need to jump ahead of to get their guy? I ask this because I saw a mock today that had them moving up to No. 27, presumably to get ahead of the Steelers to grab Murray.

Definitely. Gutekunst and his personnel guys will go through their own mock drafts beforehand, projecting what other teams might do. It's impossible to predict what might happen on April 23 but front offices can learn a lot by simulating potential outcomes.

Tom from Pine River, WI

Bob from Wisconsin Rapids had a great question "What is considered to be the best draft the Packers have had talent-wise?" I also enjoyed your answer which included an honorable mention. I think 1992 should also be considered. Robert Brooks, Edgar Bennett and Mark Chmura. Plus, Mike Holmgren (including the incredible assistant coaching staff)... and last but not least, Brett Favre.

Another good one, though Holmgren and Favre weren't draft picks. Maybe I'll give it a little more thought and do a Top 10 list of Packers draft classes in late-June/early-July when there isn't much of anything going on.

Paul from De Pere, WI

For every Taysom Hill, there is a Chandon Sullivan. Is there another untapped market for NFL talent outside the U.S. that could provide players for the Packers?

The NFL wants to create an international feeder system but right now the league is so heavily reliant on North American prospects. I could see a day Europe and Australia begins developing NFL-caliber talent based on both continent's growing interest in the sport.

Christopher from Savage, MN

Wes, I thought you were spot-on with your Tony Romo assessment. From fans perspective having a commentator like Romo in the booth makes me much more likely to tune in to non-Packer games because I feel like his insights add lot to the broadcast! There are some commentators I'd just as well leave on mute. Better commentary leads to higher ratings and more money. Everybody wins and CBS saw the value in that. Hod, which current Packer would be the funniest live TV analyst?

Lucas Patrick. He's smart, funny and knows the game. I don't know if Lucas has any interest in media post-football, but he has the perfect personality for it.

Blayne from Blaine, MN

I just Googled Allen Lazard's combine numbers and saw there was a Prospect Primer video on him, too. Although GB didn't draft him or sign him as a UDFA, do you chalk this up as a W on the old "Prospect Primer" tracker (e.g. number of players drafted that were highlighted in a PP video)? I tend to lean toward yes, so please give yourself a hardy pat on the back. Well done, sirs! Keep up the good work! I look forward to seeing this year's Prospect Primers.

I'm counting it. Just like how Spoff and I counted Tyler Ervin…even though neither of us remembered recording it. I just tracked the first two Primers of 2020, including one on Jonathan Taylor. So keep an eye out for those next week.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

To Jason from Granby, CT and Wes, you've got to try "Madden Ultimate Team" mode. My theme team is loaded with the likes of previous greats such as Ahman Green, Donald Driver, Gilbert Brown, Reggie White, Julius Peppers, and Adam Timmerman. While mixing in current standouts like Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Kenny Clark, the Smiths and Jaire Alexander. My defensive line wreaks pure havoc.

I get why fans like that mode but it's just not realistic enough for me. I'd much rather make fake trades and draft computer-generated players.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Wes, when a reader/question submitter has been placed on IIDSP (Insider Inbox Double Secret Probation), what does he or she have to do to get back into IIGG (Insider Inbox's Good Graces).

Wait. Every New Year, I throw out my list of banned submitters and start fresh. I currently have four on my banned list for 2020. So see ya in 2021.

Josh from Houston, TX

Wes, as someone with M.D.-PhD after my name, I have to respectfully disagree about putting Duvernay-Tardif, M.D., on a jersey. Jr. and III are part of peoples' legal names. M.D. is an earned title, just like your B.A. or Mike's M.A.

Which is why I had Hodkiewicz, B.A., on the back of my city-league basketball jersey. Duh.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Fun Fact: Most steakhouses sell Patagonian Toothfish but put it on the menu as Chilean Seabass, for obvious reasons. You'd probably never know the difference in taste, however.

I'm a sucker for a good Chilean Seabass…and I guess a good Patagonian Toothfish.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

It is the off-season, so... how about that Christian Yelich deal!

I didn't see that one coming but what a great day for not only the Brewers, but also the state of Wisconsin. There's always been a stigma about pro athletes not wanting to play in Green Bay or Milwaukee. Not anymore.