Inbox: Second-year candidates are almost endless

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Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Humility over hype. Man, I love that guy.

Adams wears stardom well. It’s easier said than done.

Mark from College Station, TX

Last year there were a lot of receivers analysts had graded high in the first round (Calvin Ridley, DJ Moore, Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk) who ended up dropping significantly on draft day. Do you see something similar happening this year or do some of these guys truly deserve to be taken in Round 1?

I’ve heard some projections that Metcalf is the only receiver who’s going to be a first-rounder. I guess we’ll see.

John from Mt. Prospect, IL

If the Packers add a third running back, what type would you look for? Aaron Jones is a smaller, shiftier back. Jamaal Williams is a bigger, one-cut physical runner. Mike Shanahan seemed to prefer a bigger, one-cut back for his zone blocking scheme. What type would be the best fit to complement Aaron and Jamaal?

I’d like to see an addition whose speed creates a matchup problem.

Brandon from Fairfield, CA

Hey guys, with the players reporting on Monday, how did they know when to report (time of day)? Essentially, how do teams/coaches communicate things to players in general? Do teams have a directory in which they just send out mass texts? Email? Google Classroom? When the players showed up on Monday, how did they know where to go?

A data-filled hologram G is fired high into the sky above Lambeau, like the Bat-signal, which is only visible through a special lens in the team-issued camera phones. When the players snap a picture of it, all the information they need is downloaded. Or maybe they were just emailed a schedule, but that would be boring.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Mike, I was locked on T.J. Hockenson for the 12th pick. After watching Christian Wilkins' Prospect Primer, I may have changed my mind. Athletic, intelligent and seems like a great guy!

There are a lot of Clemson guys to like in this draft, and I’m getting the sense that will become the norm for years to come.

Matt from East Troy, WI

Careers aside, how would you take in the draft to enjoy it the most?

If I weren’t working, I would grab a good book, plop down on the couch, mute the TV, and unmute it for a few moments anytime I felt so inclined.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

I'm sure there are a lot of capable pundits out there in NFL-land, but I think I will greatly miss having Mike Mayock in the TV mix when discussing the qualities of the player picked or the speculation on who will be picked next. Do you have a favorite?

Mayock always came across as very measured and matter-of-fact, which I prefer to the various carnival barkers who always talk too loudly and dramatically. Mayock now has an opportunity to quasi-literally put his money where his mouth is – he’s got four picks in the first 35 for the Raiders. Yowza.

Benjamin from Delray Beach, FL

I'm a little confused about how Adderley's academics kept him out of the FBS. Academic standards at FCS schools aren't lower than they are at FBS schools. As a former Blue Hen myself, the school stacks up comparably (academically) to other state schools that are in the FBS. Can you shed some light on this?

I don’t think it’s a question of different standards. Going back to the group interview with him I was part of at the combine, it seems it was more of a timing issue with his recruiting. My understanding is early on in high school, Adderley was not on track to qualify academically, so some big schools told him they couldn’t pursue him. While pondering other potential options, he buckled down on his studies and was making the honor roll his junior year. By the time the bigger programs realized he was going to qualify, he had fallen in love with Delaware, got an offer, and ultimately stuck to that choice. He had to get his grades up whether he was going to play at Delaware or in the FBS.

Ryan from Bismarck, ND

Who on the current roster can play center besides Corey Linsley? I think we need to add a guy like Conner McGovern or one of the center/guard type players in the draft.

I suspect Justin McCray or Lucas Patrick could play center in a pinch, but I don’t disagree with your premise of finding added depth behind Linsley at some point this offseason.

Jake from Franklin, WI

With the evolution of how running backs are used, do you think anyone will ever beat Jim Taylor's franchise rushing TD record?

No.

Andrew from Kissimmee, FL

Hey guys! Like most fans I can't stop reading about potential picks for the Packers. I also try and pay attention to players the Packers bring in for visits (it’s been reported that Sweat was brought in). If they are bringing in players that are expected to go high in the first round, does this give us an indication as to what type of player the team might be picking up (in this case edge rusher)?

Not necessarily. They might have something further they want to explore with a player they didn’t get to cover in the combine interview. Or they may have sensed the player needed to see Green Bay and the team facilities to feel good about potentially being selected. Or they’re putting that player’s name out there for the league to see as a smokescreen to disguise their true interests. We never really know, and media access is not part of their visit.

Bob from Port St. Lucie, FL

When a team brings in a prospect, who pays the cost...player or team?

The team.

Jay from Altoona, WI

The questions regarding the lack of modern-day respect for Don Hutson got me thinking. I can understand modern NFL fans who only consider things that they have seen, but why does the NFL as an entity largely ignore the pre-Super Bowl era? Especially now that the NFL is celebrating its 100th year, why wouldn't the NFL spend more time promoting the pre-Super Bowl teams and players? Other than Packer fans, I imagine most fans have never even heard of Don Hutson, but everyone knows Jerry Rice.

I remember Vic commenting many times the NFL was very poor at preserving its history and promoting its players back in the day. NFL Films didn’t exist until the 1960s, and many statistics on players from the league’s first few decades needed to be researched well after the fact to reach any level of accuracy. The game’s popularity back then also was dwarfed by that of baseball and college football. Even the meticulously detailed Packers media guide has no team or individual player statistics from 1919-39. While I agree celebrating those players now is a good idea, it’s difficult for anything to resonate broadly when they weren’t really celebrated then.

Jake from Franklin, WI

Being born in the early ’90s I can understand Sharpe as one of the three along with Hutson obviously. I've never really learned much about Lofton, though. Can you describe his game and why you'd pick him over someone like Jordy or Adams?

Lofton’s athleticism was off the charts, which gave him big-play ability that tilted the field. From 1981-84, Lofton’s annual yards-per-catch averages were 18.2, 19.9, 22.4 and 22.0 yards. Think about that. Only once since then has any team-leading Green Bay receiver hit 18 for a full season (Nelson, 18.6 in 2011).

Thomas from Pine River, WI

"...but if I were only allowed to pick three, I’d have to go with Hutson, Lofton and Sharpe." Wow! I picked the exact same trio of receivers during a recent discussion with a buddy of mine. Incidentally, since TE has been a topic of conversation lately, I would pick Paul Coffman, Ron Kramer, and Keith Jackson as my top three.

I wouldn’t pick Jackson as my third because he wasn’t in Green Bay very long. I’d be more inclined to go with Chmura or Franks for their all-around games, including blocking.

Steve from Terre Haute, IN

I mistakenly thought sports journalists had higher integrity standards than the mainstream media. However, events of late show they do not. Was Vic an influence on your consistent high standards?

I learned plenty from Vic, but my standards were engrained at Medill/Northwestern.

Clay from Goodyear, AZ

When addressing media the other day Aaron said the new playbook includes new code words. Please tell me this marks the return of “New York Bozo!”

You’ll have to let us know what you hear on the TV broadcasts this year. We aren’t listening to that audio in the press box.

Jeremy from De Soto, KS

Who had the most intense Twitter battle? Team Rodgers vs. Team anonymous sources or Hod vs. Demovsky about their golf game?

When Wes starts posting golf GIFs, the offseason has gotten too long.

Ryan from Westfield, IN

So we all know no one knows. You don’t know, I don’t know, draft “experts,” computers, my dog’s psychic...but do all the GMs at least have a good idea who all the other GMs are gonna try to draft? QB-needy teams would probably be the most obvious. Is that how it becomes a kind of chess match?

I don’t think they ever really know, either, but I’ve heard Gutekunst mention when certain players have been picked by his former colleagues, like Schneider,

Dorsey and McKenzie, everyone in the room who knows them will mutter, “Yup, that makes sense. Of course.”

Lior from Philadelphia, PA

Davante talked about learning new formations and new routes under this incoming coaching staff. Can you unpack that a bit? From my untrained eye, I see NFL offenses run out of mostly the same formations, and the route tree consists of only so many concepts, which also seem uniform across the league.

Formations might look the same, but not everyone’s slot receiver lines up the exact same distance from the tight end, for example, and not all splits in doubles or trips alignments are identical. Motion calls also change formations on the fly. In general, the route tree is the route tree, but a 7-yard out in one system might be a 9-yard out in another, which will mean another step before the break for the receiver, so there’s new timing to adjust to. Those sorts of things.

Karen from Kaukauna, WI

Which of last year's rookies do you think most likely to get a large second-year improvement? Which of the third-year players do you see possibly surging ahead?

The second-year candidates are almost endless, but the ones I’ll be watching closest will be Jackson, Burks, St. Brown, Scott, and Boyle. Third year? Aaron Jones.

Jim from Green Bay, WI

Not a question, just a comment. You mentioned the 2009 season as having a trip to Arizona in the preseason – that may very well be the only season in NFL history with a preseason, regular-season, and postseason trip to one stadium in NFL history. You'll recall, we concluded the 2009 regular season in Arizona and promptly went back the next week in the wild-card round.

I remember it well. Flying to Phoenix on consecutive weekends was one of the strangest sequences I’ve encountered in 13 years of team travel.

Trevor from Cincinnati, OH

The question regarding the scout/coach dynamic got me thinking. I know we always talk about the importance of self-scouting and I have typically attributed that more to overall offensive and defensive schemes and tendencies. With all of the specialized area scouts compiling info about all of the various prospects and players, is there a group of scouts independently evaluating current players on the Packers’ roster? Or when they are in the building do they rely on coaches’ evaluations?

You’ve just described why teams have college scouts and pro scouts. This time of year, they’re all working on the draft. But come fall, the college scouts hit the road and the pro scouts stay in-house to study their own roster and the rosters around the league.

Bill from Menominee, MI

Another instance of common sense needing the flexibility to prevail. Baseball replay of stolen bases. The runner steals and clearly beats the throw and is called safe. Coach asks for review. While sliding through the base, his hand passes over the bag. There's a brief millisecond before his leg and knee follow and touch the bag. Infielder holds the tag. The catcher is awarded a throw-out even though the baserunner won all physical aspects of the play.

It’s safe to say the law of unintended consequences has consumed replay across the board. They’re really all unintended consequences of the technology accessible to the home viewer. If broadcasts went back to the ’80s, the games could, too.

Jack from Naperville, IL

Hi Spoff, it's great seeing players from that terrific '07 team now on the Packers Tailgate Tour. I know you began at packers.com roughly around that time, so do you have any behind-the-scenes stories involving the 2000s players? I always felt those teams had great character (and characters).

Those guys from the ’07 team on the Tailgate Tour – Grant, Kampman, Wells, Barnett – were all good interviews. Wells’ sense of humor is highly underrated. He was skilled at taking veiled, playful shots at his older linemates, Tauscher and Clifton (especially Clifton, who also was from Tennessee). Kampman used to go on mission-type trips to faraway places with his wife. Captivating stories. I once documented an entire offseason workout – before the 2011 CBA – of Grant’s and got exhausted just typing it up. That ’07 team was a cool bunch, and they were good before anybody else really knew how good.

Jason from Denver, CO

No question. I just watched Boar’s interview and it got me more pumped for the coming season than anything in this action-packed offseason yet. From the free-agent pickups to how much of a monster Kenny Clark is going to be. I’m always optimistic about the Pack but after that interview I’m downright impatient.

Remember, still more than 4 ½ months before the baloney stops. Happy Friday.

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