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Inbox: Signs are promising, but nothing's guaranteed

More competition is likely on the way

DL T.J. Slaton
DL T.J. Slaton

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

Good morning! Yesterday, Wes was discussing a lake vs. a pond. Switching it up a bit. If you have a choice between a pool and a pond, what's your choice?

I was so hoping someone was going to hit back with that line. Might be my favorite of many classics.

Steve from Bradenton, FL

I attended the University of Connecticut, majoring in natural resource conservation. One of my professors, who was head of the department, defined a pond as a body of water that could sustain plant life across its entire bottom, whereas a lake could not. However, you won't find that definition in any scientific textbook today. Speaking of UConn, how 'bout that men's basketball team. Five-for-five in national championship games, and five titles in the last 24 years. True blue bloods, or top dogs. Go Huskies!

I'm far too late in congratulating UConn for one of the most dominant title runs I can remember. I watched the Big East tourney semifinal vs. Marquette, a tremendous game by both teams, could've gone either way, and Marquette prevailed. Nobody came close to beating UConn after that.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

I can't believe it's July already and training camp starts in two weeks. OH WAIT … I flipped too many pages on my electronic calendar. UGH!

I'm in no rush for the spring and summer to fly by like that. I'm still waiting for the snow to finish melting in my yard.

Kyle from Columbia, SC

I see the Packers re-signing a lot of core contributors to special teams (We-fense). Is this due to the limited salary cap space and these guys are cheaper to re-sign, or are they doubling down on Keisean Nixon and prioritizing his blockers for kickoff/punt return.

Both. The special-teamers getting re-signed are mostly receiving veteran minimum salaries with some bonuses built in, and the Packers are prioritizing keeping as much veteran leadership in that phase as they can, rather than starting over with a bunch of new guys.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Gents, we have two promising TEs in Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis with something to prove, and certainly one or two draft picks incoming. Does Gutey wait 'til after OTAs to go shake the "veteran TE tree" after he sees what we got? Any names out there that fit our budget?

With such a strong class of tight ends in this draft, I agree there won't be a rush to sign another until the Packers see how it all shakes out this spring. Bringing in another veteran now would only take away OTA reps from those that need them most.

David from Janesville, WI

Mike, a lot of talk about tight ends in the Inbox lately. Here's another question about Tyler Davis. Last year Gutey said that they "thought they may have found something there." I assume that attitude is driven by what is seen in practice, yet in limited opportunities it didn't seem to show up on game day during the season. What is the biggest hurdle for a player to overcome to transfer practice success to game-day success? Is that hurdle more likely overcome with another year of experience?

Another year of experience never hurts. The Packers were high on Davis heading into last season, but he had a rough training camp and preseason with some drops, penalties and other miscues. To his credit, he balled out on special teams all season long and earned another chance to prove himself this year. There's no doubt in my mind he learned a lot from 2022.

Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

It has seemed to be highly important for Brady and Mahomes to have an elite TE to have top-tier success is my reasoning behind the importance of drafting an elite or quality TE for Love to rely on for hopefully many years. Finley was Rodgers' guy but unfortunately had a shortened career and then we never gave Rodgers another "elite" TE for extended amounts of time. Get Love a TE teams have to watch out for.

I can appreciate the sentiment, but let me ask you this. How good were those running games for Brady and Mahomes? Not overly dynamic in my opinion, making the tight end all the more important for them, and frankly those offenses simply played to their strengths. Look, I'm all for the Packers finding and developing an elite tight end, but they've got Jones and Dillon and a chance to have a ground game that can be an even better best friend to a young QB. Both guys can also catch passes out of the backfield, making a top tight end less of an immediate necessity in the passing game. I'd like to see the Packers build around what they have, and then expand from there.

Bob from Covington, KY

Hi, guys. I am looking forward to watching JL and last year's new receivers growing together. With Aaron Rodgers opting out of OTAs, Jordan Love has had plenty of reps with Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure (not to mention Deguara and Davis). I hope to see that group developing the same kind of bond that existed between AR and Adams, Nelson, Randall Cobb, Tonyan, etc. It might even be easier for the new receivers to progress with JL rather than trying to catch up to AR. Fingers crossed...

I think your last point is a very interesting one and worth monitoring.

Logan from Tribune, KS

I've always been curious about the college players who are invited to attend the draft in-person. Do you know if there is a set number of invites sent each year? Any insights on who selects the players that get invited? Thank you both!

The league office sends out the invites, but I don't think there's a set number. They target guys from various top 50 lists so some players will still be around for the second night as well.

Mike from Verona, WI

Your response on Brett Favre trade made me wonder … what basis Atlanta even had to request a first-round pick for a second-round player that appeared to be a disappointment. It seems they would have been pleased just to recoup a second-round pick. I've never heard that other teams were inquiring about Favre's availability at that time.

That's a good question, but I'm sure Wolf wouldn't have given up a first-rounder if he didn't have to. The Packers had the 34th pick in '92 and Favre was drafted 33rd in '91, so I'm sure that pick was mentioned in negotiations at some point.

Eric from Liberty Township, OH

Gutey and crew would do well to follow Ron Wolf's method and draft a QB every year. From 1992-99 Wolf drafted a QB in seven of eight drafts, among them Ty Detmer (1992 9th round), Mark Brunell ('93 5th round), Matt Hasselbeck ('98 6th round) and Aaron Brooks ('99 4th round), all of whom became starters for other teams. None of them supplanted Favre, but all brought back more in trade than they cost in the draft. Thoughts?

I've heard many say this, but I'm not sure that strategy would bear fruit to the extent it did 25-30 years ago. Back then, players spent a ton more time in the offseason with their teams/coaches, allowing for more extensive development outside of game play. The 2011 CBA changed that dramatically. In addition to less offseason time now, there also hasn't been a fourth preseason game since 2019. These days, QBs have to do much more of their developing by playing real games, which throws into question the trade value, compared to yesteryear, of a late-round QB nobody's seen play.

Scott from Hudson, WI

Hi Wes, your response to Matt from Cottage Grove, "I lean towards the offense as I don't think our defense needs much help." No way, our defense was 27th against the run and just as bad in yards per attempt at 5.0! This defense needs help before we can compete for a title. The current offensive and defensive lines need help and are not dominant. I don't know how one offseason is enough time to improve the line play enough to compete for a title. It has and always will start up front. Thoughts?

I think Wes's perspective, as well as the Packers' collectively, includes major steps forward by Devonte Wyatt and T.J. Slaton on the defensive line. They will have larger roles and responsibilities in 2023. Signs are promising, but nothing's guaranteed. I think that'll tell the tale as to where the Packers are defensively up front more so than anyone they draft, though a high pick for a second straight year would certainly be welcome there. As for the offensive line, I think that's the core strength of this team. The Packers have two of the best at what they do in Bakhtiari and Jenkins, plus six other young and still ascending linemen with NFL game experience (Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Zach Tom, Jake Hanson). Competition for the other three spots should elevate the group, and more competition is likely on the way.

Anthony from Southington, CT

John from Jupiter, FL, asked if asking for compensation if a player retires a year after being traded a common thing … why should the team he leaves be responsible for what he does after a season with his new team? On the flip side of that, the Packers would want greater compensation if the Jets win the Super Bowl and Rodgers is the MVP. So I see the need to leave room on either side for the possibilities.


Bill from Whiting, IN

Has the NFL ever restricted the way teams may align their defensive players the way that MLB has chosen to do this year?

No, but the offense has all kinds of formations and eligibility restrictions.

Take a look back at photos of Green Bay Packers LB Quay Walker during the 2022 NFL season.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

Who's on your Mt. Rushmore for Packers special-teams players? Does Howard make it?

I think Howard and Mason Crosby would have to be two of them. For the other two, I'd be choosing amongst Travis Jervey, Jarrett Bush, Travis Williams, Dave Hampton, and perhaps Keisean Nixon if he keeps this up.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Thanks again for all the work on the Prospect Primers, they are the perfect way to get ready for the draft! Yesterday's subject, Calijah Kancey, reminded me of a quote I saw from James Franklin of Penn State a few weeks ago. He said something to the effect that "Aaron Donald has ruined college defensive tackles because they all think they can be like him." Not to say Kancey won't find success in the NFL and I hope he does. But I see Franklin's point and am curious to hear your thoughts on it.

Glad you're enjoying the daily Prospect Primer series. All the profiles are being collected on this page after they post. As for the imitation comment, if a talented young player is trying to be someone he's not, that sounds to me like a great opportunity for an influential coach to guide him toward being the best version of himself.

Joe from Dartford, UK

On the subject of books, I recently read "When Men Win Glory" by Jon Krakauer, the book about the life and death of Pat Tillman, which also covers the controversy and cover-up jobs surrounding his death. A well-written book about an immensely well-principled man. Have you read this? Thoughts? I would encourage anybody to pick that book up; there are some life lessons to be taught in there.

I'll add that to my list. A year or two ago, I read Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" about a horrifying Everest expedition, and it was a fascinating read.

Larry from Colorado Springs, CO

We will pretend you didn't use "asparagus" and "bratwurst" in the same sentence.

There are things I learn about Wes I wish I hadn't. Mercy. As for my own aversion to mustard on brats, I just don't like mustard, period. I can't stand any type of it on anything. Going to ol' County Stadium as a kid, that secret stadium sauce really grew on me.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Insiders of House Inbox, I have set some lofty offseason Inbox goals for myself that I have yet to reach. I've had a few questions/comments posted over the years, but I've never landed one of the most coveted spots (first/last question, question that prompts the title/lede for the day, multiple posts in one Inbox, etc.). Do you know if any Inbox All-Pros (Lori/Dar/Dean/etc.) are hosting an offseason training camp, so I may hone my skills against elite competition?

Would an Insider Inbox boot camp include a math class?

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

A few different things. 1) The Jets finally have their former Packers QB. 2) I like the idea of adding another president to the team with Darnell Washington. 3) Appreciation to CJ in Waxahachie for calling me an OG. Put a smile on my face as I think that's the first time anyone called me that. Happy Easter to everyone.

1) TBLS forever. 2) We have a Prospect Primer coming up on him, as well as one on a Wilson (which would double up) and a Johnson. 3) Congrats, such distinctions are in the purview of the readers, not the writers. Have a great Easter weekend, everyone.

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