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Inbox: Strong, player-led teams have emerging leaders in the pipeline

Those who really hit it big change their teams

G/T Elgton Jenkins
G/T Elgton Jenkins

Matt from Des Moines, IA

Will there be any Prospect Primer articles again?

Yes, but probably not until early April. Appreciate your patience.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

On a different topic, Mike, what is your opinion of the rule changes in baseball? Pitch clock, bigger bases, no defensive shifts?

I'm all for the pitch clock. Much needed. I don't have strong feelings on bigger bases, because I don't see those bringing back the stolen base or anything, but I also don't see any harm. I've gone back and forth on defensive shifts. I was really hoping somebody would take a Moneyball-type approach to building a lineup that forced defenses to play honestly, and then succeed, forcing a full re-think across the game. That never happened. They took the easy way out and just banned the shift instead.

Steve from Plover, WI

Besides our "owner," Mark Murphy, is there now or has there ever been another NFL owner who was formerly a player? Do you get any sense that what MM says in an owners' meeting carries any extra weight due to his experience as a former player?

I'm sure he does provide a player's perspective in some discussions. No current owners that I know of played in the NFL, though Jerry Jones was co-captain of the 1964 national championship team at Arkansas.

Charles from Richfield, WI

My son and I attended the Titans game this past year and LeRoy Butler's halftime speech and "leap" were the enduring highlights of the evening. We later took the Lambeau Field tour and took in the full 360-degree view of names on the Packers Hing of Honor. My question to either (or both) of you is: Which of the 28 Ring of Honor members do you feel is most underappreciated when taking into account their impact on the Packers' legacy?

This would be a better question for Cliff, but my immediate response is Arnie Herber.

Mark from De Pere, WI

The Packers have plenty of holes to fill in the upcoming draft. Tight end, edge and defensive line. If one of the top offensive tackles is there at 15 would it surprise you if they went that way?

Not in the slightest. David Bakhtiari turns 32 in September, and while he finished strong in '22 after a difficult couple of years and still may have a lot left, the only other proven commodity at tackle on the roster is Yosh Nijman. The rest of the depth is intriguing, but they're all late-round or undrafted prospects.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Mike, would you agree who are starting QB will be next year will influence what positions are given early priority in the draft? We all know historically AR takes time to warm up to a receiver. We have to start getting an immediate return on our first- and second-round picks. If Rodgers returns maybe a safety and edge rusher before a TE and OL. If Love is starting an OL and TE to protect him and give him more time and a quick release target. Time will tell but what do you think?

I can see why you might think that, but I don't see the Packers approaching it that way at all. Gutekunst & Co. will work on drafting the best players they can, regardless of who's playing QB. If a highly rated first- or second-round pick is projected as having big-time upside but perhaps limited immediate impact (e.g., Gary, Wyatt), they won't be dissuaded from grabbing that guy based on the QB situation.

Dan from Maquoketa, IA

Last year the II was filled with comments on how chockablock the roster was, now I keep reading about the paucity of talent on this team. We are not losing any all-star talent except perhaps QB1, but Jordan Love appears ready. We definitely have needs at safety, kicker, and tight end. I think our starters look better now than they did last year at this time. Through the draft, FA, and internal improvement I only see 4-6 new starters this year. Would this be a fair assessment?

I need to see what happens with the Packers' own free agents before I start counting the number of new starters, though Gutekunst in Indy was certainly forthright regarding the safety and tight end spots as targeted needs. As for your first thought, don't confuse comments about the desire for elite-level playmakers with some blanket statement about the team lacking talent. There's a difference between talented NFL players and true field-tilters. Rashan Gary was headed toward an upper level before his injury, and the Packers could use another young edge rusher on the rise like that. Davante Adams was one of those guys, Christian Watson has a chance to be one, but who couldn't use another one? Can Eric Stokes get to Jaire Alexander's level, same with Devonte Wyatt alongside Kenny Clark, or are more long-term investments needed to find the real difference-makers? That's what teams look for every year in the draft, and those who really hit it big change their teams.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

It appears as if the Packers will be in need of a safety. Do you think that position will be addressed through the draft, or is there a possibility that they sign a FA?

Maybe both.

Ted from Findlay, OH

Generally, who do you think the leakers are when outsider media reveal stories about a team or player before there is an announcement? I find it hard to believe that teams are doing this (unless there is some value in a trial balloon). Agents or players themselves? Family members? Does money ever change hands?

Usually it's the agents.

Johnny from Salt Lake City, UT

Mike, should the Packers just trade away all future third-round draft picks? The last TEN have been Rhyan, Am. Rodgers, Deguara, Sternberger, Burks, M. Adams, Fackrell, T. Montgomery, R. Rodgers, and Alex Green. The last third-round pick that panned out was Morgan Burnett in 2010!

It's been a rough go in that round for the Packers, for sure. But I wouldn't dismiss the contributions of guys like Fackrell, Montgomery and Richard Rodgers just because they didn't get second contracts here. I'm not closing the book on Josiah Deguara and Sean Rhyan, either. They're still young, developing players.

Benjamin from Minneapolis, MN

Is there any reason to believe next season would be different from this season if Aaron Rodgers returns?

Several. Rodgers wouldn't be playing with a broken thumb and injured ribs. Watson, Romeo Doubs, Quay Walker, Wyatt, Zach Tom and Kingsley Enagbare won't be rookies anymore. Hopefully Gary and Stokes return from serious injuries, Bakhtiari is good from the get-go, and the special teams won't be starting from scratch. That's just off the top of my head.

Samuel from Skokie, IL

You answered Scott from Bath that Gutekunst was noncommittal regarding Rodgers. I think he was clear. He was asked directly if he wanted Rodgers back next year and the answer wasn't "yes." Or, "yes but we have to see where Aaron is in his decision." He said we'll do what's best for the Packers, then he answered Love is ready to play. I don't know how to read that other than they are ready to move on.

That's a fair and valid interpretation. But there also are motives for saying or not saying certain things. To play devil's advocate, did Gutekunst not answer an emphatic "yes" because that might cause an issue with the QB in the on-deck circle, and the GM is willing to entertain another year of the status quo before passing the torch in '24, as long as everyone stays copacetic? I don't know, it's just a thought. But what I do know is there are usually more angles to these situations than meet the eye.

Larry from Chippewa Falls, WI

I think your statement "came up a tad short" should be the Packers' motto. It sums up all they have accomplished the past several years.

Also fair and valid.

Brendyn from Howard, WI

Hypothetically speaking, Rodgers retires and Packers of course roll on with Love. Do we start to see a team like SF? Matt LaFleur has the same mindset you would think as Kyle, and why not build the same type of scheme where the offense just needs a run game and a QB who can hit the open man, as well as a solid defense? I feel like SF's overall philosophy is the best in the league. Why is that? Why does SF look good with any QB and why or why not would this work for GB?

It might, but the Niners also have built a dynamic roster with virtually no holes. They have three of the most versatile and explosive perimeter weapons in the game, plus first-team All-Pros at left tackle, defensive end and middle linebacker, and a second-team All-Pro on special teams. The depth of their defensive line is exceptional. It's incredible to me how many outstanding teams they've had in the Harbaugh and Shanahan eras yet haven't won a Super Bowl.

Michael from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hey Mike! Your answer about Mason Crosby and the cap yesterday got me thinking. The leadership of this roster could take a very serious turn if AR, ML, MC, and PS are gone. Has there ever been a transition of that magnitude in your tenure? That would be a lot of leadership and experience out the door. Who would you peg as the up-and-coming leaders? Clark and … ? Gracias for your perspectives and insight. (How does Wes carry on with a straight face after Larry?)

Preston Smith isn't going anywhere, assuming that was your reference, and neither are Bakhtiari, Clark and De'Vondre Campbell. Strong, player-led teams have emerging leaders in the pipeline, too. Aaron Jones, Gary, Jaire Alexander and Jenkins would help fill any potential void.

Larry from Keyser, WV

Who was the Packer taken with the lowest draft pick that is in the Hall of Fame (name, year drafted, draft pick round and overall number)? Thanks for keeping Packers Nation in the know.

Well, seven Packers in Canton began their careers before the advent of the common draft in 1936 (Lambeau, Hubbard, Hutson, Blood, Hinkle, Michalske, Herber). Excluding them, the answer to your question is Bart Starr, who was taken in the 17th round with the 200th overall pick in '56. But Willie Wood went undrafted in '60, if you'd prefer.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

Regarding Greg from Toluca, IL, inquiring about revenue split between home and visiting teams, I think that makes sense. Not all markets are created equal. Neither are all fan bases. And with the scheduling dynamics involving rotating opponents, I would think the best way to stay as even as possible with one another would be to split the gate for each game in some fashion. Do you know if it is a 50/50 split, or if home team gets a larger portion?

I haven't heard specifics in a long while, but I believe the visiting team's gate share is in the 30-35% range.

Take a look back at photos of Green Bay Packers players during their NFL Scouting Combine appearances.

Luke from La Crosse, WI

Nathan from PA would like LaFleur to go for it MORE on fourth down just inside the opponent's territory? Because analytics supports it? Let's see here … Green Bay 27th in the league on fourth down. How about punting and pinning deep instead of turning the ball over at midfield? Maybe the team should focus on that first? I believe the statistics support it.

This debate isn't getting settled here.

David from Cable, WI

Was it Bo or Woody or maybe both that said when you throw the football three things can happen and two of them are bad?

Oh, that was Woody Hayes all the way. One of my all-time favorite football quotes.

Rob from Hartland, WI

Well, now we have to know. If Larry isn't a craft brew guy, what kind is he? Is he of the root type like Wes or does he have an old reliable domestic that he goes to?

He's got an old reliable domestic, all right. I'm just not sure I'm allowed to promote it here, even though it's now owned by the same company that inevitably has something to do with my paychecks.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Mike, the Carson Wentz question and answer really reminds me a lot of Christian Yelich. Easily the face of the Brewers, and most reliable hitter in the lineup. Took one nasty foul ball off the kneecap and hasn't been "the same" since. I'm not suggesting that he's not still an All-Star, and I'm not suggesting that he's playing scared, but to some degree, I wonder if that one swing changed the trajectory of his career. That much pain has to carry unpleasant memories, even after it's healed up.

You, me and just about every other Brewers fan have been wondering the same thing for three years now. But I'm still rooting like mad for the guy.

James from Appleton, WI

Just taking a moment to appreciate the Bucks. A great collection of players and a coach who keeps learning. They have total confidence that they can figure out any opponent in a seven-game series. There's quite a parallel with the Bucks losing Middleton last year and the Packers losing Bakhtiari in the playoffs. Sometimes there's not enough time to figure out how to overcome a setback.

How true. Sixteen straight (and counting?). Rarely does the NBA grab my attention prior to March Madness, but this Bucks team is more than worth a glance these days.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

Hey Mike, how many more bases could you have stolen if they had those extra-large bags back in your day?

I'd have tacked more batting gloves on my wall than Willie Mays Hayes. Happy Thursday.

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