Inbox: That’s no longer the question

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Matt from Minneapolis, MN

Hey Wes! I'm excited for the Prospect Primers this week! The real question is were you able to get that elusive interview out of Vontae Mack? When is his Primer set to be posted? Post it, NO MATTER WHAT.

I’m not sure when Mack is going up, but Bo Callahan should be up sometime this afternoon. But alas, the Prospect Primers are off and running. I’ve already voiced seven myself. Enjoy! Good morning!

McCain from Brookland, AR

The Packers hit a home run in the draft with Davante Adams. We drafted three wideouts in 2018 who have shown what they’re capable of, but they haven’t blown up yet. With the exception of Jake Kumerow, who has shown his raw talent, do you think it would be beneficial to pick up a wide receiver in FA such as Pierre Garcon, Michael Crabtree, or even bringing back Randall Cobb? Someone who has shown they can be a key contributor to a team.

I would be all for Cobb coming back given his history with Rodgers, but if he moves on, I don’t think the Packers need to bring in another veteran to replace him. I’d rather develop Geronimo Allison and the three young receivers, and if Brian Gutekunst feels the need for even more competition, he has 10 picks at his disposal in April.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, do you think a team will ever go back to a system where a first-round QB sits on the bench with a clipboard for a couple of years before he is ready? Or almost any first-round pick at any position?

I think that era has come and gone in regards to quarterback. The window is too small for GMs and head coaches to turn around a team these days. You either need a Hall of Fame quarterback or time. Most don’t have either.

Dan from Toledo, OH

I feel history may repeat itself with the oft-injured Kevin King. I don’t want him to be the next Casey Hayward for any team other than the Packers. Let’s give the kid a chance, eh?

Eh.

Ivan from Little Chicago, WI

If retaining Marcedes Lewis is any indication, and we are to assume blocking is a prerequisite for that position heading into the draft, I think T.J. Hockenson is at the top of the Packers’ board. If not, Irv Smith is still possible at 30. Any thoughts?

Maybe. Maybe not. If anything, I look at this as a do-over with Lewis. I get blocking is a strength of his game, but Lewis also isn’t Matthew Mulligan. The guy has 378 career receptions. My hope is the Packers utilize him more as a tight end who can block than a sixth offensive lineman.

Shawn from St Peter, MN

I see the Packers have retained Marcedes Lewis, a Jaguar before he was a Packer. Did Marcedes’ time at the Jaguars overlap with Nathaniel Hackett’s time there? If so, was this potential motivation to keep him around?

It did. Hackett was Jacksonville’s QBs coach in 2015-16 and Lewis’ offensive coordinator during the run to the AFC title game in 2017. I can’t say definitively if Lewis’ history with Hackett factored into the decision to re-sign him, but there’s familiarity there.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

I get the "need" at tight end, but Jimmy Graham, Lewis and Robert Tonyan seem like enough to keep from drafting one at No. 12 or 30. I would hope pick No. 12 would be contributing right away, at a position not so deep or a little less talented at this time.

My only argument for taking a tight end in this draft – not necessarily in the first round – is to get a prospect in the pipeline, especially since the Packers have shown they have no issue carrying four on the roster for an entire season.

Tom from Fairfield, CT

I get the impression that the Packers’ management may be setting up for a big 2020 offseason of not signing free agents and getting back into earning compensatory picks. They have positioned themselves to get into a strategy of FAs one year and none the next, so they can earn compensatory picks in alternate years. It’s kind of a nuanced approach to FAs versus compensatory pick strategy. You think so?

I’ve seen some of these stories and columns about what this year’s approach to free agency means for the future, but the Packers have contracts coming off the books next offseason, too. Sure, teams can’t sign four premium free agents every offseason like the Packers did, but I also don’t think it takes them completely out of the game with the cap rising steadily at $10 million each year.

Brian from Sussex, WI

Has anyone else noticed the new Smith duo of edge rushers have height/weight more like 4-3 rushing ends than traditional 3-4 rushing linebackers? Not trying to stir the pot, just saying...

There were still reporters asking defensive players at the combine whether they want to play in a 4-3 or 3-4. That’s no longer the question. It’s 2019. It’s a sub-defense league now. There are no strict measurables anymore. Evolve.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

I'm really surprised by the projections for the RBs this year. It seems like none of these 'experts' can agree on which rounds the RBs will actually go. There's always going to be differing opinions on how successful prospects will be, but usually the draft projections are somewhat constant. Can you recall a year where a position baffled the analysts this much?

This year’s class reminds me of 2013 when nobody could put a finger on where Eddie Lacy, Le’Veon Bell, Giovani Bernard, Montee Ball and Knile Davis would go and what order they’d be selected.

Brandon from Green Bay, WI

"Aaron Rodgers is 35 and signed through 2023. Moving forward, I think this is going to be my standard reply to these questions about finding QB1’s replacement." Though this may be true, Brett was 36 when Aaron was drafted and look at what happened. I truly believe it is time to start thinking about grooming a successor in the next year or so. Maybe Boyle or Kizer will be that guy (Doubtful) who knows. But something has to happen in the next couple years in my honest opinion.

Look what happened? I won’t lie. I chuckled when you used the Favre-to-Rodgers succession as the shining example of why it’s best to find the next quarterback now. At any rate, it’s still a false equivalent comparing the two. Favre continuously contemplated retirement when Ted Thompson was hired in 2005. Rodgers has been the exact opposite, only reiterating how he plans into his 40s.

Patrick from St Louis, MO

All this nonsense about bringing in Rodgers' replacement to train under him has me wondering, do they really think he wouldn't be a perennial All-Pro if he hadn't sat behind Favre a few years? AR12's talent would have come out eventually regardless and I tend to think he would have been sensational as a rookie starter. No amount of years backing up a Hall of Famer replaces talent.

I tend to agree with you. While I believe it was in Rodgers’ best interest not to start his career with the mess Alex Smith faced in San Francisco, the cream always rises to the top. If Rodgers stayed healthy, he would’ve found his way.

Take a look at Green Bay's initial four free-agent signings of 2019 and how each would look in their new Packers uniforms and numbers.

Connor from Ramsey, MN

Honestly, nothing would stop me from drafting Rock Ya-Sin out of Temple. He has the coolest name I’ve ever heard!

One of the things I miss most about Eliot Wolf no longer being on Twitter is the “best names” list he’d tweet out every year before the NFL Draft. Ya-Sin would be a shoo-in.

Mark from Oshkosh, WI

With the advent of the AAF, 'League of second chances,' what are the chances the Packers sign an Alliance player to the practice squad this year, then said player plays the 2020 season with the Alliance and then has the opportunity to be signed on the Packers' 90-man roster, at worst, for return to the practice squad? Seems if something like this is possible, the AAF could be used as a 'farm' team. What do you think?

While it’s entirely possible the Packers add a guy to their 90-man roster once the AAF season is over, I don’t think the scenario you presented would be of interest to them. If a street free agent doesn’t make the roster, NFL teams tend to move on to the next guy.

Dale from Kettering, OH

BAP works in free agency, too, with more video to go on. Draft picks are judged over four years (or five for first-rounders); how long do free agents get, in your estimation?

Less time than the average fan gives them. One of my main criticisms about the “Sign everybody” crowd is their failure to understand we’re dealing with real human beings, not avatars. Everyone learns at a different pace and responds to adversity differently. Sometimes free agents come in and wow from Day 1. Then, there are guys like Jared Cook who catch fire later on. Patience is paramount.

Jay from Altoona, WI

The Insider Inbox audience appeared to latch onto Bashaud Breeland as a must-sign. Now that it appears he is signing elsewhere, who do you see as the fourth CB for dime defense assuming King, Alexander, and Williams are the first three? Is cornerback suddenly a position of need?

Josh Jackson and Tony Brown are going to get their shot regardless of what the Packers do in free agency or the draft in the next two months. Both had their moments last season and will be better for the snaps they received as rookies.

Evan from Durango, CO

So we’re moving on from King, Bulaga and Rodgers. I understand it’s wise to prepare for the future and King’s history makes him a question mark, but can we please tone it down and maybe play this season first? I think we’ve got two potential Pro Bowl corners on rookie contracts, and oh yeah, a Hall of Fame QB who just signed through 2023. If only the (baloney) would stop!

I call it ‘Boredom baloney.’ When there’s nothing good to complain about, they dig for something to complain about.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Montez Sweat was considered by most to be within the top 10 and rising. With his health news recently being released, how much will it potentially affect his status? Now, if his stock does start to fall and he's available at No. 12, do you take him?

That depends on what the team doctors say. Sometimes underlying heart conditions are deal-breakers and sometimes it’s a just bump in the road like Star Lotulelei. We’ll find out what the NFL thinks next month.

Eric from St. Paul, MN

Are expectations different for the two Smiths in terms of how much productivity they'll bring to the defense? Their compensation deals are different. Does that signify the Packers have higher expectations for one over the other, or is it more reflective of that's just the price it took to get each individual in the door? Do you think the one who agreed to less compensation feels resentment after hearing about the deal the other got?

The market determines value. It’s like that in any profession. Veteran players get it, so I don’t think there will be any resentment. That’s the price of free-agent poker.

Ron from Tama, IA

Guys, all this talk of who to sign or who to draft, don’t you think we should get a good backup QB?

What’s your definition of a good backup QB? If you mean a veteran backup, did you see the contracts Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Tannehill received?

Kathy from Eau Claire, WI

Why did you trade Jordy Nelson?

Because DeMarco Murray was on bye and I needed a running back.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Is Eddie Lacy out of football now? I totally get why the players go for all they can get, especially running backs, since their careers are so short and can end with any collision on the field.

It’s starting to look that way. Lacy wasn’t on a team last season and isn’t playing in the CFL or AAF.

Michael from Savage, MN

Since you said you would try, do you know whatever happened to ex-Packer Kenny 'The heat seeker" Stills? I remember him blowing up opponents left and right, and hitting so hard. Hopefully, his health is still good.

The last I heard Stills was a trainer at the IMG Academy a few years ago. I’m not sure if he’s still there, though.

Peter from Eagan, MN

Prior to last year the packers.com website had a page under the Team page called "How Built.” Was it removed and if so, why? My cynicism would say the Packers don't want to display recent draft classes that did not produce contributing players. The Packers had to be active this year in free agency when the 2015 draft class is nowhere to be found on the roster.

I’m sorry to report there’s no hidden agenda here. Plain and simple, the page went away with the new format of the site. It wasn’t compatible. I promise it was nothing devious.

Davy from Chetek, WI

March Madness question for you. Can you explain the logic behind Buffalo, ranked top 20 most of the year, being no higher than a No. 6 seed? It’s not a huge drop, but still, being ranked as the 18th best team for the last few weeks seems like it would give them at least a five seed.

Strength of schedule. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team was always seeded worse than its ranking for that very reason.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

Wes, in response to Luke from West Newbury, MA you said "Well, that great fire of knowledge you reference is probably the size of the pilot light in your water heater..." Don't sell yourself short, young man. Your great fire burns at the very least hot enough to know the device referenced is indeed a water heater and not a hot water heater. Or there's a plumber in the family somewhere. Steamfitters rule!

I may be a schmuck, but my father made sure I was an educated schmuck.

Chris from La Crosse, WI

Serious question that may regrettably come out sounding sarcastic or judgmental: Before the team moved on from MM, TT and Dom Capers, a lot of fans called for their ouster. Often times, these fans were referred to as "the wolves" here. I'm assuming you only meant that for the most rabid fans (least respectful of facts), but I thought maybe you'd like to clarify. I used to be more judgmental of your reporting, but I really appreciate it now. Do you feel the same about some of the critics of II?

I don’t care. I lose zero sleep over critics because I don’t write for them. I do this for the true die-hard fans who show up every day and get this isn’t a 100-meter dash – it’s a marathon. I write for those who understand what we all say today matters tomorrow. Because it’s a never-ending story. I know what Ask Vic/II has meant to people and never lose sight of that, which is why we lose PTO days every year and miss out on three-day weekends. I guess what I’m trying to say is when my time in Inbox is gone and my activities here are past, I want them to bury me upside down, so my critics can kiss my byline. Have a good one.

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