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Inbox: That's the exception, not the rule

There’s a ton that goes into it

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T Yosh Nijman

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

I know exactly who the Packers are going to take with their first-round draft picks. I'm just not going to tell you.

Whom. Sorry, couldn't resist. One smart aleck deserves another.

Josh from Nicholasville, KY

"He's still alive, you know that right?" has to be one of the best responses to an interview question I've ever heard. Do you have any responses from questions that you've asked that have stuck with you?

I didn't ask the question, but I've been using the response "I can't help you" ever since I heard it.

Jose from Monterrey, Mexico

Yes! "Unscripted" is back!

For those who haven't seen/heard, we did two episodes this week reviewing all the offseason news. We'll do a draft preview episode next week, and then post-draft we'll keep going for a while. Thanks for your interest.

Randy from Billings, MT

Right out of the gate Greg Jennings was a polished receiver. Do any of the current highly ranked draftees have a similar smoothness to them?

That's not something I can ever see from highlight reels. It was apparent with Jennings when I saw him on the field for the first time during OTAs in June of 2006, right after I was hired here.

David from Stillwater, MN

I am so glad you included the Aaron Rodgers to Jennings pass play in the SB on your Mt. Rushmore of Packers plays. In fact, given the time and place, I would argue that is the best pass thrown in Packers history. If they don't get the first down on that play, the Steelers get the ball back down three with five minutes to go. They probably go on to score and tie or go ahead and they don't win. The window to throw that pass was incredibly small and the defender was within an inch of breaking it up.

No argument from me. The ball actually grazed Ike Taylor's fingertips as it whizzed by, but the path of the ball wasn't altered and Jennings caught it anyway.

Gary from Davenport, IA

How about a Mount Rushmore of regular-season pass plays? For fear of missing something obvious, the ones that come to mind are Favre to Brooks for 99 yards, Favre to Freeman in the pouring rain on MNF (the "He did what?" reception), Rodgers to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-8 from the 48 and the Miracle in Motown (Rodgers to Rodgers).

That quartet works for me, at least as far as covering the last 30 years.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

The Packers have been consistently competitive since the mid-'80s, and the last three years compare favorably to any period in Packers' history. My great disappointment with the Packers has been their performance in the big games. If we played to our potential, fine. Win or lose, I am okay with it. We have not had our best performances in our biggest games...not in all three phases. That has been the identity of this team since the last SB victory.

I think it's more nuanced than that, more push and pull, if you will. In '11, '20 and '21, I believe the Packers underachieved in the playoffs. No argument there. And in '14, we all know they lost a game they flat-out had no business losing. But in '12 and '19, they got knocked out by a clearly superior team. In '15 and '16, I'd argue they overachieved a bit in the playoffs and got as far as the football gods were going to take them. Those are all different categories/conclusions for me. I understand your point, but it's a little too simplistic to call that the "identity" of the past decade.

James from Appleton, WI

I had been thinking Mike Holmgren led the Packers to a Super Bowl win in his fourth season until I counted on my fingers from '92. Mike McCarthy also won it all in his fifth season. Holmgren hired veteran defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur three years before his title; McCarthy hired DC Dom Capers two years before. Hello, Joe Barry. It sure seems like deja vu all over again.

So you're saying the window is wide open? Good to know.

Troy from Westminster, CO

Good grief. Anyone who thinks the Packers traded Davante Adams so they could use those extra draft picks and cap space to acquire Deebo Samuel has been inhaling too much helium. Apparently the "Misinformation Season" is also the Ludicrous Season. Pure nonsense.

Also good to know.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Loving the pre-draft picture articles and I've got to say, I don't understand some people's worry over the O-line. Even without Elgton Jenkins for part of the season, I fully trust the starters (I'm throwing Yosh Nijman in at RT). Sure, depth is always needed, but the draft record of later rounders has me convinced the team shouldn't touch anyone in the first couple rounds.

The Packers have done well in the later rounds, but mostly with interior linemen. A starting tackle like David Bakhtiari (nine years ago), or an undrafted find at tackle like Nijman … that's the exception, not the rule, and the Packers need tackle depth. I don't think they can wait too long.

Craig from Milwaukee, WI

Do you really think the Packers can be great on offense with rookies in the draft?

Health permitting, they won't need rookies to play much on offense, except at receiver, and that may not even be as a starter, at least not right away.

Keith from Yorktown, VA

I think "based on past patterns" was an interesting way for Mike to close one of his answers in Wednesday's column. In most opinions this offseason is going to be a little different than past years, at least as far WR-QB familiarity go. Given the relative anticipated lack of that this offseason, maybe past patterns shouldn't matter as much as they might in a more normal year.

Perhaps. We shall see.

CJ from Cedar Rapids, IA

Soon the Packers are going to have the highest paid or close to the highest paid quarterback, left tackle, cornerback and outside linebacker and still have to sign Jenkins, whose contract should be way up there as well. How long can it go on? What position do you think is easiest to replace with a draft pick? Outside linebacker or cornerback?

In reference to pay at outside linebacker, you must be referring to Rashan Gary's next contract? Because Preston Smith's isn't even in the top 15 APY for edge rushers. They've got another season before they have to focus on Gary, which they'll likely do between the end of Year 4 and his fifth-year option. Anyway, edge rusher is the higher priority in this draft, but I'd never turn down a really good corner.

Chad from Town of Middleton, WI

With the focus on receivers in this draft there is a lot of talk about acceptable player size for a slot vs. a wideout. Could you please speak as to why a smaller athlete can succeed in the slot, but height is more valued for the wideouts?

I'm no scout or personnel guru, but generally speaking, smaller receivers are quicker and shiftier, traits more valued in tighter quarters like the slot, where throwing windows shrink and the ball comes out faster. Meanwhile, catch radius is a more valued commodity on the perimeter, where there's more open space and the ball takes longer to arrive, and taller receivers provide those larger targets.

Tom from Rochester, NY

I just wanted you to know that I may be willing to make the extreme sacrifice this year. I currently am 0-5 at watching the Packers play in Buffalo, which I believe is the only current team they have never beaten on the road. So this year I will most likely stay home to end the jinx. Am I being too superstitious?

You and Shawn from Broken Arrow, OK, both brought up the franchise's futility in Buffalo, except he's traveling halfway across the country to attend the game, apparently. Whatever it takes to change the Packers' luck there, I guess.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

What impact do you see Tom Clements having on Rodgers' game? I know they both want a Super Bowl, but wonder if Clements can teach this dog old tricks or remember the old ones during his development?

I don't think it's about teaching any tricks. Rodgers possesses an incredible memory, but there may be other, less clear memories he'll need or would like to draw upon. Remember in 2020 when Rodgers said he saw something fundamental on film from a decade ago and got back to it? Now he'll have that trusted advisor by his side again who was right there for so long, another well of knowledge and history to tap into – how he handled a certain situation, made an adjustment, reacted to a coverage, etc.

Jim from Sheboygan Falls, WI

While a few of us were discussing "best Packer Players at each position," the subject came up of who was the best blocking running back ever. My vote was for the late, great, MacArthur Lane. I called his blocks "savage," like an offensive lineman colliding with a DB … your thoughts.

This is partly a bias from my youth showing, but I never saw a top-flight running back who was as good a blocker as he was a ball carrier than Walter Payton.

Matt from Janesville, WI

What are Pat O'Donnell's career punting stats at Lambeau Field?

16 games, half of them in November or later, 59 punts, 44.3 gross average – pretty close to his career average at Soldier Field, 44.0.

Linda from Alameda, CA

Sammy Watkins' number in college was 11.

I thought it was 2?

Roger from McGrath, AK

Randall Cobb described the narrow window for an NFL receiver to be considered open and suggested that recognizing this and how route running achieved it was the key for young receivers to make it in the NFL. Do you think this is also the reason highly touted young QBs with real skill sets fail, or is it so much more than that for a QB?

There's a ton that goes into it, but the ability to see those narrow windows, adjust to the timing of them from a decision-making standpoint, and have the courage and confidence to make the throw – all in a split second – is certainly a big part of it.

Mike from Algoma, WI

The only thing I really remember about the second pick in the '89 draft was "Sweet Child o' Mine" blasting from the limo as he got out. I do remember lamenting not picking Barry, or Joe – for awhile. But now, looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

Who was Joe at the top of that draft? Not sure to whom you're referring there. But I heard a story once from a reputable source that Slash from Guns N' Roses showed up at his hotel room one night before a preseason game to see if Mandarich was available to party.

Rob from Louisville, CO

Lori from Brookfield asked for a Jordy Nelson update, so here it is. I was skiing at Steamboat last month, wearing my Jordy Nelson jersey, when a woman came up to me and said "Jordy Nelson! What a great guy! My cousin went to prom with him." Then we talked about Kansas a bit. It totally made my day, plus now we know he's a great guy and he went to his high school prom.

Only in II could the Incredible Bulk's social calendar and Jordy Nelson's prom be discussed on the same day. So we have that going for us, which is nice.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

I think I just saw my favorite Prospect Primer this far, Nakobe Dean. Wow, does that young man look fast and disruptive. I don't foresee the Packers drafting him after what they rightfully committed to Batman, but it's a fun thought.

I made the Packers' pick at No. 28 in a mock draft for a national radio show yesterday, and I was floored that Nakobe Dean was available. I took him as too good a value to pass up. He's a top 15 talent in most rankings. With De'Vondre Campbell, he'd give the Packers their best inside LB combination since Barnett and Hawk were together over a decade ago.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Trying to guess the draft is like sprinkling pixy dust on GM tarot cards. We've yet to see a reason not to have faith in BG. Back in the "in Ted we trust" days, an interviewer asked TT what he was going to draft that particular year and Ted responded in a confident, not condescending voice, with almost a bit of excitement in his eye saying, "We're going to draft football players." He actually said a lot in that short response with an emphasis on the word football. Classic Ted.

Indeed.

Jeff from Janesville, WI

One week to go.

T-minus six days and counting. Happy Friday.

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