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Inbox: That’s the goal here

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Jessica from Little Chute, WI

I see so many people boarding the hype train about one player or another and only holding onto that name and committing to "GB must draft person X" or else. Yet they don't take the time to learn about others (thank you for the Primers by the way). Aren't they setting themselves up for disappointment? My approach, find out the bulk of who the top 30-35 prospects are (not QBs) and if two or three end up on the team, great! It took me 10 minutes. There is less to be angry about if you educate yourself.

Knowledge, with less anger. What a concept to start the day.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Outside of the two Iowa TEs, who are the next three best? Do any seem to fit the Packers’ offense better than others? I keep asking TE questions because I miss Chmura and Finley.

Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. is regularly mentioned as one of the next best, but after that the opinions and rankings vary widely. Stanford’s Kaden Smith, UCLA’s Caleb Wilson, Texas A&M’s Jace Sternberger and San Jose State’s Josh Oliver come up pretty often. A guy like Mississippi’s Dawson Knox could be a sleeper. I can’t speak to fitting the Packers’ offense because I haven’t seen Rodgers run LaFleur’s system, which is the crux of it all.

Brandon from Baldwin, WI

Did the team overspend? Well if the Smiths turn out to be Joe Johnson, then they overspent. If they turn out to be Julius Peppers, they got a good deal. I'm thinking, it will be somewhere in between.

When you’re that active in the opening days of free agency, you’re going to spend some money. That’s just reality. But Gutekunst did so out of necessity, and had the cap room, in order to work toward a rapid turnaround. That’s the goal here.

Matt from Rewey, WI

Since teams have a limit on pre-draft visits, I assume they have to notify the league who they are bringing in. My question is does the league let the other teams know who each team has had in for a visit?

Clubs have access to a league transaction wire that lists all pre-draft visits.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

It will be interesting to see how many OL the Pack draft. Past few years they have drafted positions in bunches, and OL is the only position group that is required to field five at a time when that side of the ball is on the field. Bulaga and Spriggs have one year left on their contracts, Bakhtiari, Linsley and Taylor just two. Big decisions loom on our OL in the next few years.

Indeed.

Theologos from Athens, Greece

Everybody says that we still have pressing needs on our roster. Mike, in your opinion, how did we get to this point? We used to be contenders but not anymore.

Just look at how many players from the 2013-15 drafts got second contracts with the Packers. Three – Bakhtiari from ’13, Adams and Linsley from ’14, none from ’15. Contrast that with the three drafts from 2008-10, when there were 10 (Nelson, Finley, Sitton, Raji, Matthews, Lang, Bulaga, Neal, Burnett, Starks). The difference is monumental, and it will catch up with you at some point, requiring significant activity on the free-agent market to fill holes.

Eric from Greenville, WI

So a DB latches onto the WR's arm at waist level. The reason it was there for latching in the first place was the receiver reaching back to push off the DB like every single pass play that has happened in the NFL for the past 20 years. If I have position on the field, I have to get out of the way for the WR, or it's illegal contact. If a WR puts his hand back to hold me off, if I swat it, grab it, hook it, I'm still flagged. And now they're going to look at it in super slow-mo. Can't wait.

But now if that push off was the reason for separation in the first place, it’ll be seen and can be part of processing the correct call. The reviews aren’t going to focus solely on the defenders.

Eli from Yardley, PA

Difference between defensive holding (DH) and defensive pass interference (DPI) is whether or not the ball is in the air, correct? Can you challenge a called DH to upgrade to DPI? If reviewing for DPI that wasn't originally called, there is contact, but QB still has ball in hand, does that mean it's a no-call still? This rule is going to make my head hurt.

You could challenge for DPI when DH is called, but unless the pass is way downfield and the DPI obvious, I’m not sure you bother. You’re already getting five yards and an automatic first down for DH so your hypothetical strikes me as a rare case. Reviewing a no-call, the ball will have to be out of the QB’s hand for DPI to result. Anything before that is not subject to review based on how the rule is currently written.

Travis from Edgerton, WI

In regards to the new challenge system involving PI, if you throw the flag, can it be a blanket question on the play, or do you have to specify? If there is potential PI, and not sure if the catch is a catch, do you have to make the call on what to review, or will the refs sort the play out and call/fix if needed? Would stink if one happened, but not the other, and you asked for the wrong option.

With a challenge, you must specify. With a booth review, any reviewable aspect of the play can be scrutinized. Would the officials allow a coach to ask for both catch/no-catch and DPI to be looked at, counting as one challenge? Great question. I’m not sure. All this thinking led me to this rather extensive yet entirely plausible scenario. Incomplete pass, offense challenges pass was complete. Replay shows it was complete, but also reveals OPI, and defense subsequently challenges for OPI to get the reversal overturned and cost the offense 10 yards. So by initially challenging the play, the offense loses, like John Fox at Soldier Field two years ago when he thought his running back broke the plane, but he actually fumbled the ball into the pylon and the Packers got possession on a touchback. Did someone say their head hurt?

Brad from Gallatin, TN

What PI replays are the coaches watching? Stadium replays on a jumbotron seem to put the visiting team at a disadvantage. Television broadcast replays on tape delay seem to put both teams at a disadvantage.

The upstairs coaching booths have the live feed of the TV broadcast, so everything for them stays in real time, so to speak. At some stadiums we get that in the press box, but at others we get the delayed one you see at home. With the latter, we’re seeing a coach throw his red flag before we even see a TV replay, because the booth coaches already have seen the replay. I can bring Doc Brown’s flux capacitor into this and make your head hurt even more if you want.

Tom from Clemson, SC

With the new PI rules will we be seeing greater or lesser use of the "throw the flag" gesture by players who feel they have been interfered with?

They’ll just point to the video board instead.

Nate from Kewaskum, WI

In your years writing the Insider Inbox, which college player(s) were you near certain would be great NFL pros and for whatever reason, just didn't work out?

I’ve only been writing Inbox for a few years, but I’ve been in this building for 13 and covered drafts in years before that, too. Nothing surprises me anymore, frankly, because I’ve learned not everyone is cut out for the step up from the college to the pro game. If it were, scouts would have an easy job and teams wouldn’t have to employ so many.

Mike from Keshena, WI

The Year 1 to Year 2 jump seems to be a real thing with so many coaches and players talking about it. How does the change in coaching staff impact that developmental curve? Are the defensive players at a developmental advantage over the offensive players with Pettine staying as D-coordinator?

Only to a degree, because second-year progress isn’t as scheme-dependent as many assume. It’s more about strength and conditioning, how to practice and prepare as a pro, and what it takes at the highest level of the game. Scheme-wise, second-year players also have learned an NFL playbook once, so while absorbing another is a challenge, it’s one they’ve faced before.

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

Many of the most creative offensive schemes create high-percentage, short completions in space. These are completions Aaron Rodgers has shown a tendency to bypass, opting instead to look for bigger plays. It’s hard to fault him, because his mindset and talent allow him to make plays no other QB can make. That said, I’d love to see Rodgers take what is there more often, even if it’s an easy dumpoff. Do you expect to see more of this under the new regime?

In a word, yes.

Scott from Houston, TX

After several years of heavy draft capital on the defensive side (and this year in free agency), I hope that this year’s draft has an offensive slant to it to maximize weapons and protection around No. 12. Do you think that Gute will have a mindset to give the offense preference this year?

I hope not. I hope his preference is to draft the best players no matter which side of the ball. The Packers have enough roster needs, even after free agency, he can take that approach without regrets.

Andy from Verona, WI

With the team starting its offseason program on April 8, is Coach LaFleur able to distribute playbooks to the players prior to this date, or is the reason for the extra week to learn the new schemes?

The players can get their playbooks on April 8, but the first two weeks of offseason workouts are solely for strength and conditioning. The coaching staff can begin scheme-related work with the players during the voluntary minicamp from April 23-25.

Chad from Bologna, Italy

I understand that the CBA limits coach-player interaction in the offseason. Which side actually wanted this, players or owners and why? It seems a detriment to both sides. I can understand players wanting to limit mandatory stuff, but you think they would love the option to work with coaches in the offseason.

The players’ union wanted it this way. Sure, everything was always voluntary except one June minicamp, but if the second-year guy was coming back in early March to work with the coaches, there was implied pressure on the seasoned vet to do the same. Workout bonuses in contracts also started to make offseason programs voluntary in name only. They used to start less than two months after many teams were eliminated from the playoffs, which coaches loved. But when the owners locked out the players during the 2011 CBA negotiations, the players fought to get more of their offseason back, and the owners were fine with it. Coaches didn’t have a seat at the negotiating table.

Ani from South Milwaukee, WI

If you had to pick between watching film with LaFleur or Gutey, who would you pick? Or who would you rather watch film with between a scout or an assistant coach?

Both would be fascinating in their own right, but anytime I’ve been within earshot of a coach talking about scheme, I realize how little I know about the game at this level. So I’d have to pick LaFleur or an assistant coach to learn more about X’s and O’s over scouting evaluations.

Paul from Manitowoc, WI

Prognostication. Do NFL teams look at position depth projections for future drafts, and will these projections affect their decisions in the current draft, especially if those positions in the current draft are not deep?

I don’t think so. Too many variables, and too much can happen in a year.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Fun and games times: Yelich was named NL Player of the Week for Week 1. If a Packers player wins Player of the Week honors to open the season, and it's not Aaron Rodgers, who will it be?

Given what Mack did at Lambeau Field in his first game for Chicago, maybe one of the Smiths could return the favor. Or Amos against his old club.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I shouldn't look at mock drafts. But I confess, I have. Several. While there is consistency in the top three picks among the "experts," it's all over the board after that. Are there a couple players you are secretly hoping will be available at pick 12? It's almost as if the only way to know who the Packers are going to draft is to wait until the actual draft. 

Another astounding concept. I said in this space after all the free-agent moves, my mind went to LSU’s Devin White, so I’ll have to stick with that. But I don’t think he’ll be there at 12.

Richard from Clearwater, MN

I know the tape will be the ultimate reason a guy is drafted, but how can you look at the quotes chosen in Dalton Risner's Prospect Primer and not fall in love with that attitude and mindset?

I also said, when I returned from the combine, that something about Risner just made it feel like he fits the Packers. I’ll stick with that, too. Happy Wednesday.

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