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Inbox: That's what teams are searching for every April

Josh Jacobs is very much the hammer

WR Romeo Doubs
WR Romeo Doubs

Gregg from Arlington Heights, IL

What am I missing? Why can't a plane carry enough fuel to land in Miami, refuel, and then resume the flight to Brazil? The explanation does not make sense to me.

During my time at the Press-Gazette – I gave my notice eight years ago today, by the way – I used to laugh about having to learn so much about neck and knee injuries. I remember telling my dad once, "If I wanted to study medicine, I would have become a doctor." I've felt the same way about aviation the past few weeks. Listen, nobody is trying to get anything over on anyone. If it can be done, it will be done. If it can't be…well, then Spoff's kid is gonna have a lot more explaining to do, I guess.

Jack from Marshfield, WI

In the draft, are teams thinking about players that could have a long career with the team, or mostly just thinking about their impact during their four- or five-year rookie contract, since after that it will pretty much cost the same to retain them as to sign them from another team.

Sports are driven by the identification and development of stars. That's what NFL teams are searching for every April. It doesn't matter if they come in the first round or the seventh, though the "hit" percentage obviously decreases as the draft wears on. Rookie contracts also give a team two advantages: a cost-efficient contributor for at least four seasons and also a window to determine whether that player will remain a cornerstone of your franchise. You can't go out to dinner seven days a week and keep a balanced checkbook. Not in this game. Some home-cooking is required.

Jon from Forest, VA

Several previously posted highlights of Josh Jacobs show him leaping over the pile at the goal line. He brings options as a pile driver or diver. Why don't more running backs use this technique? It seems to have fallen out of favor even before the "tush push," or whatever it's called, became popular. He reportedly also has a good relationship with Marcus Allen, a great one to learn from. P.S. I miss Aaron Jones and wish him well.

It's just a high-risk play, from both a ball-security and injury standpoint. But some guys, like Jacobs, have a knack for it. He's very much the hammer, man – not the nail.

Charles from Waukesha, WI

A lot of curiosity about the Bears' draft. Two Round 1 draft picks should help the Bears. However, the high picks may not be enough. A few years ago, the Raiders and Dolphins were swimming in high draft picks. The Raiders imploded and Dolphins haven't gotten over the hump. Plus, the Bears only have four total picks for the entire draft! Even by trading down, that is not a lot to work with. What is the smallest number of picks the Packers have had the past 10 years?

The fewest selections the Packers have made over the last decade was seven in 2016. Brian Gutekunst has made at least eight picks during each of his six drafts as general manager. His 13 selections last year were Green Bay's most since 2000.

Phil from Marietta, GA

I know GB values versatility in offensive linemen, as they do in other positions as well. If a potential draftee for the interior line has experience as a center, is it safe to assume that he could play guard, as well? If so, I'd guess the reverse scenario isn't a given. And therefore, are competent centers viewed as a bit more valuable than guards, just as tackles take preeminence over interior linemen? Thanks.

I think that's a fair assessment. It has been a minute since the Packers drafted an offensive lineman who predominately played guard compared those that played center such as Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers and Zach Tom. That's not to say a guard can't play center. Lucas Patrick learned how to snap during his time with the Packers. It just seems like the Packers are more likely to draft a tackle or center and move them to guard at the next level.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Wes, only one thing missing from your article on the O-line depth. What are the vertical jump numbers for Luke Tenuta and Caleb Jones? They could be the twin towers on field goal block units, forcing opposing kickers to elevate or risk a double thud.

Tenuta had a 26-inch vertical at the NFL Scouting Combine. Jones leapt 21 inches at his Indiana pro day, though it should be noted he has shed quite a bit of weight since then.

Tom from Beaver Dam, WI

I have a couple of questions in regards to free agents and compensatory picks. I believe there is a time when a club can sign a free agent without having it count against the compensatory pick formula. When is that time frame? Second, as it stands right now with free agents, how do the Packers look for compensatory picks next year? I would think that Darnell Savage and Jon Runyan would offset Jacobs and Xavier McKinney. Would we gain any picks with the other free-agent losses?

There is a date, usually in May, when the loss of unrestricted free agents no longer counts towards to the compensatory equation, but I couldn't find it this year. According to Over the Cap, which is usually on top of these matters, the Packers are in line for a seventh-round compensatory pick for Yosh Nijman due to the net-loss formula. OTC has the signing of Jacobs and McKinney cancelling out what Green Bay would've received for Runyan and Savage signing elsewhere.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

I understand the need for more OL depth for next year, but I am confused with almost every mock draft showing GB taking the fifth-to-seventh LT on the board. I thought Rasheed Walker did a good job at the end of last season and was trending up. Am I missing something in not taking best player available in the first round and getting more bites at the apple later in the draft at OL?

Sure, but what if that best available player is the sixth or seventh offensive lineman compared to the fourth or fifth defensive back? Walker did well last season, but as I outlined in that offensive line story on Monday, the Packers also need to rebuild some depth after losing David Bakhtiari, Runyan and Nijman. I believe Green Bay could field a respectable starting five with its current roster but what about when injuries inevitably hit? You need jars to make it through a 17-plus game season. That's why I expect the Packers to be in the market for more O-linemen later this month.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

When both Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur state they still want more consistency and mentioned everyone on the O-line except Jenkins, it tells me that an O-lineman that can play multiple positions will be GB's first pick. Graham Barton from Duke checks all the boxes. Print it!

The more you can do. It is funny how the game has evolved, though. It seems like 15-20 years ago you rarely heard of a 6-foot-5 center. I remember thinking once, "J.R. Sweezy is way too tall to play center." Now, they're all over the place. I also find it interesting how scouts funnel 6-5, 313-pound left tackles like Barton inside based on their pre-draft analysis and player projections.

Craig from Los Angeles, CA

Regarding performance escalators and a fourth-year salary boost, what if a player gets cut or traded but still hits the threshold with another team? Would the league pro-rate the performance escalator cap hit for each team?

It all carries over to the current team. Let's say the Packers would've traded Runyan to New York after last season. The Giants would've been on the hook for that fourth-year salary bump. The same goes for the fifth-year option on first-round picks. After the Packers traded Damarious Randall to Cleveland in 2018, the Browns were the ones to exercise – and then pay – Randall for his fifth NFL season.

Tom from Baldwin, WI

New kickoff rule scenario: It's a cold and windy day on the tundra at Lambeau Field. The ball keeps blowing off the tee for the kickoff. Who will hold the ball? Do you have to take one of your front men off the opponent's 40? A designated holder who runs immediately off the field? Is it a conundrum?

Per the NFL, the kicker will be allowed to use a kicking stick to keep the ball in place if it falls twice off the tee. The closest covering official then picks up the stick immediately after the kick.

James from Appleton, WI

How did the Packers get a first- and a second-round pick for trading Davante Adams to the one team he wanted to join?

By placing the franchise tag on him. The NFL is a game of leverage, my friend.


2024 Prospect Primers

Nhoj from Windsor, WI

The latest Prospect Primer is a WR. Is this the year we take a WR in the first round? How mad would fans be? Could only imagine the Inbox submissions right after that selection.

That sure would catch a few people by surprise.

Andy from La Crosse, WI

What would your thoughts be on an 18-game season, but also requiring every player on the roster required to sit two games? Essentially, every player would only play a 16-game season. Think about how valuable your second-string quarterback becomes (obviously the NFL would not allow that due to the star power at QB, but maybe make QB exempt). Rosters would probably need to be expanded too. It expands the season, develops players, and keeps stats at 16 games. Nice way to handle injuries as well.

This topic has come up before, but I just can't get on board with any "load management" changes like that. Just imagine if you pay premium prices for Packers tickets and then Jordan Love, Jacobs or Jayden Reed are healthy scratches. The season is the season. If it's too many games, then it's too many games.

William from Newburgh, IN

In reference to the question about players not liking the move to 17 games, or possibly 18, due to the extra pounding their body takes. If you have a $10 million contract, isn't that divided by how many games (weeks) are played? Wouldn't that player be making less money per game? Or am I reading that wrong? Seems like a big issue as far as the players are concerned.

Bingo. The switch to 17 games sharply raised minimum salaries across the league but it also caused a bit of backdoor inflation for the league's highest earners. It's not like Patrick Mahomes' base salary was adjusted to include a 17th game.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, Aaron Rodgers reportedly made $81 as a performance bonus from the Jets in 2023. Would that amount of money buy him decent refreshments at a Bucks game?

You know the best part? An NFL agent, whose name is escaping me at the moment, mentioned Tuesday on X that Rodgers' $81.14 is the pre-tax sum and also paid out in four installments. Talk about splitting the finest of hairs.

Rex from Laramie, WY

I thought I was starting to get a handle on salary cap issues, but then you bring up performance-based pay and proven performance escalators. It makes my brain hurt (it'll have to come out). Thank goodness we have Russ Ball and his team. What is Russ's background that has prepared him for this?

A life spent in the National Football League, charting every small change that's been implemented along the way.

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

Are you surprised the Bills didn't get more for a top-tier receiver like Stefon Diggs?

Contracts are king. Like I talked about with Tennessee acquiring L'Jarius Sneed, the Houston Texans needed the cap room to absorb Diggs' existing deal. According to Spotrac, Diggs carries a $18.5 million base for 2024 and a $19 million cap number. Beyond finances, it also seems like it was time for Buffalo and Diggs to part company.

Richard from Madison, WI

What's the scoop on the International Player Pathway player the Packers had on their roster last year? Will he be back again? Will they be getting a different one? If that was a league-wide initiative, how did it work out for the other teams?

I wrote about Kenneth Odumegwu and his re-signing with the Packers a couple months back. Next season, every NFL team will have the option to carry an international player on its offseason roster and practice squad. I didn't get a chance to ask Brian Gutekunst about that in Orlando, but I'd assume Odumegwu will again fall under that exemption.

Andrew from Clearwater, FL

Each NFL team is allowed 30 visits from prospects. Why do they call it "TOP" 30 visits? Isn't it just 30 visits?

Correct. The "top 30" verbiage has worked its way into the NFL lexicon but it's just a fancy way of categorizing the 30 pre-draft visits teams can have with prospects.

Tom from Wiesbaden, Germany

Morning II. During pre-draft visits, can the Packers "test" each candidate and conduct their own physical with the players, or is it more of a meet, determine their football IQ, and see if the player is a good fit for the team and organization?

Medicals are a big part of the visits the Packers conduct with players, though I'm not sure to what extent the organization tests for "football IQ." Doubtless Green Bay values bringing prospects in to see how they interact with the support staff.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Hello Wes! On the subject of the submission from the farthest distance, I do very well recall a submission from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I was absolutely floored by this.

But was it real, though? That's what I wanna know.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

So come clean fellas. The Packer brass are on an extended vacation now. Come draft day they just pull out their phones and look at the Prospect Primers and pick from there. You guys can't fool me.

Hey, I have a decent track record in the first round. The rest of the draft? Eh, not so much. Have a great Thursday.

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