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Inbox: The answer won’t be known for quite a while yet

LB Za'Darius Smith
LB Za'Darius Smith

Aaron from Madison, WI

Wes, does it take two minutes and two seconds to reply to each question? Asking for a friend who may or may not be named Chuck.

This made me laugh, so I decided not to leave it for Wes tomorrow.

Frogger from Marinette, WI

Which second-year receiver do you think will have the biggest jump in play this year?

MVS had the best season of those rookies, and his future looks promising, but I thought St. Brown was the one whose arrow was pointing up the sharpest as the year ended. He was coming on strong and catching up to MVS.

John from Madison, AL

Tramon Williams will no doubt be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame someday. Without his stellar play, the Packers would not have gone to and won SB45 and he's had a long and prosperous career since then. The strange part is, he was an undrafted free agent (by the Texans). My question is, why did so many GMs miss on him? What kind of negatives did he have going into the 2006 draft?

That’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer. He was a regular for only 23 games at Louisiana Tech, where he originally walked on. But he was a first-team all-conference selection in the WAC and had a handful of picks and a boatload of passes broken up. I’m just speculating here, but maybe there were questions on the film about his tackling? Thirteen years ago corners weren’t drafted just for their cover skills like they are now. It’s funny, I found the archives on one site that had Williams rated the No. 49 corner coming out that year, and No. 50 on that list was Brent Grimes, who went undrafted out of Shippensburg and has put together an impressive career, too. Scouting and drafting is far from an exact science.

Emma from Puyallup, WA

Do you think Clay Matthews will be inducted to the Packers Hall of Fame after he retires?

No question. From the Super Bowl XLV team, there are still several players I anticipate going in.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, loved the article on Savage and his goals for learning everything. Is there any way we can get him connected with Blake Martinez? I feel like he should be constantly pointed out for his discipline and intelligence. He puts the game first and has been so diligent in maximizing his body. “You want to know how to learn everything? Talk to the Boar.”

Their lockers are only a few stalls apart so they’ll talk plenty.

Caleb from Pine Island, MN

Checked out Spoff's story on Savage's mentor. Great read. But it Will Likely lead to some awful II puns.

You can see yourself out.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

One person we never talk about getting the worst end of the 2014 NFCCG debacle is TT. If GB doesn't botch that game and goes on to win the Super Bowl over New England, TT is the GM who built two Super Bowl teams. He becomes beyond reproach from a fan perspective. None of the preceding drafts matter nearly as much because GB has two rings. Seattle was NOT TT's fault. His legacy took a big, undeserving hit that day.

I have no interest in revisiting it, but I’ve said countless times the entire narrative surrounding the Thompson-McCarthy-Rodgers era is different without that collapse, even if the Packers don’t win the Super Bowl.

Juan from Palmetto Bay, FL

I am saddened by the news of MacArthur Lane's passing. He was the first Packer autograph I got when I was 13 years old. It was the year of the first NFL players strike, and I was at the practice field during training camp one morning and I saw Lane standing by a 1957 old Chevy. I walked over to him and asked him for his autograph, and he generously signed a program I had. I asked my dad why he was driving that old beat-up car, and he said because he wants to show that they need more money.

The Lane-Brockington backfield was in full force a few years before I started watching football. I wish I had seen the tandem in its heyday.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

For many years after MacArthur Lane left GB the mention of his name would activate the words "never have that recipe again" from the song “MacArthur Park” in my head. What we have now is a blessing. The ’72 team of which he was a catalyst was a ray of light in a sea of darkness.

Combining their rushes and receptions, Brockington and Lane touched the ball on 62 percent of the offensive plays and accounted for 67 percent of the yards from scrimmage in ’72. The Packers threw seven touchdown passes, one by the punter, and went to the playoffs. Perhaps nothing says bygone era like statistics such as those.

Chase from Mason, OH

Did Packers scouts attend rookie minicamp to assist with evaluating tryout players?

Absolutely.

Jonathan from Madison, WI

What salary do practice-squad players earn?

They aren’t necessarily all paid the same, but if you go by the minimums, a practice-squad player’s weekly check is about 25 percent of the rookie active-roster minimum. That’s one of many reasons it’s such a big deal when a practice-squad player gets “promoted.” The pay raise is huge.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders, what timeline do you feel is adequate for UDFAs to make their mark? If they show enough raw ability to make it on the 53 or 63 the first year, how much do they need to show starting Year 2 to keep from being bumped by the new crop? I imagine the team is looking for that raw ability to turn into something within a season or it's time to cut bait and move on. Or do some positions require a couple years of grooming?

It’s not as much about the position as the player’s overall trajectory, and it’s really case by case. Is improvement evident? Is the ceiling still as high as originally projected? What do we know now that we didn’t before? All of it is taken into account and compared to the next rookie infusion.

LeeAnn from Carefree, IN

Matt LaFleur said, "The wide receivers must master the formations. We teach concepts, either three-by-one or two-by-two." What did he mean?

Three-by-one refers to three receivers (or tight ends) split to one side, one on the other. Two-by-two has four pass catchers evenly distributed across the formation. The first step is for the players to know where they’re lining up in certain packages, and then learn the different route concepts that are run from those formations.

Mike from Madison, WI

In your opinion, who do you think was the "best" acquisition for the Packers this offseason? In other words, which player added this offseason do you think makes the Packers a better team?

I think a lot of them make the Packers better, but if I had to pick the top addition, I’ll say Za’Darius Smith. He’s an established player whose upside is enticing in an area that was the Packers’ biggest offseason need.

Trevor from Carmel, NY

I wanted to probe a bit more into your “junk food” comment. From where I'm sitting, it's an endless regurgitation of hot takes. Someone posts a hypothetical story, and then another on a similar website piles on with the same headline preceded by “Report:”. It seems they are mostly young kids hoping for a couple of shortcuts to become the next Schefter. Does this make you worry at all about the future of the profession when there is so much emphasis on breaking the story rather than telling it?

Indubitably. But what worries me more is the public seems to draw fewer and fewer distinctions amongst the products it consumes from the profession.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

LaFleur has cited tight, bunch formations as a hallmark of the new offensive system. However in the past those tight formations were identified as favorable to the defense because all defenders could crowd the line of scrimmage and bring pressure from various areas. What is the leverage point that allows the strength of the formation to shine and the weakness to be mitigated? If we have the same interior pressure issues as last year will any of it matter?

The leverage point is whether the defense, if trying to bring pressure from various areas, as you say, still has enough numbers to make a play on a quick hitter to someone in the bunch. Or, is the defense vulnerable to getting gashed if someone in the bunch gets open immediately. Yes, interior pressure/protection is key. Those defenders have the shortest route to the QB and have the best chance to disrupt three-step drops in the quick game, which is the adjustment if the QB reads blitz.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

When it’s time for cut-downs, if player X is evaluated slightly higher than player Y, but player Y is a draft pick and player X is UDFA, who gets the nod?

Whoever appears more likely to get claimed on waivers, which usually has more to do with what’s on film from the preseason games, whereas only in-house evaluators know the practice tape.

Thomas from Evansville, IN

Having drafted a young TE, how do you see the Packers utilizing Jimmy Graham this season?

A lot. No offense to Sternberger, but he will not be threatening for the No. 1 spot at his position in 2019.

Bill from Lyndon Station, WI

I see Scott is the only punter on the 90-player roster. Do you think Gutekunst will be adding another punter or is he confident enough with Scott?

It would appear the second-year punter is getting his opportunity to shine, but any specialist knows he’s competing with everyone in every NFL training camp.

Al from Pueblo West, CO

Hey II guys, love your column. I'm wondering why so few are not including Kapri Bibbs in the running at running back. He grew up a monster Packer fan and has experience in the outside zone concept from his days in Denver. I think he could play the unsung hero this offseason and maybe even be a force come game time this fall. Just an opinion.

The Packers have options at running back, which is a must given the demands of the position and LaFleur’s interest in running the ball. The depth-chart battle behind Jones is going to be intriguing.

Neal from Fort Worth, TX

I just watched all the rookie locker room interviews. Keke and Sternberger said all the right things and presented themselves well. It was Williams that left me wanting more. Great personality who answered everything with a smile. Amongst all the interviews, what stood out or impressed you about any of them from a media standpoint?

Shameless plug here for Tuesday’s episode of “Unscripted,” but Wes and I discussed that very topic.

Jeff from Sugar Land, TX

David Bakhtiari is one of the league's top offensive tackles. What were the experts saying about him prior to him being drafted by the Packers in the fourth round?

He was projected to go higher than the fourth round, but some were saying he might move to guard.

Dave from Coloma, MI

I saw part of the rookie training included meetings going over the rule book. What position group do you think has the hardest transition from college to pro when it comes to adjusting to new rules?

Cornerback. There is no illegal contact foul in college, where you can keep your hands on a guy (as long as you’re not holding) until the ball is thrown. Ticky-tack contact prior to the pass in the NFL can give offenses an automatic first down.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

A new head coach, four big-money free agents, two first-round picks. Will this offseason define BG's career with the Packers?

It might, but the answer won’t be known for quite a while yet.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

Mike, here is the answer to Carroll from Madison, WI. Instead of skill position we can use ball-handler.

By far the most common suggestion, but I say no thanks. The term just makes me think of basketball, and this is a football column, people. Football.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

"Somehow, the Bucks have brewed the right mix of humility and confidence. They are aware they have achieved nothing but sure they can achieve everything." – Zack Lowe, ESPN staff writer. I just really liked that quote. Hopefully they can finish the Celtics.

I wouldn’t want to give a team that talented and that well-coached any new lease on life. Close it out tonight, and move on. Happy Wednesday.

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