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Inbox: The bar continues to get raised every year

Real recognizes real in this sport

Nolan Smith runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
Nolan Smith runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 2, 2023.

David from Janesville, WI

When was the last time Mike did the Inbox? It's teed up, who's going to hit it?

It's right there on the tip of my tongue. I'm sure it'll come to me eventually.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

I've been away and just catching up on all of this week's Inboxes. I know the challenge is for the two of you to use the word, but if it means anything, I found the nudiustertian column as good as always – and glad Mike corrected our readers on muffin tops vs. stumps. If you're using a pop reference, gotta have it right!

Top of the muffin to you!

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. Seems like you just got back, and now you are leaving again. This time on your own time. Before you go on your break, was there anyone that in your mind stood out in the skills events?

Nolan Smith put on a show in Indy. A linebacker running a 4.4 in the 40 with a 41½-inch vertical is terrifying. Northwestern's Adetomiwa Adebawore clocking a 4.49 at 280 pounds was equally ridiculous. I know these prospects have been preparing months for specific combine drills, but it still never ceases to amaze me what these players accomplish. The bar continues to get raised every year.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Wes, many are predicting Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid as possible first-round picks. Both would be great fits, I feel. By having two this close in talent, I could definitely see Brian Gutekunst trading back a half dozen spots or so and still getting one of them while acquiring an extra high pick to get yet another area of need. Much like they did with Jaire Alexander. Also, last year AR announced his plans on March 8. I'm expecting the same this year give or take a day. Your thoughts?

Mayer and Kincaid are two impressive prospects, but this class is so deep you wonder if there's more value in drafting a Luke Musgrave, Darnell Washington or Tucker Kraft in the second or third round. In Green Bay, it seems tight end falls in the same category as receiver when it pertains to drafting one in the first round – I'll believe it when I see it. I have my eye on Washington, a likely Day 2 pick who goes 6-7, 269. He mentioned to reporters this week that Marcedes Lewis is a tight end he admires. Maybe pair those two up for a year and see what happens? This is not investment advice, though.

Craig from Los Angeles, CA

With the possibility of Allen Lazard being picked up in FA by another team, how big of a miss do you see his blocking being? Do we have another WR with No. 13's work effort in the dirty grafting?

It's a key part of Lazard's game that the Packers have used to their advantage the past few years. Christian Watson has the size and ability to be a dominating blocker, but Green Bay also may want to keep him stationed outside as much as possible, too. If Lazard doesn't return, that will leave a void in Matt LaFleur's offense that'll need to be replaced.

Joe from Dartford, UK

Hi II! The Lazard situation is intriguing. I get the impression that he is, rightly so, after a big payday, but I think he is more valuable in Green Bay than anywhere else. I don't see other teams valuing him as highly as we, as fans and as an organization, do. I think the market will dictate that he stays in Green Bay on a deal not as financially lucrative as he would have liked/expected. Thoughts? Thanks for all your hard work in and out of season.

I like Allen Lazard, as both a player and a person. He's been a valuable part of what LaFleur and Gutekunst have built in Green Bay. As important as Lazard has been to the Packers, however, this is not a particularly strong free-agent receiver class. For that reason, I expect the 27-year-old Lazard to draw plenty of interest. Decisions, decisions.

TK from Grafton, WI

The combine. What do you think is the most overrated drill performed there? Likewise, is there an evaluative drill you'd like to see added?

The 40. Straight-line speed matters but so much of this game is predicated on cutting on a dime. I don't have any examples of exercises I'd like to see added to the combine, but I always enjoy the change-of-direction drills and seeing how players cut and accelerate.

Matt from Kula, HI

In reference to Rasul Douglas' possible move to safety, in addition to Micah Hyde, I believe another successful transition from CB was Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler. Is my memory correct on that?

That's correct. In fact, I spoke with Butler for an offseason profile I did on Micah Hyde in 2014 and the possibility of Hyde moving to safety after his rookie season. Butler, who moved to safety in 1992, is one of the best examples of a Packers player switching positions in the modern era. To LeRoy's credit, he called Hyde being an All-Pro safety from the start. Real recognizes real in this sport.

Check out photos of defensive lineman and linebacker prospects working out at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 2, 2023.

Josh from Newhall, CA

Everyone is talking about the NFL's worst uniforms (Caleb's line about Best Buy and IKEA was hilarious), but I'm curious about what uniforms are your favorites (and other Insiders). I tend to lean toward the more simplistic designs, and the Colts' uniforms have been my favorite for years. I almost feel guilty for thinking the Bears' uniforms are right up there, too. The Jets ruined theirs when they dropped the old-school green and white.

Carolina is often on many "worst" lists, but I've loved the Panthers' black-and-blue design since I was a child. Besides that, I tend to favor more traditional looks (e.g. Packers, Steelers, Raiders, and 49ers).

Raymond from Marquette, MI

In response to Caleb's comments on team unis, I personally believe that Rams' unis are the best (the logo, not the colors). I also wonder how many fans are unaware that the Rams were the first NFL team to have a logo on their helmets? I've read where that equipment manager hand-painted the horns on each helmet and it was so liked by management they created decals. As of today, I think the Browns are the only team without a logo. By the way, I really like the Bengals' logo...

The Rams may possess the most polarizing uniform in the NFL, or at least that's what our straw poll would indicate. Folks either love 'em or hate 'em. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

Amanda from London, UK

Regarding "worst uniforms," do you think the Bucs maybe do the double, as candidates for "worst uniform" and "worst historic uniform"? Boy, I used to be scared by those NFC Central "Battle of the Bays."

You'll hear no argument out of me. Tampa takes win, place and show for me.

Kyle from Ooltewah, TN

In a year with cap issues in play, are teams incentivized to trade down their first-round picks from a purely economic standpoint? For example, would trading back to end of first round and try for two late first-round players with smaller rookie contracts but still provide fifth-year options be more palatable, or do the contracts from the paring of third- and fourth-round picks pretty much make it a wash?

The situation isn't that dire. The challenge for teams is getting under the salary cap for the start of the new league year. It's a different game by the end of April. With the rookie wage scale, teams know exactly how much cap room they need to take on those new contracts.

Nate from Cedar Falls, IA

I, too, have been absolutely fascinated by the NFLPA survey. There was a lot of focus on the quality of a team's facilities and it made me wonder if some of them are as bad as the survey made them seem. I don't know if either of you can speak to other teams, but I would think NFL facilities are kind of like pizza, where even the "bad" one is still pretty good. The facilities can't possibly be as bad as what Ricky Vaughn, Rick Taylor, and the like dealt with in the movie "Major League" can they?

Having players enter the building to lift on off-days but not providing any food made me giggle. B.Y.O.L., I guess. I found it unsettling one team doesn't provide vitamins to their players. There are some strict guidelines for NFL players regarding the use of potentially performance-enhancing supplements. If I'm a strength coach, I don't want my players accidentally taking something they're not supposed to be.

Chadro from Janesville, WI

This might be more for Weston unless Mike is a closet "A Song of Ice and Fire" fan. When you use void years, and delay paying players, the bill will eventually be dueg. Yes, Syrio did tell Arya "not today." Another quote is just as true: "A Lannister ALWAYS pays his debts." As will the Packers and any other franchise who choose to use void years.

Maybe take out a loan from the Iron Bank and then repay all of it after looting Highgarden? Just a thought.

Al from Green Bay, WI

According to "Over the Cap" the Bears are in the best shape to spend in free agency, being $98 million under the cap. Oh, they also have the first overall draft pick. Do you see them being dramatically better this coming year, or might it take some time for them to climb?

You don't pick No. 1 by accident. Either your team wasn't very good, or another team made a very questionable trade. The Detroit Lions scare me a whole lot more than the Bears right now. Justin Fields is an exciting player, though.

Tony from Davenport, IA

You stated that Bart Starr was drafted in the 17th round with the 200th overall pick. Would that be comparable to Tom Brady being drafted in the sixth round with 199th overall pick?

It's almost a horse apiece.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. On the topic of punting on anything other than fourth down, the Packers did that in the early '70s when Dan Devine was head coach. If, after some penalties, it was third-and-25, for instance, he'd bring in the punter to confuse the defense (in theory). Once in a while he'd actually punt the ball but more often than not, they'd snap it to the up back who'd try to run it ahead for at least a few yards.

There you go. Leave it to Dan.

Brock from West Lafayette, IN

Good morning, Wes. So, is the belt hanging in your office, at home, or do you wear that thing around the office? I have to say, it's pretty cool to get a shout out from the folks at WWE.

It was a very nice "thank you" from Braun Strowman and WWE, but the belt does not belong to me. It was given to the Packers organization and shared amongst all our employees. I obviously had to snap a pic with it.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

I'm ready for March Madness with degrees from Purdue and FAU plus a few credits from Marquette and Houston. Do you turn into a homer when doing brackets or try to handicap choices?

As it relates to Marquette? Absolutely. I don't think I've ever picked against the Golden Eagles in the first round. Wisconsin? Not so much.

Jason from Janesville, WI

That's dirty pool, Wes. Introducing us to the word "nudiustertian," when the best day to send it back to you would be Sunday. Side note: After a trip down Google lane to see what your fancy word meant, I also learned the word "hodiernal." Can Hod work that word in?

I keep a hodiernal outlook on life. I don't like to perseverate on nudiustertian evenings filled with regret.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Good morning, Wes! With today being Friday, what stands out from your nudiustertian morning relating to Packers news? Is it possible that we could hear the correct pronunciation of nudiustertian from Larry on the next Three Things?

I don't know if I have the intestinal fortitude to put that script in front of Larry.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. Welcome back from your trip to the scouting combine. Did you indulge in any new root beer while there? Now you are leaving us again. Do you have any special plans for this PTO?

I maintained this physique in Indy while adhering to a strict diet of banana shakes and Diet Coke. I have a few basketball games to attend, an AEW pay per view to watch, and a little trip planned during the week off. I'm looking forward to it.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Covering the combine is a tough game for tough guys. Surviving the journey with Larry, paying the Steak n' Shake bills, and glad-handing with the NFL's upper crust, all while providing excellent comprehensive coverage of all things Packers. Thanks for the work, Wes. You represented proud!

It was fun being back in Indy. It was hard to believe it'd already been three years since I'd made the trip. I missed Spoff down there but was happy to carry the flag at the combine. Have a wonderful weekend. I'll talk to you guys soon.

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