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Inbox: The draft is an in-the-moment thing

You want players who profile as system fits and difference-makers


Matty from Durango, CO

Spoff, we have a sheepshead game scheduled for April 25. Do we reschedule, watch while playing (great opportunity for Stinky Dan to cheat!) or tape and watch later?

You watch while playing, absolutely, but get Dan some deodorant first.

Tony from Bronxville, NY

Wes said Tuesday "...but whatever direction they go in the draft will tell you a lot about the vision." How does this align with BAP? If they are going for the vision, then does that trump BAP?

No, it's about targeting certain skill sets that translate best to what you do (or want to do) amongst the players you have bunched together within your ratings.

Brian from Rochester, NY

New coach, new system, new identity. I see Green Bay drafting in a way they did with Raji and Matthews to create a new identity. I see a lot of mocks drafting based on "need." How about an athletic tackle like Andre Dillard at 12 to get this running game to another level? If you're the GM, what's your draft strategy when the team has a new leader in Matt LaFleur?

You want players who profile as system fits and project as difference-makers. That's exactly what Raji and Matthews were.

Dan from Pittsburgh, PA

Love signing Sam Ficken! I played against him in HS when he was at Valparaiso. The guy has a great leg and he's a pretty good dude, too. Before our game, he came over to talk and ended up giving me some good tips as I was a kicker myself. I know these guys are competing for jobs but do you think Crosby, the seasoned veteran, ever talks shop with kickers in camp?

Most definitely. Guys can talk about their craft and still compete. As for all the questions whether there will be a full-fledged competition or if the Packers are looking at the new addition as a possible kickoff specialist, we'll just have to see if the plot Fickens. I'll show myself out.

Uriah from South Vienna, OH

I know the second-year jump is a big deal for rookies going into their second year. However, is it as big of a deal for rookies who played really well like Jaire Alexander? Obviously he'll get better, but will it be as big of an improvement as for other rookies who struggled more?

That's why I didn't list Alexander last week among the second-year guys I'll be watching closely. I expect him to improve, and I'm certainly excited for his future, but he got off to a great start and already proved he can play in this league at a high level. It's the other guys who didn't hit their stride right away that you watch to see if and when that moment arrives.

Brad from Sarasota, FL

In response to the Drew Lock visit, how much of "getting to know these guys" is to gain information for future years? As has been mentioned in the past, Gutekunst and crew are constantly collecting information on all available players. Do you think the opportunity to have a visit with a top-tier player may not necessarily be in reference to 2019's draft but for future roster development?

Sure. DeShone Kizer went from being a second-round pick in Cleveland to Rodgers' backup in Green Bay, for example, so you never know.

Taylor from Hull, IA

At what point did the NFL mandate every team use the same website layout? Do you think this uniformity is worthwhile, or does it stifle creativity for each team?

The changeover was about a year ago. I've had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I always thought had a very appealing, distinctive look as we made our own modifications over the years. On the other, the new back-end system that resulted in the uniform front end is so much more efficient and user-friendly for all the cooks in the kitchen. It has improved timeliness of postings and work flow within our department exponentially. There are always trade-offs.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

Which Wisconsin athlete do you think had the best last 12 months? Christian Yelich, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Davante Adams, or Ethan Happ? Based on team success, I'd give the nod to Yelich, although Giannis could change the narrative if the Bucks surprise everyone and win the title.

I don't know about anyone else, but I won't be shocked if the Bucks win it all. I'm not being dismissive of the Golden State dynasty by any stretch, but Milwaukee is more than capable. I'd love to see the matchup, but the NBA playoffs are a marathon in and of themselves. It's a close call between Yelich and Giannis, as you said, depending. I was fortunate to witness Yelich's three-homer game on Monday night. All I can say is wow. The game's not supposed to be that easy.

Jake from Eden Prairie, MN

In regards to the draft, has there been an instance where a GM made a pick but the wrong player was announced? Think Steve Harvey...

It wasn't exactly a Harvey moment, but if you don't know the story of Tampa Bay's 1982 draft, it's worth your time. A few years ago, Don Banks for SI wrote a great piece on it and its ramifications. There's not enough space here to get into it.

Amy from Bayport, MN

I believe Wes missed the point of the query by Robert in Flat Rock. I think he meant evaluations of GMs around the league rather than self-scouting. Are there analytics involving whether opponents have a propensity for trades? A pattern relating to player position/draft round? Does a GM prefer a certain region or conference? Need or BAP? Finally, do the Packers use this info to simulate draft scenarios to try and determine what prospects may be available when they are on the clock?

They definitely know which GMs are BAP vs. needs drafters, and they'll study another team's roster situation and draft capital to gauge their potential interest in trading. I'm not sure much else in the way of analytics or patterns has any predictive value, which is why no matter how many in-house mocks teams conduct, they can't be sure they're prepared for all scenarios.

Joel from Bluffton, SC

Insiders, I'm sure this has been addressed at some point but the sighting of another kicker made me wonder. The cap number during the offseason is only related to the top 50 or so contracts, correct? If so, how can we navigate cap numbers and all the signings/potential signings? It would seem like you'd need to have a good understanding of your final 53 to begin with. Or does the cap number actually help determine the final 53?

In the offseason, the top 51 salaries/contracts count toward the cap. I'm sure there's a formula that gives teams a ballpark number they need for the 53 and all standard in-season roster moves. You used to see more cap casualties in June and July, meaning veteran cuts for cap space as rookies were signing, but with the 2011 CBA slotting all the draft pick contracts, those financial needs are now more certain and those decisions are made earlier in the offseason.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

Select Packer fans: "We're paying Rodgers too much money! How can one player cost so much?!" Seattle: "Hold my beer." Which player got the better deal: Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, or Russell Wilson? Which deal better suits their respective organization?

They're all suitable simply because the deals reflect a couple of realities. First, no one ever desires to start over when a franchise QB is in place. Second, teams appear willing to see the annual salaries rise to unprecedented heights in the later years of a deal in order to get the guarantee structure in the early years to work best for the club.

Eric from St. Jacob, IL

NFL releases the schedule this evening. As a Gold season-ticket holder I plan to bring my daughter to one game, and perhaps my sister from Colorado to her first-ever Packer game. What two games at Lambeau are you most looking forward to this year? Besides wins, what opponents should I be hoping for?

You can never go wrong when the Bears and Vikings visit, but otherwise I always look at the QB matchups. Wentz hasn't faced Rodgers since his rookie year, and Newton hasn't played at Lambeau since 2014. Those are the others that jump out to me.

Nate from New Berlin, WI

On draft day, are teams allowed to divulge who is requesting a trade? For example, Bears want to give the Packers a first and second for the 30th pick. If the Vikings want it, can Gute say they gotta beat the Bears' offer?

Sure, but in an effort to play one trading partner against another, you're more likely to outline the offer without divulging who made it. Some level of trust can help keep communication open on other trade possibilities down the road.

Matt from Wauconda, IL

What team would you say has had the best draft ever? By this, we're talking Hall of Famers, Pro Bowls, etc. Is there a team that has just hit a top-to-bottom draft class?

It's rather universally regarded that Pittsburgh's 1974 draft is the best of all time, producing four Hall of Famers (Lambert, Swann, Stallworth, Webster). With Kramer getting in to Canton last year, the Packers' 1958 draft yielded three.

Tim from Greensboro, NC

Guys, I know you both feel it is too early to look for AR's successor. However, he has suffered two major broken bones, two concussions, and numerous lower body injuries. He turns 36 during the season. Numerous health issues tend to age you beyond your years. History shows these types of injuries can precede a precipitous decline. Also, in games he has started since 2016, we are barely above .500. Does this concern you more than a little?

It's a concern, sure, no one can be blind to it. But I still maintain the Packers' best chance of winning another Super Bowl in the near future is to use its highest draft picks to build the most talented Rodgers-led roster they can, not spend a valuable pick on a QB you hope never has to play. That's the picture as I look at it right now.

Carroll from Madison, WI

I think we're in for a very dynamic and possibly surprising draft. On the one hand, we've got a GM who's an adept wheeler-dealer with a lot of picks looking to add playmakers and depth almost across the board. And, as you've pointed out, we have no way of knowing what his or any other GM's board looks like. Can't wait to see whom Gutekunst likes, and where.

Everyone keeps asking … trade up? Trade down? Sit and pick? Offensive line or defensive front? You prepare as best you can for any decision you might have to face, but the draft is an in-the-moment thing. When you understand the basic philosophy behind a team's approach, that's what makes it so compelling.

Matt from Greensboro, NC

So if you were approached by someone involved with creating our draft board and they asked you not to do a Prospect Primer on a player that you were going to do a Primer for, what would you do?

That has never happened in the seven years we've been posting Primers, I assure you. Which also assures that anytime we've hit on one the Packers ultimately select, it's been pure luck.

Joe from Dells, WI

You got my co-worker and I into a long discussion with the answer concerning how many Packers have been drafted from which college. Where can we find a complete summary? We aren't getting any work done, and it's Holy Week. Help us quickly, please!

If you go to the **2018 Packers media guide**, you can find the chart on p. 287.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

I was interested in a comment recently made that the Packers might look at using remaining cap space to try to lock up a current Packer player for a longer term (I like that idea). If so, do you have an idea on which player might be targeted for this type of move, considering the amount of money the Packers have to make such a move?

Wes laid out the various candidates yesterday. I personally believe Kenny Clark has to be the priority.

Greg from Bailey, CO

I'm excited to see John Kuhn back as part of the Packers organization. I noticed he has a microphone in his first photo. Is that his or did he take one from Wes?

Good one. It's great to have Kuhn aboard. For everyone asking whether he'll answer Insider Inbox questions sometime, no need to make him run for the hills on his first day, OK?

Carl from Sussex, WI

Mike, after three HR, seven RBI, and two solid catches, might you say that, if not on the same planet as Trout, Yeli is at least orbiting it in a landing module?

At the moment, no doubt, but in deference to Trout, he's been doing it for much longer. That's really the only difference right now.

Dave from Comer, GA

No draft question. No questions about how the team is going to do this year. No question regarding second-year jump. Just wanted to say hello and see how you guys are doing these days.

Hanging in, no complaints. Next season becomes this season tonight. It all gets a little more real. Happy Wednesday.