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Inbox: The signing makes sense for both parties

Whoever’s considered the weakest link gets replaced

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Packers WR Sammy Watkins

Matt from Waunakee, WI

I can't understand why Derek from Eau Claire doesn't want somebody who plays like his hair is on fire.

Or has all the intangibles.

Kevin from Whitehall, WI

Re: your response to Kim from Hudson, WI, it was actually Bruce Clark, not Bruce Smith, who dissed the Packers for the CFL in 1980.

Yeah, we got that corrected shortly after the column was posted. Clearly, some subliminal synapses in my brain working on a revisionist history turned Bruce Clark into Bruce Smith for the Packers.

H.R. from Las Vegas, NV

Well, I hope that puts a pin in all the crows and their caws for a veteran WR. Great signing. Cap-friendly, one year "prove-it" deal, veteran WR who has great hands and route-running skills. Let's just hope we get the Rams version of Watkins and not last year's Ravens version.

I think the whole key for Sammy Watkins is to stay healthy, which he hasn't been able to do, especially the last few years. As Wes noted in his "5 things" piece, he had 18 catches for 292 yards in the first five games last year before getting hurt, missing a few weeks, and then being unable to pick up where he left off. The signing makes sense for both parties. The Packers get a proven, been-there-done-that veteran at a palatable price, while Watkins gets a year to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers and hit the market again in '23.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

It seems like Gute likes to go into the draft not being forced into a corner by having a glaring position of need if he can help it. An example would be signing Kevin King to a one-year deal last year and Reed and Watkins to one-year deals this year. Would you say the team is in a position to not have to rely on a rookie starting at the beginning of the season at any position?

Health permitting, it would appear so. I hadn't thought of the approach in those terms until you framed it as such. Last year, Gutey ended up drafting Josh Myers to start at center from the get-go (and then Royce Newman won a job, too), but that would appear to be more the exception than the rule in his tenure, and other options did exist if necessary.

Josh from San Marcos, TX

Hey guys. AR12 regularly skips the voluntary offseason program. How important will it be this year, with Sammy Watkins now coming in, and potentially two from the draft, for him to attend and develop some rapport?

Debatable. Aaron Rodgers' participation will be up to him. He's earned that. Watkins and any rookies will be learning the playbook during the spring and not much more. The offense on paper has to be understood thoroughly before the way Rodgers sees things would make much sense. I'm sure there'd be value in having him here, but putting a grad school professor in front of a freshman class won't necessarily make it learn the material any faster.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Questions keep getting posted about this offseason being so exciting because of the FA signings. But what about all the non-player news? The Flores suit, Washington withholding ticket revenue, Dolphins owner tampering with Brady, etc. In my opinion, the FA signing craziness happens every year, but this NFL/team news is a bigger concern and how the NFL will handle all of it. What are your thoughts? Also, can the NFL and team owners force an owner to sell a franchise?

It happened with Jerry Richardson and the Panthers a few years back for transgressions of a completely different type. NFL owners aren't prone to overzealously attack or react because they know it could be them on the other end someday, but if yet another investigation into Washington proves not to be baseless, I would think collective sentiment would shift to enough is enough.

Orv from Myrtle Beach, SC

My regards to both of you gentlemen for your measured answers. The person who was very hard on MVS yesterday begs a comment and a question. Each player in every sport has a job to do on every play. It could be the second baseman is out of position for a relay throw or a basketball player is not at his correct spot for a pick play, etc. A wide receiver with jet speed could be the decoy for another receiver to make the play. How important is it for a receiver to just do his job on every play?

That goes for every player in this sport, which is what makes it the ultimate team game. With regard to receivers specifically, the coaches and quarterback study the film extensively. If a guy is third or fourth in the progression when a certain route concept is called, but he's regularly getting open, they'll adjust or design calls for him to be an earlier option. That's how offenses, concepts and players evolve and develop.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Hey Mike, in regards to Kirsten from Madison's question about new players succeeding or failing, let's flip the script. What makes any UDFA who has a long career in the NFL succeed? Heart and the drive to overcome and WIN! Many great players have never faced failure or adversity in their careers. They have always been surrounded by talented teammates sometimes masking their faults. It's how they react and pick themselves back up after getting knocked down that makes or breaks them. Thoughts?

As the old saying goes, adversity doesn't build character, but reveals it.

Steve from Gurnee, IL

One last comment on Detroit being selected to host the draft ahead of Green Bay … The issue that I have is Detroit can (and has) hosted a Super Bowl. Give the markets that will not have that opportunity a shot at another event like the draft. Keep up the great work guys! GPG

Perfectly valid point, and I figured that was the league's train of thought in giving some of the early drafts in this "traveling" era to cities like Philly and Chicago, who also don't host Super Bowls. But I'll stand by my belief the Packers are going to get the draft sometime this decade.

Scott from Noblesville, IN

OSU WRs Olave and Wilson are both expected to be off the board early. In your opinion, does each seem more impressive by having proved they can productively put up numbers opposite another great receiver, or does each seem less impressive when compared to absolute "go-to guys," who lacked the luxury of such a teammate?

That's really tough to answer, and I think that's why scouts focus on the film and not the numbers or all the ancillary factors. They're looking at his matchup, or the corner across from him; how defenses scheme for him and how he reads those defenses, such as on an option route; how precise his routes are, how he catches the ball and runs after the catch, whether he can catch in traffic, etc., all aspects that have little to do with who his teammates are, except as the matchup/scheme parts relate. The film answers the question, not a philosophical leaning.

Bob from Port St. Lucie, FL

Mike, you mentioned that Chris Olave skipped the Rose Bowl to "prepare for the draft." Or was it to avoid an injury? Do you see this and similar decisions by others as personal choices or perhaps showing an underlying of not being a team player?

I'd never blame any college kid who stands to make millions for protecting himself if he has nothing left to prove to pro scouts. I applaud those who play in bowl games for their teammates, schools and fans, but bowing out is a perfectly rational, defensible business decision.

Jon from Kingsford, MI

Will the preseason special teams have any resemblance to the regular-season special teams? I know that they have to look at those that might make the team, but not having those that are almost sure to be on the 53 and not or barely practicing on special-teams duties can cause problems. (For the first few games anyway.) And the 10,000-hour thing has been debunked.

Just my speculation, but I'd surmise Bisaccia will want his main guys in for an early rep on special teams in a preseason game, but they'll certainly be rotating in players who are fighting for roster spots from there. He's been doing this awhile now and has made this transition at other places multiple times. I'm sure he has methods.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

As exciting as this time of year is for most teams' fan bases, your readers understand that the constant barrage of questions about who GB will pick – and why it will be this WR over that WR – can be daunting. If at any time it starts to wear you down, just remember this: you could be covering the Miami Dolphins, who have a total of four picks – a third, a fourth and two seventh-rounders. Miami fans may have gotten T. Hill, but what a boring draft this will be for them ... and their beat writers.

That's what I want for the last draft I cover in my career – a third, a fourth and two-seventh-rounders. Easy peasy.

Chris from St. Louis, MO

This has been on my mind for a few weeks. Elgton Jenkins can play any OL position well and many people are penciling him in as the RT starter. But if I recall Steno gave him the project to work on LT all last offseason, to great benefit. However, this offseason we all know where he'll be, rehabbing his knee in the training facility not gearing up to play RT. It's probably in the Packers' best interest to play him where he's most comfortable, experienced, and skilled when he comes back. Your thoughts?

Barring other injuries that make the decision on Jenkins obvious, I could see the Packers (maybe not in so many words) looking at it something like this: Bakhtiari excluded, everybody across the board from left guard to right tackle is playing to keep his job until Jenkins comes back. Whoever's considered the weakest link gets replaced.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

Thanks Mike for debunking BAP. My question is how much roster building for the future comes into play. I feel GB knew from the beginning one of the Smith Bros. would be lost and was influential in the decision of taking Gary. I think safety may fall into that category this year even though IDL or edge are my favorites, and trading up or even back into the first round to get Watson. If either of GA tackles are there at 22 they'll have negatively impacted Kenny's remaining career by passing.

A lot to unpack there. First, I didn't debunk BAP except in its pure, unadulterated form, which just isn't reality. Second, I think the Gary selection was clearly made with the future in mind, but not the way you present it. The Packers knew he'd need time to develop, and playing behind two proven veterans would allow the necessary time at a position defenses need rotational players who can still make an impact. Third, I certainly don't rule out safety within those four top-60 picks given the current situation, but like always, it all depends on the look of the board in the moment. Last but not least, the Packers have gone four straight drafts without taking a defensive lineman higher than the fifth round. I think that has to change.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Hey guys, thanks for the Prospect Primer series. Speaking of, how in the heck was Christian Watson only second-team all-FCS? Were there really 2-3 better receivers in FCS? It seems hard to believe.

Three were chosen for first team ahead of him, and I can't say for sure but I'm guessing it was just a stats thing. Watson caught "only" 43 passes for 800 yards and eight TDs last year and missed a few playoff games with a hamstring injury. The three first-teamers were all 75-plus catches, 1,100-1,300 yards, double-digit TDs. NDSU also won six games by at least four touchdowns and two other games by 20-plus, so he might have been sitting in a lot of third/fourth quarters, not stat-padding.

Kyle from Eau Claire, WI

Great. I was really hoping for Christian Watson, and then with your record on drafting players you do Prospect Primers on you do one on him? I guess I'll move on.

We don't have a stellar track record, I admit, but Wes was being intentionally obtuse the other day. We did Primers on Jaire Alexander in 2018, Elgton Jenkins in '19 and Jordan Love in '20. Before Wes's arrival, as far as high picks go, we hit on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Davante Adams in '14. And last year, when I did a text-only "draft digest" series because we didn't have video material to do full Primers, Eric Stokes was profiled.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Do you get anything from questions or comments you don't use/post?

Sure, I get one of three things – entertained, annoyed or bored.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Could the draft please hurry up and get here. I am going crazy!

T-minus 13 days and counting.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Just a guy, with a keyboard, getting really exhausted from all the nit-picking and criticizing of free agent woulda-shoulda-coulda and potential draft targets. I'm ready to start nit-picking, criticizing and woulda-shoulda-couldaing play calls, decisions and performances of actual games.

You'll have to wait a while longer for that. Happy Friday.

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