Skip to main content
Powered by

Inbox: The winds of change are always blowing

Jimmy Graham’s return gives the Packers flexibility at tight end


Mitchell from Edmond, OK

As I read the last question from Monday's Inbox, my excitement was building to see Spoff roast the guy for the excessive negativity, but then I got my hopes up when I saw the April Fool's. Well played, Andrew from Eau Claire.

I can think of no better way to kick off the week than an April Fool's Day joke in the Inbox. Good morning!

Jim from San Antonio, TX

I just removed my 2018 Packer calendar from my cubicle. Upon looking through it, only three players remain on the team from that calendar. They are Rodgers, Bakhtiari, and Adams. Of the 53 players on an NFL roster, only the most recognizable 12 make it on the calendar. And after two offseasons, nine of those 12 are gone. That's a pretty good indication of change going on at 1265 Lombardi Ave.

Sure, but that's the NFL, Jim. The winds of change are always blowing, some years more than others.

David from Janesville, WI

With Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan at tight end, why would the Packers spend a first-round pick on a TE as many mock drafts have the Packers doing? It takes so long for TEs to develop in the NFL and first-round TEs don't have a great track record. I can't see spending the 12th or 30th pick on a developmental guy, not with so many other pressing needs on this team.

As I've said before, I'm on board with the Packers drafting a tight end and getting another prospect in the pipeline, but that doesn't mean they have to take one in Round 1. Jimmy Graham's return gives the Packers flexibility there. Brian Gutekunst can proceed however he sees fit.

Joe from Moorestown, NJ

I understand your reluctance to take a QB high in this draft due to AR but you also support the strategy of taking the "best available" player. If the BA is a QB, do you advocate taking him or does the QB position break your rule?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Joe. The best player available is rarely a quarterback, especially in today's NFL. If there's a QB projected to go at 30, there's a good chance he's off the board by 15. That's how Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and E.J. Manuel ended up as first-rounders.

Brad from Escanaba, MI

Do you think the Packers' days of running a fullback are in the past after using an extra tight end to do dual-purpose TE/backfield duties last season?

Not at all. The Packers are carrying two on the roster at the moment (Danny Vitale and Lavon Coleman), and could add another in the next month or so. Like any player on the roster, however, the burden of proof is on the fullbacks to earn a spot on the 53 once camp rolls around.

Justin from Winston-Salem, NC

Only time will tell, but do you see the review of PI calls impacting officials' tendency to throw the flag, or lack thereof, knowing they are now reviewable?

I think it'll promote referees throwing flags in those instances, particularly inside two minutes. My best guess is that's also what defensive backs are bracing for based on tweets I've seen over the last week.

Cheryl from Marathon, WI

So many people are worried about the new PI challenge rule and how it will change the game, slow it down, etc. The league didn't increase the number of challenges each team is allowed or change the other rules. Replays, TV guys, those won't be the biggest factors. It'll be the players running to the sideline, begging the coach to throw the red flag.

Exactly. The NFL gave coaches more things they can challenge, but didn't give them more challenges to do so. It's on the coach to spend wisely.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

Would you pick a TE who is faster and blocks better but has a drop now and then, or a sure-handed one?

I think recent history has proven you go with the faster one who blocks (and probably has more upside) than the sure-handed pass-catcher. It's the NFL. You have to do more than catch the ball to succeed at tight end.

Danny from Anchorage, AK

Why did some teams with new coaches start their offseason program April 1, while others (including the Packers) won't start until next week?

It's up to the new head coach. Teams that started their offseason program Monday are required to give players a one-week break sometime during the offseason program. Since the Packers are starting theirs on April 8, they don't have to take a break in-between. This week technically counts as that "off" week.

Roland from Oconomowoc, WI

Randall Cobb, in his prime, was a great asset with his intelligence, chemistry with Rodgers, flexibility, and willingness to work the middle. In my opinion one of his unique assets was his ability to get down low in the middle and avoid or minimize big hits upon himself, thus making him increasingly fearless and dangerous. Do you see this body type in the guys we have? Can a tall, lengthy receiver survive a season in the slot? Is the slot a rite-of-passage ritual for WR? Adams almost didn't make it!

Every player is different and every situation is different. There are always exceptions, but Gutekunst acknowledged at the NFL meetings that "smaller guys have a harder time staying healthy than bigger guys." We'll see how the draft plays out, but that's part of their approach to the receiver position right now.

Joshua from Mankato, MN

Replay is here to stay, so I agree we may as well review as much as possible. But if eliminating replay altogether were realistic, would you? I would. We've proven incapable of using replay to overturn only obviously blown calls. We insist on analyzing every pixel frame by frame only to end up back at a subjective judgement call. If only we could just get rid of it.

I'll counter by saying I think we've also proven to be incapable of making the correct calls on a consistent enough basis with how much the game has sped up. Matt LaFleur agrees slowing down football to frame-by-frame imagery is a slippery slope, but we have to get critical calls correct. Replay is a necessary evil.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Rick's question really annoyed me. How many like it do you get in one day? Let me clear up this problem for you: Mike and Wes are NOT privy to any draft discussions, and CANNOT see the future. PLEASE stop asking questions about who and where the Packers will draft. I know there is only so much to discuss in the offseason, but let's be real here, readers. Props to you both for dealing with this on a day-to-day basis.

I've gotten one of the Packers' first-round picks correct in six official tries for a robust success rate of 16.7 percent. That doesn't even sniff the Mendoza line. So here's my advice to Rick and others – take (Insert player here), choose heads for Green Bay to draft him and then flip a coin. You just improved your odds of getting it right three-fold.

Tom from Fairfield, CT

What do these pre-draft visits by prospective draftees mean, if anything? Is there a lot of deception by teams regarding these visits or is that just urban legend?

The pre-draft process is important in Green Bay. A lot of times the Packers use those 30 visits to get to know prospects who might not have been invited to the combine. Many have found their way to the roster either as a late-round pick or undrafted free agent. They also will use those to gauge a top prospect they want to learn a little more about.

Justin from Ivins, UT

Just a follow-up on the talented draft coming up. When was the last time the Packers had either an offensive/defensive rookie of the year? Does the deep draft potential increase or decrease our chances on landing a talented player that plays at that level in his first year?

Eddie Lacy in 2013. How soon they forget. Deep or shallow is all relative. The Packers have had plenty of rookies play at an elite level right off the bat.

Andrew from Breckenridge, MN

I liked Dalton Risner going into the draft before watching his Prospect Primer, but after seeing it, I would love to see him wearing a Green Bay uniform for years to come. I don't know if I have ever heard a college player talk with so much passion about the position he plays, and his professional maturity and work ethic seems to be genuine and not just lip service.

Hey, that's what it's there for.

Dale from Caledonia, NY

If you were building a new team from scratch, which position would you fill first? And would you want a rookie you can mold, or a veteran with proven leadership skills, for that position?

A rookie quarterback to mold, please.

Carroll from Madison, WI

We fans, of course, learn about draft trades after the fact and can evaluate them at our leisure, but executing them must be hair-raising. Is there enough time to get one done while "on the clock" and, whether executed on or off the clock, how do teams document them?

I'm not sure how NFL teams archive draft-day trades, but most trades involve a simple exchange of picks. Those types of trades are easier to execute on the clock than when players and contracts are involved. The easiest way to review is probably to look back and analyze how those picks turned out.

Blaine from Fennimore, WI

I was looking through the pictures of T.J. Lang after he announced his retirement and was surprised how tiny he makes Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers look. In the captains' photo, he and Julius Peppers stand significantly above the rest. Are there any players you see live and you are just amazed by how much bigger they are than the players around them?

Peppers tops the list. There just aren't many human beings on earth built like Julius. I'd throw Derek Sherrod, Martellus Bennett and Jimmy Graham in that group, too.

Elliot from Minneapolis, MN

With the initial wave of free agency over with and the draft coming up, do teams usually hold off until after the draft to sign the remaining free agents? Are there any players out there that you'd like the Packers to go after for the right price?

I can't speak for the entire NFL, but the Packers don't put a draft deadline on their free-agent process at all. Two years ago, Green Bay signed Jahri Evans days before the draft. Last year, the Packers brought in Marcedes Lewis and Byron Bell in May.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

Boards are very different for every team and this is why the draft is unpredictable, and yet I think it is fair to say that usually all the first-round talent is drafted in the first round. The depth in the talent this year could mean that someone the Packers were thinking about at No. 12 could fall, but not all the way to 30, so I think a strong possibility is the Packers trade up from 30. What is the earliest spot the Packers could move to if they packaged the 30th pick and the 44th pick?

Using the traditional model, the No. 30 and 44 picks would be seen as enough capital to move up to No. 15 and change. Again, it takes two to tango, though.

Bob from San Diego, CA

On fourth-down unsuccessful attempts, wouldn't coaches throw the challenge flag towards the end of a game? What do they have to lose? Hopefully, one receiver was interfered with. Do you foresee this type of thing happening?

Mark Murphy touched on this last Wednesday in Phoenix. That's why all reviews inside two minutes relating to pass interference will be subject to booth review instead of challenge flags. They don't want every game ending with coaches fishing for a call to bail their team out.

Chip from Detroit, MI

As with the early Matthews roughing-the-passer calls, could you see some early PI calls affecting games by making defenders back off too much?

Possibly at first, but at least coaches can challenge these penalties instead of allowing an egregious call to undermine a game.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

I've never been one to clamor for free agents really, especially when the player is a little long in their football tooth, but do you think Morgan Burnett could be a good addition to our backfield?

I don't know, especially since Adrian Amos and Burnett kind of play the same position. The Packers also have another hybrid safety in Josh Jones on the roster, as well. We'll all know soon enough.

Justin from Hoboken, NJ

"Rubbin's Racin'" was in use long before it was a cheesy movie quote. In this case, art imitates reality. I was surprised that Jordy and Gronk only had 10-year careers, but Tom and Aaron will have 20-year careers. I thought quarterbacks would have shorter careers given the strain on their bodies. Guessing that Tom (and Aaron and Brett) might be outliers; do most quarterbacks survive longer than receivers (taking into account their success, e.g. Pro Bowlers will keep getting paid)?

Quarterbacks typically outlast their contemporaries, including specialists at times. Chris Chandler had pretty much every injury in the book and still played 17 seasons. I'd imagine the recent rule changes the league has made will only lengthen QB careers.

Michael from Hammond, IN

Did the team overspend in free agency this year?

I needed a new sports coat. That was the first thing that crossed my mind after I was told I would be attending the NFL meetings. So I went over to a local outfitter in town. It was my first trip there in probably six or seven years. I ended up buying a new sports coat…and a new suit…and two new shirts (one custom)…and two new ties. In the end, I dropped around $700. So did I overspend? Or did I do what was necessary to be dressed appropriately for the event? Sometimes you have to spend money to look good, Michael.

Andrew from Columbus, OH

If people come here for the answer to "who are the Packers going to take in the draft" they have the wrong URL. You have to go to the dark web to find the II written by psychics. They have a list of everyone the Packers are going to take over the next three decades. My question: the psychics said the Packers are going to take someone in the 2035 draft that I've never even heard of. Why on earth would they do that? Also for those wondering, we don't draft AR's heir in 2019.

Welcome to the April Insider Inbox, the column where all the draft picks are made up and the actual selections don't matter. Have a great week, everybody.