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Inbox: There's no such thing as a sure thing

They’ll start getting more selective

NFL Draft
NFL Draft

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

I was in the midst of drafting an Inbox submission about the NFL Draft when a sudden draft began to stir the papers on my desk. I arose to close the window, and that momentary distraction caused me to forget my query, so now I need a cold draft brew in which to drown my sorrows.

Is it Thursday yet?

Bob from Dundas, MN

Wes's quote from the MTV Diary docuseries, "You think you know…but you have no idea," reminded me of a story my dad told me about when Vince Lombardi came down to Manitowoc to speak at the Elks Club back in the '60s. In response to a critical question about the team from an audience member, Lombardi simply looked at him and said, "Mister, you don't know."

Vince would've given up on Insider Inbox before finishing his first column.

Bil from Stateline, NV

I truly don't care which direction the ball spins in Brazil, as long as the game doesn't go down the toilet.

As soon as the draft is over, this Brazil game can't come and go soon enough.

Sean from Palatine, IL

Good morning Inbox and happy draft week! I just learned about what might be the biggest butterfly effect in NFL Draft history. In 2001 the Chargers traded the rights to Michael Vick for the fifth pick (LT) and drafted Brees in the second round instead. A few years later, they let him walk and pull off the Rivers/Eli swap with the Giants. One draft day decision leads to four different teams ending up with their best QB in franchise history.

Fascinating, but hold on a minute. The kid in me can't rank Rivers as the best QB in Chargers history over Fouts. Sorry.

Mark from Westminster, CO

John from Ashland mentioned he thinks Sean Clifford is a hidden gem and solid QB. It got me to thinking about Jordan Love and last season. At what point (game) do you think the rest of the league started really taking notice of what he was able to do?

Thanksgiving Day.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Good morning II. Do teams pay draft prospects to come to their facilities for tryouts and does the league or network pay the prospects to come to the draft show?

Teams pay the travel expenses for pre-draft visits, but those aren't "tryouts." Those players don't do workouts when they visit. Prospects also aren't paid to attend the draft, but with only 13 showing up in Detroit this year, that might become a topic of discussion next year.

Bill from Clive, IA

Haven't seen your Prospect Primer yet on Cooper DeJean, but I know it's coming! One question that I have for you is this: Do you see him as versatile enough to potentially make the switch to safety, and fit into that "underneath" role in the single-high package, with Xavier patrolling the back end? Or are his frame and skill set really only a fit at CB in the NFL?

DeJean's Primer is today, I believe. Gutekunst on Monday sounded very confident in describing DeJean as versatile enough, and I tend to agree. He talked so much about him, though, it makes me think he's not targeting him.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

Is there a certain kind of brinksmanship involved when teams attempt to make trades to improve draft positioning? For example, when Team A is hoping to move up, who decides how much time before contacting Team B with a trade offer?

Trade talks are constant throughout the draft, and initial parameters are proposed in advance. The conversation will be something like, "If our guy is there …" without naming the guy, "we'll look to move up." They gather info on teams that might be willing to deal and what they'd be asking for. Then when that pick arrives and the clock is ticking, they check to see if they're still willing to trade. If not, they go to the next team (if their guy remains available). Once something is agreed to, both sides finalize by calling in the terms of the trade to the league.

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

Does the clock reset when there's a trade? Obviously the team trading up already has their pick identified, but the compensation has to be agreed to, the NFL notified, and the card turned in once the trade is official. Time gets even tighter if a team is receiving multiple trade offers.

The clock does not reset. The team trading up for the pick turns in its pick basically at the same time. If a team has ever traded up for a pick and then subsequently and immediately traded that pick without selecting a player, I'm not aware of it.

Travis from McCordsville, IN

Is there any chance AJ Dillon gets cut if we invest high picks at RB in the draft? I'd like to see him stick around.

Any player signed to a veteran minimum (or slightly above) deal with little to no guaranteed money – such as Dillon, Dillard, Davis, Eric Wilson, Welch, Rochell – is no lock to make the roster. That's not a knock on anybody, just reality. That said, regarding Dillon specifically, with the change at RB1, I think his experience in this offense, plus his abilities in pass protection and two-minute, bode well for him. As an aside, for those counting the available roster spots when the Packers pull in their draft haul and undrafted rookie class, there's also no guarantee everybody on the roster today will be on it a week from now. They'll make room if they like one guy over another.

John from Madison, WI

Can you give us some insights as to how players in different positions can be compared in ranking them as football players? Seems like such a tough task and subjective based on what spot a team might value which can be subject to change.

It's highly subjective, but generally involves how high a player's ceiling is, regardless of position. Solid starter? Potential All-Pro? If a left tackle is viewed as the former and a cornerback the latter, need aside, the corner is higher on the draft board.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

It may be counterintuitive but I prefer GB takes players that are more of a sure thing than players with a bigger upside (boom-or-bust type players). The reason is that GB appears to be very good moving forward and taking bigger risks on players doesn't seem necessary. Do you have thoughts on this?

First, there's no such thing as a sure thing in the draft. The jump from college to pro football is enormous. Second, just because a player has a higher upside doesn't mean he's boom-or-bust. Solid players can have low or high ceilings. Third, games (and championships) are decided by elite players. Difference-makers, bear with me, make a difference. If you're not trying to find them, someone else is.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

I just came across an article talking about how WRs are starting to be viewed like RBs. The ones coming out of college are as prepared as most of the WRs in the league and teams are starting to take notice. There will be a few superstars who get their contracts, but teams are going to start letting many of them walk away and simply draft their replacements. The article actually used the Packers as an example. Not sure I completely agree with the author on this. Curious to hear your thoughts.

I've been saying for years the college game churns out receivers like no other position, and new arrivals often produce. I think the truly elite No. 1 guys (Adams, Jefferson, Chase, etc.) will still get the big money, but I could see teams pulling back on giving high-seven-figure or low-eight-figure salaries to other veteran receivers just because they're pretty good. They'll start getting more selective, I believe.

Mike from Coleman, WI

I know we don't really care what other teams are "thinking" … maybe this is just a question on draft philosophy rather than motives of other teams. Why would teams presumably reach for round 1 or 2 picks like QB Nix, McCarthy and Penix but the market for Fields is just a sixth-round pick? It can't be just economics.

That's a great point, and it's not. It's also perception, to the fan base. If a QB-needy team outbids the Steelers and gives up a fifth-round pick for a supposed retread like Fields, but it doesn't work out, that looks worse than moving aggressively for a shiny new guy who doesn't work out. The perception of the latter is the team is doing everything it can, while the former is more harshly scrutinized as missing an opportunity and spinning the wheels.

James from Asheville, NC

In the time you've been covering the Packers which are the top three drafts that you feel produced the most immediate dividends? I find it hard to match last year but I'm curious as to your three.

Prior to last year, I would've chosen my first year here, 2006 (Hawk, Colledge, Jennings, Spitz, Moll), along with '13 (Lacy, Bakhtiari, Franklin, Hyde) and '14 (Clinton-Dix, Adams, R. Rodgers, Linsley).

Amanda from New York, NY

Interesting to hear Gutey say that he would have been comfortable taking Tucker Kraft if Jayden Reed had not been available in the second round after trading back. It seems like it should be unlikely that a player would be available an entire round after a team passed on him near the top of its board, but I suppose it must happen, particularly in later rounds as boards fan out more. Has Gutey (or another GM) made a similar comment like that before regarding another player?

The ones that come immediately to mind are Elgton Jenkins in the middle of the second round ('19) and Randall Cobb with the last pick of the second round ('11). The Packers felt very fortunate in both instances.

Ron from Broken Arrow, OK

Mike, I just watched "Unscripted," and I couldn't agree more with you about the Packers drafting multiple offensive lineman and linebackers. Seems to me that protecting Jordan Love is job No. 1 to continue the Packers' success in the future. Also, as you noted, there are not a lot of bodies currently on the roster to compete with Quay Walker and Isaiah McDuffie at linebacker. Can you see the Packers doubling up on both of these positions within their picks in rounds 1 through 3?

Might be tough given the other key areas (CB, S, Edge) I'm sure Gutey would love to address early on, but it wouldn't shock me.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents, it will never happen, but I think it would be fascinating to hear GMs give an honest woulda/coulda/shoulda after a draft. In hindsight do they feel they lost their guy by not moving up one extra spot? Regrets on giving up too much? Disappointment that someone else had their sleeper pick as well and took them off the board? Rarely do you get a retrospective statement like Wolf's "I'd have taken Moss." Or do you think GMs don't spend a second thinking about it and just look forward?

Oh, they think about it. Human nature. But you said it, it'll never happen. There's no benefit to their club and the players they did select to publicize the post-mortem, no matter how enlightening it might be to all of us.

CJ from Marshfield, WI

Hi Mike, regarding consensus picks by fans discussed recently, the 2020 pre-draft day consensus pick was Denzel Mims when WR fever was perhaps at its highest temperature in GB – whew. The other side of that was the selection of Love, which was not embraced by fans or draftniks. Many said it was not the time for the next QB, but fast forward and the 2021 and 2022 QB classes have not impressed (so far). How much did the QB forecast for those years factor into the urgency and decision to trade up?

Great question, and I have no idea. If Gutey & Co. had indeed projected weaker QB classes the next couple of years (while the '20 group has proven to be outstanding), they deserve even more credit than they've received.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike without naming names, is there the next BG in the building?

There are multiple. I have no doubt about that. But I also don't think Gutey is going anywhere anytime soon. If the Packers have another year like last year, his top lieutenants will be getting serious looks.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

What are you most looking forward to with the draft?

Getting done. I don't say that as some sort of curmudgeon, but as exciting as the draft is, it's also a TON of work. Friday and Saturday are looking pretty brutal in that regard to an aging scribe like me.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

So what is your draft day routine look like? Wes mentioned seeing how Kiper was "begging" for Valentine to be picked, so seems like you are paying attention to some of the network draft shows. But you're also writing stories/posting updates on our picks throughout. What are you doing and how do you get it all done?

We don't really know. But somehow all the stories get written, videos get shot, copy gets edited, and content gets posted, hopefully in time to stop at a local watering hole before it closes Saturday night.

Kevin from Savage, MN

A few months ago when I found out my son and daughter-in-law were expecting our first grandchild, I inquired with the Packers ticket office about getting him on the season-ticket waiting list. I was told he needed to be born first. Well, he arrived yesterday, and my second attempt to get him on the list has been started. First name of Walker, which allows for a few jersey options. Here's to the newest and youngest (at least for today) Packer fan. And a lifetime of enjoyment ahead of him.

New fans and new players, all in the same week. How wonderful.

Curt from Pine Island, MN

The draft is the human experience in a nutshell. You can try to imagine your life after changing any one decision, but every decision made by others impacted you having that choice to make in the first place.

Happy day before the draft, everybody.

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