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Inbox: These rosters are built to handle every contingency

The Packers’ wideouts are pushing each other for a finite number of opportunities

S Anthony Johnson Jr.
S Anthony Johnson Jr.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

On Monday, our son gave my wife and me our birthday presents. We each received a travel-sized toothpaste and handwarmers. After sitting there confused for a few minutes, he told us we would need those items next fall when he takes us to Green Bay for a game. So, after being a Packers fan for more than 60 years, I'm going to see my first live game. I get tears in my eyes every time I think about it. See you in about eight months.

It's too early for so much dust, Larry. You're hitting me square in the feels. I hope you and the family have an amazing time.

Dan from Shawano, WI

From Tom Grossi, NFL Fan of the Year, to Dan Bogenschuetz, Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame recipient, I am always amazed what Packers fans do to help others enjoy and celebrate the Packers. Both channeled their passion for the Packers to help others and promote the Packers organization and its fans in the community. All I can say is "thank you" to both of these individuals for their efforts and dedication. They are perfect examples for all NFL fans to emulate.

It was an honor and privilege to tell both their stories. Tom and Dan are salt-of-the-earth, good-hearted human beings who use their platform to foster a sense of community among Packers fans. Neither was looking for recognition but earned it every bit of it through their kindness and generosity. It's awesome when you can see people rewarded for that type of effort.

Chas from Modena, WI

Will you be posting a picture of Dan Bogenschuetz's tattoo?

Absolutely. If Bogie wants to send a photo in, I'll gladly publish it.

Bob from Jensen Beach, FL

Although not a top priority, drafting another receiver seems important when looking down the road. Our young corps looks great, but they may all be looking for bigger contracts in a year or two. In which round might you look for another one to add to the mix?

That's where things get tricky because it's easy enough to say, "Well, draft one on Day 3 and see what happens," but will that rookie have a realistic shot at cracking the top 5-6 during training camp? With how the Packers have overloaded at receiver in recent years, I'd take a year off, address other needs and revisit the position in 2025.

Mark from Dallas, TX

The usual caveats aside (nickel is the new base defense, good coaches find ways to use the players they have, etc.), for however many snaps the 2024 Packers play in Jeff Hafley's 4-3 base, is there a role that looks like a strength of the current roster? What about one where BG will likely be looking to add more/different body types?

The Packers have the bodies in the defensive front. For that reason, I feel like this roster is better equipped to transition to a 4-3 now than when Green Bay shifted to the 3-4 in 2009. My only question is whether the Packers need to add more inside linebackers to facilitate the move. Last year, Green Bay had three good ILBs in De'Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, and Isaiah McDuffie, but rarely were all of them available at the same time. That was one of the issues when Dom Capers toyed around with the "quad" in 2014. Green Bay simply didn't have the depth inside to pull it off.

Keith from Middleton, WI

With the NFL being a cyclical, copycat league, I wasn't surprised by Matt LaFleur's choice for DC. I do wonder, however, about how much Hercules' preference for the three-point stance had to do with the switch? I look at the front-seven and really only see a need for at least one more off-ball linebacker. I really like the flexibility, and potential, in the DL/EDGE players currently under contract. Do you think that was part of his decision to change the base? Do you think the nickel would be 4-2-5 or 3-3-5?

The 4-2-5 will be the nickel. I just don't think the 3-3-5 has a place as primary look in today's NFL. While I don't think that was the motivation behind Green Bay's reported switch, 4-3 seems to fit with Lukas Van Ness's toolbox. I actually asked Lukas Van Ness last month about playing more with his hand in the dirt down the stretch and he told me it was an option he had all year. Ultimately, Van Ness and Jason Rebrovich chose to exercise it to help his comfort and vision.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

The Packers need to build up their OL, get secondary help, get another RB, and bring in impact players on defense. Will these needs be filled by the draft alone, or will the Packers make a few free-agent additions?

Maybe a little of both. The free-agent rolodex never closes. Look at last year when the Packers re-signed veteran safety Rudy Ford before adding two free agents (Jonathan Owens and Tarvarius Moore) and drafting Anthony Johnson Jr. Ford, Owens and Johnson all played. These rosters are built to handle every contingency.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

We often hear about college tackles who are moved to guard in the NFL. That makes sense to me as both positions have a lot of carry over. I don't often hear of college corners moving to safety or vice versa. Is the skill set all that different between those positions?

It does seem the secondary gets sorted out more in college than offensive line. Johnson is a prime example. He played a fifth season at Iowa State to test drive a new position and the decision paid off. On the other hand, Micah Hyde is a defensive back who many draftniks thought may be better suited to play safety at the NFL level. I'm sure his 40 time at the combine influenced that, but I also feel Hyde's football IQ and savviness are better utilized on the back end. I get Casey Hayward's recurring hamstring issues in 2013 factored into how much Hyde played in the slot, but a part of me will always wonder if both he and the Packers would have been better off just installing Hyde at safety on Day 1 and weathering the early turbulence.

Rudy from Rhinelander, WI

The Packers' path to success seems pretty clear "STOP THE RUN, STOP THE RUN." D-line and ILB have to be near the top of the wish list. This has been a "thorn in the side" for years and through three defensive coordinators. Other teams seem to figure it out, why can't the Packers get it done?

Have they? Kansas City was second in the NFL in both total yards and scoring defense in 2023 but ranked 18th against the run and 24th in yards allowed per carry. Top-ranked Baltimore was 14th against the run and 25th in yards allowed per carry. Defenses need to stop the run, but sometimes this narrative gets overblown. Since 2000, statistics show teams don't stand much of a chance at advancing to the Super Bowl if they struggle to defend the pass and generate takeaways.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

Since Aaron Hill is a new coach, can he have contact with players and give suggestions on things to work on, or does he have to wait till the team gathers for the first time? Example: Suggesting to Christian Watson what he can do to strengthen his hamstrings?

There's a time to walk and a time to run, and we're very much in the walking phase right now. Every incoming coach has enough on their plate before April 15 arrives. Once the offseason program is here, there will be plenty of time for new coaches to begin cultivating relationships and having more specific conversations with players.

Mark from Westminster, CO

I am happy that LaFleur decided to go in a different direction with his strength-and-conditioning coach. I'm reminded that Tramon Williams spent a lot of time doing yoga and he seemed to escape a lot of injury after his shoulder healed.

Williams put in the work, but his genetics also were incredible. He was the perfect blend of dedication and unreal physical makeup. But yes, yoga is very helpful. I think Jaire Alexander would attest to that.

Sean from Palatine, IL

Speaking of primetime games, what matchups would you put on primetime if you were the schedule maker? The Texans and 49ers visiting Lambeau seem like excellent candidates.

Both would be at the top of my list, along with Indianapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles Rams.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Last week I read an ESPN article where they had 11 of their "experts" make their way too early Super Bowl picks. Three of the 11 had GB in the SB and five had Detroit in the SB. That's a lot of "proper recognition" for the NFC North. It will be interesting to see how the Lions handle the full weight of expectation this season.

The higher you climb, the farther there is to fall.

Terry from Rochester, MN

I really like our current young wide receivers. They have a lot of hype to go along with giving us some real excitement in looking forward. Can you tell me the difference(s) between the current crop of youngsters and some of the other young receivers in the past (example: Geronimo Allison) who also displayed some talent, but eventually the Packers moved on.

Athleticism, size, and speed. No disrespect to G-Mo, but he was an undrafted free agent. Presently, the Packers have seven receivers on their roster who were drafted into the NFL. They're all 24 years old or younger and pushing each other for a finite number of opportunities.

Phil from Paris, IL

Wes, I was wondering what was your impression about Alex McGough this year? Do you think he looks like a solid developmental prospect? I have always been fascinated by spring leagues like the XFL or USFL and how great they are for getting guys some reps and game tape. Do you look for him to make a big jump this year? I thought he looked great in the USFL but it's always hard to tell how it will translate to the big leagues. Thank you so much for what you guys do!

It was great seeing McGough and Daniel Whelan parlay a spring-league job into an NFL roster spot in the fall. I hope we see more players like that this year. I still don't have a firm grasp of McGough's game, though, after seeing him throw five passes last preseason. With how practice-squad rules have changed over the last decade, it makes sense to have a more veteran player as that QB3. He clearly fits into that quarterback room with Jordan Love and Sean Clifford. He also has impeccable fashion sense.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

"The event (combine) will never have the fanfare of the NFL Draft." If gambling were legal at Bushwood, I'd be willing to put a wager on the NFL's ability to create a new giant event outside of its season. I think you underestimate their power.

Perhaps, but my evaluation is based on watching spectators in Indy over the past decade. I will say it does seem the combine is a hit with the middle-aged autograph-seekers. So, they have that going for them…

John from McHenry, IL

OK, the photo of Mike and Wes are on the wall at my house. I need Larry up there, too. How do I track him down at training camp this year? Can I find him in the weight room?

I can't get you into the weight room, but Larry is always around during camp. He's a man of the people. You'll spot him if you look hard enough. By the way, you also need a Robert Tonyan photo if it's not already on the mantel.

Clipton from Pasadena, CA

Hi Wes. I used to question the automatic first down element of the defensive holding penalty until I realized the reasoning. It prevents the defense from wrapping up the receivers at the line of scrimmage on third-and-long plays thus giving up a five-yard penalty but denying the offense a first down.

OK…but then the third-and-long becomes third-and-manageable/short, no? And if the contact is too egregious, then it should be defensive pass interference if the ball comes the receiver's way. What am I missing?

Al from Green Bay, WI

Wes, bad news: You've been released as the Vikings GM. Good news: The Bears saw your obvious talent and snatched you up to be their GM. Your first assignment is to figure out what to do with Justin Fields. Tab his as your QB of the future and build around him? Keep him and use him in a Taysom Hill type roll? Trade him to the highest bidder? It's your move, Wes!

I would keep Fields and draft Marvin Harrison Jr., but I don't think that's what Chicago will do. I'm expecting Caleb Williams in a Bears uniform next year and Fields getting a fresh start elsewhere. Using Fields like Hill wouldn't be fair. He's a top-15 quarterback in the NFL.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

I feel like this HB draft class is being severely underrated, particularly pertaining to what Green Bay potentially needs if AJ Dillon doesn't come back. If we do in fact lose Dillon, I really, really like two specific replacements in this draft: Braelon Allen and Audric Estime. The fact Allen is barely 20 years old is so enticing. Estime has great production in college. Both players are big, bruising runners that could maybe replace a big hole for Green Bay.

Both could be realistic options on Day 3, which is where I'd be drafting a running back (or two) if Dillon isn't re-signed. Shoot, the Packers triple-downed on the backfield on Day 3 in 2017 and that marked a turning point for Green Bay. Maybe they go that route again? Either way, Braelon Allen is a name we'll write often in months ahead.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Hi Wes, I agree the combine should stay in Indy. It seems perfectly equipped for all aspects. Have you had a chance to attend a draft in-person? Either way, I imagine you are excited for the 2025 draft.

I am excited for 2025 and also quite sure that will be the first and last NFL Draft I ever attend.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

I recently saw a picture of Don Shula being hired in 1970 to coach the Miami Dolphins. The caption read that as part of his agreement he was given 10 percent ownership of the team. Color me stunned and curious. To the best of your knowledge, has any other coach received such compensation when hired?

No, and I don't see that happening anytime soon with how the price of an NFL franchise has ballooned. Professional football is a much different business today than it was 50 years ago.

Chef David from Chestertown, MD

"I'm not slinging paint at the wall just to color it." I'm appreciative that you're more of a LeRoy Nieman painting pictures with words than a Jackson Pollack foisting chaotic click-bait upon us.

Just trying to cook something worth eating, Chef. Have a great Wednesday.

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