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Inbox: They believe in their process

It’s not the same game

Packers Draft Room
Packers Draft Room

JoAnne from Seattle, WA

Will you be using your house as a rental when the 775,000 folks descend on Green Bay?

Well, unless I'm getting that weekend off, I'll still need a place in town to live.

Mark from Carlsville, WI

At this point is it safe to say it doesn't make any difference how a player ended up on the 90-man roster (picked too high, too low or not drafted at all), it's how they play now that they are wearing green and gold?

Pretty much. Plenty of deference at roster cutdowns is given to the early and mid-round draft picks in whom a significant investment has been made, but at the end of the day, the best players will play.

Matt from Kula, HI

If I remember correctly, the knock on Bakhtiari when he was drafted was that his arms are too short to play tackle. It seems that he was able to overcome that handicap as I'm sure Morgan will. Makes you wonder whether that metric should even be as prominent as some of the media draft experts would have us believe.

It was said about Bulaga even more prominently than Bakhtiari. It is an issue that has to be overcome. Some players have enough other strengths to overcome it, some don't. It's always about the whole package, not one piece.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

I know the draft is over but I have one more draft question. When a team trades back we can assume there are a number of players rated similarly. Giving them the confidence that depending how far back they move one of those players will still be available. With this in mind we can look at the trade back in the second round. After McKinstry, would the Packers have been happy to draft anyone who was selected between then and when they grabbed Cooper? Closest we'll ever get to "seeing" the board?

It was interesting that as soon as the Packers traded back from 41, three corners went right in a row – Kool-Aid, Georgia's Kamari Lassiter, and Rutgers' Max Melton. Then Oregon OL Jackson Powers-Johnson at 44 right before the Cooper pick. I don't know if all those guys were on the Packers' board for that area of the draft, but that high up (early 40s), it's a good bet there was at least some overlap between the board and the players taken.

Mike from Aurora, IL

I'm not sure if you can answer this or if the question was asked. Had the Lions not jumped up and grabbed Arnold at 24 and he had been available, is Morgan still the pick?

Again, only the Shadow (or in this case Gutey) knows.

Ned from Laguna Woods, CA

Having been born in Milwaukee and devoted to the Packers and the NFL since the '50s, it now seems obvious the "best player available" mantra no longer really applies. While there are obvious degrees of difference among the draftees, that degree is way less than even 10 years ago; they are all bigger, faster, stronger, better coached and ready to play now.

I'd say many are readier to play now, but the jump from the college ranks to the NFL is still massive. It's played with the same ball and number of players, but it's not the same game.

Geoff from Caledonia, WI

Hi II. Please shed some light on Josh Myers' situation. I keep reading articles in regards to other players taking the center position. I think JM has been doing a very good job at center? Why replace him?

We'll see what happens this year. I don't know if the Packers ultimately will replace him or not. But he's in the final year of his contract, just like Runyan was last year, and if you have young, viable options waiting in the wings, you can keep the long-term cost at that position low.

Randy from Mora, MN

On June 1 will the Packers gain cap space with the deferred releases of Campbell and Bakhtiari? If so do we know how much or has that been accounted for already?

Only Campbell was designated as a post-June 1 cut. When that date rolls around, about $10M in cap space will be freed up, but Campbell will count roughly $8M in dead money in 2025.

Kellie from Bagley, WI

Another draft, another bunch of players I've never heard of (with a couple exceptions) – competition aplenty for the upcoming training camp. Do you think the draft grades, prognosticators, and generally the whole media coverage is a bunch of baloney or do they really not understand the develop part of drafting? Some of these players change quite a bit in the weight room as well as on the field after they are drafted. We must have a good group of coaches and solid culture in the program.

It's a crystal ball business, and projections vary widely. That's why no two draft boards are alike. Also, as I explained Monday and again on "Unscripted," the way the Packers value positional versatility, leadership, and Senior Bowl performance produces an overall evaluation different from others. Is it infallible? No, but they believe in their process and abide by it.

Scott from Tukwila, WA

Greetings II. I was wondering if you could touch on what the future for nondrafted free agents looks when it comes to the overall free-agent picture. What is the length of these contracts they sign? When do they become a true free agent? Are they also subject to being unrestricted free agents and the like? Thank you for choosing to tackle this.

Leaguewide, undrafted rookies sign contracts anywhere from 1-3 years in length. Longer than a year often means the team is banking on them making the squad, so one-year deals are typical. After three accrued seasons comes restricted free agency, then after four (if a long-term deal isn't reached) they become unrestricted.

Bill from Clive, IA

Having just read the article on this year's set of UDFAs, the reference to them "signing contracts" made me wonder: What is typically in those things for compensation? Can't be much until they either make the practice squad or the 53, but … is there typically enough cash in those contracts so that these guys can put food on the table and a roof over their heads until training camp is over and the roster is set?

Most get a modest signing bonus – some more than others – and all players are paid a CBA-mandated per diem for rookie minicamp, the team's mandatory June minicamp, and during training camp. Veteran players get a higher per diem than rookies for the latter two.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

I had to go watch the Falcons GM and head coach press conference after they drafted Penix. I can't imagine sitting in that seat answering the questions they had to. But they claimed they don't intend to have this high of a draft pick again in a long time, so they had to ensure they got their guy. Talk about pressure. I'm glad Gute and Mark Murphy have a great relationship that makes decisions like that easier and hopefully that transitions with the next CEO.

In the three prior years, the Falcons spent a No. 4 overall pick at TE (Kyle Pitts), a No. 8 at WR (Drake London) and another No. 8 at RB (Bijan Robinson) – none of which are premium positions – while trying to transition to the post-Matt Ryan era with a third-round QB in Desmond Ridder, which didn't work out. Now they've turned to Kirk Cousins and spent yet another No. 8 overall pick on their future QB, so they don't get caught in another failed transition down the road. The forethought should be applauded.

Bobby from Edina, MN

HodkaSpoff, it makes little to no sense to me that ML and BG can sit and praise Eric Stokes' physical condition, and the effect his play has, when healthy, but to not pick up his fifth-year option seems odd to me. Now I do understand the financial aspect of this, that fifth-year rookie tab for corners is a pretty large price tag, and I know things can change quickly. However to me, this is not exactly a vote of confidence for 21 or the corner room. What gives?

The fifth-year option is simply too big a guarantee to make to a player who has missed the last 1½ seasons due to injury. It's a business decision and is never viewed as a vote of confidence or anything else. It also doesn't preclude the player from returning after Year 4. It would just be at a different price. Believe me, the Packers would love nothing more than for Stokes to absolutely ball out this year and make the fifth-year option look like a bargain compared to what he might command. That would be a tremendous problem to have.

Samuel from Skokie, IL

Spoff put MarShawn Lloyd on the 53 before he has gone to a practice. I assume due to his draft status. With that logic, which I agree with, Jordan Morgan will surely start. While we definitely needed depth on the O-line, the current five let up zero sacks in two playoff games. Plus, the run game was working big time. This is a tough business. Who is the odd man out? Morgan is a tackle, can he play inside?

He can, but Morgan will be forced to win a starting job regardless. He won't just be handed one because he's a first-round pick. Rashan Gary played 24% of the defensive snaps as a rookie. Van Ness 33% last year. The Packers are fine with developing first-round picks at their pace, and we also saw last year they aren't against rotations/platoons on the offensive line if that fosters better development and competition.

Jake from Decatur, GA

All the talk about the importance of character and Gutekunst's penchant for tripling up at certain positions in the draft makes me wonder. Do you think Gutey has the former in mind when he does the latter? Creating so much sudden competition at a position seems to me it would bring out not just the best in the players' abilities but also their character. It's almost like he's challenging the Day 1 guys to stay humble, for example.

Interesting thought. There's likely some truth to that.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, players play to win championships, build their brand/notoriety, and to make money. That said, I don't see many players choosing to wear the Guardian cap … until they make it look better. Just look at the gameday fits and all the thought they put into those. Until the league gives them no choice, I would anticipate very few wearing them.

You may be right, but there are a lot of little-known guys in this league who aren't making any money off their brand and might see the option as a way to prolong their careers.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

Regarding Jordan Love's ability to avoid sacks, one thing that stood out for me last year was Love's ability to make strong throws while going backwards. In essence, Love extended the pocket backwards. Can you recall any other QB that would the backside of the pocket to extend plays as well as Love does?

Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers come to mind.

Darin from Elgin, IL

I've felt that Ted Thompson found a lot of overachievers in the late rounds and as undrafted players that played a lot of snaps because of their character and football IQ. I've also felt it sometimes cost the Packers in game situations when our average athletic players (by NFL standards) just couldn't keep up with an elite opponent. Does it seem like Gutey still seeks the same football characteristics but is also making sure the players on the field can keep up with the opponent athletically?

Oftentimes players are late-round picks or undrafted precisely because their athletic profile doesn't match up. Not all, but many. Undrafted finds who take no back seat athletically like Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are the exception, not the rule.

Brian from Sussex, WI

The ACL injury status has been noted as a possible reason for not drafting an edge player. With switch to 4-3, could there be a possibility of any of the interior linemen getting situational snaps at DE? Players like Wooden, Brooks, and/or Wyatt could potentially play end in running situations and tackle in passing situations.

Entirely possible, and yes, situational only. They'd also have to prove to be effective and we may not know that until well into the season.

Dan from Richmond, VA

Because I'm too lazy to do my own research (which would probably be wrong anyway), any idea as to the etymological origin of the different flavors of linebackers known as Mike, Will and Sam? I was reminded of these terms in the synopsis of Edgerrin (don't call me James) Cooper, but they seem to have no obvious football connotation. Since words are right in your wheelhouse, can you shed any light?

It's just based on the first letter. M for middle linebacker, W for weak side, S for strong side. Why those names in particular and not Mark, Wes and Steve? Dunno.

Doug from Roberts, WI

Spoff and Hod, I am very excited to see how the D develops this season with the infusion of draft picks, plus the new defensive staff. Last year it took X amount of games for it to click for the offense. Do you think the defense will follow the same trajectory as the offense last year (being better late in the season), or show more immediate change because there are more veterans on that side of the ball?

Ideally, it'll be both. I think it's possible to be both.

Mick from Altamonte Springs, FL

I watched the ESPN SEC Network Bart Starr story the other day and the young team comment in today's II got me thinking. How will LaFleur choose to motivate them going into this season after the success of last year? My initial thought was to beat them down, like Vince would have. The times however have changed, those tactics won't work in 2024. It will be interesting to see how he chooses to lead.

I expect him to be the same leader he always has, which is one who holds players accountable whether winning or losing, in good times or bad. One thing you can't do in this league as a leader is change your stripes. Professional athletes will see through anybody trying to fake it or act phony. If LaFleur suddenly becomes a different type of leader, that won't work.

Ray from West Des Moines, IA

Any possibility the Packers could make their Guardian caps look like cheeseheads?

Happy Friday.

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