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Inbox: This defense has all the makings of a dangerous unit

A few key players can go a long way towards solving this riddle

LB Preston Smith & DL Kenny Clark
LB Preston Smith & DL Kenny Clark

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Welcome back Mike, out of curiosity I checked to see when the Packers are scheduled to play AFC West teams. Should I tell everyone or would you like to do the honors?

Unfortunately, you're still stuck with me for two more days. But yes, the Packers play the AFC West next year (2023). The Packers travel to Denver and Vegas.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

I'm excited about all major contributors on last year's defense are back. Some more beef upfront is needed but we are already looking at a unit with a lot of potential. At this point in the offseason, do you see any other needs on that side of the ball?

The offense is in for a major adjustment without Davante Adams, but this defense has all the makings of a dangerous unit. Losing Za'Darius Smith hurts, but Rashan Gary is a grown (up) man now. The Packers are stacked at corner with weekend reports of Rasul Douglas' return. All that's needed is reinforcements at a few spots – a rotational interior lineman, an extra edge rusher and maybe a safety considering the Packers don't have one under contract for 2023 at the moment.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

I'm trying to figure out if the Packers are more likely to add a veteran receiver or look to the draft. Don't they necessarily have to consider what Aaron Rodgers wants?

I think the free-agency route hinges on whether Marquez Valdes-Scantling is re-signed. If all the Packers lose is Adams, then I think it would a great time to draft a receiver in the first two rounds. They haven't done it since selecting Adams in the second round in 2014. If MVS is back, the Packers have ample experience at receiver with him, and Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard slated to be back in 2022.

Mark from Ocala, FL

The Packers could have been a different team in '22 had it not been for the major accomplishments to restructure, re-sign, and keep the nucleus of a successful team intact. Kudos to the BG and the entire staff as well as players to restructure. This question is looking forward to the upcoming draft. Is it the Packers' philosophy to follow a "best player available" approach initially or draft for need at WR, or edge rusher first and then supplement accordingly? Can't say enough about II…AWESOME!

The beautiful thing about receiver is you can pretty much find a talented one in any round. If the Packers opt against drafting a wideout in the first two rounds, they won't have to stretch far to find one in Round 3 or beyond. James Jones was a third-rounder, MVS was in the fifth and Donald Driver was taken in the seventh. It's not always easy to unearth the gem but I promise there's one down there.

George from Kennebunkport, ME

Living in New England, I've been reminded (frequently) of the Patriots' success over the past two decades and they've rarely had what you would consider an elite receiver. I am not saying the Packers won't end up with one (although tough to replace Adams). But, if they don't, I have to believe the offense can be adapted to an approach that distributes the ball effectively. We have won without Adams. Some people might even argue more of that approach might have been helpful against the 49ers.

The Packers should take a Jason Giambi/Moneyball approach to this, where the A's turned to three players (Scott Hatteberg, David Justice and Jeremy Giambi) to help replace a league MVP. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will be part of that, and Robert Tonyan, too. Finding a few key players can go a long way towards solving this riddle.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

We once heard "Kuhn" and now we will hear "Rasul"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'

A tremendous story gets even better. Douglas didn't come off the street and contribute. He came off the street and dominated. It's cool to see his late-night Lambeau hustle rewarded. The Packers better make sure they're current with their WPS bill next season.

John from Livermore, CA

Happy to hear that cornerback Rasul Douglas is back. How would you rate the teams moves so far?

The Packers have lost some good football players, but that was to be expected with how precarious the cap looked at the end of the season. However, they've managed to add two high draft picks while maintaining their nucleus. Bringing back De'Vondre Campbell was a must. The same goes for Douglas and Tonyan. If either of those guys moved on, it wouldn't have been easy to immediately fill their posts.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark during the 2021 season.

Visti from Farum, Denmark

First, a big thanks to No. 17 for eight years of memories.

And a class act if he truly desired to play in Silver and Black.

Of course, a step down from Gold and Green. But my question to you the II gurus is, are first- and a second-round picks a fair prize for the best receiver, when a top of the middle-tier QB netted three firsts?

QBs are king. The Cowboys got a fifth for Amari Cooper and the Rams netted a sixth for Robert Woods. I think the Packers did just fine with a first and a second for Adams.

Jeff from Montclair, VA

I'd like to offer a different take on the "retooling" of the special teams, especially the kicking unit. Multiple changes in long snappers and holders over the past few years have hurt Mason Crosby's production and reliability because of the lack of consistency from year to year. Yes? No? I'm off to a Dog and Suds to get me a root beer.

I'm sure Mason would label that an excuse, especially since he's dealt with in-season changes at long snapper and holder before. However, I don't see how it couldn't have affected Crosby at some level. There was a lot of turbulence on the field-goal unit last season, all the way down to the different linemen in protection.

Andy from Appleton, WI

Can you speculate on why the Packers traded '17,' instead of waiting for an offer sheet from the Raiders? The difference being an additional first- and second-round pick the Packers would've received.

As you know I'm not in the speculation business…I'm in the empire, I mean, Inbox business. Remember the Raiders had a full month (April 22) to extend an offer sheet to Adams. If this is how it was going to go down, I think it was wise for the Packers to move Adams and focus on retaining other key free agents. If the Packers sat idle and waited for an offer sheet, Adams' price tag would create another cap obstacle.

Dale from Saint Cloud, WI

How much could the Packers move up by combining a first and a second?

Based on DraftTek's draft-value chart, pairing the Raiders' first- and second-round picks would net Green Bay the 13th-overall pick, moving up nine spots.

Chuck from Santa Ana, CA

What kind of draft capital would be needed to move up to the Top 10? What would be required to move both our first round picks up five places? Approximately what choice will we find the next Justin Jefferson/Ja'Marr Chase?

Based on same source, it would take either the two first-rounders or the Raiders' first-rounder and the two seconds.

Phil from Madison, WI

So now we all get to put in our zero cents worth, because I know it's not even worth the proverbial two cents, but I would love to see what Christian Watson could do in Green Bay: 6-foot-4 with a 4.28 40 and 38½-inch vertical, and a top return man to boot. I know his competition at NDSU was not the SEC but look at what we've found before at Alcorn State, San Jose State, Western Michigan, and of course Fresno State. If nothing else, multiple high picks sure makes the run-up to the draft more fun.

Green Bay or not, I can't wait to watch Watson in the league. It's also cool that aside from maybe a Garrett Wilson, I think really any receiver could be in play for the Packers if they want to end that streak of 20 years without taking a receiver in the first round.

Steve from Kansas City, MO

I know teams aren't allowed to tamper with players, but can a player do so? It seems Derek Carr and Adams had a plan – including buying a house in Vegas – long before the legal tampering period started. What's up with that?

I don't know about all that, but we do live in America. NFL players are permitted to speak to each other.

Erick from Portland, OR

In Wes' answer to Brandon from MO, he said scouts will be looking for the next Adams, Nelson, Jennings, Jones, Cobb. It is worth pointing out those receivers (except Tae) fizzled once they left the Pack, and two were very happy to return to quality QB play, allowing their talents to shine once again. This offseason, Cobb took a pay cut to stick with a QB with which he has a rapport and can be relevant (thanks Cobb!). With no disrespect to Tae, we can expect a similar outcome.

To be fair to Davante, he's probably the best of that bunch. Several of those guys have even said that on the record. Adams also is playing with his college QB again. I think he'll do well in Vegas…and that's OK.

Tom from Two Rivers, WI

I can't help feeling as if the Packers have just stolen the Raiders' lunch for the next few years. What must happen for this to become reality?

That doesn't concern me. Again, I hope Adams does well, but other than potentially seeing him in a Super Bowl, his production no longer directly impacts the Packers. You know what does? Those two picks, which could contribute towards Green Bay hoisting another Lombardi Trophy in the next 1-3 years. That's where the focus needs to be now.

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

What are the odds both Davante Adams and David Bakhtiari both make into the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday?

I really like Bakhtiari's chances. I think he's the best left tackle of his era. He's 30 and already been voted to five All-Pro Teams, including two first teams. Andre Reed makes it possible for any All-Pro receiver to get in, but the problem for Adams is how many talented and productive receivers there have been over the past 20 years. For example, Reggie Wayne had more than 14,000 receiving yards in his career and was recording 1,300-yard seasons at 34 years old. He's still waiting to get in. These next two or three years will be critical for Adams to mount a case for Canton.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers LB Preston Smith through the years

Paul from West Allis, WI

Good morning insiders and on to another day! With all the extensions, restructuring, departures, HOF addition for the Packers and more to come with additional picks in the draft...I hope the two of you plan on a podcast soon or you may not be able to address everything. Yes/No? Take a breath and digest?

It has nothing to do with digestion. It has everything to do with the fact there's only two of us and we each have to eat our own PTO elephants. Truthfully, we're probably three weeks away from a new episode of "Unscripted." Over the last two months, Spoff and I have been in the office at the same time for maybe a total of two days.

Jeff from Omaha, NE

With so many payers changing teams, which position (excluding QBs) has the hardest transition learning curve from one system to another? Receivers learning new route concepts? Linemen with different blocking schemes? LB or DB playing a different coverage scheme or responsibility? Players are so skilled and talented I always wonder how difficult those transitions are.

Based on conversations I've had with players over the years, I developed a rule of thumb for the difficulty positional prospects face transitioning to the NFL. Aside from QB, I think it goes outside-to-inside: Receivers and corners, tight ends and linebackers/safeties, and then running backs and linemen. That's not to say those final two are "easy," but I think you can lean more on your instincts and intangibles at those positions until the rest takes hold.

Simon from Holland, MI

Now that Deshaun Watson has gone to Cleveland, what will happen to the 'At Home with Baker Mayfield' Progressive commercials?

I don't know, but wherever Baker goes, I hope he kills it. I still feel like he was the right QB for that team and that city. The Browns disagreed, I guess.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Any idea who the career sack leader, all time, for the Alliance of American Football (AAF) league? Insider Inbox favorite Jayrone Elliott, with 7½ sacks in eight games! Best Jayrone story?

I've said this before but Jayrone saying he was too nervous to introduce himself to Julius Peppers when he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014. That one still pops me. I also will never forget the locker room going nuts for Elliott after his big game against Seattle in 2015. Clay Matthews and a few others were laughing and taking photos of the sea of media surrounding Jayrone after the game.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi II, I was deeply saddened by the passing of John Clayton over the weekend. "The Professor" was a great commentator and had great evaluations and insights…67 is way too young! Rest in peace and thank you for your contributions.

I never met John, but I know several NFL writers and ESPN employees who thought the world of the man. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, which part of the Packers' year is your favorite? Regular season? Playoffs? Combine? Draft? Training camp? Outsider Inbox? Preseason? PTO?

Hands down, the playoffs are my favorite time of the year because that's what the game is all about. It's not about money. It's not about hours. It's all for glory and love of the game. Training camp is my least favorite time because it's such a grind. The veteran scribes will say, 'Well, back in my day, we had two-a-day practices.' Well, you know what you didn't have? Twitter…and "Packers Unscripted," "Three Things," "Packers Daily," and for six-day-a-week fan Q&A… and the Packers Gameday program…and daily coverage of the team…shall I continue?

Richard from Madison, WI

"Randall Cobb ... reminded me of the movie 'Seabiscuit,' one of my wives and my favorite movies." I would've wondered which one of his wives Randall reminded him of. Or perhaps he meant "wife's", but you would've edited that, wouldn't you?

Nope. I wasn't touching that one.

Mark from Carmel, IN

Wes, nice plug for one of the coolest shows I've ever seen! KA is unbelievable.

Last performance I saw before the pandemic. I saw it on a Monday and the U.S. locked down Friday.

Scott from Salem, OR

Whatever the Hod-Signal is, we need it on a tee-shirt. Maybe a football with the No. 36 on it, sailing through laser goalposts?

Not bad, Scott. Not bad.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

If we have a dearth of receivers as the season approaches, do you see the Packers converting Aaron Jones to receiver and, if so, would he have to change his number?

It's Monday…which means last week is officially behind us. Have a great week, everybody.