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Inbox: This draft class has it all

The 2021 season was a masterclass in how to handle adversity

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams
Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

With the price of DoorDash on the rise, being a good home chef is worth its weight in gold. Let Gute Cook!

Louder…for the naysayers in the back.

James from Appleton, WI

Before the wheels fell off of Mike McCarthy's tenure, to his credit, his Packers teams always seemed better at the end of the season than how they began. We may see a similar process unfolding this season, but we may also find out for sure that Coach LaFleur has the magic sauce for coming out of the gate strong (last year's Saints game notwithstanding). What's been the key for LaFleur being able to have the Packers hit the ground running?

Good coaching and preparation. I think LaFleur, Chris Gizzi and the rest of the Packers' strength-and-conditioning staff do a great job of getting this team as close to 100% as possible for the regular season. The healthier you are, the faster you'll play. When injuries finally hit this past year, Green Bay's coaches had those next men up ready to play. The 2021 season was a masterclass in how to handle adversity.

Ralph from Mönchengladbach, Germany

Hello Insiders, special teams were a problem child last season and the front office is addressing that, obviously. But your answer in yesterday's Inbox as to why to go for two after an OT touchdown reminded me of another problem (may be said too much) last season: red-zone efficiency. This has to improve, too, if you confidently want to go for two. Any inside how this can be addressed? Better OL play for the run, leading to a more dangerous run game that has to be respected and so generates space for WRs?

Successful red-zone offenses can do it all – they can run against heavy boxes and beat zone coverage through the air. In 2020, the Packers did both with surprising ease and historic efficiency. Green Bay didn't reach that level of execution last year, but I don't think a major overhaul is required. Randall Cobb and Robert Tonyan back is big for the red-zone offense. Both players have a knack for finding space in close quarters. David Bakhtiari certainly provides increased stability on the offensive line, as well.

Jayson from Fayetteville, NC

Wes, thanks for your answer yesterday. Based on it, I have a follow up. You mentioned you haven't been face-to-face with some of the past two rookie classes. Is there a veteran still on the team that you miss interacting with at that level? Switch in topics, speaking of fish, I'm from Michigan. So, I really miss me some Walleye, Bluegill, Perch, and Whitefish, what are your favorites to broil?

Perch and bluegill, baby. A few weeks ago, I would have said Lucas Patrick but unfortunately, he's now a Bear. Marcedes Lewis is the obvious answer. On top of being a fascinating dude, Lewis is also a huge UFC fan. We've had some great conversations about MMA over the years.

Ralph from Naples, FL

Wes, your answer to Robert from Verona got me thinking. Would you include Aaron Rodgers in your list of people who benefited from a scheme change? He was trending down until MLF came to town and now he has two more MVPs. Also, do you do Wordle?

I refuse to do Wordle. Rodgers has won two MVPs in LaFleur's three years as head coach, so I definitely think Rodgers has benefited from the switch. It goes back to what we wrote when LaFleur was hired – sometimes you need to change things up to avoid getting stale. The beauty of LaFleur's scheme is it's creative enough to make Rodgers' life easier as a QB but it also doesn't prevent Rodgers from doing what he does best.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

In regards to reporters returning to locker rooms, please do let us know how you feel about finally standing with AJ Dillon in-person. I hadn't actually made that connection based off of time in league until you mentioned it.

I'm sure I'll look small. Wanna know something crazy? LaFleur hadn't even led the Packers into a game the last time the NFL Annual Meetings were held in-person. Fast-forward to today and the guy has won more regular-season games than any other NFL coach during his first three seasons. It's been a long two years.

Brian from Sussex, WI

"Face to face," do you bring a stool with you to the locker room? FYI, I'm on your level. I was at a restaurant once and the OL was there. I was coming out of the bathroom just as Frank Winters was coming in and I found myself more face to chest than face to face with him, and he was a "small" lineman.

Football players are big people, but I've also covered 7-foot basketball players and 5-foot wrestlers. On the surface, height is never really something I think much about. But watching the combination of size, speed and physicality on field level is the most awe-inspiring thing for me. If you have the means, try to get field-level tickets to an NFL game just once in your life. It could even be preseason. It gives me heart palpitations watching the game in that way. It's some of the strongest, toughest and fastest humans alive going to battle in real time. I wouldn't be able to gain a single yard.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Yes, Vic famously said that receivers are a dime a dozen. But that was several years ago, and inflation has taken hold. Today he might say they are a quarter a dozen. I believe a great quarterback can make an average receiver into a star more than a great receiver can make an average quarterback into a star. What is your take?

There's truth to what you're saying, but it is fun when you get the best of both worlds like the Packers had with Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, and Rodgers and Adams.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Hi Wes! The ball distribution in the passing game should be interesting to see this year. Do you see the TEs getting more involved and will Josiah Deguara get more opportunity with Bobby out for likely the first half of the season? He's still my guy that I believe will have a breakout season given the chance.

One year removed from knee surgery, Deguara will factor more into the offense this season but it's worth pointing out he is more of a 'F' tight end than Tonyan. So, I wouldn't necessarily judge his production by having 100 yards and two touchdowns. Deguara is an important piece to the offense, though. He's versatile, aggressive and plays to the whistle.

Mark from Iron Mountain, MI

To all those who think signing a free-agent WR or trading for one is the way to go. All you will be getting is a malcontent or a player on the downside of his career. Draft a couple WRs and you can have them for several more years without wasting money or draft picks.

There is some grey area in-between those two extremes, but I agree with the underlying premise of your submissions. Draft-and-develop isn't dead. It's alive and well. A year from now, we may look back and realize it was the answer to the questions fans are asking right now.

Tom from Stevens Point, WI

Let's play a game of pretend. Let's pretend the season starts today. Who are our starting wide receivers?

Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and probably Malik Taylor as the No. 3. People forget how fast Taylor is. If you're asking for an '11' personnel formation, I'd have Taylor slotted in that MVS role at the moment.

Tony from Appleton, WI

I just want to get this in before it actually happens. The Packers and Will Fuller V will agree on a deal soon. He has the speed the Packers want and should be cheap after his Miami stint and his injury history. Also, the Packers already showed interest a couple seasons ago.

II ombuds-people, put a pin in this one for later.

Jeff from Champlin, MN

Jameson Williams (speedy and productive) is the guy to go get with the first first-round pick. Yes, he'll miss a month or two, but the wait will be worth it. The Pack may need to jump ahead of the Pats (currently at No. 21) to get him. Would No. 22 and one of their fourth-rounders get this done?

I wouldn't be opposed to drafting Williams. He's a game-changer and worth the injury risk if he slips into the 20s. Based on DraftTek's draft-value chart, it might take both fourth-rounders (856 points with No. 22 pick) to move ahead of New England. Pittsburgh's No. 20 pick is valued at 850. Williams or no Williams, the good news for Green Bay is receivers are not in short supply this year. This draft class has it all. There's a WR prospect for every type of offense.

Josh from Seattle, WA

I would way rather go with the big guy to kick off the draft. It's not a sexy pick, but it's the better philosophy. I think finding another stud to rotate on the DL or OT to push Yosh Nijman and Elgton Jenkins is a better first round investment than a WR who has to become the guy to justify the 22nd pick. Taking two WRs in second round sounds good to me, both get to be complimentary pieces that build a solid career. Sound good to the II GMs?

That's what makes the lead-up to the NFL Draft both compelling and silly. Over the next month, we'll talk through all these scenarios and 99% will get extinguished in the blink of an eye April 28. But it is fun to talk about.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentleman: As a former high school football coach I wondered why the 40-yard dash time was so important for lineman. I asked a former NFL father and son players from our hometown wouldn't the four-foot dash time be more important? They both agreed. If you don't get into the defensive lineman first, you will be in for a long possession.

I agree to a certain point. But you also have to recognize a guy like Terron Armstead, who put himself on the map when he ran a 4.71 in the 40 at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. Since then, he's gone from a small-school third-round pick to a three-time Pro Bowl left tackle. Everything matters in the pre-draft process. You just have to take each part with a grain of salt.

Philip from Sydney, Australia

Maybe I missed his name in recent IIs, but it feels like Javon Walker has been expunged from conversations about high picks at receiver.

I think it's because Walker predates the Ted Thompson Era and he only played three seasons with Green Bay. That's why his name tends to only pop up when people ask about the last time the Packers drafted a receiver in the first round.

Deb from Green Bay, WI

Just an observation about the question from Rob in Verona about any players that benefited from a different system. I always felt badly for Ron Dayne and his NFL career. I have thought that a different team/coach may have elevated his career. He was such a force in college.

And then when it finally looked like Dayne found the right system in Denver, he got hurt and the Broncos went in another direction at running back.

Jordan from Berlin, WI

I love the comment about "Red" I always look for him on the sideline. My mother-in-law works for Ripon Athletic and he always buy lunch for ladies that sew and make the packers team jersey's. He is the Green and Gold. How long has he been the Packers' equipment manager? It seems like forever.

Red has worked in the NFL for 41 years. He's been the Packers' equipment manager for the past 28 years. Before that, he spent 13 seasons with the Houston Oilers (1981-93).

John from Wilmington, NC

If Trent Dilfer has taught us anything, it's you can win the big one with a C+ offense as long as the defense plays lights out. The offense is as close as it needs to be, it has been for years. The Defense is knocking on the door, draft or sign a premier edge or middle contain and open the door.

It doesn't happen often, but I personally love when teams make Super Bowl runs without a traditional franchise QB. Baltimore did it with Trent Dilfer. The Bucs won it all with Brad Johnson a few years later. Nick Foles captured lightning in a bottle with the Eagles. Those unexpected seasons can often lead to a shift in how teams are built.

Russ from Henrico, VA

With due respect to Jeff from Wentzville, MO, the Lions won four NFL championships and have been in the NFL since 1930.

I should've switched that to Super Bowls. Truthfully, I just wanted to get on the plane by that point.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom

London…you, Spoff or both?

Hopefully both. Good lord willing.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, did Young Hod help shovel so you and your suntan could get in the driveway when you returned home?

He does enjoy shoveling, but unfortunately, I pulled in close to midnight. He was out cold (no winter pun intended).

David from Green Bay, WI

"Pick another hill to faint on." – Wes H. That's a T-shirt I'd definitely buy. Classic.

Insider Inbox: Occasional wisdom with a never-ending string of T-shirt ideas.

Amy from Aurora, CO

Hey Insiders, no question, but I wanted to thank you for providing a welcome distraction during the offseason. On Tuesday, I said goodbye to my nearly 11-year-old boxer. His name was Driver and had his own Packers gameday wardrobe including a No. 80 jersey. After I took him on his last car ride, I came home and got lost in Insider Inbox and got caught up on my Packers news. Keep on keepin' on and hug your loved ones a little tighter this week for my boy.

I'm so sorry to hear that, Amy. As a dog father myself, I can't imagine how difficult this past week must have been. Thanks for reading. This Inbox is dedicated to you, Driver.

Zack from Onalaska, WI

Well, if they're not going to bring the draft to Green Bay then Green Bay will bring the draft to them. I'm not sure what that really means but it's a good reason to have a tailgating party in Vegas. What do you think?

It sounds to me like you're just looking for an excuse to head to Vegas, Zack. With that, I'm going to catch up on some sleep. Spoff will drive this train to the weekend station.