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Inbox: Welcome to NFL scouting season

Teams separate themselves by seeing in NFL prospects what others might miss 

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Packers GM Brian Gutekunst

Brett from Hagerstown, MD

"There is iron in your words of expectations and therefore iron in your words of the draft."

No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from (personnel) men. Welcome to NFL scouting season!

James from Asheville, NC

If edge rusher and defensive back are the two areas of greatest need in the upcoming draft, which positions at this time do you see at least likely to be addressed? Understanding that free agency and retirements will be huge factors in determining things, are there any areas in which the team is relatively set? The only one I can think of his running back. Thanks in advance.

Inside linebacker, offensive line, running back and quarterback are the first that come to mind. With my prognostication skills (or lack thereof), that probably means those positions will be the Packers' four picks in April. Like you said, how Green Bay tackles its pool of free agents in March likely will set the table for how it handles the draft in April.

Sam from Germantown, WI

What different information on prospects do scouts get from players during the pro days vs. the combine/pre-draft visits? Which do you think is the most valuable?

Pre-draft visits are useful because teams can get a feel for both the player and the person. But of those three scouting opportunities, I'd say pro days are most valuable. That's when personnel people pull out their stopwatches and can dig at under the dirt a little more. They also can chat with college coaches and maybe stumble across an under-the-radar prospect they weren't expecting to catch their eye. Everyone will be watching in Indy, but teams separate themselves by seeing in NFL prospects what others might miss.

Robert from Chandler, AZ

Leaving aside for a moment the Aaron Rodgers/Jordan Love toss-up, what features of the passing game need to improve next year to elevate the Packers' offense?

Just identifying plays for the offense to hang its hat on in key situations. I felt like that was missing part this season. For years, the Packers had unstoppable offensive staples such as quick screens to Davante Adams in short-yard situations, play-action rollouts to Robert Tonyan slants to Allen Lazard and deep shots to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Green Bay's offense moved the ball this year but lacked those "got-to-have-em" plays, particularly in the red zone.

Jeff from Ripon, WI

What would it take for the Packers to host the Super Bowl? I know there has been talk about the NFL draft being held in Green Bay. Is it because of the lack of hotel space?

The city of Green Bay has seen some major developments, especially in the stadium district, but an overall lack of hotel space, the cold-weather climate, and geography make it unlikely that a Super Bowl will be played here in my lifetime. Hosting the NFL Draft is a more realistic goal.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

If you're looking to get away from downtown one night of the combine, there's a restaurant on the east side of Indianapolis that my parents took us to when I was visiting for Thanksgiving called "His Place Eatery." The food is incredible, and the owners just so happen to be the parents of Caleb Jones.

What a cool deal. I'll be sure to check it out.

Rich from De Pere, WI

Call me obstinate, but I think it's a good question so I will ask for the third time...do you think the Packers roster heading into 2021 is closer to the 13-4 team from 2001 or the 8-9 team from 2022? Some think last year was a blip on the screen, while others think we missed our window.

The problem with asking that question now is the variables haven't really changed that much (besides a few voided contracts). I still believe Packers were better than their 8-9 record would suggest but it would be foolish for me to sit here and say they're a 13-4 squad after missing the playoffs. The truth is somewhere in the middle and the moves Brian Gutekunst and Co. make over the next month will determine which direction the needle points going forward.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. Do you remember when the NBA was brainstorming ways to reduce its number of free throw attempts and related game stoppages? One of the ideas was to borrow a page from the NHL and have a five-on-four "power play" instead of turning the game into a free throw shooting contest. While that never happened in the NBA, does the "being a man down" concept have a place in the NFL? How about instead of a 50-yard spot foul for DPI, the next play is 11-on-10? C'mon Insiders...think!

If it's just one play, defenses would gladly take that option over conceding a 50-yard penalty or touchdown. Spot fouls are a necessary evil in the NFL. Otherwise, too many defenses would exploit DPIs. As much as I like your idea, 11-on-10 seems a bit gimmicky to me.

Check out photos of a snow-covered Lambeau Field on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.

Jesse from Bonita Springs, FL

Chris Banjo retires after 10 seasons and is now an assistant special-teams coach for Denver. A perfect example to younger players how they can carve out a career with special teams focus.

This news brought a smile to my face on Friday. Banjo is one of my all-time favorites and a great undrafted success story – an undersized safety who enjoyed a 10-year NFL career after not even signing with a team during his true rookie season in 2012. He'll be a fantastic special-teams coach. Chris' mom would be proud.

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

NFL Europe was a financial failure for the NFL, but Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme and Brad Johnson did show the benefits of having a developmental league. Do you think the NFL would consider a partnership with the USFL or XFL (or both) in a similar capacity if they show promise?

I don't see it happening. There just isn't any incentive for the NFL to dedicate resources to the XFL or USHL when those leagues already operate independently. The NFL already can scout their players from the sidelines and take notes on possible rule changes and interesting broadcast techniques.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

As a techie, I'm excited about having a chip implanted in the football. It would certainly help spot the ball as the chip would be constantly reporting its position. So, while watching a replay to see when the ball carrier's knee is down, there would be a running counter telling exactly where the leading edge of the ball is at every moment. And if the chip knows its direction and position within the football, simple geometry does the rest (even to the thickness of the leather).

Chips don't lie.

Mike from Pewaukee, WI

Peter Schrager of the NFL network, on one of the last episodes of GMFB, suggested a few competitions for the NFL to conduct to fill the offseason void. It reminded me of the game that used to be played where the Super Bowl champion played the college all-stars in an exhibition match. Remember the last time this happened? If I remember this correctly, the last time it was played the Packers lost to the college all-stars.

Don't fear the void. Embrace the void. I enjoy Peter's work, but I also see no reason to "fill" the offseason void. Creating competition for the sake of competition feels like putting a hat on a hat. The NFL already has wall-to-wall coverage of the combine, free agency, draft, and training camp.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Bingo Wes on your answer to Shawn from Kissimmee, Fl. Why people judge others, especially those who have strength of conviction and have reached the point in life where they can make their own choices, is beyond me. I had a guy trying to sell me some advertising once ask me why I didn't want to. I said I don't want or need to, and I make that decision. I asked him wouldn't he like to be in my position? All he could do was laugh and admit it was true.

We are entrenched in one of the deepest dead zones on the NFL calendar, so it shouldn't be surprising that media from coast-to-coast are offering their "take" on Rodgers' off-the-field activities. Maybe I'm showing my age here, but I miss the days when the Super Bowl ended and we all recombobulated for a few weeks before stepping back on the gas pedal.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

Scott and Wes, I appreciate the info on the draft question. I'll make sure to swing by and check it out. Switching gears a little…Wes, I was wondering when you have a big-story looming, such as whether a certain QB is going to play another season or not, do you have an article already written for each of the two possible outcomes? Or do you throw one together from scratch? Or maybe do you use Plan C and pull up an old article from Brett Favre's final days to use as a template?

I had a Rodgers story prepped last year in case he retired but have nothing prewritten this time around. Whenever the news drops, Spoff and I will take everything in and react accordingly. Our bylines might post a little later than most, but we also draw no false assumptions. I'm willing to accept that tradeoff.

John from Austin, TX

As on older Packer and NFL fan, I recall the origin of BLESTO, and BLESTO V…consolidated scouting for the Bears Lions Eagles Steelers Talent Organization, then Vikings...FYI.

And now you know…the rest of the story.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

No, Wes is not making a mountain out of a molehill regarding college football. We went to a game at our son's power-five school last year. It took about four hours to complete, and it was a boring one-sided blowout. CFB definitely has a pace of game problem.

Maybe we just need a mandatory running clock then. If I'm not mistaken, it's currently left up to the coaches whether to enact a mercy rule, no?

James from Appleton, WI

Two points: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the best Clint Eastwood movie because of Eli Wallach. Whether he's sputtering on the ground in front of a sheriff's office or running through a graveyard, that's an all-time great performance. AI can compile roundups, but in an interview, the subject may make an offhand comment that rings a bell in the journalist's head and takes the interview in an unexpected direction. I don't think AI will ever have that bell.

True interpersonal communication is impossible to replicate. Even with the rapid innovation, I'd rather talk with a human over a computer any day of the week. That's an opinion based on years of dealing with customer-service bots.

Duane from Bangor, WI

Wes, Wes, Wes...... you can't be a serious runner and not run in all weather - raining, hot, cool, 10 below, it's all good. In fact, I'd rather run in 10 below than 80 and humid....

To be fair, I never said I was a serious runner. I'm just a runner runner.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom

I got called a celebrity yesterday in Tunbridge Wells by an American Packers fan who reads the II and it made my day. That's my Andy Warhol moment. What was yours?

I met an Inbox reader at a random Ohio rest stop in 2019. I was on my way to Atlantic City and stopped to finish my last Inbox before vacation. Seriously, what are the chances?

Jim from Galena, IL

Hello, Wes/Mike from Galena, IL. Just wanted to tell you that my wife and I just complete a 1,000-piece puzzle that we got for Christmas. We started it on January 29th and finished it yesterday February 23rd. We would each put in an hour or two each day. A great project to work on occasionally on a cold winter day.

Amen to that. Please give my regards to President Grant.

Andrew from Placentia, CA

Hi Wes, since it's the offseason, and your son is about the same age as my kids: What are their favorite shows to watch? Which do you like best? Which do you like the least?

I think I've watched every episode of "Is It Cake?" at least 20 times on Netflix. Little due is obsessed with that show, "Guy's Grocery Games," and "Crikey! It's the Irwins." Honestly, it could be a lot worse. It's not bad television. Even if it was, how can you say no? He loves it.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. You made it through the week all by yourself. Are you relieved that you can go back to your regular schedule now? We were hoping for something big to happen while you were in charge, but other than the voided contracts (which shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise), there was not much that happened. Were you disappointed?

Hey, that's showbusiness. You never know when news is gonna break in the NFL. My sights are now set on Indy, where hopefully we gain some insight on where things stand with the quarterback(s) and the 2023 Packers. The schedule for Inbox is going to stay a little irregular. Frankly, I'm not sure how next week's rotation will shake out with me traveling to the combine Monday and Spoff stationed in Green Bay. One way or another, rest assured there will be an Inbox. Until then, have a great weekend.

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