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Inbox: You gotta get creative – and they will

If you’re too busy looking back, you’re going to miss what’s coming

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Jean from Lakeland, FL

How are all you writers doing throughout these changes in our life?

We're still standing. I hope everyone here made it through last week OK, wherever you may be in the world. I've probably done more home-cooking over the last two weeks than I did in the last two years. Reading, video games, Netflix, raking and my son have kept me busy otherwise. I'm just thankful for my family's health. Good morning!

Bret from Hertel, WI

Stay safe and stay strong, Packer Nation! Wes, if you were a GM, would you value more picks in all rounds of the draft or less picks but all in the first three rounds? Thanks! Bret

You guys know I'm a big proponent of Ron Wolf's theory of getting as many swings at the plate as possible. The second and third rounds are so much more of a crapshoot than people care to admit. Don't get me wrong – the teams that hit on those picks benefit greatly from it but every year there are plenty of misses, too. Sometimes those fourths and fifths don't amount to much either, but there is still a lot of value. Just look at David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Dean Lowry and Micah Hyde.

Flavio from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Hello, Insiders! Thanks for the excellent job you're doing during these hard times! My question is regarding more free time due to this social isolation period. I'm a chemistry professor in a huge public university and have been "forced" into online teaching. This has actually made my classes more creative in a sense, and I'll adopt many of these new strategies when this all ends. Do you think this might also happen with football coaches? Do you think we'll see more new "magic" scheme-wise next season?

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? I'm sure there are strategies and techniques front offices and coaching staffs have developed over the past month that may change the way they do business whenever the stoplight turns green again. COVID-19 is a historically significant event we must take seriously, but professionally speaking, NFL coaches have been through challenging offseasons before (e.g. 2011 lockout). You gotta get creative – and they will.

Derek from Des Moines, IA

What is the plan to replace Bryan Bulaga?

It starts with Rick Wagner. Based on Wagner's contract, right tackle appears to be his position to lose – especially if there's a shortened/cancelled offseason program. If that happens, you need a veteran who can slide in and make that position his own.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

I was skeptical early on but the moves by the Packers are really starting to look like great deals as the contract details come out. Which one of the additions made do you feel has the best chance to be the biggest steal?

Christian Kirksey. I love him as a player and I think he brings a skill set this defense needs in the middle of the field. Financially, he makes a lot of sense, too. Since Kirksey only played in two games last year, 14 of his 16 game-day bonuses wouldn't go on the books until 2021 (should he play in every game).

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Since most workout bonuses are probably considered as 'likely to be earned," will that have any effect on cap space or will the Packers pay these based on other means of proof if offseason programs are most likely to be condensed?

The only way to earn them is to earn them. If "likely to be earned" incentives aren't reached, then Green Bay gets credit entering the 2021 league year.

Jim from Fairview Heights, IL

Now that Aaron Rodgers is closer to 40 than 30, do you see any added incentive to keep as many of the veteran offensive linemen around to keep Rodgers' uniform clean? I understand the Bulaga situation and I'll miss him, but I really want to see Corey Linsley around for a few more years!

Sure, which goes back to my comment a month ago about the importance of a pragmatic approach to these decisions. Bulaga is a terrific player but tough calls must be made, especially with Bakhtiari and Linsley coming up for contracts next year.

Ron from Bethesda, MD

How are the Packers keeping in shape during this crisis?

Here is your answer.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

If the Packers were to consider trading out of the first round, is there a rule of thumb on what the 30th pick is worth?

If we're talking the same draft, it's usually an early second- and fourth-rounder or a late-second and third. Maybe you can find a team to throw in an extra sixth or seventh, too.

Craig from Johnson City, TN

I still don't see drafting a WR with the first pick unless Gute trades out of the first round. I think it will be OL or best defensive player. It seems that TE and WR take the most time to get up to speed with the playbook besides QB. Am I wrong? In any case it will be exciting to see who we get. Thanks Wes and Mike for making our days brighter. To all II, "be excellent to each other" in these trying times.

Maybe it's because of the unique circumstances, but I feel there's nothing the Packers could do at No. 30 that would surprise me. As things stand today, anything is possible.

Louis from Wauwatosa, WI

Thanks II for giving us a morning goal during this period. Contrary to many, I believe drafting Jonathan Taylor (if available) offers the best long-term value. He and Aaron Jones would force the defense to play a safety in the box and thereby create better passing lanes. Further, he would solve the run position over the next four years and thereby make AR's job easier.

I like Taylor a lot but the Packers don't have any recent history of using first-round picks on the position. It not only isn't a position of need but there's also a long track record of the middle rounds producing quality NFL running backs, like Jones for example.

Tom from Emerado, ND

Did you have a chance to meet and interview Chase Claypool from Notre Dame? A Prospect Primer of him would be great to see. His film on his playing style looks great and would be a great fit for our offensive schemes. Have you seen much tape on him?

I came away impressed with both Claypool and Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet in Indy. Both made good accounts of themselves at the podium and impressed in drills. Claypool is a blue-chip athlete. You don't see a ton of 6-foot-4, 238-pound guys who can run a 4.42. He has all the hybrid traits teams drool over in today's NFL.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

Welcome back Weston. Is the little one driving yet? What's your take on why Jadaveon Clowney is still unsigned?

Ha. Not quite yet. It's been fun getting to spend some more time with the little dude, though. Clowney's market was set the day Chicago signed Robert Quinn to his five-year deal. I imagine some team is going to have to meet that threshold for Clowney to sign on the dotted line.

Christopher from Savage, MN

Are you guys willing or able to fact check something for me? I read that even though Bulaga and Blake Martinez signed similar base value contracts and Martinez will likely net us a fourth-rounder, Bulaga can only net us a max of a fifth-rounder because he's a veteran with 10 or more years of experience. Is that accurate? What might be the reasoning behind such a cap for comp picks on 10+ year vets?

That is correct. It's a little known-rule I wasn't aware of until this offseason. It's intended to keep the market healthy for veteran players in unrestricted free agency and not scare teams away.

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

Who are the top five running backs for the Packers of all-time?

Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Ahman Green, Tony Canadeo and Clarke Hinkle.

Take a look at photos of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers from the 2019 season.

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

Do you think Devin Funchess can become a viable No. 2 receiver?

Can he? Absolutely. He has the pedigree for it. We're talking about a guy was the 41st overall pick in the 2015 draft, 12 spots ahead of where the Packers drafted Davante Adams a year earlier. Funchess is still only 25 and played that No. 2 role before in Carolina before. But he's going to have to earn it.

Raul from Middleton, WI

With the two latest signings, have you heard anything about trying Tyler Ervin at slot receiver and Funchess at tight end during training camp just to see if there is a spark? Funchess was a tight end in college and it might benefit the Packers to try him there. And Ervin could be dynamite anywhere, especially the slot.

Funchess can play anywhere but we have to hear from Brian Gutekunst or Matt LaFleur to get a better sense on where he fits. I'm eager to watch Ervin grow in this offense. He was electric last year despite joining the team so late in the year. Based on that small sample size, just imagine what might be possible with LaFleur getting a full offseason to scheme stuff up for Swervin'.

Jeff from Belton, TX

Who on the team would make it in professional wrestling?

Jamaal Williams. It's not close. He has the perfect frame and personality for it.

Heather from Racine, WI

With the addition of Funchess, where does that leave Jake Kumerow in the mix of the receiver corps?

Unless your name is Davante Adams, you're battling for a role in this offense. We know there's going to be an extra 600 snaps available with Geronimo Allison leaving for Detroit. Hopefully, Funchess' addition brings out the best in Kumerow, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and the rest of the room.

Bob from Racine, WI

Gentlemen: surprised/disappointed by the Lions signing Allison? Any clues as to why that may have happened?

Allison appeared on the verge of becoming a steady playmaker in September 2018 but it just never came together. So I'm neither surprised nor disappointed by his move across Lake Michigan. A change of scenery was probably needed, especially as the Packers look to establish new weapons in the offense alongside Adams. Allison epitomized class throughout his time in Green Bay. I wish him well in his next endeavor.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

In your opinion, what's the best value any team has gotten during free agency so far (not including trades)?

Carolina and Teddy Bridgewater. Frequent readers know how high I am on Bridgewater but his APY salary also doesn't preclude the Panthers from drafting a quarterback, if they want.

Steve from Richmond, KY

Towards the end of the season, the Packers signed several CFL players. Could you spend a little time on each signing and, perhaps, quantify how you believe each might affect the team.

This is an idea I have in my back pocket depending on how dry this month gets for content. Reggie Begelton appears to be the stud out of the group, though. He had some eye-popping numbers up north and that's what you're looking for from players competing at a lower level – did they dominate? He most certainly did.

Chris from Frederick, MD

Gentlemen, I hope you are staying safe and healthy. With seven teams from each conference making the playoffs from now on, which division do you think will be the first to send all four teams to the postseason?

NFC West.

Dave from Wausau, WI

In these uncertain times, don't you think everybody needs something to look forward to? I am thrilled the NFL has decided not to move the draft. We don't know when there will be baseball, basketball or hockey but at least we know that for a few days in April we have something to take our minds off the current unfortunate situation we are all in. I feel sorry for people who are not NFL fans and don't have this welcome diversion to keep them occupied.

I was skeptical at first about the NFL's decision to start the new league year and free agency on time but I concede it was the right call. It filled newspaper columns and SportsCenter segments for a week when nothing else was going on. Plus, who knows when this storm is going to pass. So I'm keeping an open mind with the draft. It won't be easy but it is possible to do the thing remotely.

George from Olympia, WA

Do you think our first game overseas will be in 2021 in England?

The only road 2021 opponent that could make sense is Cincinnati. I don't see the Baltimore, San Francisco, Arizona and the NFC North games moving overseas.

Caroline from Olympia, WA

Are there any considerations to change the schedule because of coronavirus?

All I know is the NFL Draft is expected to still go on April 23-25. That's the only sun in my orbit right now.

Todd from Wauwatosa, WI

I watched the "30 for 30" episodes on the 1983 draft and the USFL this weekend. The 1983 first round was unbelievable! Dan Marino was Rodgers, but without the green room. I found myself wondering what our football world would be like if John Elway had gone to Dallas or if Bill Walsh traded Joe Montana to get Marino. And what if the USFL were still around today playing in the spring! How do GMs avoid "the coulda, shoulda, woulda" paralysis each year?

That's one of my all-time favorite "30 for 30s." It's easier for GMs to move on because they always need to move on to the next thing in that profession. If you're too busy looking back, you're going to miss what's coming.

Jason from Vernon Hills, IL

Interesting that the Chicago Bears picked up Jimmy Graham. Do you think he can do better on that team than what he did with the Packers?

As far as the tight end position is concerned, I think it's as good of a situation as Graham was going to find in free agency. That offense needs tight ends. I don't know whether it was predicated on Matt Nagy's play-calling style or Mitchell Trubisky, but the Bears' offense wasn't nearly as effective last year in the wake of Trey Burton's injury issues.

Jeff from Greenville, SC

I remember one mock draft having the Packers picking Josh Jackson in the first round. We got him, but not where that writer thought. Only pick I ever got right after the obvious ones, which are not obvious, was QB Paxton Lynch to Denver a few years ago.

It's impossible to predict but I always try to make educated guesses because it's fun to reflect back on. As far as the first round goes, from 2013-19, I've gone with Datone Jones, Ryan Shazier, Eddie Goldman, A'Shawn Robinson, T.J. Watt (don't start), Marcus Davenport and Brian Burns. I obviously hit one early and haven't since.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

On Friday, I'm retiring. On Sunday, I'm turning 71. I'm a sports geek, but haven't watched any sports shows/channels since this COVID-19 saga began. Like many people, I'm watching less TV and getting more odd jobs off my "to-do" list. What am I going to do when the following Monday comes, and I don't need to get up at 4:45 a.m.?

Holy cow, Doug. Congrats. I'd say sleep in but I doubt you will. One thing I've gained a deeper appreciation for over this past month is driving. Just driving, mostly in the country. It helps me clear my head when I've been stuck in the house for too long. Hopefully, you'll have plenty of football to watch this fall.

Megan from Quincy, IL

Staying inside would be so much easier if I had baseball and basketball to watch. Is this what it feels like to not like watching sports? On the bright side, I have been catching up on TV and clearing up lots of space on my TiVo!

Same here. My wife zoomed through an entire season of "A Million Little Things" this weekend.

Darren from Oklahoma, OK

To all of the II contributors, writers, readers etc...If any of you have been binge watching "Tiger King" (I love it), please understand that it does not represent the MAJORITY of all of us Okies! We actually have tall buildings and such. Thank y'all for your time!

I finally gave in and turned it on Saturday night…and I could not stop watching. I watched all seven episodes in a 15-hour span, only taking time to sleep. I instantly felt better about my current situation. Talk to you all tomorrow.