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Inbox: You have to write your own story

Coaches still have to exercise caution when throwing that red hanky 

CB Tramon Williams
CB Tramon Williams

David from Germantown, WI

How are we going to do this year, my friends?

Fine. Just fine. Good morning!

Juan from Johnson Creek, WI

What is your mindset if you are Matt LaFleur?

Excitement. Coaches, at any level, dream of running their own ship. There are few bigger ships than the S.S. Packers and it's pulled into port for LaFleur. If I'm LaFleur, I'm counting down the hours until Monday.

Josh from Benton Harbor, MI

I don't care what position we draft with our first pick, but I hope whoever it is has the attitude, work ethic, and talent of Jaire Alexander.

I don't think you can ever have too many Jaire Alexanders on your football team. He's talented, but more importantly, Jaire wants to win.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Draft day will come, and you will be on the job well into the evening of April 25. Does the football insider in you silently evaluate the choices being made by the Packers and other teams, or do you simply report the facts as events unfold?

This will be the 10th NFL Draft I've covered. Where, oh where, does the time go? Regardless of whether I'm 21 or 31, I still approach the draft the same way. I'll grab my coffee, my pencil and watch the whole thing unfold. I've been right on Alfred Morris and Eddie Jackson, and completely wrong on Jake Locker. Like 95 percent of pundits out there, I have no earthly idea if any of these guys will pan out. I'm just self-aware enough to admit it.

Brian from Katy, TX

Have the Smiths been assigned numbers yet? I share the last name and am anxious to get my brother and me jerseys. Thanks II.

Preston is wearing No. 91 after Kendall Donnerson switched to 53. Za'Darius will be 55.

Take a look at Green Bay's initial four free-agent signings of 2019 and how each would look in their new Packers uniforms and numbers.

Brian from Sussex, WI

I think people are too hard on Graham. Wes's TE story noted injuries, but I haven't heard anyone comment about how defenses were consistently double-teaming him early in the season. That impacts individual numbers negatively, but opens up opportunities for the team.

Everyone had high expectations for Graham, himself included. Regardless of what happened in 2018, Graham remains one of the top tight ends in the league. I mean the guy was like seventh or eighth in receiving yards last season. Also, look at what the market was for tight ends this year. If the Packers would have cut Graham, he and Jared Cook would've been 1A and 1B in free agency. Graham can help this football team.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I'm not sure how coaches will use expanded replay but I suspect in the two-to-four minute window at the end of games there will be a rash of red flags with "use it or lose it" thinking to get PI or overturn it on anything that's close. If coaches feel "what do I have to lose" or "why not," flags will fly. What deterrents are in place to discourage that thinking?

Have timeouts inside two minutes suddenly lost their value? Three timeouts are gold in a tight NFL game. Coaches still have to exercise caution when throwing that red hanky.

Mike from Madison, WI

I read II every day and have noticed in the last week, the bulk of the questions have been regarding the new pass interference rule change. Many of the questions have been the "If this" or "If that" variety. Don't you think too much is being made and we should just see how things develop? The coach still has only two challenges, so he will use them wisely. Perhaps people are making a bigger deal out of this than what it really is.

For many, there is no word for "patience" in the Inbox dictionary. They want answers five minutes ago.

Albert from Crystal Falls, MI

In the past, the Packers have had success with UDFAs making the roster. Do you think that will change now with the new coaching staff? Who ultimately decides which players make it? Is it the coaches, GM or scouting department or a combination of all three?

College free agency will continue to be a big part of the Packers' developmental process under Brian Gutekunst, who ultimately has final say on roster decisions. Tyler Lancaster and Tony Brown were early gems from last year's group. Both played a lot last season and held their own.

Simon from Fargo, ND

Longtime reader, first-time submission. Just reading the article with MM and not surprised on the class act he continues to be. It is a testament to the entire Packer organization and I have no doubt that ML will continue this. I'm sure that some will argue but I will take the Packers winning and losing the "right way" versus the win-at-all-cost even though people are trampled on and discarded like trash during the process.

I've said this before in this column and I'll say it again – I have the utmost respect for Mike McCarthy. He was fair to me during my days at the newspaper and couldn't have been more welcoming when I was hired into this position three years ago to this day. I've never had to fire anybody, and thankfully, I've never been fired. Hopefully, I'll never have to experience either. Change is never easy, but as McCarthy said, sometimes it's necessary. At the end of the day, everyone who works in this building wants to win and uphold the standard of the Green Bay Packers. I wish Mike well in his next endeavor.

Don from Swaledale, IA

With so many new articles about players who have lost their way, it is refreshing to read about Corey Linsley. All of us have received the precious breath of life from God but some take it to another level. Thank you Corey and thank you for the article.

Linsley has gone above and beyond in his friendship with Travis Kohlbeck. You can tell how much the entire family means to Linsley and his wife, Anna. Being a rookie in the NFL isn't easy. The Kohlbecks took Corey in back in 2014 and made him feel like family. He's never forgotten that. It's been terrific getting to know John and Alicia Kohlbeck over the past two years. They are truly wonderful people, who remain in my thoughts and prayers. It's my intention to make it out for the event on April 17.

Kedde from Skagen, Denmark

Hi Insiders, first question here. Love the Inbox – read it as often as possible. Yesterday, Mike from Las Vegas, NV, asked about the salary of first- vs. seventh-round draft picks. Based on Spoff's answer, isn't it fair to say that over time (given that a player makes it from the ranks of the undrafted even), talent will ultimately decide the size of the contract and salary? Prediction: We are going to the SB this year. A lot of chips on a lot of shoulders.

I couldn't agree more. It's not about the size of the bonus in your rookie contract – it's what you do with your rookie contract. Draft status doesn't make the man. You have to write your own story. Just ask Tramon Williams.

Curt from Algonquin, IL

After the 53-man roster was finalized last fall, I noted in the II the exceptional height of the receivers' room. Now that Cobb is gone, the Packers don't have a WR under 6-1, and most are taller. Looking at league rosters, we have the most height at that position by a considerable margin. Is that statistic alone enough to change how defenses prepare for us? Could that even change how divisional teams draft this month, as Randy Moss seems to have influenced that Packers' 1999 draft?

If that group of receivers produces, defenses will react to it. However, it's always going to be skill – not size – that determines how teams defend any skill-position players.

Jeremy from Rice Lake, WI

Do you have a sense how much coaches really rely on the big screen when evaluating whether or not to throw the challenge flag? We always see the coach looking at the big screen prior to throwing the flag. If they do, and with the new DPI rules, I can see the home-field advantage getting considerably stronger.

A lot of information goes into a coach's decision to throw a challenge flag, but certainly there is an advantage having replay available on the jumbotron in your home stadium.

Ian from Waupaca, WI

"The reviews aren't going to focus solely on the defenders." When will we see a challenge result in a penalty on the challenging team? I can't imagine how the wolves will howl when a coach earns his team an uncalled penalty.

I'll say Week 11. Somebody log that. I agree with what Spoff said, though. This could be a game-changer when it comes to offensive pass interference calls.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Curious as to what road game interests you the most this year. The only time I've seen the Packers play on the road was here in Minnesota. Really thinking about heading down to KC for that match up this season.

I haven't been to Canada in 17 years, so that would be pretty cool if everything worked out. Otherwise, I always enjoy going to New York City. I finally got to Time Square and Rockefeller Center last year.

Ralph from Mönchengladbach, Germany

The additional voluntary minicamp for veterans, new coaches, and new playbook: Do you think Rodgers, Adams, Lewis, Graham and the other old hands will be in attendance?

We don't get a full participation report during the offseason program, but the Packers typically have good attendance. I don't expect that to change with the extra week and voluntary minicamp.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

To all of those questions about did we overpay at the beginning of free agency, did the Bears overpay for Khalil Mack last year in free agency? They paid him like no DE had ever been paid before, but I don't think anyone would say he was overpaid.

If you perform, nobody asks if you're overpaid. That doesn't just apply to the NFL, either. That goes for any walk of life.

John from Reading, UK

With the draft talk always being about "defense" or "offense," I was wondering what's the highest a "special teams" player has been picked? And did they succeed in the NFL?

The Raiders drafted Sebastian Janikowski 17th overall in 2001. Janikowski played 18 seasons for Oakland, but only made one Pro Bowl. As far as non-kickers, maybe the Bears drafting Devin Hester in the second round (55th overall) in 2006?

Dan from Naperville, IL

I'm not too young to have missed it, just too old to remember. Was Rob Gronkowski a highly sought after TE in the draft or a diamond in the rough?

I just consulted one of my old draft guides for a projection. Pro Football Weekly and Nolan Nawrocki had Gronk as a top 50 pick. Their summary? "Has never played a full season and durability concerns could hinder his draft status. However, if he proves he can stay healthy and focused, he has the physical tools to develop into a top-tier, all-around tight end."

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

How do teams typically protect against a player who is cut from passing along a playbook to another team? Is there a signed contract with financial ramifications guarding against this? Potential drone strike?

Players have to return their tablet after they're released, traded or the season ends.

Juan from Miami, FL

Do you think Hakeem Butler passes the eye test? I saw him in a couple of games on TV and he is impressive. Would love to see him in green and gold. Great job guys, keep it up. Thank you...

I know our Digital UX coordinator Matt Haberkamp, an ISU alumnus, agrees with you.

Caroline from La Crosse, WI

Since I do not live in Green Bay, I am unaware of how transitions of players, coaches and their families take place. I was surprised, though, to read Mike McCarthy and his family are remaining in town and now speaking about the "break up." He has sounded like a nice community member, but I question the possible divisiveness of his continued presence and comments in a small community where a new head coach and his family want to begin establishing their own home, traditions, presence. Comments?

I take it you haven't been to this side of the state too often. There might be the occasional "Hey, how's it goin?" encounter, but most folks are too shy and too nervous to approach coaches, players, Spoff, etc.

Michael from Manitowoc, WI

If the Packers select Greedy Williams in the draft, what are the chances we move Josh Jackson to safety? I think it would almost be like a second-for-one deal for our defense because you're upgrading the other safety spot and getting another first-rounder at CB.

I'm sorry Mike, but two hypotheticals don't make a question.

Rick from Kenosha, WI

Who is the seasoned vet you would love to see get his elusive first ring? Julius Peppers was at the top of that list for me most recently, even after he went back to Carolina. Who is your "if the Packers don't win it all, I hope this player finally gets his ring?"

Tom Brady's other hand.

Mitchell from Edmond, OK

Mike and Wes, have you taken any words-per-minute tests lately? If so, what's your typing speed? Wes, this could be a good competition to win some lunches back from Mike.

I hadn't performed the test since someone asked me last year. I got 80 on my first try. I have no plans to work out at my pro day.

Al from Chardon, OH

I don't jitter or glitter and I have never Twittered and I'm happy to keep it that way. Has it become a requirement of your occupation to follow the social media of athletes, coaches, owners, sports media personalities, etc.? How many different accounts do you follow and how do you decide which to follow?

I follow 700 accounts on Twitter at the moment and proud of the fact I've never let it get over 800. It's a collection of friends, media folks, current Packers players and a few other athletes I covered in the past. Oh, and a few MMA-related accounts. Always MMA.

Jim from San Antonio, TX

I have a correction to make to the Insiders regarding only three players remaining from the 2018 Packers calendar. I should've noticed it yesterday. The fourth player, Mike Daniels' December page fell between the seats, and I didn't see it. I'm sorry.

I hereby declare you absolved of your error. Don't do it again. I hope your clear conscience will allow you to sleep better at night.

Aaron from Monroe, MI

The last player drafted in the draft is called Mr. Irrelevant, always thought that was kinda cool. Gives the player motivation if you ask me. Just wondering if you knew any Mr. Irrelevant players that worked out or still have success on a NFL team?

In the seven-round era, I still say it's Ryan Succop. Also, if the last pick is Mr. Irrelevant, doesn't that make the top pick Mr. Relevant? How has nobody used that line yet?

Joe from Manitowoc, WI

Who will be the first GM after the draft to utter the words, "I can't believe he was still there in Round 7 when we picked him"?

Wait, new question – how has someone not used THIS LINE on Mr. Irrelevant yet? Happy Thursday, folks.