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Inbox: You never know what you're going to find

It’s the job of the GM to look beyond the shiny exterior of a prospect 


Jesse from Akaska, SD

Was Wes enjoying his milkshake so much that he forgot his microphone or was there something wrong with Rock's and he had to borrow yours? 

As soon as we set up to shoot "Three Things" and our video guys informed me we only have two mics, I immediately thought to myself – "The Inboxers are gonna love this." Fortunately, we had the third back on Wednesday. Good morning!

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, can you give a couple players who really caught your eye at combines past and tell what happened to them? So often I get the hype but then forget the names later on.

I didn't know Terron Armstead until he ran a 4.71 in the 40 as an offensive lineman in 2013. He was voted to his first Pro Bowl this past season. Byron Jones put on a clinic here four years ago. He, too, made his first Pro Bowl appearance last month. My favorite memory has to be being one of two people interviewing Eddie Jackson at the podium in 2017. Coming off his broken leg, nobody really took notice of him. That's not the case anymore. The moral of the story – keep looking because you never know what you're going to find.

Jake from Athens, GA

Wes, I think you might've answered this before, but do you share Mike's and Vic's love of Steinbeck? On a more football-related note, do all the "insiders" at the combine, who are just there for the physicals and interviews, joke much about how big a deal the news networks make of the strength and speed tests?

Larry "The Voice of Reason" McCarren made such a great point in our first "Three Things" video from the combine – the media makes such a big deal out of 40s and verticals this week, but the reality is there's another Phillip Lindsay sitting at home with a chip on his shoulder. Also, I'm not a Steinbeck guy. I have "The Grapes of Wrath" to credit for many unexpected afternoon naps in high school.

Brian from Alta Vista, IA

Say you need a slot receiver but the best available receiver doesn't look like a slot receiver. Do you take the guy you think is the man and hope he can play in the slot?

I'd take the guy I think is the man and hope he has the versatility to play in the slot like Davante Adams. The slot position is important, but I wouldn't pass on a guy deemed as a can't-miss prospect for a lesser talented receiver who plays in the middle of the field.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Some analysts already want the Cardinals to give up on Rosen and take Kyler Murray. Do people even remember how many interceptions Peyton Manning had as a rookie, or how Drew Brees struggled for his first few years? I'm not saying Rosen will be close to these guys, but man it's unbelievable how quick the league wants to move on sometimes.

Shiny new objects catch most fans' attention every April. It's the job of the GM and his scouts to look beyond that and see the true makeup of a prospect.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Just because Gute said Jimmy Graham will be back doesn't mean we won't draft a TE high. Last time I checked most teams have more than one on their roster. We'll get to pick 12 and to pick 30 and pick the highest player on our board. If it happens to be a tight end then I'm sure Matt LaFleur can figure out how to play two guys.

I don't know if it will be T.J. Hockenson/Noah Fant-high, but loyal Inbox readers know it's been my position this is a good year for the Packers to draft a tight end considering how long it's been since they've taken a tight end in the top 200. Plus, it's a position that could use one or two seasons of development. Robert Tonyan talked several times about how helpful Graham was last season. Who wouldn't want a young tight end to learn from one of the very best?

James from Mount Pleasant, WI

Are the Packers going to be aggressive in free agency?

Yes. Gutekunst said so. As he stated from Day 1, he's going to be in every conversation. That doesn't always mean it's going to result in a signing or trade, but no moss will grow in their shadow in the offseason.

Wayne from Green Bay, WI

Considering Aaron Donald was a dominant college player, dominated the Senior Bowl, and blew up the combine, what was going on in scouts' heads that let him fall that far?

Regardless of what the college stats were or how good the tape looked, it still takes moxie to invest a top 10 pick in a 6-foot, 280-pound defensive tackle. However, that narrative is starting to change with undersized defensive linemen thanks to Donald, Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

You've mentioned the stress of captaining II, and I get it. However, when I cruise around the landscape of Packer-related writing and pass up most of it as trivia and garbage, I feel sorry for writers stuck in situations desperate for clicks to keep their positions viable. Sure, you have a lot on your plates to sort through, but you must feel blessed knowing each day you won't have to sweat clicks, and your loyal II family will supply such a rich well to draw from to fill your column.

That and the fact I could title today's column "Inbox: Seven facts about Spoff's hair you can't live without," and readers still would click on it.

Willy from Palmdale, CA

Besides Pettine retention, HC and LB coach Smith, who's the best new coach hire and why?

Two really jump out to me – retaining Ben Sirmans as running backs coach (for obvious reasons) and Alvis Whitted, who's the perfect coach for the young triad of Marquez-Valdes Scantling, EQ St. Brown and J'Mon Moore given his track record at Colorado State.

John from Crivitz, WI

Best-case scenario: What do Matt Lafleur and Brian Gutekunst hope to take away from the scouting combine?

In an absolutely utopian football world, they leave Indy with a firm grasp of who the top prospects are and how well those individuals would fit in the Packers' scheme. The more realistic possibility is discovering how well players they're interested in can pick up concepts on the fly and play beyond the call on the field.

Sam from Kenosha, WI

Could a team consisting of the top 52 draft picks compete in the NFL?

Without question, especially during the second half of the year.

Jerry from Belmont, NC

Gutekunst talked about us being more active in free agency. Does that mean Antonio Brown could be a future Packer?

Is Antonio Brown a free agent?

Hank from Burlington, Ontario

Re: Mike Smith's "past history" with Pettine, is there another kind? ;-)


Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Good morning guys, how was day and night No. 1? Care to share the top three moments of your day? It can be not related to football. This is the II after all. 

I always enjoy the writer's luncheon with Gutekunst and now LaFleur. It's very casual and you begin to get a feel of those guys in their element. My other top two moments were listening to Kyle Shanahan speak about his father's coaching tree and finally the annual dinner I have each year with a few of my writer friends.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Hi guys, I need some reading material for the offseason and I'm looking for books written specifically by coaches. Do you have any favorites?

It's not football, but "Joe Torre: The Yankee Years" is a masterclass on how to manage expectations, success and a roster of superstars.

Photos of Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, General Manager Brian Gutekunst, and Head Coach Matt LaFleur at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.

Mark from Kenosha, WI

Do you think we will ever see another game as cold as the Ice Bowl? Or even lower temperatures than it?

That three-day cold snap we had here last month would have rivaled the Ice Bowl had there been a game played here. It didn't get above zero for two days and wind chill consistently hovered in the minus-50 range.

Tony from Eden Prairie, MN

This is the first year I have heard references to assistant coaches being able to spend more time with prospects outside of the 15-minute time slots. What does that look like and how is it regulated?

It may be the first time you've heard about it, but that's a common occurrence here. Coaches and scouts are free to talk with prospects throughout the week no different than Spoff and me chatting with other reporters. The only thing that's regulated is formal interviews.

Tim from Lino Lakes, MN

Gutekunst said the structure of the Packers' draft process has been in place since Ron Wolf. To have essentially the same draft process in place through four GMs and nearly 30 years says something about it. Doesn't it?

I won't argue with that. It's almost like they should put the guy in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or something.

Jonathan from La Crescent, MN

My 4-year-old loves the combine but he thinks it's about farm equipment. What Packers draft pick comes to mind when you think, "This guy isn't who I thought he was"? Good or bad. On or off the field.

Micah Hyde. I wrote a story after the 2013 NFL Draft about him being a potential character risk. It's the most ridiculous thing I've put my byline on in 12-plus years as a writer.

Brian from Sussex, WI

Compensatory picks are great as they allow teams loaded with talent beyond what can be covered by their available salary cap an opportunity to be replaced. It's the situation every team wants to be in. Not the situation the Packers are in this year. So I hope they don't get picks again next year – by which I mean they find players at the right value to use their available funds.

Gutekunst made a salient point at the podium Wednesday about how every team wants to have compensatory picks every now and then – not only because it's nice to have the extra draft capital, but also it shows you have a healthy and flourishing development system.

Tom from Iron River, WI

Why are so many draft forecasters insisting the Packers need to draft a wide receiver? With three added in last year's draft, with one year of experience under their belts, we should expect improvement. Jake Kumerow's looking like he can play, and Geronimo Allison's return from injury, what's the urgency?

I hope I haven't painted a portrait suggesting the Packers absolutely must draft a receiver. I was simply saying they've selected at least one since 2013 and taken 12 overall over the past six years. It's the law of averages. Nothing more, nothing less.

Doug from Ames, IA

Muhammad Wilkerson was playing well until he got hurt. What is the status on his injury and will he be back?

Wilkerson suffered a significant ankle injury in Washington, but he said he's making progress in his rehab during a recent interview with The Athletic. Gutekunst didn't provide any injury updates Wednesday and was non-committal about upcoming free agents, but Wilkerson said he fully intends to play again. So stay tuned.

Jim from Tomahawk, WI

If you were starting an organization and got the choice, who would you select: Tom Brady or Bill Belichick? (Both assuming the age when they won their first Super Bowl.)

That is a tough, tough question. I'm going to go with Brady by a hair. He's one of the greatest to ever play the most important position on the field.

Jim from Madison, WI

Are practices filmed and is that film retained? I'm wondering how Matt LaFleur might get to know more about his players who don't have a lot of game film.

Yes and yes. I don't know how long practice footage is retained, but LaFleur has access to any video he requires from last season.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what credentials and accomplishments must a football player have in order to be invited to the combine?

It's pretty simple – NFL teams just have to like you. All 32 clubs submit player requests and a selection committee chooses the official list of invitees.

Matt from Salt Lake City, UT

Gentlemen, have the Packers ever held a public, open tryout similar to the one the Eagles held in the '70s under Dick Vermeil? Secondly, which non-player, non-coach member of the Packers organization is the most athletic? I'll be suspicious if your answer is Mike and Wes in a tie.

You'd have to ask Cliff the last time the Packers held open tryouts to the public. My only guess might be the 1987 strike year. As far as most athletic, non-player, non-coach, does Tony Fisher in community outreach count?

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

How was the road trip? Was it more like "Tommy Boy," "Dumb and Dumber" or "Thelma and Louise"?

It was more like the one where Spoff sits in the backseat and writes Inbox. I can't remember the name. I think it was a straight-to-DVD flick.

Mike from Mercer, WI

II - I'm just wondering (tongue in cheek) if you feel guilty about leaving your wives at home with the kids, the snow and the housework while you are in Indy having fun and working your tails off so we readers get the best coverage you can give us?

I know this question was asked in a joking tone, but it terrifies me. My son started standing on his own and even took a step over the weekend. I'm legitimately scared I'm going to miss the first time he walks. I'm crossing my fingers he can hold off a few more days.

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

Just a comment. I appreciate the work you both do on Twitter. I enjoy seeing the live updates of the combine. It gives me that "football fix" that I need during this offseason.

So you're the one! Have a great Thursday, folks.