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Inbox: You'll know precisely what they're thinking once the pick is made

Quality beats quantity every time when it comes to impressing in the NFL

2023 NFL Draft
2023 NFL Draft

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

With all due respect to Paul from Ledgeview, he may be dramatically underestimating the Inbox's ability to speculate.

You want speculation? I can get you speculation. Believe me. There are ways, dude. You don't wanna know about it. Believe me. Heck, I can get you speculation by 3 o'clock.

Bill from Menominee, MI

After not knowing what to expect from Brian Gutekunst's first couple of drafts, he has now earned from us fans the mantra, "In Gutey We Trust."

I'm reminded of the MTV Diary docuseries whose opening title screen included the line, "You think you know…but you have no idea." That's what it's like here in Green Bay. You'll know precisely what they're thinking once the pick is made.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning. A while back, Gutey said having five picks in the top 100 was actually like having five picks in the top 50 because of the various ways teams rate players. Mike was one of the few sportswriters to pick up on this fascinating perspective. With that said, is Day 2 the best chance to really solidify the roster? Thanks.

Mike followed up with Gutekunst about that line on Monday and he offered some insight about the value of Day 2 picks and how difficult they are to come by, adding: "When you have an opportunity to obtain one, I think you have to seriously consider it because analytics and the history show what kind of player you're going to get." Wes' Insider Sports Bureau (WISB) would implore you to look at any recent Super Bowl champion – championship teams are often built on Days 2-3. My eyes were opened to that with Seattle in the early 2010s. More recently, Kansas City found value in Travis Kelce, L'Jarius Sneed and Isiah Pacheco in the mid-to-late rounds.

Lane from Hurricane, UT

Do you think there is an optimal number of draft picks to actually use? Of course, having a higher number heading into the draft allows for more trading opportunities, but if 11 players are actually drafted, does that dilute the available money pool significantly or potentially cost valuable roster spots on a fairly well established and promising roster?

I don't think the latter applies because you're not drafting 11 first-round picks who'll command 11 first-round salaries/bonuses. The difference is nominal among Day 3 picks. To me, you can never have enough picks, even if Gutekunst saying he'd love to have "13, 14 or more" made me shudder a little (That's a whole lotta bulletin posts and Instant Reax videos). The odds of finding a Pro Bowl player diminishes as the draft progresses, but the past two years are a prime example of how important every round of the draft can be. Some of the Packers' top young players were Day 3 selections.

Ross from Meyer, WI

Competition – this has been a constant message by Gute. More competition. The question then is, what positions does he feel need more competition than is already on the roster? Or perhaps the better question is: Which positions does he feel don't need more?

Gutekunst wants more competition at every single position, Ross, and last year is a good indication of why. The Packers had loads of competition at receiver and cornerback and both Bo Melton and Corey Ballentine were unfortunately left on the outside looking in at their respective position. When injuries arose, however, the two became catalysts for Green Bay during the second half of the year. In any walk of life, competition drives people to perform at their best and that helps both the team and the player.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

Do you know which "Top 100" prospects have special-teams appeal that is secondary to their offensive/defensive value? For example, Cooper DeJean reportedly has punt-return skills. Are there any other of the top prospects who are expected to provide added value to the roster through special-teams performance?

Having special-teams value is always a plus. That definitely factored into Jayden Reed's draft grade last year. This year, there are several top prospects with credentials as returners, including Texas WR Xavier Worthy, Virginia WR Malik Washington, Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Clemson RB Will Shipley and Louisville RB Isaac Guerendo.

Jeff from Mequon, WI

It's officially draft week! It's Monday, 6:32 a.m. and I am officially calling the Green Bay Packers will trade picks 25, 58, and potentially a late-rounder to the Seattle Seahawks for No. 16 and select Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa. Book it.

DeJean was available at 25 in the first two mock drafts I performed. I know that's a highly inexact science, but perhaps it's an omen. Gutekunst was very complementary of the belle of many fans' draft ball on Monday, praising DeJean's athleticism and versatility.

Garth from Portland, OR

After watching a reality TV show where one of the contestants is an AI bot, how much use of AI do you think teams use during the draft?

I wouldn't think much yet because somebody somewhere would've written about it by now. I'm sure that's coming down the analytics road, though. Gutekunst went out of his way Monday to applaud director of football technology Mike Halbach and his staff for the exhaustive work they're doing to keep Green Bay on the cutting edge.


2024 Prospect Primers

Pat from Arcadia, WI

Assuming that a high-quality tackle such as Amarius Mims or JC Latham or a top-ranked interior lineman such as Graham Barton or Jackson Powers-Johnson would be available at 25, which position do you feel the Packers would lean towards?

It's an interesting question because Barton is a high-quality left tackle who's projected to play inside at the next level. Because of that background, I view him in similar light as Mims or Latham, who were right tackles in the SEC. If you're not at a powerhouse program such as Alabama or Georgia, what I want most in an offensive lineman is someone who was his team's top guy up front, the most irreplaceable piece of an O-line, and Barton most certainly was that for Duke. I'd be happy with Mims at No. 25 if that's how the chips fall, but I also think Barton, at 6-5, 313, has a chance to be a special pro wherever he plays.

Jeffrey from Eau Claire, WI

Do you think Green Bay will be looking at drafting a center or offensive tackle?

Maybe both if the Packers draft Barton. In all seriousness, I'd say tackle is the more likely focus. Anything is possible. Gutekunst said it himself on Monday – Green Bay has a penchant for drafting versatile offensive linemen and that versatility can allow for some creative possibilities.

Mickey from Park Falls, WI

If draft falls strange and all the OL and DL and CB are gone, and LSU WR Brian Thomas Jr. is top guy on their board, do they break form and pull trigger?

I'll believe the Packers draft a receiver in the first round when I see the Packers draft a receiver in the first round. It's been 22 years, folks. Until it happens, this is all hypothetical ink on invisible paper that'll surely be recycled 12 months from now.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

The Cardinals hold the first key to the draft – do they keep that No. 4 pick and select Marvin Harrison Jr. or trade back to a QB-hungry team? The Cards keep saying Kyler Murray is their guy, so I believe they will select Harrison Jr. Either way, the flurry of trades start at 4-5 and keep pushing the top O-linemen and corners/safeties down. Gute will for sure have options. By the way, we have already hit 100 in Phoenix. Please no "But it's a dry heat!" cracks.

As I said on "Unscripted" last week, I think the entire draft hinges on what the Cardinals do at No. 4. Will Arizona stay and take arguably the top prospect in the entire draft in Harrison Jr. (which is what I would do) or is there a team willing to pay a king's ransom for whichever top-four QB is still available? The Los Angeles Chargers loom at No. 5, so the Cards can't get too cute, but they could use extra draft capital for a rebuild. It's a huge decision that likely will begin that "butterfly effect" I discussed on Monday.

Gene from Jacksonville, FL

If the need/opportunity arises, is it easier to convert a CB to safety or vice versa? Thought being, it seems BG might be looking for both, but would it be more beneficial to draft two great corners, if available, or two great safeties, if available, and let the competition sort out which might better serve the defense at the other position?

I think it's easier to make a cornerback a safety than to convert a safety into a cornerback. Tramon Williams' abrupt switch to the back end midway through 2018 speaks to that a little bit. But I don't see the Packers drafting the best available cornerback or safety this week and asking him to play a new position straightaway if that's not where he's already projected to play. Teams have to do right by players, too, when making those decisions. Where it gets interesting, though, is in the slot where many cornerbacks and safeties are capable of handling that post without issue.

Jason from Austin, TX

It's Draft Week! Besides the obvious curiosity on who gets picked, one of my favorite things about the draft is when an unknown player gets surprisingly drafted or when a player gets drafted way higher than expected. I'm not only excited for the player who far exceeded expectations, but I find it hilarious when the talking heads start scrambling to figure out what just happened and who the player is. Another favorite is seeing Mel's fifth-best player in the draft be on the board still at pick 30.

You can laugh at Kiper for that but also give him his flowers when he identifies a prospect, too. He was practically begging someone to draft Carrington Valentine last year on Day 3 and the former Kentucky cornerback proved him right.

James from Appleton, WI

What I've seen that I would like to see happen every game this season: 1. Christian Watson soaring skyward to make a catch. 2. Lukas Van Ness putting it into the next gear to run the QB down from behind. 3. A Packers tight end (pick one) making a catch with no defender on the TV screen.

If all those things happen next season, even periodically, it's gonna be a good year.

John from Ashland, OR

I think Sean Clifford is a hidden gem. Maybe not the next Patrick Mahomes, but a solid QB. It's weird that the best you can hope for the guy is that he never takes the field. What's the best-case scenario for Clifford?

The Matt Hasselbeck path, where Clifford takes advantage of his limited opportunities to the point another NFL team is enticed enough to give him a shot at QB1. Quite frankly, it's not a bad path to take. Quality beats quantity every time when it comes to impressing in the NFL (See: Jordan Love vs. Philadelphia in 2022).

Andy from Lancaster, PA

Good morning, Inbox. I have an inquiry about salary and pay for the emergency quarterback position. If the third QB is on the practice squad while serving as the emergency backup, does he get any boost in pay? And how does it change if the emergency situation actually arises and that QB enters a game? Does any of this count toward the limit on roster elevations for practice-squad players?

It doesn't count towards a team's practice-squad elevations. It's just a 49th active player with an asterisk (the other two QBs cannot return to the game after the emergency QB enters). I don't know this for a fact, but I assume the third QB doesn't get an active salary bump unless he actually plays in the game.

Dan from Columbus, OH

The Bears definitely have to prove they'll (finally) make the right choices, but would you rather have two top-10 picks and essentially zero picks afterwards or one first-round pick and a significant amount of draft capital in the earlier and later rounds?

The latter, especially given everything that happened over the past year to bring us to this point.

Gavin from Albuquerque, NM

All this talk of sleeping on long flights has my brain churning. I'm 6-4 and have a lot of trouble staying comfortable when attempting to sleep on a flight. More than half of my attempts to sleep result in a sore neck. And my knees generally rest against the seat in front of me. Do the charter flights in any way include special seating for people taller than me? Do players get a full row to themselves?

There's an open seat between players on flights and I think some veterans with rows entirely to themselves. I would imagine they'll have additional space, or even pods, for a trip to Brazil.

Mike from Lena, WI

Wes/Mike, have you been practicing on how to pronounce/say some of these names of players that will be drafted?

That process is underway, though inevitably there's always a guy in the later rounds that'll twist my tongue during a groggy late-Saturday edition of "Three Things."

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure braunschweiger is a waaay better Green Bay Packers-term than baloney. I'd like to make a motion that all future uses of the term baloney be replaced with braunschweiger. Do I hear a second?

But you can't spell braunschweiger 58 different ways. That's no fun.

Chad from Rhinelander, WI

It's hard to believe that the greatest sports movie ever created, "Draft Day" is officially 10 years old. To commemorate the anniversary of its release, I have decided to have pancakes for lunch. Vontae Mack, no matter what!

Don't forget the bacon, fruit cup and coffee!

John from Livermore, CA

Any last-minute words of wisdom for the draft?

Find out what it is you do well in the draft…and do that thing again. Talk to you guys on draft day.

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