Keith from Normal, IL
Hello Mike/Wes, what all did you guys get when visiting Steak 'n Shake?
I was good, only stopping in once to indulge and I tried one of their new cereal shakes – Frosted Flakes. It was … interesting.
Blake from Orlando, FL
What impact does Joe Philbin bring back to the offense? He stated, "I want to make Mike McCarthy the best play-caller he can possibly be." In what way or ways does he help achieve that?
Several. It can be by play design, taking concepts in the Packers' offense and creating variations they haven't tried before. It can be coming up with a new offensive concept to try out in OTAs and see if there's enough to work with for the season. It can be in game-planning during the season, exploring new and different ways to attack some of the same defensive concepts the Packers see frequently. And it can be finding more efficient and effective ways to teach the new plays and concepts to the players, and getting the position coaches to execute the teaching. It'll be a collaborative process with all the offensive coaches, and Philbin's history here with run game coordinator James Campen and his more recent history elsewhere with passing game coordinator Jim Hostler makes for a promising setup.**
David from Coeur d'Alene, ID
I keep looking at Vita Vea, the DT from Washington. He's a mountain of a man, both strong and fast. He could pressure the middle, eat up double-teams and allow our current edge rushers to really make an impact. What do you think about him for our first pick if available?
Vea falls under the planet theory, in that there are only so many big guys like that on the planet. If he's there at 14, you definitely have to consider him, but with all these quarterbacks at the top of the draft, plus Barkley and Nelson on the offensive side, the Packers might have a few intriguing options on defense at 14.
Herb from Albuquerque, NM
On the NFL site it showed Josh Jackson as a loser for the combine. Do you think that some of the athletes who failed to impress will do better on their college days?
They almost always do.
Max from Milwaukee, WI
The Insider Inbox has floated trading up and back into the first round. What are your thoughts on Packers trading back into the second, third, and fourth rounds instead? It wouldn't cost as much and there are still very good players available then. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams are all second-round picks.
Brian Gutekunst has a stockpile of picks to move here and there in the middle rounds if some targeted players are available. It all depends on how the draft falls.**
Paul from Ellensburg, WA
Hey fellas, there's a bunch of buzz about Wilkerson joining us, but he plays a position that's already one of our greatest strengths with Daniels and Clark. For the signing to make sense, is there a way to use him effectively without losing what we already have? Do we have a defensive scheme that gets all three on the field?
If the Packers indeed pursue Wilkerson, it's a given Pettine has a plan for him.
Jon from Salem, MA
Hi guys, love the column. To all the fans looking to trade up and "go all in" for this season, take a look at Seattle's situation. They have been more aggressive as of late, but now they have Wilson's contract, an aging, expensive defense, only $11M or so in cap space, and they don't have a second- or third-round pick. I'd much rather be in Green Bay's position than Seattle's. (P.S. – They each have one Super Bowl to show for it.)
Everyone knows Seattle needs to fix its offensive line to remain a contender. It's an absolute must for Schneider now, with the Rams and 49ers rising in the West.
Mike from Marquette, MI
"Let's just say I'd be surprised if Gutekunst went with a QB at No. 14. There are greater needs elsewhere." Does this mean you think we are shifting to a needs-based drafting philosophy rather than taking the best available athlete?
Not at all. The QB position is always treated differently. Either you have one, you're looking for one, or you'll need one soon enough. The Packers are not in the second or third category as it pertains to the first round of the draft. Quarterbacks are always overdrafted nowadays (what happened with Rodgers in 2005 is such an anomaly), so with the four QBs being talked about at the top of the first round, they aren't four of the top 15 players on most draft boards.
Eric from Oshkosh, WI
Hey Insiders, on the surface there doesn't seem to be much difference between a 4.5 and a 4.7 40 time. All the players look about the same when they are running individually at the combine. But at one point they showed a side by side comparison, and the difference at the finish was at least a yard, maybe almost two. That much separation might as well be a mile for guy trying to chase down a RB from behind or trying to catch up to a receiver on a deep route. Did you have any realizations like that this past weekend?
To extrapolate further on my last answer, it was reconfirmed for me how different a combine and draft are when you're in the market for a top quarterback versus not. The attention on the QBs is through the roof.**
Nick from Evergreen, CO
It's been reported that Shields wants to return. If the Packers were to sign him I'd say it'd be the biggest free-agent signing since Woodson. Is there even a chance or have bridges been burned?
I don't think any bridges have been burned. It's a matter of getting medical clearance.
LeeAnn from Corydon, IN
Mike and Wes, when a player is "formally" interviewed at the combine, who from the team is in the room? Is the player there by himself?
Teams handle them differently, but generally speaking, you'll have the GM, head coach, another scout or personnel exec(s), position coach, maybe a coordinator. The players, to my knowledge, are by themselves.
Kate from Ravena, NY
Scott from Dallas, TX, brought up a good question, but I think you may have missed his main point and now I'm curious about it, too. It's all well and good to cap player interviews at about 15 minutes, but if all 32 teams requested to have one of those 15-minute interviews with the same player, that would be a really long day for him. Is there a limit to how many of those 15-minute interviews a player can be required to attend during the combine? And if so, who determines which teams get the interview and which teams are denied access?
I don't know all the answers, but teams prioritize their interview lists, so if there's a limit, the teams that place a higher priority on a player will get him over others. Also, to clarify, players don't do all their formal interviews on the same day or night. They're spread out during the prospect's multiple days at the combine.
Rick from El Cerrito, CA
Do teams see which players other teams are interviewing at the combine? If so, doesn't that give a lot of competitive intelligence to the other teams? I wonder if teams will do "dummy" interviews with players as a decoy.
Most definitely. You have seven (or a few more) picks and 60 interviews. Many times the Packers have selected a player they didn't interview at the combine.
Roger from Indianapolis, IN
Which one question in the player interview is most likely to be the one that swings a team's impression one way or the other?
Take a look at photos of Packers RB Aaron Jones from the 2017 season. Photos by Evan Siegle and Corey Wilson, packers.com
It may be one they ask someone else about the player they're interested in. A clandestine approach is to ask multiple teammates of the player you're targeting which players from their college team they'd want to play with in the NFL. If they don't mention your guy, he probably wasn't well-liked and may be a locker-room problem. That sort of thing.**
Mike from Keshena, WI
Request to the Inboxers: Could we please tamp down all the Vander Esch talk? I don't want to tip our hand.
Daniel from Copenhagen, Denmark
All the free agents people have ever wanted to sign were at one point available in the draft. This is why more draft picks is better than few. It gets your hands on more potential future great players and you get to decide whether you want (to keep) them or not. In this regard, less is not more. More is more.
If you draft really well, some of those players will inevitably end up on other teams. The other teams will just be paying more for them.
Nick from Chicago, IL
If both Marcus Davenport and Denzel Ward are available at No. 14, who do you go with and why? Ward has BLAZING speed and can mirror his opponent. Davenport is just crazy big and his hand blows could be hard to handle.
It's hard to see Ward getting out of the top 10 as the top corner now, according to most. I'm curious if Davenport's 40 time moves him up boards as well. So much of all this depends on what happens with the quarterbacks. There's no escaping it.
Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI
Have you ever heard of an NFL draft pick being made as a favor to the family with no expectation of the player having enough talent, a la Mike Piazza by Tommy Lasorda?
I've heard of favors like that with undrafted free agents, but you only have seven rounds in the actual draft. Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round. Baseball doesn't have that many rounds anymore, but you get the point.
Joseph from East Moline, IL
Umm, yeahhh. Just an FYI, it works best for me if the column is posted by 8:45. So if you could go ahead and do that from now on, that'd be great.
Yeah, sorry, Tuesday's slightly delayed column was on me. Had too much shoveling to do in the morning after the big storm blew through, and I didn't hold up my end. Wes had it written in plenty of time.
Fearn from Rolling Meadows, IL
Aren't teams not allowed to talk to other teams' free agents until the new league year and when free agency starts? Yet, somehow the Cousins race has been narrowed to four teams (and, supposedly, a lock for MN). What's the point of the waiting 'til the new league year and the "moratorium" if teams get around it anyways?
Exploratory conversations take place at the combine. It happens all the time. Part of the business. If it ever got out that specific offers and numbers were being exchanged, that would be a problem.
Ben from De Pere, WI
With Philly's awful cap situation, will they be able to afford Wentz in a few years (assuming he continues on his current protection)?
They will find a way. The question will be what else can they afford, not whether they can afford Wentz.
Pete from Wild Rose, WI
Is a player allowed to play with an uncovered prosthetic hand or leg?
I don't believe a prosthetic of any kind is allowed.
Jim from Baraboo, WI
Where on the internet can one find the current correct information as to the picks each team has in the upcoming draft?
The Packers' full slate of picks isright here. The full order for all 32 teams, all seven rounds, is on NFL.com[here](Where on the internet can one find the current correct information as to the picks each team has in the upcoming draft?).
Lawrence from Onalaska, WI
Hey Mike, about the draft order and the tiebreakers. The NFL posted its full draft order, and they are indeed rotating the Packers' draft picks with the Bengals and Redskins. Other tied teams are also rotating their picks.
I stand corrected. I didn't know the league did that for ties other than the coin-flip ones. Learn something new every year.
Chris from Marshfield, WI
I have to say Mike, your explanation of why Foles wouldn't take the Eagles to 13-3 doesn't fit the "players, not plays" mantra. I don't think there is a coach or player that would say they lost to the Eagles because they didn't think Foles could do what he did. Regardless, my question is this: Given what we know about Cousins and Foles, if you could have either one, Cousins at top dollar versus Foles at a modest price, which would you do? I'd be tempted to take Foles and roll the dice; he was fearless and calm under pressure.
I think the Vikings are spending all offseason saying they lost because they didn't think Foles could do what he did. That was a shell-shocked Minnesota defense that day. What I said fits "players, not plays" to a T. Once all your plays are on film for everyone to study and you're still plowing through a 16-game regular season, that's when the special players, like Wentz, can still win games consistently. As for your Cousins-Foles question, I'd take Foles and draft a quarterback I think could beat him out by his second or third season.
Rod from Chugiak, AK
Mike's "Packers going back to Page 1 in playbook" brings to mind Lombardi, following a disgustingly sloppy game that had him grinding his jaws, starting the following team meeting with, "Gentlemen, this is a football." Then who can forget the inimitable Max McGee, Lombardi's polar opposite, breaking in, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, not so fast!" Set against Lombardi's dominating, fear-invoking severity, it must have broken up the room.
It must have taken some guts, too.
Eric from Milwaukee, WI
I think (insert any Badger) is the best (insert said Badger's position) in the draft. (Choose one of the next two statements) 1. He reminds me so much of (insert notable Packer, probably from the mid '90s). 2. He is such a hard worker, Lombardi would have loved to coach him. (Finish statement) We'd be a fool not to draft him. Lather, rinse, repeat. I just gave you entire Inbox full of submissions.
It comes with the territory.