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It takes the whole roster

Is the new GM's first draft a make-or-break one?


Kyle from Los Angeles, CA

Any thoughts on Cleveland becoming AFC Green Bay? Could all these ex-Packers in GM spots produce more draft-day movement?

The opportunity in Cleveland is a talent evaluator's dream. It's a young roster already, with several high draft picks, and now the Browns have five picks in the first two rounds this spring. Get a quarterback and hit on some big picks and the franchise is ripe for a turnaround.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Insiders, who are some possible replacements for Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith? Losing so many in our scouting department, how will this impact this year's draft?

The next highest-ranking individuals are Jon-Eric Sullivan (director of college scouting) and John Wojciechowski (director of pro personnel). Sullivan has been with the Packers since 2004, while Wojciechowski came to Green Bay more recently, though his scouting career began around the same time as Gutekunst's. Also, you don't spend two decades in scouting as Gutekunst has without developing a pretty hefty rolodex of contacts in the business. He'll be able to get everything lined up in fairly short order.

Brian from Urbana, IL

Hey Insiders, I was "up in the box" for a couple of years. My HC made me go because I'd get too emotional being close to the game on the sidelines. I needed the physical separation to help my play-calling.

Interesting. When I used to cover high school games, I'd walk the sidelines keeping my own stats, and via one-sided eavesdropping I found the collaboration between the coaches on the sideline and those in the booth to be enlightening. In the NFL, the technical level and speed of the communication must be fascinating. I would love just to listen in sometime, even if I wouldn't know half the jargon and playbook language.

Katherine from Harrisburg, PA

Are any of the 32 teams in the NFL going to address the practice time in the offseason or allowing teams to improve their players in the offseason? The quality of what's being shown on any given game day is at best average or poor.


The owners agreed to the players' demands for shorter offseason programs and restrictions on training-camp and in-season full-contact practices in the current CBA. Any changes would have to be collectively bargained, and I don't see the players ever turning back the clock. I'm sure coaches around the league would love to return to the old rules, but they don't have a seat at the negotiating table.**

Bill from Kronenwetter, WI

I like your stand-pat answer to Jeriah from NM. The teams picking in front of the Packers look to draft at least three QBs and one RB. Packers are going to get a top-10 pick at 14 to fill one of the many needs. A better chance for an impact player.

I tend to agree.

Greg from Marquette, MI

There was a question about trading up in the draft and the response was that it wasn't a guarantee that you would get a good player. That is why I am in favor of trading draft picks for a proven veteran. I remember trading a second-round pick for Al Harris that seemed to work out.

I don't believe Thompson ever traded a pick above a sixth-rounder for a player. This is another area it will be interesting to monitor Gutekunst's approach.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Do you know if all the coaching hires now have to be approved by Murphy, or if he's leaving those decisions up to McCarthy's judgment and waiting to see how they turn out? What will become of Moss, Perry, and Whitt Jr. now that a new DC has been hired in Mike Pettine?

I can't comment on the defensive coordinator position until it's official, but I'm sure the fit and comfort level with the coaches McCarthy would like to retain would have been part of any conversations. All the coaching decisions are ultimately McCarthy's. The contracts would have to be approved by Murphy, but he's going to let McCarthy pick the coaches he wants.

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Hi Mike, Brian Gutekunst talked about creating competition on the back end of the roster. If you read between the lines is he really saying we need better, more experienced players at the bottom of the roster?

I think so.

Jay from Wilmington, NC

My wife and I were at the game when Rodgers got injured. My wife is a Vikings fan and so happy right now. She gets so mad when I tell her that her team is where they are due to the injury caused by her stupid team. I want the Vikings to win the Super Bowl for her, but deep down I hope the Saints destroy them! Is that OK?

Good luck with that.

Steve from Middletown, KY

This draft will not only be important, but how it plays out will be very interesting. Will the best player available match our needs in the position we draft? How much pressure will our new guy be under when making those decisions? Can't say I envy the hot seat he's on. Do you think his first draft class can make or break him?


Make or break? No. But I think this draft helps determine whether the Packers get right back in Super Bowl contention after a down year, a la 2014 when Clinton-Dix, Adams, R. Rodgers and Linsley were picked and all had significant impact as rookies.**

Eli from Milwaukee, WI

I was in high school when Lombardi was leading the Packers to glory, so I have seen all the highs and lows over the last half century. The miserable years of the '70s and '80s only ended with the hiring of Ron Wolf in '91 to head the entire football operation. Up to that point, Dominic Olejniczak and Judge Robert Parins ran the operation and the Packers were a sad joke. The organizational changes just instituted by Mark Murphy, with him heading the entire operation, feel the same way to me. Even if he is more capable than Olejniczak and Parins, how is the future after his departure secured? I would hate to see those decades of misery repeated.

I think the alarmists need to understand how different a President/CEO Murphy is than his predecessors, no disrespect intended to any of them. Murphy was an All-Pro NFL player, a rep and executive in the players' union, and a collegiate Division I athletic director for 16 years, among other things. His credentials are unlike those of any other chief executive this franchise has known. His background provides no guarantee his decisions will work out, but to make comparisons to the '70s and '80s based on structure alone seems myopic to me.

Dan from Minneapolis, MN

Regarding the concern of changing the Packers' management structure, it seems like a solid move for the time-being. They can always switch it back when McCarthy leaves/retires, and put things back under the GM. Seems to address the current situation. Why all the concern?

That's where I'm coming from, too. As I said**in my mid-week chat**, I think Murphy decided on the people he wanted to run things and the roles they would possess, and he picked a structure that will work best for the people he chose. He's fitting the right system to his top people, not trying to make the people fit a system.

Chris from Victor, ID

It seems like the creation of three distinct leadership positions for the long haul and less of a "regime."

Another good way to look at it, in my view.

Joshua from Philadelphia, PA

I'm an accountant by trade and could only imagine what Ball's salary-cap worksheet looks like; my inner nerd is going crazy. To live a day in that life must be crazy. The amount of information used by all personnel makes these silos perfectly logical.

I've never been an accountant, but I'm a number nerd, too, and the daily challenge the cap presents seems exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.

Lee from Marshfield, WI

So what happens when Brady and Big Ben retire? Who will emerge as the AFC superstar? If you were an NFC free-agent QB, would you go to an AFC team? Odds are far better to make it than a loaded NFC.

For a while, it looked like Luck and Carr would be the next contending QBs in the AFC, but injuries changed that. Rivers and Smith haven't gotten their teams over the hump. We'll see if this year becomes the turning point for Mariota. Provided he recovers fully, Watson is the next great one on the rise, but that's about it.

Ken from Oswestry, UK

Hi Insiders, I am originally from Slinger, Wis., and grew up in the 1960s watching Bart Starr and the rest of the Hall of Famers, and I must admit I'm getting a little tired of the officiating and the rules. On Sunday, in the first quarter New Orleans was penalized for a pass interference holding call, and Cam Newton ran for 14 yards and a first down. The official added 5 yards onto the run. Now, I thought you could have one or the other but not both. Can you please explain this to me?

If the ball is not thrown, the call cannot be pass interference, it must have been defensive holding, which is tacked on to the end of any running play. Had the ball been thrown and completed, the choice of taking the play or defensive holding would have to be made. Hope that helps.

Josh from Canmore, Alberta

I think we were able to compare the two levels of officiating personnel (college vs. pros) just fine in 2012. Does Brian remember how that went?


Robert from Harris, MN

I'd like to take exception or perhaps clarify your response to Glenn about scouting college talent versus scouting pro talent. Your response had to do with hours in a day and regions, and although that may be true I would argue there is a huge difference in the scouting skill set between the two. One is scouting for the future based on the unseen, the other is scouting for the present based on past performance. To say that one might be better at one than the other is not only possible but probable.

Well said.

Derek from Arlington, WI

I know injuries are an inevitable part of the game, and every team has a lot of injuries every year. Often times, the last team standing is the one who has the deepest team, allowing them to absorb the injuries more smoothly. If every team was healthy and there was no such thing as injuries, one could more accurately evaluate where their teams are at in comparison to the rest of the league. My question, in this hypothetical world, is how good/talented do you see the Packers' roster in its current state? Depth would still play a big role for underperforming players.

It takes the whole roster to get the job done, and this past season the drop-off when injuries hit was too great. Rodgers made it work in '15 and '16, winning three playoff games over those two years despite depleted starting lineups, but those teams eventually met their match. Had the miracle been completed in Arizona, the injuries for Green Bay might have made the '15 NFC title game in Carolina look a lot like the '16 one in Atlanta, realistically. It's likely the '17 season would have happened in '15 or '16 had Rodgers gone down. Those teams lost four of five and four in a row, respectively, with Rodgers. Let's not forget, the '13 team was 8-7-1, not much better than 7-9, without Rodgers for half the year. Comparing starting lineups is fine and all, but it usually doesn't amount to a hill of beans unless you're really lucky. The Packers could use a true No. 1 corner (who might be King) and new, long-term mainstays at pass rusher, receiver and tight end, but they also need to build better immediate depth so one of two things (or both) can occur – they can survive a partial-season injury to Rodgers without losing all margin for error, and/or they can still win enough games when other starters go down and Rodgers has just an average day.

Sean from Portland, ME

I know free agency opens March 14, but has the window to re-sign your own free agents (i.e., Morgan Burnett) closed? If not, when does it close?

Teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents until the two-day negotiating window (or legal tampering period, if you prefer) opens March 12. At that point, anyone can get involved, but a free agent cannot sign a contract with a new team until March 14.

Jay from Woodstock, GA

Spoff, if you're going to be a "sidler," take the Tic-Tacs out of your pocket first.

One word filled up the Inbox with Tic-Tacs for two days. I love it. There is no offseason in the Inbox.

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