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Several prospects passed the eye test in Indianapolis


Ethan from La Crosse, WI

I think one of Mike's most intriguing players at the combine was only because of his name: Ifeadi Odenigbo. That's a pretty intriguing name.

I was a big fan of Obi Melifonwu. He has an excellent name, a physical specimen at 6-4, 219, and absolutely tested through the roof in Indianapolis. With every NFL team looking to discover the "next big thing," I'm very curious to see where Melifonwu lands in April.

Alex from Chester, NJ

What player at the combine was the most unexpectedly impressive?

Several prospects passed the eye test in Indianapolis. It would be too easy to say John Ross, though it surprised absolutely none of the Pac-12 defensive backs who were surveyed afterward. Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers posted some legit numbers and drilled as both a linebacker and defensive back. Alabama tight end O.J. Howard was an absolute beast. He ran a 4.51-second time in the 40-yard dash, put up 22 reps on the bench and registered a 30-inch vertical. He was by far the most consistent tight end across the board. I'd also be remiss not to mention Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, as well. He made 4.64 in the 40 look effortless for a 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive lineman.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Is there enough upside to Nick Perry for the Packers to sign him to a big contract? From what I've seen from him, I don't consider him a top pass-rusher and expect him to walk.

Premier pass-rushers are like quarterback. They're always in short supply. Of the hundreds of pass-rushers in the NFL, only 16 players had 10 or more sacks in both 2015 and 2016. It's only natural for those players to garner attention. What works in Perry's favor is he's young – he'll turn 27 next month – and is coming off a career year. What does that mean for his market value? Time will tell, but he has what you look for in a pass-rusher. Yes, he's had injuries, but he's played through them when he's been able to. The first week of free agency is always hectic week with NFL teams and agents trying to figure out a player's value. Let the games begin.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Hi guys, is NFL free agency a true meritocracy or is there more value to a free agent based on name recognition and potential for increased merchandise and/or ticket sales for the winning bidder?

That might be the case in some places where teams have struggled in recent years and need a spark, but it doesn't seem to be much of a focus for the Packers and other perennial contenders. Even when the Steelers signed LaDarius Green or the Patriots traded for Martellus Bennett, it's not like either team designed an ad campaign around it. They made an acquisition and went back to business as usual.

Rich from Yankton, SD

Contracts do nothing to etch a player's name in history. What he does on and off the field and the team he plays for do. In the end, nobody will remember you for your contract.

Albert Haynesworth begs to differ. But yes, that's correct for the most part. If the team is winning and the player is producing, nobody talks about it.

Mick from Madison, WI

Not sure if you have addressed this lately, but it sure seems funny how a draft-and-develop team won't reinvest in their own projects. We have seen too many times where the Packers will let a player go after a few years of making progress from draft days to develop days. I must say, I am worried about the Packers letting good players go.

I guess I'd have to hear some examples. Off the top of my head, I can't think of too many elite players escaping the Packers' grasp over the last five or six years. In most cases where someone has left for another team, Green Bay has had a starting-caliber player waiting in the wings. Just to name a few: T.J. Lang for Daryn Colledge in 2011, Perry for Erik Walden and Randall Cobb for Greg Jennings in 2013, and JC Tretter for Evan Smith in 2014.

Dale from Kettering, OH

OK, so when the "analysts" say someone's draft stock is shooting up or plummeting, that means they just realized what the scouts already knew. That sound right?

More or less.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

Both Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson attended the 2017 combine and from what Vic says, it's to confirm what they already know. So is Mike doing the interviewing of players and Ted confirming the talent level, or vice-versa? Or do they both do these things?

Not to oversimplify this, but everybody is talking to everybody and combing through everything. It takes all hands on deck to page through more than 300 prospects. The on-site interviews have their limitations – every player has been coached and will be on his best behavior – but you can get a feel for personalities. If you want more information, teams also have pro days and their 30 official visits at their disposal.

Reed from York, PA

We've discussed pushing money onto future caps, thus leveraging the future for the present. Can you cite instances where teams have used additional cap space in the current year, to their advantage, while keeping future cap spending within reason? I guess it would be big signing bonuses with moderate to low yearly salaries?

That's a difficult question to answer because I'm not educated on every NFL team's cap history. I was impressed with how the Packers handled their offseason in 2015 when they re-signed Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga to contracts without damaging their long-term cap. I think the Patriots did an exemplary job this past year of not forsaking the future during a championship run. It's not an easy thing to juggle.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I just saw an internet assessment of free agents by position. All of the Packers' key free agents were ranked at the top five at their position. (Perry, Lacy, Lang, Tretter, Cook and Hyde). Wouldn't it make more sense to sign these guys rather than bring in lower-quality players just because they are cheaper and keep the "salary cap" in line?

But I thought the only way to win the offseason is to sign other teams' free agents? The situation you outlined isn't the first time this has happened. I can think of several instances over the last four or five years where the Packers have re-signed players who otherwise would have been the top free agents at their positions. Internal or external, free agency is free agency.

Kevin from Superior, WI

Do you think management considers the injury factor? Sign a free agent for $10 million and he gets hurt. Or spread the wealth and sign four or five players?

NFL teams always consider a player's injury history during the evaluation process, but probably not in the way you presented in terms of where to allocate resources. What they must figure out is what effect it had/has on a player and if it's something that could potentially flare up again in the future.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

You guys have been saying the fact that some states don't have an income tax can factor into a player's decision. Understandably so. One thing that jumps out to me is that with Green Bay being the smallest-market team in the league, the cost of living in Green Bay can also be dramatically more affordable than in some of these big markets. Does this play a factor at all?

I can't speak for professional athletes, but it definitely played a role in my decision to live here. We're still paying off my wife's housing loans from her five years in Milwaukee. Yes, studies have shown Green Bay to be one of the more economical locations in all of professional sports.

Chris from Menomonee Falls, WI

I have to admit, it's a bit disconcerting that we haven't heard any activity regarding the Packers' own free agents with free agency opening in two days. Forget outside free agents; let's get our own guys first.

This is where I remind everyone Julius Peppers once boarded a plane to Green Bay, walked out onto Lambeau Field on a Saturday morning, signed a contract and left before anyone even realized he was here. Don't confuse silence with inactivity.

Maximilian from Germany

Hey Insiders, what do you think: should the Packers have a closer look on the draft (good RB and DE groups) or free agency? Greetings from the only German Packer Blog - packerfans.de

You have to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of an upcoming draft class before you start pinpointing what improvements need to be made to your roster. The first domino that will fall is who comes back from the 13 unrestricted and restricted free agents the Packers are dealing with. From there, the real decisions are made.

Gabriel from Dubai, UAE

Hey guys, I was watching the combine and there were some guys that looked like they had great energy and, even if their numbers wouldn't stand out, they looked like they have the "Packers' way," if there's such a thing. From a personality standpoint, who would you say could fit into our locker room, kind of a mixture between talent and behavior?

There are two things you have to determine in the pre-draft process: can this guy play and what's he going to be like to play with? The Packers tend to do a good job of bringing in high-character guys with athletic upside. Last year's draft class was a good example of that with many former team captains who possess size you cannot coach. Who are those guys in this year's class? It's hard to say based on talking to maybe a tenth of the prospects at the combine over the past week, but you can be certain the Packers' personnel department is getting to the bottom of it.

Gary from Columbus, OH

Jason Spriggs missed key blocks in the playoffs. Is he viewed as a future starter or just a backup?

The Packers have high hopes for Spriggs. McCarthy told Spoff at the combine that he sees a very high ceiling for the second-round pick at tackle. Sixth-round pick Kyle Murphy probably will get a chance to compete at both positions this offseason. Like David Bakhtiari in 2014, it's going to be an important offseason for both Spriggs and Murphy in the weight room.

Bob from Green Bay, WI

Back in 2008 when the Packers drafted Jordy Nelson they traded back to the second round. I have heard he was their target all along. How did they know they would still get him by trading back? Or was it a gamble that they took and most likely had other candidates ready to pick from in case he wasn't there?

It's a gamble every time you make a trade on draft day. The Packers surveyed the situation, felt they were getting good value and were fortunate enough to still have Nelson on the board. If he wasn't, I'm sure Ted Thompson and his scouts had several other options in mind. Fortunately, the Packers got their man.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

James from New York said he didn't realize Packers fans were close-minded, mean-spirited hard asses. He obviously hasn't been to Lambeau Field for a game because there is nothing like it. I live just outside of Philadelphia and have been to many Eagles games (some against the Packers). Now that is close-minded, mean-spirited hard asses!

I don't want to see things devolve into a food fight, but I have yet to hear a story of an opposing team's fan who came to Lambeau Field and had a negative experience. I believe Packer fans to be some of the most accepting in the league. While they occasionally can get unruly in this column, I think they're typically fun-loving and respectful.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

Davon House back in Green Bay? It would make sense to at least bring him back through training camp and see what he's got. What do you think is the reason behind the huge drop off from 2015 to 2016 in Jacksonville?

I can't fully wrap my head around what happened with House in Jacksonville. He set a new franchise record with 23 pass deflections during his first year with the Jaguars before getting benched early in 2016 and never really having a role. There's a lot NFL teams will have to unpack there. Still, he's only 27 years old and has the size you look for in a boundary cornerback at 6-0, 200.

Tim from Portage, WI

Talking about your draft pick being late, has a team ever let their pick expire and waited a pick or two to get into the lower rookie compensation bracket?

I'm guessing you didn't watch the 2002 NFL Draft when time expired on the Vikings' pick and everything fell into disarray when they drafted Bryant McKinnie.

Bill from Ringle, WI

Hi Insiders, is there a cap on the number of supplementary draft picks a team can receive? Say all of the Packers free agents are signed by other teams?

In total, the NFL dispenses 32 compensatory picks each offseason. To the best of my knowledge, there is no limit on how many compensatory picks may be awarded to one team. It's not uncommon for teams to receive upwards of four in a year depending on net loss.

Kerry from Margate City, NJ

I get all excited when I think what Christian McCaffrey could do with Aaron Rodgers. Should I calm down?

I get the excitement, but the presents don't get to be opened until April 27. Don't work yourself into a frenzy.

Don from Roscoe, IL

Soap Opera Talking Heads. Rinky Dinks. How come youse guys get the cool names?

You forgot Biff.

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