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No one knows who the Packers' pick will be

The cost of moving up in the draft is steep


Greg from Danbury, CT

A whole week without Spofford, and not a single major announcement from the Packers? The curse is broken! Welcome back.

It was my quietest week off, like, ever. I don't expect that to happen again.

Dave from Long Beach, CA

Mike, we have great success in the fourth round of the draft. If the first round is barely better than 50-50 getting winners league-wide, how do the other rounds pan out?

I don't have that list in front of me, but not as well. The first round is still the best bet, which tells you how much of a crapshoot the draft can be. For whatever reason, the fourth round seems to be Ted Thompson's best as far as the mid-to-late selections. In the fourth, he has found Brady Poppinga, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Mike Daniels, David Bakhtiari and Jake Ryan, among others.

Josh from New Berlin, WI

Mike made the claim that the first round of the draft is essentially "a 50-50 proposition." I was wondering how you break that down? Is it by Pro Bowl appearance? First-year contribution? Length of career? Regardless of your criteria, first-round picks are statistically better than any other round. I will acknowledge the incredible success that Ted Thompson has had in the middle rounds, but all of our blue-chip defensive players (Matthews, Perry, Clinton-Dix) are first-round picks. Trading up to grab a difference-maker at OLB or CB might be a good move this year.

I read an analysis once that used the rather nebulous distinction "long-term starter," and by that measure first-round picks pan out about half the time. I don't disagree with your sentiment, but I don't see the Packers having the extra ammunition to move up in the first round without really compromising their draft, because it's so costly. Let's remember that last year, it cost Thompson a fourth-round pick just to move up nine spots in the second round (from 57 to 48) to draft Spriggs. He felt comfortable giving up that fourth-rounder because he had two fourth-round compensatories he then used on Martinez and Lowry. The first-round price is much, much greater. Going back to '09 when he moved up 15 spots from early second to late first (41 to 26) to get Matthews, it cost him two third-rounders (the extra third coming from the Favre trade). In effect, he used his four picks in the first three rounds to draft two first-rounders in Raji and Matthews, and he got an extra fifth-rounder in return. Depth-wise the tradeoff to get another first-round bite was palatable. Unless Hayward brings him a third-round compensatory this year, which I doubt, I don't think he'll have the draft capital to make the move you're seeking without giving up at least his second and third (and maybe more, depending on how far up you're trying to go), which would give him only one pick in the top 100 of the draft. That would be a huge sacrifice for a draft-and-develop program. But I've been wrong before. Just ask my wife.

(Correction: The Spriggs trade also cost the Packers a seventh-round pick.)

Brandon from Baldwin, WI

Nobody quite signs a baseball like Jimmy Dugan either.

I'll clap for that one.

Bryan from Thayer, MO

I agree with the idea of obtaining as many draft picks as possible. For every trade up a team makes, it is one less player the team gets. I know it's an extreme circumstance but what if the Patriots had traded back into the first round of the 2000 draft by giving up their 2000 second-, sixth-, and seventh-round picks along with their 2001 second-rounder. They would have given up Adrian Klemm, Matt Light, and Tom Brady for one player. I see taking more shots superior to putting all your eggs in one basket for the long-term success of the team.

I've said it before here, the cautionary tale to trading up was the 2012 draft. Thompson traded up three times, packaging a total of seven picks in order to get Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward and Terrell Manning. Seven picks returned one player. You can get burned.

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

There are websites that are pretty confident they've reverse-engineered the comp-pick formula (with a decent track record of accuracy in past years). Contract value weighs into it far more heavily than Pro Bowls or other accolades, and Hayward signed with the Chargers for less than superstar money. Thus, they suggest the Packers will get at best a fifth-rounder for him.

Wouldn't surprise me, but I still think there's hope for a fourth.

Matt from Wayne, NJ

My question is about restructuring contracts. My dad and brother are Cowboy fans (yes, I remind them of Rodgers-to-Cook often!). I brought up how I saw that the Cowboys did not have a lot of cap room this year. My dad told me that they could open close to 40 million in cap space by restructuring contracts. Yesterday, I saw they restructured two of their offensive linemen's contracts to open up 17 million in cap space. How does that work? Is it fair? Why don't more teams do it? I could be wrong, but I don't recall the Packers doing it recently. Not complaining that they don't, just trying to learn and understand the complexities of the salary cap.

From what I saw, for left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick, the Cowboys converted $21 million out of $24 million in 2017 salary owed those two players into signing bonuses. It's a way for the player to get guaranteed money but allow the team to spread out the cap charge across future years. Signing bonuses are prorated over the length of the contract, up to five years, for salary-cap purposes (e.g., a $10 million bonus can count $2 million on the cap each year of a five-year deal). They're just pushing their salary-cap headaches down the road, which you don't have to do if you've managed your cap well all along. What are they going to do when they have to pay Dak and Zeke star money, not draft-pick money? They'll clear some money eventually when Romo is gone, but they're already making the future an even bigger headache.

Josh from St. Cloud, MN

Hey Mike, you should come hang out with us in the comments section sometime. Vic denied my invitation (though it was technically for Wes), but what about you?

Serenity now.

Joe from Gaylord, MI

All this talk of free agency, got me thinking ... two of the most consistently successful teams in the NFL (Packers, Patriots) have one position rock-solid: QB. I think it's easy to take for granted what a difference that makes! My question is, how are the two teams in the division with big QB questions, Bears and Vikings, going to approach this offseason when it comes to this position, free agency and all?

The Bears finally have options, with the guaranteed portion of Cutler's contract done and his salary for 2017 near the bottom third of the league for QBs. The Vikings will hope Bridgewater recovers in time for next season. If not, they'll go with Bradford for as long as it takes. That's why they gave up a first-round pick for him, because there was no guarantee Bridgewater would come back in one year from that horrible injury.

Don from Aurora, Ontario

Do you think there would be as much concern over the fairness of OT had the Packers fared better over the last few years in OT in the playoffs?

In this column, of course not. Nationally, it's a bigger issue now because the Super Bowl went to OT for the first time and ended the way it did.

Tim from Chicago, IL

What do you think of a penalty on the offense inside their own 5- or 10-yard line leaving the ball where it is, but moving the first-down line out 5, 10, or 15 yards? If the offense was first-and-10 at their 4 and jumps, it would become first-and-15 at the 4.

That would be one of many potential fixes, but it wouldn't address goal-to-go situations.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hi Mike, when I watch the Packers playing, I see Brett Hundley and Joe Callahan on the sideline writing something on a clipboard. What kind of things are they writing down and when do they use that information?

I've never asked about the specifics, but I believe they're charting different aspects of each play call – personnel group, formation, protection, route concepts, etc. – and that information is later matched up to the corresponding snaps on the game film when it is reviewed.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Can you name a Packers special teams player from 2016 who you think could make a major contribution on offense or defense in 2017?

The best thing for the 2017 Packers is if that player is Kyler Fackrell.

Adam from Saint Hyacinthe, Canada

Hi Mike, I understand that getting rid of Bulaga would've been a mistake, but he was also a lot younger, cheaper at the time and his best football was still in front of him, while it's the exact opposite with Matthews.

I want to see a healthy Matthews again before I declare his career in decline. As for all the talk out there about restructuring deals for stars who have underperformed, you have to be careful if you're talking about players who played through some difficult injuries. Asking them to take a pay cut and holding their injury-diminished performance against them, when they could have just shut it down and not played when less than 100 percent, is a locker-room message you may not want to send.

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Hi Mike, what do you consider the best rivalry in sports?

I wish I'd been old enough to watch and appreciate the three Ali-Frazier fights.

Dale from Oaktown, IN

I loved the "Fun Bunch." I loved when the Eagles would "Roll for seven." I loved the Billy "White Shoes" chicken dance. I also respect the likes of Marvin Harrison and Barry Sanders, who just tossed the ball back. Your take?

If they had a Hall of Fame for touchdown celebrations, the inaugural inductee would have to be Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.

Bert from Oshkosh, WI

Is there any talk of changing the pass interference rule from a spot foul to a 15-yard penalty? Do you think it should be changed? Would it encourage more DBs to commit a PI rather than give up a long pass?

College changed it several years ago, but I hope the NFL doesn't. I know a lot of fans don't like the rule, but if they change it, they'd almost have to institute a "flagrant" variation of the penalty, like in basketball, and that would make it a bigger mess, more replays, etc. No thanks.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

I was curious how accurate the "draft experts" are on their mock drafts. So I found the seven most popular mock draft writers, looked at who they thought the Packers would take and where they actually went in the draft. So for 2016 the "experts" thought the Packers would take one of the following individuals in the first round with the 27th pick. I will also put the overall number they were drafted. Andrew Billings (122), Hunter Henry (25), Sheldon Rankins (12), Chris Jones (37), Jarron Reed (49), Vernon Butler (30), Reggie Ragland (41). This tells me one thing: the "experts" have as much idea as I do on who the Packers will take. I suppose all we can do is wait and see.


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