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The combine is coming

Where the most important stuff gets no coverage


Eric from Evanston, IL

Spoff, if you could go back in time as a spectator at any three transformative sporting events, what three events would crack your list, and why?

Long time since I've been in Evanston, so have one at The Keg for me, OK? It would take me too long to decide on three, but the first one that comes to mind is U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. hockey in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, simply because we'll never see anything like that again.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Mike and Wes, it would educate and quiet the part of the fan base that clamors to move up in the draft if you suggested a good draft value board or two.

There are plenty out there from reputable sites for anyone who wants to search. From what I've seen, based on where the Packers sit, their second-round pick might be enough to move up five spots or so in the first round, and the combination of their second- and third-round picks might get them just to the outside of the top 15. Might. As I said yesterday, it's pricey.

William from Shreveport, WI

Will the Packers draft a running back?

I would guess so, but I thought they would last year as well, until the trade up for Spriggs shrunk the Packers' number of picks from nine to seven. Not everything could be addressed.

Todd from Manitowoc, WI

I keep hearing a lot about this Spofford guy. Who is he and can he play corner?

Maybe in dodgeball. That's where they put guys who have mastered far fewer than the five D's.

Craig from Ely, MN

Why the hand-wringing over goal-to-go penalties for the offense? It works the same way at the other end. When the offense is backed up, they have the penalty advantage. When the defense is backed up, they have the penalty advantage. It evens out.

I get it. That's the logic. Still bothers me, though.

Jerry from Wausau, WI

Mike, do you watch any of the NFL Scouting Combine? If so, which drills do you feel can affect a player's draft stock in either a positive or negative manner? It's my opinion that most, if not all, evaluations of a player come from actual college game film, so consequently, the major thing for the players to do is to show up in top physical shape and, most importantly, do very well in the team interviews. Am I wrong here?

I'll be at the combine next week, along with Wes and members of our video crew. The combine to me is one big irony, from a pre-draft coverage perspective. The two most important elements for NFL teams are the medical checks and in-person interviews, yet those are the two aspects not covered by the media because there's no access. The rest, as far as the prospects are concerned, is secondary in the bigger picture. We'll be gathering material for our "Prospect Primer" series while we're there, and we'll also hear from both Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson, focusing a good portion of our on-site coverage on them.

Jeremy form Kennett Square, PA

Insiders, what would it take for the league to ever lower the salary cap? Loss of revenues? A lot of teams push money out as they assume the cap will continue to grow. It would be very interesting to see what would happen if it retracted.

Per the CBA, the salary cap is based on a percentage of league revenues, so a major revenue drop would lower the cap. The only way it could happen, and it's incredibly unlikely, is if the next TV contract declined in value, but I don't see the NFL lowering its broadcast rights fees, do you?

Steve from Chippewa Falls, WI

I understand that due to the team's success they end up picking towards the end of the first round. What I don't understand is why they end up at the end of the following rounds. Seems as though the teams are in a way penalized through the whole draft!

Them's the breaks.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

While we need to draft new players all over under draft-and-develop, I like our roster everywhere but pass-rusher. Matthews may recover, Peppers could fill in again, Perry is a starter, but I can't see us getting over the hump without a Bosa-type impact guy. How do we get that given our draft position?

I know everyone is obsessed with the cornerback position right now, but I've said before that pass-rusher is this defense's biggest long-term need, regardless of what happens in free agency with Perry, Peppers or anyone else. If you're in the draft position the Packers are and don't want to compromise your draft to make a big move up (which I don't think would be wise), you stock up on pass-rushers with multiple picks where there's good value and hope at least one rises to the top.

Paul from Minneapolis, MN

Braden from Brookfield deserves a chunk of his favorite cheese for asking a GREAT question about the accuracy of mock drafts. What a waste of time they are. Braden, I bow down to thee!

All hail Sir Braden!

Timmy from Chicago, IL

So, after last week I have now had a question answered by all members of the Big 3, Vic (4x), Mike (1x) and Wes (1x). Where do I pick up my ribbon?

Only one award per week. This week's was bestowed upon Braden, apparently.

Craig from San Antonio, TX

Are we lulling ourselves to sleep with this "eight years in a row in the playoffs" mantra? (All I hear is tick, tick, tick on Rodgers' career – sounds more like a Dallas Cowboys statistic.)

You build a contender, get yourself in the playoffs, and roll the dice. That's all you can do in this league, I believe, because too much crazy (stuff) happens. Fans want some sort of guarantee when you're close that if you do this or that, then it's there for the taking. It doesn't work that way. You do what you can to get better, get to the postseason party again, and take another shot.

George from London, UK

When can we expect TT to start announcing the re-signings of our own free agents?

A lot of meetings with agents, and subsequent negotiations, go on at the combine. The interesting thing is with the combine pushed back a week this year, it ends just a few days before free agency starts, so that could lend itself to a flurry of under-the-wire activity.

Brian from Haverford, PA

So, how does it feel to be called the enemy of the American people?

I'm declaring that an alternative fact.

Taylor from Hull, IA

I just rewatched the Super Bowl XXXI broadcast. I still think Favre should have been MVP. Thoughts?

I have no problem with Howard getting it, but there's certainly a strong argument for Favre – TD passes of 54 and 81 yards (the latter the longest in Super Bowl history at the time), plus a rushing TD. His 107.9 passer rating in the game was 12 points higher than his season mark (95.8), which won league MVP. I've never heard how close the vote was.

Scott from Hudson, WI

I am of the opinion that in order for the Packers to win a Super Bowl they need to address (through draft and develop) their lack of top-end speed across the defense. All groups (especially the linebacker group) I believe aren't fast enough to the ball or to cover. No one wants to answer me or even disagree, but the Packers cannot win a Super Bowl without more top-end speed on defense. Do you agree that this is our biggest weakness on the defensive side of the ball?

Every team wants to get faster, all the time, and I agree the Packers could use more defensive speed. But it's not that simple. You still have to draft guys who can play the game at this level, and you don't leave better players for other teams to draft just to take someone who's faster. Speed kills, I know, but the list of speed demons who flame out because the rest of their skills aren't up to NFL standards is long. And the guys who have it all aren't likely to be there at 29.

Justin from Stephenson, MI

Mike, the franchise compensation has me thinking. Would teams ever let a talent like Aaron ever get to that point? Obviously teams would make that trade for two ones for a talent like that. Has there ever been a trade acquisition that has worked out that way?

With a player like Rodgers, it would never get that far. Teams have the option of using the exclusive franchise tag if they wish, which has a higher price but prevents any other teams from negotiating with the player. Denver used the exclusive tag on Von Miller last year. The only team I can recall giving up two first-round picks for another team's franchise player was the Carolina Panthers, for DT Sean Gilbert in 1998. Washington had franchised Gilbert in '97, and he sat out the year in protest. He was franchised again in '98, and the Panthers made an offer the Redskins declined to match, so Washington got two first-rounders for him. Maybe there are others I'm not remembering, but it's rare.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

Hi Insiders, I thought when the season was over all players were placed back on the regular roster. Why are there six players still on the IR list in the roster section?

The offseason roster and its designations don't mean anything until the start of the new league year March 9. Everything is kind of in limbo until then because the roster, and those who ended the season on IR, include a mixture of players under contract and those with expiring contracts. Everything will be updated on March 9.

Brian from Monroe, CT

No way the Packers keep both Lang and Tretter, right? If you ask me, I bet they'll let Lang walk and re-sign Tretter cheaper to be the starting guard. Thoughts?

It would seem unlikely both would return, but I'll never say never. The market for both players is tough to predict, for various reasons.

Nick from State College, PA

Do you think the NFL should try and encourage a higher retention rate of free agents (a cap discount or something) to promote more fan loyalty? Or is turnover/FA signings good for hype and jersey sales?

Any change of the type you're outlining would have to be collectively bargained. The question is would the players trade something like a cap discount, which in effect could boost their earning power, for more limitations on their potential movement, with exclusive rights and restricted free agency, plus the franchise and transition tags, already in place. Neither side (owners nor players) seems to be dissatisfied with the current system at the moment.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

How does the offseason affect the Inbox hits and question submissions? Does attention to the site wane by an appreciable percentage?

Yes, but that's to be expected. For the sake of mental health, my attention to the site waned to zero last week, and it's doing so for Wes this week, so all is forgiven.

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