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The field is what separates the players from the prospects

The offseason prepares you for the worst-case scenario


Gary from Columbus, OH

Wouldn't it be better to draft a starter now in the first round with Aaron Rodgers at his peak than drafting two lower round potential starters two or three years out?

That's the idea in theory, but it doesn't always work out that way. You may have a hunch about how a prospect will transition to the NFL, but everything changes once a player steps on the field. That's what separates the players from the prospects. Every player learns and develops at a different pace. I think Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are good examples of that. Matthews blew the doors down as a rookie, while Perry needed a few more years of seasoning. Both can get the job done.

Craig from Laramie, WY

Part of the intrigue this time of year for me is learning more about players that might end up in GB but also many who will end up being opponents. We aren't playing the Washington Generals every week. That enriches my football passion.

While the speed of the draft ramps up quickly, I enjoy watching what the other NFC North teams do in the first round. Their choices provide a glimpse into what they're emphasizing in a given year and the direction of their team.

Matt from Verona, WI

Oof, 2008 was brutal. That string of losses in close games at the end was worse than losing the Super Bowl in '97/'98.

I'm sorry my sarcasm detector is in the shop, so not sure if you're for real. I understand Spoff's point about it stinging as much as some playoff losses, but the Super Bowl is a little different. I was pretty young at the time, but that loss to the Broncos deflated the Green Bay community. Were the close losses in 2008 disappointing? Absolutely, but the silver-lining was how well Aaron Rodgers played. The window was opening.

Dale from Selinsgrove, PA

Does our scouting assessment hold it against players when they refuse to do all the drills at the combine and pro days, or is the film more important in determining if they really have what it takes to get to the next level?

Mike Daniels had surgery for a torn labrum after his senior year at Iowa and didn't do anything at the combine. The Packers still invested a fourth-round pick because they believed in his talent. There's a lot of factors to consider during the pre-draft process, but the film doesn't lie. If you put it on video, the Packers' scouts will see it.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

"How the NFL Schedule is Made" is a great, informative video. Watching it made me wonder if determining the order of teams in the draft is complicated. Would you please explain how the team draft sequence is generated? Will Green Bay pick before or after Pittsburgh, since both lost to the team that went to the Super Bowl?

Determining the draft order is far less complicated than establishing the regular-season schedule. The order is based on each non-playoff team's win-loss record from the previous year. The No. 21-24 picks are teams eliminated in wild card playoffs, 25-28 are those eliminated in divisional round, and 29-30 are the conference runner-ups. I believe the Packers (10-6) received the 29th pick over Pittsburgh (11-5) because of their regular-season record.

Joe from Appleton, WI

With all of McCarthy's talk the past few years about the importance of the middle of the field, it got me thinking: Would you rather have on your defense elite corners and average safeties or elite safeties and average corners?

You need both to succeed in 2017, but your question reminds me of a compliment one of the Packers' coaches previously paid to Sam Shields (I can't remember if it was Dom Capers or Joe Whitt). With Shields playing at such a high level, he was given the green light to call off over-the-top help from the free safety if he felt he could handle a receiver one-on-one. That flexibility was invaluable because it allowed the coaches to provide help elsewhere. Based on that, I'd take the elite corners.

Tony from Eden Prairie, MN

I see Christian Ringo just signed his exclusive-rights tender. Why would he wait this long?

It's mostly a formality. Exclusive-rights players (those with less than three accrued seasons) differ from other free agents because the team for which they played the previous season maintains their rights. Once the player is tendered a contract (usually for the league minimum), he has to sign it if he wishes to play in the NFL that upcoming season. Ringo spent most of the offseason back home in Louisiana before flying to Green Bay Wednesday in time for the start of next week's offseason program. So that's why he signed now.

Steven from Lilburn, GA

Chris from Plainsfield stated why draft a running back when we have Monty and Michael. I think you let him off easy saying because it's a fun position to talk about. Truth be told we thought we were stocked at WR the year Jordy went down. Last year we had Lacy and Starks. Crockett was hurt, Jackson got hurt. Hey guess what Lacy and Stark got hurt, too. That's why you draft one. If the best on the board is a RB, take him.

What happened last year was a worst-case scenario for the Packers. However, they still managed to establish a respectable running game. Green Bay had been fortunate with its health in the backfield for the past few years, but you never know when adversity will strike. That's why McCarthy and Thompson expressed the need for more backs despite Montgomery and Ripkowski's emergence. The offseason is when you prepare for those situations.

Adam from Grand Rapids, MI

Rings and career achievements aside, which QB that you've seen throws the most accurate ball? I'm torn between Rodgers, Brady, and Marino. But I'm 25 so what do I know, right?

Rodgers is up there, but Steve Young (64.3 percent) and Joe Montana (63.2 percent) also posted really impressive numbers considering the eras in which they played. I believe another of the league's more underrated passers was Chad Pennington, whose career completion percentage (66.0) is second only to Drew Brees (66.6) in league history.

Bill from Las Vegas, NV

Knowing the need the Packers have at running back combined with the recent pendulum swing back to the "bell cow" back, do you see any real chance of making a play for Leonard Fournette?

The Packers would have a real decision to make if Fournette was available at No. 29, but I don't see him slipping that far. I'm not sure how much the "Zeke" factor will impact this draft. From the folks I've talked with over the past two months, many believe it's not going to cause teams to chase the next Elliott. We'll find out on draft day. Regardless, Fournette appears to be the head of a deep class of running backs.

Max from Filmore, CA

As a Packers fan I've always had a massive amount of respect for Mike Daniels and the toughness he brings to the table. I also have lots of respect for David West for his toughness and grit. Being that they're both from Jersey, could we see a meetup between these under-the-radar grinders?

I'd run that question by @Mike_Daniels76 on Twitter. He loves his home-state, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if he had history with West.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

Hey Insiders, in various columns I've seen you make reference to offensive linemen being a natural tackle or having a tackle's frame. What exactly does that mean? The word natural implies it's about instinct or inherent talent. The word frame implies you're looking at body structure or height or some such. So what makes an OL a tackle as opposed to a guard or a center?

A lot goes into those projections such as arm length, bench reps and positional work, but NFL guards tend to be a bit shorter and stockier than tackles. While it's not a prerequisite (Seattle starts a 6-5 center), that build helps establish leverage and push. Tackles often rely on their athleticism and footwork to neutralize speedy edge-rushers, while guards and centers maximize their strength and technique to hold off defensive tackles and power the ground game. That's an incredibly simplified way of describing it, but the easiest way for me to explain.

In his first season with the Packers, S Kentrell Brice tallied 15 tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection. Photos by Evan Siegle and Matt Becker,

Bart from Globe, WI

There should be a free-agent combine. I've always found it odd that players are only subject to public scrutiny of their measurables in a lab setting before they're getting paid millions. Plus, it'd give us all more football, in a way, which is always a plus for everyone involved. Your thoughts?

Not going to happen. The league tried a veteran combine two years ago and the results weren't exactly what those participating were hoping for. You have thousands of snaps available to make determinations on free-agent players. That's going to have to suffice for now.

Chuck from Hot Springs, MT

Courtney from Butte may have wondered about Beau Sandland, who was also a practice-squad player last year from Montana State. Does he have a shot with all the tight ends?

The tight-end competition will be fierce, but Sandland is the kind of unheralded player the Packers like. He was the top JUCO tight end in the country when he signed with Miami (Fla.). He spent a year with the Hurricanes before deciding he wanted to be closer to home in California. He's a raw talent, but the Packers like him. He looks the part.

Dan from Long Beach, CA

Insiders, I think there's some collateral value of drafting Spriggs: tackle was and still is a major need for the Vikings and Bears, who both picked ahead of the Packers before the trade up. Do you think the league-wide shortage of quality tackles played a role in Thompson's strategy?

Maybe. Spriggs is a terrific insurance policy for David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga. Assuming both tackles stay healthy, Spriggs has a tremendous opportunity to learn from two of the best in the game at a comfortable pace. The move made total sense to me after 2015.

Tom from Burlington, WI

Which preseason game is the gold package and when will the dates and regular schedule be released?

TBA. I promise you it'll be on the site as soon as it's finalized.

Jim from Modesto, CA

How long can Ted Thompson hold his breath? He has several times traded down for more picks, thinking that the guy he has his eye on will still be available. I would think he's holding his breath all that time. What happens if he guessed wrong?

Thompson has iron-clad resolve. I'm sure there's been a time or two when the Packers watched a player come off the board before their selection, but that stuff doesn't seem to faze him. On to the next pick.

Andrew from Savanna, IL

How likely do you think the Packers are to go after Jason McCourty now that the Titans released him? Or am I the only one who would like to see him in Green Bay?

You're definitely not the only one, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Joseph from East Moline, IL

Do you think it would be cool if they added a par-6 in golf so we'd have the possibility to see a triple eagle some day?

It would improve my chances at getting an occasional par.

Chris from Summerville, SC

Feedback for Wes: you say "I don't know" too many times in your column. I feel like I'm reading all the stuff you don't know.

I don't know what you're talking about.

Brett from Middletown, MD

I'll leave the Rooney comments to Vic. Well played Spoff, well played.


Chris from Portland, CT

Unique batting stance? Kevin Youkilis.

We have a winner. Euclis: The Greek God of Walks. Have a good weekend.

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