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Hitting on mid-round picks will help build a foundation for your franchise


Bob from Russellville, AR

You are in the middle of a fumble recovery pile in a regular season NFL game: are you scratching, pulling, squeezing, pinching, tugging, or gouging?

Wheezing. Good morning!

Andrew from Memphis, TN

I think late-round gems could be found in a couple of University of Memphis players. Anthony Miller was a walk-on receiver when he came into the program, who went on to break every existing school receiving record in terms of single game, season, and career (including a single season yards record which remained unbroken since 1993, previously held by Isaac Bruce). Additionally, Riley Ferguson went from painting fences after a year away from football to shattering the single-season passing yards school record. Both guys might not be the fastest, tallest, or biggest, but both have that immeasurable and invaluable "it" factor when the ball is snapped. Any consideration from the scouting department or Insiders as to interest in these Tiger greats?

That's my favorite part about the NFL Draft. Each year, there are new stories waiting to be told to a national audience. I produced a Prospect Primer on Miller that'll run in a week or so. Miller literally had no Division I interest other than his hometown college allowing him to walk-on. Now, he's a likely mid-round pick. Incredible. Ferguson was in relative obscurity before re-emerging at Memphis and should get drafted at the end of the month. The climb is difficult for some, but it only makes you stronger.

Rob from Hollywood, FL

Cliff's article really was great. You mentioned the second, but how about Thompson's fourth rounds? You'd have the beginnings of the best line in football with Sitton, Lang, and Bakhtiari, and then there's Mike Daniels. And it may get even better if Martinez continues to develop.

That success in the fourth round really is astounding when considering how many teams in the NFL have struggled to develop offensive linemen and have to overspend on free agents. Every team is going to have its misses, but hitting consistently on mid-round draft picks will help build a foundation for your franchise.

Mike from Union City, NJ

It seems like there's a lot of chatter in the Inbox about Jimmy Graham's blocking ability. He's been in the league long enough to know what you're getting in that regard. My concern is his production (or lack thereof) last year. His 520 receiving yards doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. I know he had 10 TDs, but he also led the league in red zone targets with 26. Considering that he's a premium TE, production between the 20s would also be nice. Cautious optimism is all I can muster. Am I misguided?

Something was off during Graham's three years in Seattle. It's like the Seahawks got a shiny new toy on Christmas and just didn't know what to do with it. A shoddy offensive line and inconsistent running game probably didn't help matters. The Packers' offense is more in line with the system New Orleans runs. That's where the optimism comes from in my eyes. Graham can get back to doing what he does best in Green Bay.

Wayne from Green Bay, WI

So Brian Gutekunst is using more pre-draft visits for top prospects instead of possible UFAs. Does this signal a change in philosophy in terms of building the roster as well? Is it possible that agents might be less inclined to encourage their clients to sign with us after the draft, since Gute's philosophies are still a bit of an unknown?

It's a smart move given where the Packers are picking. There are no real secrets early in the draft, so you might as well do your due diligence on players and get to know the prospects. I don't think it'll have an adverse effect on the Packers' ability to sign UFAs, either. Agents know Green Bay's track record. Their guys will get a fair shake.

Bill from Bernards, N.J.

How do teams communicate with each other during the draft? Are there open lines? Is there a way to contact all the other teams at the same time?

There are no conference calls, but personnel executives are talking to each other constantly. Remember all those photos of Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst on the phones? They weren't ordering pizza.

Patrick from Tampa, FL

In your opinion, what type of Day 1 draft pick or deal would result in the most angst among the readers? What would be the most widely praised?

I think fans would be equally enthused about an edge rusher or cornerback. The fallout probably comes from whatever round they address the other position.

Andy from Stevens Point, WI

I didn't know teams got to choose their preseason schedules. That is interesting. Who makes the decisions on the preseason schedule? The GM or owner? I could see both having their own motives in the selections.

I'm pretty sure the coaches arrange it.

Team Photographer Evan Siegle shares some of his favorite images of the 2017 season.

Nick from Richmond, VA

Hod Rod, I will miss Richard Rodgers, but I have to say I'm excited for the tight end position next season. Not just because of Graham, but because the Byrd is the word! Emanuel Byrd showed a lot in the last game of the season, and I would expect him to come back and get a real opportunity to make the 53-man roster. What do you think about the Byrd, man?

Oh boy. That's quite the handle. I liked Byrd as soon as he arrived in training camp. I thought he came in and did everything in his power to stick around. Byrd isn't the biggest or fastest tight end, but he caught every pass thrown his way. He still faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but he'll have the chance to compete in camp.

Joe from East Brunswick, NJ

Should we be a little less worried about the receiver depth since Graham will line up as a receiver many times in the Packers scheme?

Sure, but the Packers also like to go single back at times with four receivers/tight ends spread out. They did with Jermichael Finley and Jared Cook. The Packers still need a reliable third receiver to partner with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, but Graham does provide a flexible asset to the offense.

Matty from Durango, CO

Do teams religiously use the draft-value tables when discussing trades? According to the 2018 Draft Value Charts, the total value of our 12 picks is less than that of the third first-round pick.

That doesn't surprise me. Those top 10 picks have a lot of perceived value. The draft-value chart isn't followed as rigidly as it once was, but it gives teams a quick way to measure value.

Noah from Menasha, WI

Watching what the Rams and Eagles have done this offseason, are we seeing a new team-building strategy arise? When you hit on a quarterback in the draft and he's playing on a relatively cheap rookie deal, spend your cap space on trades/shorter deals for proven veterans to maximize the chance of an early Super Bowl.

To an extent. I don't think it's a novel concept or anything. Teams have been trying to build around their franchise quarterbacks since the 1940s. However, the rookie-wage scale implemented in the 2011 CBA gives teams more room to sign veterans since their young quarterbacks make peanuts now compared to what veteran QBs command. Sam Bradford got $50 million guaranteed as the first-overall pick in 2010. Can you imagine what that would be now?

Rocky from Merrimac, WI

Now that Richard Rodgers is gone to Philly. Do you see the Packers drafting a tight end in say, third round? Or looking into free agency a little closer?

I'm always in favor of taking a tight end in the middle rounds because of how long it takes to develop, especially with so few playing the traditional in-line position in college. That's what I think makes Wisconsin's Troy Fumagalli interesting. He knows what it's like to play the position in a pro-style offense.

Joe from Kansas City, MO

Remembering back to the days of Mike Sherman and Bill Parcells doing the two-in-one GM and Head Coach duties got me wondering: Have Mike McCarthy or Ted Thompson ever considered doing the other job or were they always focused on coaching and scouting respectively?

Thompson had no desire to coach and McCarthy has said at every turn he has no desire to be a GM. One job is difficult enough. If you're a coach who wants to do both, you better have a good personnel director to help you.

Terry from McHenry, IL

I fear we have a bit of complacency since we got DeShone Kizer. As we learned last year, it's very good to get a veteran backup QB. Right now, looks like we have 2 Hundleys.

Remember when Nick Foles and Case Keenum were both on the Rams and everybody wrote them off? Experience and skill build quarterbacks, not hype.

Garrett from Houston, TX

Same exercise as Dave from Coloma mentioned, except now with receivers who run 4.4 and 4.6 instead of 4.0 and 6.0.

If your scouts feel the 4.4 receiver can hone his route-running, I'd pick him. Otherwise, I'd take the 4.6. The speed isn't ideal, but it's enough to get by and gain separation if he gets in and out of breaks efficiently.

Brandon from Fairfield, CA

Nick Nelson just suffered a huge injury that will keep him out most of the offseason. It is estimated he will be back by season. How does an injury like this affect draft stock? I have seen reports as him being a mid-late round pick.

*You hate to see any prospect sustain an injury during the pre-draft process, but it's a shame it reportedly happened during a private workout with an NFL team. It sounds like a relatively significant injury, so it could have a definite impact on Nelson's stock. Every situation is different, but these are the type of injuries that sometimes cause guys to slide a round or two from their projected round. Nelson wasn't considered a first-rounder, but some had him going as early as the third or fourth. *

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Thursday you mentioned that route-running is coachable. If true, what ultimately happened with Janis as far as being a receiver?

Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. Janis has a ton of speed and ability, but it just never came together for him at receiver in Green Bay. We'll see what happens in Cleveland.

Bill from Liverpool, NY

Hey Wes! Punters don't kick from the LOS so you can add approximately 10 yards to their distance. Still not likely for a touchback, but closer.


Jack from Chicago, IL

I'm getting frustrated with all the "Let's replace the kickoff with a punt" comments. Everyone is overlooking the obvious. The reason a punt is safer is because majority of the players line up on the LOS. The answer is this: Line both teams up on the 50 and kick the ball off a tee from the 35 like it is now. Receiving team can keep two returners back and kicking team has to have everyone on the 50 except the kicker. Are onsides going to be weird? You betcha, but that's why it's fun.

The wide array of ideas we've spit out over the past week tells me one thing about kickoffs – the NFL has a lot to figure out.

Mike from Appleton, WI

Help me out here – how does limiting the active roster from 53 to 46 on game day help with parity? Those seven inactives at the bottom of your roster are going to tip the scales of competition? It doesn't make sense to me. Your insight is appreciated.

Anyone remember Letroy Guion playing guard for the Packers in the playoffs three years ago? I'm not arguing that it's a huge competitive advantage, but those spots are valuable in case of emergency, especially on special teams.

Blake from Buffalo Grove, IL

Why is always mute on player transactions? People need to go elsewhere to find out one of their favorite Packers is traded?

Two words: Ego Ferguson.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Do you feel that Odell Beckham Jr. would be too much of a locker room/sideline distraction? He obviously has great talent but how I wonder would he fit in here? Is he willing to be coached to GB's standards and keep control of his behavior? What a threat he would be with the talent we already have.

It's just not worth it to me. Even if OBJ is an upstanding citizen with his new team, it's going to cost so much in draft picks to acquire him and so much in cash to make him the highest-paid receiver in the league. I fold.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

Regarding IR – if teams can were able to put players on a temporary IR or PUP during the preseason without being subject to release at cut-down day, wouldn't we see teams using bogus injuries (like maybe a bad hangnail) as a way of holding on to a young player for a few extra weeks to give them time to develop and wait to see how early season injuries play out? I don't think that would be a good look for the league.

True. Players cannot practice or perform any on-field drills until they are designated to return to practice from injured reserve or the physically unable to perform list, so there wouldn't be much upside other than stashing them.

George from Mineral Point, WI

Comment. Best backup QB. Zeke Bratkowski.

He is the only backup quarterback to be in the Packers Hall of Fame, right?

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what is the most challenging part of your job during the offseason?

Creating meaningful content on a regular basis. I'm not just going to write anything for the sake of getting stories on the website. I want it to have depth and perspective. Also, attempting to squeeze a year of vacation time into six months. All bets are off once training camp begins.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

It's the Packers pick in the draft and somehow, you became GM. Do you pick this guy or that guy? Sorry, I'm just so sick of these questions.

I wish I was paid like a GM…

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Over/Under: 10 players drafted by the Packers.


Matt from London, United Kingdom

I'm looking for a bit of insider knowledge after staying up until 3 a.m. last year to watch Green Bay trade out of the first round of the draft. If you hear plans of us trading up or down, can you drop a code word into your correspondence so I don't waste another night's sleep?

The code word is "Hod Rod."HAVE A QUESTION?

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