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What's worth watching for at the combine? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in Mike's Monday Chat


Howdy folks. Sorry I'm a couple minutes late. Thought this would be a good day for a chat, right before heading off to the combine. Let's go.

Have you heard anything regarding Kevin King's recovery? Is he supposed to be full-go by camp?

I haven't heard anything, so at this point I say no news is good news. We'll certainly ask McCarthy and Gutekunst in Indy for an update.

Mike, thanks for your response to Chaston from LV this morning on the Packers 12 picks and how they affect the numbers when building the 53. My question is, do late round picks that are cut affect this years salary cap and do they show up as dead money in future years?

Draft picks that are cut don't affect the salary cap, in the sense that they aren't paid any salary. Only their signing bonus counts toward the cap.

Hi Mike. What are you looking forward to most at the combine?

Getting out of the office ... no, seriously, Indy is a fun city to visit, and it's a chance to catch up with people from other teams you don't otherwise see in the offseason. The media part can get fast and furious, so we just do our best.

Which players are you looking forward to seeing this weekend?

I'm curious to hear from some of the players that have been projected as the Packers' pick at No. 14 in all the mock drafts -- Marcus Davenport, Josh Jackson, etc. You at least get a sense of their personalities, though who knows if they'll end up being a GB selection.

Who are we sleeping on that is already on the roster? Who's this year's Blake Martinez?

If it's Kevin King, that would be good for GB's defense.

What are your thoughts on the free agency strategy of our new GM?

I'm not sure we know exactly what it is yet, but from what he said last month, the phrase that struck me was being "prepared to pull the trigger." It suggests more exploration of possible moves, and if the value matches up, they'll be in position to do it. Whether or not that leads to more signings, we'll just have to see.

Do you see tight end as more of a draft priority or a free agent priority for Gute?

I think it could be both. If the Packers don't re-sign Richard Rodgers, you almost have to sign a veteran in free agency. I think they'll draft one regardless.

The Packers are a couple months away from making their biggest draft pick in over a decade. Do you think the Packers will look for someone with unshakable resolve because of this. You'll be able to cut the expectations with a knife.

I think GB fans will have to keep expectations in check. Finding a rookie impact player is not easy. The Packers will improve more from the continued development of guys like King, Randall, Lowry, etc. Adding an impact rookie to the mix would be all the better of course.

Ted Thompson seemed to have developed a reputation for investing high picks in players from Power Conferences. USC, Tennessee, and Ohio State come to mind. Do you think Brian Gutekunst takes a different approach and looks closer at a player from Miami O or Marshall?

I've never felt the school was that big a deal. It's about the player. Thompson found Collins at Bethune-Cookman and Jennings at Western Michigan. He also drafted Matthews from USC.

Are you looking forward to video shoots with Larry?

Always. He keeps things pretty entertaining.

I'm planning on going to the combine for one of the 4 days and I hope to meet you and Wes there. Is there any one day there that would be more interesting or more accessible for a fan?

There are more fans there on the weekend, but otherwise, it's pretty similar day to day.

Do you think we will keep all of our draft picks, or trade any away?

I would expect there to be some trading on draft day. Up or down? Maybe both. I could see the Packers ending up with 12 picks but not in the 12 slots they currently have.

Vertical challenge, 40-yard dash, or bench press challenge - Spoff vs. Wes? Makes for a great segment!

I'm quite sure youth would win out.

Injuries have an impact on every team in the NFL. With everything else being equal, would you draft an ultra-athletic player with a history of frequent injuries or a good, but less athletic player that has demonstrated durability?

I think questions like that depend on the type of injuries in the history. If they're freak accidents, like broken bones, not much anyone can do. If the injuries are more related to the player not taking care of his body, that's a different issue.

Seems like a back-up quarterback will be on the table this year. Who might be a later round option you like?

I have to confess I don't know much about the prospect field until I get back from Indy and start working on the Prospect Primer series.

What is going on behind the scenes at the combine that fans would most like to know about or see?

I think the interview process is pretty interesting. There are formal and informal interviews. Informally, scouts and coaches grab players as they're available, within certain time frames. It's like a catch-as-catch-can. Formally, teams will have a group talk to a player in a hotel room, get to know them, go over plays on the grease board, etc. There's information gathering all the time.

What kind of questions are asked in the interviews?

Depends on the team. Can be football stuff, personal stuff, psychological tests. There's no media access to any of the interview process, so all we know is what the prospects share with reporters, and most of them meet with the media before they do formal interviews.

Who goes to the combine from the Packers? Does Ted still go in his new position?

Everyone from the personnel department is at the combine pretty much the whole time. The coaching staff also goes, but generally they are only there for the days their specific positions are doing workouts and interviews. It's a highly regimented schedule by the NFL.

Do teams already know who they may want, or do they figure that out after the combine?

Teams have preliminary draft boards before going to the combine, then they come back and re-set their boards based on any new information. Teams are limited to a certain number of formal interviews, because they have to request the players and the league gets them scheduled, so they know going in the players they for sure want to talk to.

As a follow-up to that, some teams don't want their interest in certain players to get out, so just because they're not talking to a player doesn't mean they aren't interested in him. It's very hard to know what's real.

What's a normal work day at the combine look like for you?

Wednesday will be the day McCarthy and Gutekunst both speak to the media. Then starting Thursday, the prospects are available each day in the afternoon, certain positions on certain days. You just try to set a game plan for each day and get what you can.

Who on the roster would you tag to be the next Tramon Williams \ Sam Shields?

Setting the bar as high as Williams/Shields is a bit unfair, but I'm very curious to see what Reggie Gilbert brings to the table in 2018.

What's your schedule in Indy? Driving or flying?

We're driving, leaving tomorrow morning. We have a couple of vehicles. The video guys have all their equipment to haul. Since there's no direct flight from GB to Indy, it takes about the same amount of overall time to get there by driving, as long as the traffic around Chicago isn't horrible.

Late to the chat so if you answered this, sorry. How do you select the players you may want to do Prospect Primers on?

A lot of factors. Positions the Packers may be interested in, the quality of b-roll highlight video our production guys have access to, good soundbites from the combine interview. We work with what we have and try to make them informative and interesting.

Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament kicks of Thursday, with Apple Valley's 34 year streak for Team appearances over!! Raiders Coach Trgovac or Mike Daniels would of been high seeds for the Individual Tournament, as tough as it is. Any other Packer players or coaches, past or current, that were high level high school wrestlers?

Wisconsin's was just last weekend, and I covered that event for a number of years in prior jobs. I recall Scott Wells being a rather accomplished wrestler as well.

Have you ever been surprised to see someone at the combine?

Not really. Everyone in the NFL basically is there. It's more a matter of recognizing someone and not being able to remember on the spot who it is.

Who is an intriguing prospect from Wisconsin this year? Always fan favorites as you know

A lot of fans are interested in TE Troy Fumagalli, with the Packers having a need at the position and him coming off a strong college career with the Badgers.

Do you make it a point to visit Chick-fil-A or Steak n Shake while in Indy, or do you just stick to McDonald's?

Steak n Shake is a definite must, because we don't have those around here. Sorry to cut this short, but I have to sign off soon, so I'll take one or two more.

Do prospects work with speed coaches prior to the combine? I know a few tenths of a second can make a significant impact on where a player is drafted.

Absolutely. They all do. That's why I don't put too much stock in the physical workouts, because they all train for them so intensely. The college film, medical checks and interviews I think carry more weight with most teams.

Which theory makes more sense? Drafting more players, because the more you get, the better your chances are to pick a gem, OR, too many drafted players for few open positions means you will end up not signing them to the 53 or the P.S.?

I subscribe to the theory of taking more swings at the plate. As for the 53, you never know how injuries are going to shake out and where you'll be short.

All right, I've got some packing to do, so I'd better go. Stay tuned to the website for all of our combine coverage for the rest of the week, and into early next week. Thanks for logging on today, everybody. Take care, Mike

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