Thu, 28 May 2020

Inbox: Everything fits like a puzzle

Packers
04 Apr 2020, 17:12 GMT+10

Dan from Leland, NC

Martin in Milwaukee wrote, "We can always hope the future drags this column into the big leagues in the future." I imagine the future is when anything would be dragged into the future. Perhaps in the present Martin is humbled to realize he used such an awkward sentence to criticize someone's writing.

Somehow humility doesn't strike me as striking him.

John from Willowbrook, IL

We have put substantial resources in the secondary, outside LBs, and probably will be putting quite a bit of money in the line for Kenny Clark soon. I for one hope we don't value MLB as much as other teams because based on the resources we have used we value some of the other positions more. If your scheme only works when you have stars at every position it's not a good scheme in the salary-cap era. What positions on offense do we value less than other teams which could lead to more spending elsewhere?

I understand what you're getting at, but let me change your angle slightly. It's about getting high-level production on cheaper, rookie contracts at enough spots to be able to devote resources to established stars when required. It's not necessarily position-specific, except for the situation in the moment. That's why in a perfect world in this draft the Packers can find their next receiver, defensive lineman and offensive tackle so they only have one prominent player (Adams, Clark, Bakhtiari, respectively, if re-signed) at those positions on a big contract for the next few years. The Packers have benefited from cornerback and running back not costing much in recent seasons, but that will soon change. It goes in cycles and why everything fits like a puzzle.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Sometimes FA pickups and lower draft picks only get attention because of team results. In our last SB playoff run, Howard Green, Jarrett Bush and James Starks are legendary for stepping in due to injuries or as key role players. Rison and Howard in the prior SB win too. Can you think of a great one-season pickup the Packers had that is overlooked because of a poor playoff run?

I don't know about limiting it to "one-season" acquisitions, because neither Bush nor Starks fits that category. But I've always felt the trade for Ryan Grant eight days before the 2007 season opener was one of the more underappreciated moves of Ted Thompson's tenure. And Jarrett Boykin's 2013 season (49 catches, 681 yards, three TDs) is largely overlooked because Rodgers missed half the year and the Packers lost in the first round of the playoffs. Boykin's numbers on the 2019 Packers would have been tied for second, second, and tied for third, respectively, plus he had that crazy "fumble recovery" touchdown in Chicago.

Mike from Cascade, ID

All of you guys have done an outstanding job on the Inbox. The Three Things video was great, but I had to wonder, when you plan on a video from home how do you decide on which room in your house to do it from? Do you guys have Packers stuff in your houses? Also, and I'm not being critical here, but Wes! WTH is that thing on your wall? A metal outline of an amoeba? Straight out of the '70s! I have an original lava lamp in my garage if you want to accessorize.

Sorry, I couldn't resist posting this. Made me laugh. I have Packers stuff scattered throughout my house, not concentrated in one place, and I've moved into my wife's home office for the time being. It has no sports decorations whatsoever, unless Spanish bullfighting posters count. I don't know what's on Wes's wall either.

Brian from Menominee, MI

I'm not sure depth at WR should play into a team's draft strategy as much as some people think. Players are rated on a scale independent of other players in the draft and previous drafts. If the Packers have five WRs they view as elite prospects, and one of them is still there at 30 and is the highest player on their board, I would hope they take him. Even if they have 9-10 WRs they view as second-rounders, wouldn't they rather have the guy they rated much higher versus the unknown 30-plus picks later?

Absolutely, but only if that top receiver on their board is clearly rated a better player than the top available linebacker, offensive tackle or defensive lineman. If the margins amongst the players at different positions are razor thin, and there are a lot more bites at the receiver apple in the next round but not as many at other positions, the depth aspect comes into play.

Myles from Mesa, AZ

Hello II! Thank you so much for the column during these unprecedented times. Maintaining some routine is very helpful. As a Packer Backer in Arizona and Sun Devil alumni, what are your thoughts on Brandon Aiyuk? I am incredibly biased on this subject, but I think he is special. His numbers tell most of the story: 1,192 yards from scrimmage and 18.3 yards per catch last year! He passes the eye test and has the tools to be a dynamic player in my opinion.

I think he does, too, and when I heard him talk to reporters at the combine, he struck me as sharp and level-headed. His ability to get yards after the catch stands out, and he's one of those guys I think could be a bargain for someone after the first round (and maybe he'll go in the first, I don't know) because this receiver class is so impressive.

Wes from South Saint Paul, MN

No question just an added comment on your response to Marc from Germany. My worse imagined horrible is that eventually it would lead to doing away with the divisions and only have two conferences with the best records determining the playoffs.

I don't think divisions are going anywhere anytime soon. It's a built-in mechanism that keeps the scheduling equitable for specific groups of teams. You can't achieve anything close without it, unless you isolate the two conferences from one another.

Rick from Wrightstown, WI

As part of their draft preparation, do the Packers evaluate "success" by position? In other words do certain positions generally provide a higher probability of "contribution/success" during their rookie contracts than others? Thanks for all your great contributions during these difficult times.

I'm sure they have some data on that, but I doubt they take it as gospel. At the end of the day it's still mostly about the individual players, not the positions they play.

Garrett from Oro Valley, AZ

You mentioned you didn't know who Jordy was in 2008. At what point did you start thinking, "This guy is going to be special"?

The first Favre-Rodgers game at the Metrodome in 2009. The Packers were pretty much beaten by the time it happened, but I remember Nelson taking a medium-length pass and going the distance for a touchdown. It struck me how smooth and easy he made it look.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

I agree it's awesome Nickelodeon will be broadcasting some playoff games in a kid-friendly format with simplified commentary. Please tell me Booger will be the announcer.

Ouch.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

I totally agree with the response that you would take Queen over Mims with the first pick if they are both there. Here is another interesting scenario. Say for some unforeseen circumstance or miracle that Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray are both there at 30, then whom do you select?

Yes, I made the grammar correction. I think I'd have to take Murray.

Matt from Dubuque, IA

Hey Mike and Wes, is this a make-or-break year for Oren Burks. I feel with all the injuries and him only being able to really work on special teams thus far, one more injury and getting beat out by Christian Kirksey and maybe a rookie would really diminish his chances of staying with us for the future. I hope your families stay safe and healthy!

There's no question it's a big year for Burks. Gutekunst made a significant investment in him two years ago, trading up 13 spots to get him in the third round. Bad timing with injuries has been unfortunate, but he has the smarts and athletic ability. He needs to put it all together, and the time is now.

Jacob from Reno, NV

Hello Insiders! A seven-team playoff format seems to put too much emphasis on the No. 1 seed on paper. Let's say we do end up moving to eight eventually, which I'm sure we will for revenue purposes. Why not let all four division winners get a bye, then the four wild-card teams battle, and the playoffs then continue how they did prior to all this change, with six teams? It gives the league the extra week or two of games, and places a LOT of emphasis on division games and the regular season. Thoughts?

But then the top two seeds are getting two byes each. That'll never fly.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Does shorter preseason mean moving the start of training camp back one week?

In a normal year, my understanding is no. What would be the week of the fourth preseason game would be an early prep week for the regular-season opener instead, with players getting some time off in there as well.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

It is a given that a team's draft process is one of its most closely guarded secrets. It would be nice if someday a retiring HC or GM would write an HONEST account of one of their drafts: how they rated players, what their draft board actually looked like, how did they make their choices on draft day. You think that will ever happen?

I doubt it, because a GM would have to chronicle as many thoughts as possible in the immediate aftermath of the draft to make for an accurate accounting and worthwhile book, and no one's got time for that. But it sure would be fascinating.

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