OK, let's get right to it. Kwiatkoski appeared to play well for the Bears and could be a possibility, depending on price of course. I wouldn't do it to weaken the Bears, I'd only do it if the Packers think he's pretty good, then weakening the Bears is just a bonus. There might end up being several stopgap ILBs like him available once teams finish cutting guys for cap reasons before the start of the league year. I'm thinking the odds are decent that ILB and WR will be their first two picks, not necessarily in that order. But you never know who might be available, or whether Gutekunst might trade out of the first round, etc. .
Yeah. Now, it does seem in the last couple years rookie WRs are contributing a little more -- Samuel in SF is a good example -- but generally speaking you're right. I could see them signing a relatively inexpensive slot receiver, for instance, and a second-tier TE. IMHO they also need a run stopper on the DL for early downs. They'll need a tackle, too, if they don't re-sign Bulaga.
The decision to keep the coordinators, I guess in the end I get it. Mennenga's special teams did one thing well -- they didn't get penalties. And the return game improved once they got a competent returner late in the year. With Pettine, if I were LaFleur I'd have made a change if there was somebody out there I knew and really liked and knew I could get. But short of that, I probably wouldn't have, then you're starting all over after building the roster for a couple years to fit this scheme. I have to think LaFleur and Pettine had a long, hard discussion about run defense, because that performance against SF was a catastrophe. That can't happen again. This is a passing game, but you still have to be able to handle a really good running game at least OK. I have to think they came to an understanding there. As for Gary, he did not have a promising rookie year but you gotta give him at least a second season before declaring him a bust. So far, he's been the player he was in college -- lots of talent, but the play doesn't match. Let's see how things stand a year from now. Gutekunst has taken flak for the '18 draft. But the team's success last year cushions the blow, because the object, after all, is to win, regardless of how you get there.
I'm curious to see St. Brown next season. He finished '18 ahead of Valdes-Scantling, so if he'd kept improving maybe he'd have been as good as Lazard or better. I'm not sure what to make of Tonyan. He seems to have some ability, runs pretty well, and he made that nice catch along the sidelines in Dallas but then got hurt on that play and didn't do much even after he came back. Not sure if he pretty much is who he is at this point, or if he still can improve a lot. Sternberger, as you suggest, probably is the best bet of the group. I don't know if Dexter Williams will be reliable enough to blossom, this will be a big offseason for him.
Just a gut feeling, I'd bet against either ever returning. You never know how things are going to turn out, circumstances change. But it just feels like that's not happening as things currently stand. I have to think Wolf will catch on with someone after the draft, if not before. With Dorsey it's probably a matter of whether he wants to wait for a GM job to open next year, or if he'll take like a senior adviser position.
I'm thinking he'll re-sign Crosby and try to re-sign Bulaga, though I just don't have a good feel on how Bulaga will go. Not sure if he'll move on from Tramon Williams or go one more year with the ageless wonder. I have to think Martinez walks. I'm thinking guys like Fackrell and Allison and Campbell will test the market. If I'm Gutekunst I'm looking hard in the open market at ILBs, WRs, TEs, interior DLs and T (if Bulaga doesn't re-sign).
I'm wondering that myself. He obviously loves big receivers, and I get why. The big catch radius if really attractive. But the Packers need to get more explosive, and if that means drafting someone a little smaller, I'm thinking they should do it. All those qualities you mention are important, but more than anything they need explosiveness.
I wonder if he's best suited to play as an inside rusher in the nickel. Really, he's probably most natural as a 4-3 end. Gutekunst has likened him to Za'Darius Smith, an OLB on early downs who can move inside or move around on passing downs.
On the first weekend I watched maybe 10 minutes of one game -- it was Seattle and whoever they were playing, near the end of the game when they had mics picking up Zorn calling plays and talking to his guys -- and maybe five of another. I can't say I'm very interested in it. I'm sure some XFL guys will make NFL rosters, either at the start of camp and when injuries hit. How many? I'd just be taking a wild stab at it. Maybe 20?
I have to think not having surgery at this point is a good sign. Not that Gary, for instance, won't need surgery on his shoulder down the road, maybe he'll aggravate the injury. But the fewer surgeries, the better, and if they don't think he needs it this offseason they must think he's doing pretty well.
No idea what Gutekunst would have done if he was running the draft the Watt/King year. Criticizing the Packers for not taking Watt is totally fair, he was there for the taking and they moved back, and then the next pick a team that runs basically the same scheme the Packers were running took him. He's really taken off. If they had picked Watt, they wouldn't have signed Preston Smith, so they'd have that money to work with at other positions (though they'd also have to get ready to pay Watt). King has talent and helped them last season, but obviously he's not Watt. The only thing with Hill is, I don't know if they'd have ever used him like Payton has, so he might have just rotted on their bench.
We'll learn more about that in the offseason, but LaFleur said there are a lot of finer points in the offense that he didn't have time to get to last season that he will this year. The one example he mentioned in his postseason press conference was the no-huddle.
I'm thinking both. Williams is a viable No. 2/3, he's good in the passing game and is a tough, physical runner between the tackles. But the difference between him and Jones is pretty big. I'm thinking they should be looking to draft an RB who's more dynamic to help split time and be an option if Jones gets hurt. With how big the run game is in LaFleur's offense, they need to replenish RB almost every year, keep talent in the pipeline, those guys are so susceptible to injury, and you can't have the offense take a big dropoff if you lose one.
Sure seems like it's changed, or that a position that's been undervalued league-wide for years is now being valued more again. It's a hard position because you have to be big and explosive enough to handle the physical part of run defense, but fast and agile enough to cover really good receiving RBs and TEs. That's a rare skill set, hard to find. The Packers aren't the only team that devalued ILB for years as the game became more passing oriented, but they have neglected it for a long time. Have to think they use a high pick -- ie, in the first two or three rounds -- at that position this year.
Just looked it up, players on division winners received $31,000 each, the wild-card qualifiers $28,000. The divisional round participants received $31,000 each, the championship participants $56,000 each. The SB winner gets $124,000 each, the loser $62,000.
Easiest are maybe DL, RB and CB. Aside from QB, seems like the hardest are WR and TE. ILB probably one of the tougher spots, too.
I'm not sure there's a clear-cut answer to that. There are big advantages for the QB to letting the clock run down. He can see the defense come out of its disguise, so he has a much better feel for what's coming. The downside is, if you run it all the way down the defensive line can watch the play clock and get a jump on the snap. And the tempo slows, as you suggest. But experienced QBs can get a lot from forcing the defense to in essence declare what its going to do as the clock runs down. I'm thinking that mixing it up is probably a good idea. The 49ers seemed to mix it up and had their share of plays snapping the ball with 10 or 8 seconds on the play clock.
I guess I'd be a little surprised if he drafted a punter. Scott's talented, and if Gutekunst wants to bring in competition I'd think he could find somebody for that outside the draft. That's just my thought. I'd probably draft a QB somewhere in there if I'm him, like Wolf used to almost every year.
I won't be at the combine -- Tom Silverstein, Jim Owczarski and Olivia Reiner are handling the combine for us; Ryan Wood and I are attending the owners meetings in late March. I don't have any suggestions for you, I haven't been to the combine for probably three years now. As interested as I am in football, I wouldn't pay to attend the combine.
Have to think he's a luxury they can't afford unless they think he's a future Hall of Famer. Sounds like he's going later first round, and they just have too many other priorities to take him at 30 IMO.
Yeah. The legal tampering period starts two days before guys can sign, but I'm sure agents already are talking with teams who might be interested in their guys, and those talks really pick up at the scouting combine. It's against NFL rules but everybody does it.
I'm sure they look at them but more just to see what other are thinking about where guys are going to go. For instance, Thompson said that in the year he drafted Rodgers, he looked at a mock draft (I'm guessing by Kiper or somebody like that) that had Rodgers falling all the way to the Packers. So Thompson said he went back to look at tape of Rodgers just make sure he liked Rodgers as much as he did going through the draft process (and thinking there's no way Rodgers would be available), in case that happened. It happened. They use all their sources -- scouts with other teams, media, etc. -- to try to determine where guys are going to get drafted to help set their game plan for the draft.