Offseason Q&A

Maggie answers reader questions about all things Green and Gold. 

Occasionally I’ll take to Twitter to ask you all what topic you’re interested in reading about on a given day. Today, however, I decided instead to do a Q&A so we can cover a bunch of different topics in the same thread. Let’s get to it! 

Erik (@realerikwithK): What do you think the Packers will do in free agency and then draft night at 30?

It’s too early to tell right now, but it definitely sounds like the Packers are looking for help at inside linebacker in free agency. Nick Kwiatkoski from the Bears and Cory Littleton from the Rams are the two biggest names linked to the Packers right now. As much as fans kind of expected it at season’s end, ILB being a high priority almost certainly spells the end of Blake Martinez’s time in green and gold. Of course, depending on the market, the Packers might get pushed out of contention for either Littleton or Kwiatkoski, which leads me to the second half of your question. If they sign a big name free agent at inside linebacker, I have a hard time believing they’ll draft one again with the 30th pick, whether Kenneth Murray and/or Patrick Queen are there or not. Brian Gutekunst has said he still likes the upside Oren Burks and Ty Summers both have at the position, so I don’t see the Packers triple-dipping in free agency and the draft like they did in 2019 with Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary. The Packers also play a lot of defensive packages with only one inside linebacker on the field, so to me it’s unlikely they’d sign a guy like Littleton and then draft someone to play next to him. 

Another free agent option I’m all for (given the price again) is Austin Hooper from the Falcons. He already has a familiarity with Matt LaFleur from LaFleur and he’d be a nice, athletic option opposite Jace Sternberger. 

Finally, I want to mention offensive tackles quick. If the Packers are going to make a play at someone like Littleton or Hooper, right now, they don’t exactly have adequate cap space to also re-sign Bryan Bulaga. If Bulaga doesn’t come back, even if the Packers re-sign Jared Veldheer as a stop-gap player for one season, I still think the Packers will have to draft the future of the posiition in either of the first two rounds. If someone like Josh Jones slides to 30, it could be OT in round one and wide receiver in round two. 

Joe (@mojoeak): What area do you think the Packers’ priority should be with this upcoming season?

The easy answers here are run defense and more production from the wide receivers unit, but I focusing on the offense, by nature, it’s going to look improved in year two of Matt LaFleur’s scheme. It might be a stale narrative at this point, but Gutekunst has repeatedly made parallels to Matt Ryan winning MVP his second year with LaFleur and the type of jump we could see Rodgers take in a second year of LaFleur’s offense. This is such a deeply talented wide receivers class, that if the Packers go into the season with Adams, Lazard, and a high draft pick, I think the production already improves. If they also land a big name free agent like Austin Hooper, that immediately changes the look of the offense. 

Sly (@slyupah): - Which free agent inside linebacker would be the best fit for the Green Bay defense?

I personally like Littleton the best as far as fit in Mike Pettine’s scheme. He’s a little on the lighter side but he’s fantastic in coverage. While the Packers definitely need help against the run, they also need a middle linebacker who can match up against big-bodied tight ends in space, and Littleton is that guy. Pro Football Focus gives him a coverage grade of 82.3, and he only had one missed tackle in 2019. For reference, Martinez had 15. 

Peter (@88pjs): - Are there any plausible roster construction scenarios that would give you pause heading into mini camps/training camps about a position group? I guess at this point in the offseason anything is plausible. 

This is an interesting question, and I guess the answer is “if the 2020 roster looks identical to the 2019 roster, I’ll have some concerns.” I’d like to see some help for Kenny Clark along the defensive line. If the Packers don’t address interior defensive line either in free agency or early in the draft, I’m not sure how content I’ll feel with the run-stuffing ability of the current defensive line (although I do think Kingsley Keke can help in this regard as a rotational guy in his second year). 

Outside of that concern on the defensive side of the ball, since I think that’s the most glaring need for the defense as a whole (assuming a new starting ILB is added in free agency or the draft), if the Packers go into training camp lacking offensive weapons, I will be befuddled. If they can’t afford a guy like Austin Hooper, I understand that, but if Jace Sternberger is the starting tight end and everyone behind him is either a day three pick or an undrafted guy, I’ll have questions. If Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis are both on the roster in 2020, I will also have questions. 

I don’t even want to mention wide receiver as a plausible concern because it feels entirely impossible for the Packers to not walk away from the draft with someone very talented at the position. So I guess a third concern would end up being whatever happens at right tackle. If Bulaga isn’t back, I’d feel better with the Packers starting the season with Veldheer. I’m not sure he plays a full 16-game season, but I see that being similar to what happened with Elgton Jenkins and Lane Taylor. If Veldheer gets usurped by a rookie, then he’s still fantastic insurance at the position for the remainder of the season. 

So biggest areas of plausible concern going into training camp if the positions aren’t even remotely addressed or they’re addressed with late round picks: both sides of the line and offensive weapons. 

Orange (@orangebeanie2): - With a below average track record drafting cornerbacks, is it better for the Packers to turn to free agency this offseason? I personally like Ronald Darby. 

How far back are we going when we talk about a “below average” track record? The Packers haven’t gotten much out of Josh Jackson yet, and Ka’dar Hollman didn’t see the field in 2019, but Jaire Alexander and Kevin King have looked very good for Green Bay. We don’t have much else to go off of as far as Gutekunst is concerned. 

And, while they weren’t drafted players, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams had incredible careers in Green Bay (but I know that’s Ted Thompson era now). Maybe that’s the secret, to go after the undrafted players. It looks like it could be working right now for Chandon Sullivan. 

So I guess to answer your question, I don’t see the Packers going after a free agent corner, even if Tramon Williams doesn’t return. I think it’s one of those sneaky needs for the team with King’s pending free agency in 2021, but I would expect them to look for a corner in the draft before targeting anyone in free agency, largely in part to their limited cap space if nothing else. Depending on how the Packers tackle other positions in free agency (ILB specifically), corner could climb to a day two pick in the draft. I wouldn’t rule out a Williams return just yet, though. Dude has the miracle elixir and could probably play into his 60s. 

Steven (@Schlechter36): - If every Packers starter was a pasta noodle, who is what type of noodle? And what type of sauce? Al dente?

This is my co-worker Steve, and he loves to try and get me to write about weird topics for CHTV, so I deserve this. Steve, I’m not going to give a comp for every single Packers starter, but I’ll do a few (and I’m not doing sauces).

Danny Vitale, aka Muscles Marinara, would have to be orecchiette given the way those noodles are capable of soaking up sauce, and Vitale is able to soak up blocks.  

Jamaal Williams is obviously fusilli because 1) he is silly and 2) the way he dances resembles a spiral noodle. 

Za’Darius Smith is gnocchi because gnocchi is my all-time favorite and Za’Darius is also my all-time favorite.

Let’s go with Kenny Clark being ravioli because that boy is stuffing offensive linemen. That’s a terrible joke. Comp stands. 

David Bakhtiari is obviously angel hair pasta, because he has some pretty angelic locks. That one was easy.

Finally, Aaron Rodgers? Elbow macaroni makes sense here because his arm can make or break a season, just like elbow macaroni can make or break a macaroni and cheese dish. 

Leave me your noodle comps in the comments and I hope Steve didn’t just get me fired. Thanks for your questions! We’ll have to do this again sometime.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcasts for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (15)

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Bear's picture

March 03, 2020 at 11:36 am

Maggie thanks for the article. What is your opinion on the chances of last years practice squad players making the 53 this year?
RE: Nijman OT, Ento CB, Ramsey OLB, Williams LB, Bolton LB, Madison G. These players have year in the Packers and may develop.

Can Holman become a starter in 2020?

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murf7777's picture

March 03, 2020 at 11:40 am

I’m really hoping we get Littleton and a second tier run stuffing DL in FA. That way they can concentrate on where the draft shows the most bang for the buck which is WR, OL and RB. Protect Rodgers and get him more weapons for his later part of his career. Also, taking a late flyer on a developmental QB or two, with size and strong arm would be great to see. We have a lot of 6th and 7th round picks so that might be an opportune time. The QB(s) would have time to develop with Rodgers helping them learn. I’m not sold on Boyle and you never know when u will find the diamond in the rough.

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stockholder's picture

March 03, 2020 at 12:00 pm

I prefer Noodles and Company First. Looks to me like everyone is asking questions. If we take a ILB, he won't be a sure thing. And were stuck with average play for at least 4 yrs. The packers are going into the Twilight Zone. I see them judging players more on the combine, then college production. Sure you want your picks to do well. But the bigger mistake is taking guys that won't work out, Pass on Bowl games, and don't play in the senior bowl. The drive is imagination. They give No insurances. Yet we believe they are just what this team needs. If someone beats the snot out of you, like SF. Isn't that the place to look at First? Our DL is, and will be a problem, It's priority one in Free Agency. The ILB will come cheaper if they fill the DL first. You can't expect a Rookie to do a great job, if the guy up front can't do his. And No Rookie will do the job up front. So lets not get away from the problem and create others. The problem with the offense was the Wrs. We don't need a insurance policy here. We need a #2. The #1 pick must be Wr. Why the TE? Graham wasn't any game changer, and we did fine. The OL has depth. Why is that a problem? It will get better depth this draft. And we will get better depth at LB. Talk of the Tangled up mess must stop. There isn't any but up on that DL. This draft can only fix the Wrs problem. Free Agency must fix the defense!

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stockholder's picture

March 03, 2020 at 04:08 pm

It's not Orange Crush. Just look at the Rams.

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wildbill's picture

March 03, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Our right tackle position is the number one priority right now. Protection of Rodgers is critical to our success. If we dabble in free agency I would like to see Littleton and Pierce brought in if we can afford both. That’s allows us to draft OT and WR as top priorities and I wouldn’t be surprised if CB was next. Veldheer coming back would be a big plus. I truly believe TE will be fine with Sternberger, Tonyan, and bringing back Lewis. Can’t wait for the draft and free agency.

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stockholder's picture

March 03, 2020 at 01:00 pm

Rt won't be a problem. I want you to look at the LA Rams. !3-3 to 9-7. Remember everyone loved the offense? But looked what happened when Suh left the rams with others. If we don't want to be the Rams. You fix the DL.!!

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CoachDino's picture

March 03, 2020 at 06:50 pm

I've been laughing at the clamor for the most expensive ILB FA out there - he doesn't even shed blocks well. Same thing we had with Martinez. Yet, the more I look this through the more I'm leaning to just what Wildbill said. Littleton and Pierce. Big Money / Affordable Money. it worries me to not resign BB - RT is very important. Signing Littleton might be the end of resigning BB. The money has to come from somewhere.
Coverage/Sideline to sideline ILB has just become so important in today's game. All I keep seeing is Qbs running away from our linebackers and with all these WR sweep/reverse plays used as fakes and misdirection you need even more speed. Why not get a young guy coming into the prime of his career who is an elite player. That said I remember the days Of BB being hurt and how ugly the replacement play was. Does that mean we move on because he's injury prone or that we resign him because he's so important....I'm so confused..!!!

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Lphill's picture

March 03, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Kwitnikowski I think would fit in nicely in the defense then draft another inside linebacker . Just like Gute did with the Pass rushers , Martinez just is not good in this defense he makes tackles but is also out of position too often, and his coverage skills are limited, AJ Hawk was better than him.

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Archie's picture

March 03, 2020 at 01:49 pm

OK, it's draft day 2020 and Pack is on the clock at pick 30 and you are Gutey: ILB Kenneth Murray or WR Denzel Mims?

Real toughie.

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Lphill's picture

March 03, 2020 at 03:12 pm

I think you go linebacker , then best receiver in 2 nd round.

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stockholder's picture

March 03, 2020 at 04:31 pm

I'll go Mims. Stood out @ Senior Bowl, Fantastic Combine, great measurable. Routes are one of the best,Big Catch Radius. Will be gone by Pick #62.

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murf7777's picture

March 03, 2020 at 05:14 pm

I agree, Murray’s film stands out as the best 3 down LB in the draft. You can get the WR in the 2nd.

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dobber's picture

March 03, 2020 at 07:34 pm

What did they do in free agency?

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 04, 2020 at 08:47 am

Simmons would be the best ILB.

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