Packers didn't have to choose after all on Day 2 of draft

Trade helps net pair of second-round targets in different spots

C/G Josh Myers (left) and WR Amari Rodgers (right)

GREEN BAY – It doesn't always work out this way.

After a long wait through the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday night, Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst was deciding between two players he really liked while on the clock at the 62nd overall pick.

They were Ohio State center Josh Myers and Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers.

When in doubt, getting big guys sooner than later is generally a sound strategy. So he went with Myers, a 6-5, 310-pound two-year starter for the Buckeyes who could compete for the Packers' open starting spot at center from the get-go.

But he wasn't keen on letting Rodgers get away, so he quickly wanted to devise a plan to trade up in the third round to acquire him, too.

His mindset reminded him of how former GM Ted Thompson felt 12 years ago after drafting B.J. Raji early in the first round. Thompson also had his eye on Clay Matthews and was determined to trade up from the top of the second round, back into the first, to get him as well.

In that moment, almost no price was too high for Thompson. "I want … the player," was what Gutekunst recalled Thompson sternly telling his lieutenants who were in charge of finding a trade partner.

Gutekunst wasn't quite in the same whatever-it-takes mode, but he coveted the player and wanted to make this work. There was just a small, temporary problem.

"Immediately after I got off the phone (from making the second-round pick), I turned around to see if we could get back up to get Amari," Gutekunst said. "A couple of my guys had gone down(stairs) to get something to eat, so we had to get everybody back on the phones fast."

Once that was rectified, the work began. Sitting late in the third at No. 92, Gutekunst targeted an area close to the middle of the round to make a trade, and if he found a partner, he'd see if Rodgers was still available when that pick arrived.

Fortunately, no one took Rodgers early in the third round, because it would have been too pricey to move way up, like 20 spots or more. Gutekunst's most valuable draft capital remaining were his pairs of late fourth- and fifth-round picks, but he didn't want to give up either set and leave himself an agonizingly long wait without a selection on Saturday.

"We were having trouble," Gutekunst said. "We had a few teams that were on the line right until their pick came up, and then there was a guy they wanted to pick, so we had four or five trades that were about to happen that didn't."

Finally it worked out with Tennessee, which asked for the first of Gutekunst's two fourth-rounders, No. 135 overall, to give up pick No. 85, seven spots higher than Green Bay's original third-rounder.

Lo and behold, Rodgers – a short (5-10) but well-built (212 pounds) slot receiver who can run jet sweeps and return punts and kicks as well as catch passes – was still there. A multi-faceted weapon for Head Coach Matt LaFleur's offense and new coordinator Maurice Drayton's special teams was on his way to Green Bay.

So Gutekunst got both guys he was thinking about back in the second round, and he still has six picks on Saturday to work with – a fourth, two fifths, two sixths and a seventh.

The Packers' first three picks in this draft – cornerback Eric Stokes from Thursday's first round, plus the offensive lineman and receiver in Myers and Rodgers – clearly fill needs, but Gutekunst is thankful he didn't have to stray from his comfort zone to address them.

"I don't think it was going to be one of those things that we do at all costs," he said, meaning to prioritize need over the quality of the players, which would run contrary to the Packers' longtime MO.

"I really feel the three players we took over the last two days, the stars aligned a little bit for us. We feel good about the first two days and really looking forward to tomorrow."

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