GREEN BAY – A year ago for his first draft as Packers GM, Brian Gutekunst entered with 12 selections and came away with 11 players plus an extra first-round pick in 2019.
Now he comes into his second draft with 10 picks, including that additional first-rounder from last year’s draft-day trade with the Saints. What will he emerge with this time?
That’ll be answered over the next three days as Gutekunst grinds away in the draft room, beginning with Thursday night’s first round, which starts at 7 p.m. CT. The second and third rounds will proceed on Friday at 6 p.m. CT, with Saturday’s fourth through seventh rounds beginning at 11 a.m. CT.
The attention-grabbing element to this Packers draft is not so much Gutekunst’s total number of selections, though 10 is an impressive haul considering Green Bay received no free-agency compensatory picks this year.
It’s the volume of prime selections that stands out. With the Packers finishing 6-9-1 a year ago, they own the No. 12 overall pick, their highest since 2009. The New Orleans trade netted No. 30, and then the 12th pick in the second round is No. 44.
Three picks in the top 44 is an opportunity neither of Gutekunst’s predecessors and mentors, Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson, ever had.
Throw in pick No. 75 in the third round, plus two picks close together in the fourth round – Nos. 114 and 118, the latter acquired via trade last year with Washington for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – and that’s six picks in the first four rounds.
The potential significance of this draft for the Packers in 2019 and in future years almost can’t be understated.
“With every personnel transaction there’s pressure to get it right,” Gutekunst said earlier this week. “I’ve been around two of the best, and as good as they were, they had their misses, too.
“To me, it’s always about the team. You’re always thinking about the team and how to make it better, and understanding it never stops.”
It certainly won’t stop when the draft ends, as the chase for college free agents begins immediately. Shortly thereafter, the Packers should have a full 90-man offseason roster for the rest of spring workouts.
Gutekunst’s moves last month in free agency give him considerable flexibility in this draft, whether that be to trade up, trade down, or take the best player available at every spot.
Analysts consider this draft deep in the defensive front and tight end. The upper end of the prospects on the offensive line, for Days 1 and 2, is viewed favorably, and quality safeties are expected to be available from late in the first round through possibly the third.
All of those are areas the Packers are likely to address, perhaps with multiple picks, depending on how Gutekunst exercises the aforementioned flexibility.
Packers.com will have complete coverage throughout the three days of the draft, including quick headlines as soon as the Packers pick; more in-depth stories on those picks with comments from coaches, scouts and the players themselves; highlights and photo galleries of the players selected; videos featuring Larry McCarren one-on-one with Packers personnel; and, at the end of each day, a "Three Things" video and a wrap-up story with comments from Gutekunst.
Here’s a rundown of the Packers’ selections:
Day 1 – First round
1a: No. 12
1b: No. 30
Day 2 – Second and third rounds
2: No. 44
3: No. 75
Day 3 – Fourth through seventh rounds
4a: No. 114
4b: No. 118
5: No. 150
6a: No. 185
6b: No. 194
7: No. 226