Packers GM Brian Gutekunst Has a Strong Track Record In the First Two Rounds of the NFL Draft

Draft day is finally here and the NFL Draft will take place tonight. The Green Bay Packers have four picks in the first two rounds of the draft for the first time since 1967 when Vince Lombardi was both coach and general manager. That’s 55 years ago for those of us keeping score at home.

This is a real opportunity for the Packers to improve the talent level on their roster and to gain some talented players who they can keep under control for four or possibly in the case of first round picks, five years at a relatively low cost.

The question remains how GM Brian Gutekunst will use these resources. The answer will unfold over the course of the draft. Will he trade up to grab one particular player, trade back to gain additional picks or stay put and use all four of these early picks as they stand now on the board. Will he acquire players via trade or sign another free agent? Time will tell.

But one thing Packers fans need to do is trust the process. In his first four years as Packers GM, Gutekunst has done a solid job of acquiring new talent in the early rounds of the draft even when many Packers fans on social media were disappointed with the picks initially.

The Packers have selected five players in the first round since Gutekunst took over as GM in 2018 and he has clearly hit on four of them. Jaire Alexander has already made a Pro Bowl and is considered one of the better cover cornerbacks in the NFL when he’s healthy. If he picks up where he left off pre-shoulder injury, he will once again be a shutdown corner.

Gutekunst picked up an extra first-round pick in 2019 when he traded back before drafting Alexander (he also later traded back up). In his second draft, he added Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage. Gary took  time to make the adjustment to playing outside linebacker and adjusting to life in the NFL, but he led the Packers last season with 9.5 sacks and provided consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Meanwhile, Savage became a starter as a rookie and was playing at a Pro Bowl level in the second half of the 2020 season. While Savage still has his moments of inconsistent play, he is an established starter with the potential to get even better. The Packers are likely to pick up the fifth-year option on both Gary and Savage before the start of training camp this year unless they sign either of them to a long-term extension.

Jordan Love is the most controversial of Gutekunst’s first-round picks for obvious reasons. In his first two seasons in the league, the former Utah State star has thrown for 411 yards and two touchdowns in limited duty behind Aaron Rodgers. Whether Love will develop into Rodgers’ successor and when that may happen remains unknown. Most scouts expected that Love was a developmental quarterback when he was drafted and the jury is still out on his long-term potential.

In 2021, the Packers used their top pick on cornerback Eric Stokes. He was pressed into starting duty early due to injuries to Alexander and Kevin King and performed very well. Opposing quarterbacks completed only 49.5 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Stokes according to pro-football-reference.com. While Stokes still needs some work at tracking the ball in the air, he surpassed expectations in his rookie season and looks like a solid starter for years to come.

In the second round, Gutekunst has enjoyed similar success. While 2018 second rounder Josh Jackson never panned out, Elgton Jenkins earned Pro Bowl honors in his second season and gives the Packers excellent versatility along the offensive line.

While many fans were initially disappointed the Packers chose a running back in the second round in 2020, A.J. Dillon stepped up and played a significant role in the offense in his second NFL campaign and led the team with 803 rushing yards in 2021.

Last year’s second round pick, center Josh Myers, won the starting job out of training camp and had a solid rookie season which was unfortunately limited by injuries. He has the potential to be a long-term starter at the position.

With five first-round picks, Gutekunst has selected one Pro Bowler, four starters and one player who is still developing as a backup quarterback.

The Packers four second-round picks under Gutekunst have yielded one Pro Bowler, one player who never lived up to expectations a starter in Myers and the team’s leading rusher in Dillon.

That’s a strong record of success over four years. While Gutekunst is far from perfect, his recent picks in the first two rounds of the draft have been big contributors to the team’s 39 victories in the last three seasons.

While the Packers picks may not thrill everybody right away, Gutekunst has earned the benefit of the doubt regarding his overall ability to pick players in the first two rounds of the draft. This year’s draft will be critical to the Packers ability to remain contenders during the rest of Aaron Rodgers’ tenure as the Packers quarterback. It will be an interesting three days in Green Bay.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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4 points

Comments (38)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
MooPack's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:13 pm

Packers could definitely come away with a Pro-bowler and at least 2 starters this year.

My Final:
22.S/slot CB Daxton Hill (BPA on board. Better impact than any WR/Edge/OL/DL left)
28.WRx Christian Watson (BPA left at WR. NDSU won 8 of 9 past FCS national championships. My bet is FO knew him, even if public didn't)
53.RT Abraham Lucas (BPA left at RT. Better to have OL that can pass block first. Run is taught for scheme)
59.LB Troy Andersen (I think he ends up best LB in class. High IQ, top RAS athlete, there is a theme running here, that will get him on field quicker)
92.TE Ruckert, Woods, or Kolar (Starting to like Kolar more and more)
132.G Zach Tom (Mr. OL versitility and athleticism that the Packers love)
140.EDGE Amaré Barno or DL Eyioma Uwazurike (Torn here - high ceiling edge or big DL that can play all along line)
171.WR Erik Ezukanma (Underrated reciever that should beat out any of the practice squad guys)
228.EDGE Jeffrey Gunter (Developmental power rusher. Hope he lasts this long)
249.RB Tyler Goodson (taking a flyer on a couple of Iowa boys)
258.WR Isaiah Weston (see above)

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Coldworld's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:30 pm

Never mind Watson. Get me Dareke Young later and go other positions in the first not draft a pure raw Athlete in the first. Plenty of better types for now out there.

Weston or Thornton later I do like. I’m not big on Ezukanma. I’d take a punt on Dai'Jean Dixon later instead for that type. Big, great hands, good vertical but tested slower than expected. Better gamble on him testing below par than a London or Burks. More physical than Burks, more athletic than London.

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crayzpackfan's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:12 pm

Weston would be a great pick in the 7th. Long, athletic, and good hands. Would be a great PS developmental receiver who could be a #3 in a couple years.

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Coldworld's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:29 pm

We need a pipeline again

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Coldworld's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:30 pm

Duplicate

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LLCHESTY's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:25 pm

I'd be fine with Ezukanma a round earlier. Just looks like a natural pass catcher to me. The ball is his friend and he welcomes it in as such. Also a very good YAC guy, something they should be looking for in that offense.

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LambeauPlain's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Good draft, Moo.

Some fans will "have a cow" with Watson at 28. I think it is "bullish". Most of these prospects will "steer" the team in the right direction in 2022.

(couldn't work "calf" into the comment)

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MooPack's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:02 pm

Better than selling the house for DK Met 'calf'.

There ya go.

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LambeauPlain's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:05 pm

Well, played, sir!

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crayzpackfan's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:22 pm

I’m wondering if Watson is more of a pre draft media wet dream in terms of being a late 1 or early 2 and therefore they’re fanning his flame for us Pavlov draft dogs to salivate when we here the word Watson? Yes, yes….I think I’m one of them dogs, though my brain is telling me he’s a 50-90 overall pick. God damn I’m excited for the draft!!

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LLCHESTY's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:36 pm

I think you're right. I also think him having multiple surgeries on the same knee might give teams pause. They do need speed and he should be able to come in and play the MVS role right off the bat but there are are plenty of fast guys later in the draft too.

I think it's partially media driving skill position players for the fantasy crowd and partially Packer fan angst at the depleted WR corps but I don't see 7 or 8 WRs getting drafted tonight. There were 6 two years ago and that group was deeper at the top to me.

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Coldworld's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:32 pm

Runs are possible, but I really don’t see 6 that demand it.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:23 pm

He may need to be snagged with the #22. We don't know when or who will hit the panic button, but there will be a run on this class of WRs. There will be little to pick over after # 64.

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crayzpackfan's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:16 pm

I can see the panic button scenario as well.

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Spock's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:26 pm

As a long time CHTV reader/commenter I would recommend never, ever, using the word "cow" in a comment. Long story about a particularly unpopular commenter using "Cow" as their handle! :)

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:19 pm

Buy this guy a Moo Moo. I will take Hill on condition he is part of the Savage trade. #171need s to be a TE and move WR to #92. Doubt if Doubs falls that far. They will have to take Lucas higher.

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ImaPayne's picture

April 30, 2022 at 03:07 pm

Pro bowlers? Who did we draft that I missed? Both our receivers are notorious for having bad hands and playing in a conference where they didnt play press coverage so they ran free.
Wyatt my be a very decent pick but if he is it, Gutt fd it up with 2 ones and two twos .
The real problem is we have to let people go in hordes, three o linemen with develomental experience and three receivers and a punter.All teams lose someone but we lose bunches and start over every draft with newbies.

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Packer_Fan's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:19 pm

Gil, I agree that Gute has been srsuccessful in the first two rounds. So Gute, don't trade up and lose one of them. None of these picks are planned as starters. But they can make significant impact this year.

And long term will be the stars of the team in future years

6 points
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murf7777's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:27 pm

I don't care if he trades up, down or sideways. I don't care if he trades for a Vet that can help us now. The one thing I hope he doesn't do is trade for draft pick(s) for next year. Load up with top talent this year and make a run for it! Go Gutey Go! Can't Wait!!

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LambeauPlain's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:04 pm

I just hope he doesn't pull a "Minnesota" and times out of his #22 pick due to arguing with Rodgers over the WR selection.

(just kidding, kinda)

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frankthefork's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:40 pm

I am sorry to disagree on trade-ups. But my baseball mentality is in play here. Always trade back every year. The more at-bats, the better the possibilities of hitting a homerun! (That's if you're an HR hitter)
Prove me wrong,...and worked well before and Got JA 23...I think 19 vs 23rd pick. (A Trade back then up.)

Trade ups are AKA as reaches! Unless it's a talent that has fallen too far. Another eg. MVP-AR12.

22. D Hill Saftey who can replace Amos next year and start at Slot-star roles.
28. T Jones DT who looks like BJ Raji clone. Allows KC to move along the line. Slayton Reed Clark Jones. If that group can't stop the run what-who can?

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LambeauPlain's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:58 pm

Agree. Hold or trade back. Draft is deep in positions that the Pack needs for a starter or two and add quality depth.

I like Jones too. The DL rotation would also have to consider Lowry and Hefflin (I think he steps up this season...really flashed in the preseason as he learned the NFL game last year.). Do they keep 6 DL when Barry plays so much nickel?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:23 pm

Trading up for CM3 was a triple. Trading up for Jaire was a grand slam. It can work.

That said, I am not a fan of trading up in general. I am adherent of the Massey and Thaler study which suggests that GMs should not trade up because they overestimate their ability to assess which talent will translate to the NFL.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Follow Gravity's Rainbow and acquire more picks in Rounds two and three.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

April 29, 2022 at 11:04 am

Let's see whether the Lions had the right approach with the massive move up to select Jameson Williams. I think I heard JA's sigh last night!

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splitpea1's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:40 pm

Yes, but the moving up has cost us quality depth....Neither Savage or Love were worth the total of three fourth-round picks, although safety was a big need at the time.

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mnbadger's picture

April 28, 2022 at 12:41 pm

Nice last minute take on what to expect in the coming days by using historical evidence for a foundation. I'm hoping for nasty LB and/or safety in round 1 plus a receiver. Then BPA as we can make use of young talent on both sides of the ball. Bring them in and let the coaches figure out ways to win with the roster we end up with.
Not sure why, but I'm nervous about tonight and tomorrow night but excited about seeing the new additions come Sunday and Monday.
In Gutey I trust, GPG!

6 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:01 pm

Very much agree. Pack needs depth/upgrade at S and ILB, respectively.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:25 pm

Now for something completely different. I just got off the phone with LaFleur's housekeeper. He wants Weapons and Protection:
#22 to Tenn for #26, 2023 2nd
#26 Watson WR # 2
#28 Lucas RT
#35 Pierce WR #53 and 2023 2nd from Tenn.
# 59 Hall DT/Five tech for Jerry Montgomery
#92 Kinnard OT Doubt he would fall to the 3rd.
#108 Taylor CB Starts at the Dime spot. move a 2023 3rd.
#132 Kolar TE Receiving guy.
#140 Malone EDGE 4.45, 40 this guy is moving UP boards.
#171 Bubba Bolden S Enforces the middle to the single high.
#197 Haskins Power RB 2023 5th comp pick. How's that 3rd and One working out?
#228 Bo Melton WR He will not be here after 4.34, 40. He is a threat.
#249 Van Valkenburg Edge/6 tech replaces Lowry in 2023.
#258 Tariq Carpenter LB 6-2, 230lb 4.5, 40. sp teams

Maybe they move Savage?

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LLCHESTY's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:18 pm

Now do the 3rd round! 😱

Or, for BDU's sake don't!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:25 pm

This was a little rosy. Gute does have a strong track record in the first and second rounds. Lots of work to do to make up for rounds 3 to 7 and this is a great draft for Gute to shore up his record in those rounds because it is so deep.

5 points
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crayzpackfan's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:22 pm

Trade down his one’s and up from his 7’s -3’s and get 9-10 picks in the 2’nd? Hmmm. ;)

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MooPack's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:55 pm

I hope the Packers have the names many have mentioned available at their 22nd and 28th pick. Couple of fairly good drafting teams are sitting right before the Packers, NE(21) and TB(27). Also KC twice after (29/30).

I don't want any Tears In My Beer.

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mjbrogno's picture

April 28, 2022 at 01:56 pm

I’m hoping that we load up on defense with the first two picks. The wide outs will be there in the additional rounds. Defense has always been the X factor in winning Championships. Look how the d shutdown the 49ers, unfortunately, our Achilles heal got in the way of the outcome, Go Pack Go!!!!!

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greengold's picture

April 28, 2022 at 02:50 pm

I’ll stand by this one, trusting it would help our real need areas most:

22 WR George Pickens
28 WR Velus Jones Jr.
53 DT Travis Jones
59 EDGE Sam Williams
93 CB Zyon McCollum
132 S Kerby Joseph
140 EDGE Alex Wright
171 TE Chig Okonkwo
228 OT Cordell Volson
249 OT Bam Olaseni
258 WR Dareke Young

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ImaPayne's picture

April 30, 2022 at 03:02 pm

Funny none of the names Gutt picked are on your list and none other then Watson and Wyatt were on anyone elses lists.
I guess the difference is you didnt go to the combine and look at the numbers and say wow that's my guy, not knowing if said guy can actually play football versus jump up and down and run around cones that dont move.

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stockholder's picture

April 28, 2022 at 03:48 pm

Sorry , But he can do better. Final answer.

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ImaPayne's picture

April 30, 2022 at 02:59 pm

All I know is the Vikes and Lions and Bears had great drafts. They got very healthy. The GM of the Vikes said that the Vikes are now just picking the bpa when its there turn, they have all the holes filled and backups they need so they can be very picky for the future.

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