GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is used to making deals on draft day and has more trade options than usual this year with four of the top 59 overall picks.
The Packers were already picking the 28th and 59th before acquiring the 22nd and 53rd overall picks in the trade that sent All-Pro receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. That gives them two picks in each of the first two rounds of the draft which runs Thursday through Saturday.
Gutekunst didn’t want to know if these additional picks might make him more likely to make trades.
“Having more choices in the first three rounds than we’ve had in a while, there’s probably temptations on both sides to move around a bit or just sit down and pick as well,” said Gutekunst. “So we’ll see what’s available, and I think a lot of that will depend on how the draft rolls out.”
Green Bay’s selection of Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes with the 29th overall pick marked the first time since Gutekunst took over as general manager in 2018 that the Packers have stayed in their first-round draft positions instead. than going up or down.
The last time the Packers had two first-round picks was in 2019, when they had the 12th and 30th selections. They retained the 12th pick to take Michigan outside linebacker Rashan Gary, but traded nine places to take Maryland safety Darnell Savage at No. 21.
Green Bay started the 2018 draft with the 14th overall pick, but went to 27, then moved back to 18th and took Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander. The Packers traded four spots in 2020 to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th pick.
“You have to be careful not to fall in love with the players, right, because then you start chasing things and going haywire in terms of value and stuff,” said Gutekunst. “So you would like (the draft committee) to come to you, but at the same time I think you have to be realistic about where you pick and where the strength of the draft is and whether it makes sense to move into a particular area to help your football team, I think you have to be prepared to do that.
Gutekunst said the draft is unusual because many college players have decided to use the extra year of eligibility the NCAA gave them due to the pandemic. Gutekunst said it deepened this draft in the final rounds while also featuring many older players than the typical incoming rookie.
Although the Packers have had the best regular season record in the NFC over the past two years, they enter this draft with pretty clear needs after losing many key players in recent weeks.
Green Bay also needs to improve an offensive line that lost two starters last season after the Packers released Billy Turner and lost Lucas Patrick in free agency.
The Packers also need improvements on the defensive line and could use a pass rusher to complement Gary and Preston Smith.
But the most obvious hole is at receiver as the Packers need to replace Adams, who has the most receptions (432), yardage receptions (5,310) and touchdown receptions (47) of any player in the league. the NFL for the past four seasons. Green Bay also lost wide Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown in free agency.
The Packers began to rebuild their receiving squad by signing veteran Sammy Watkins, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft.