Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has been aggressive in the first round of the draft. A bold approach but also one that can pay off in a big way.
Each time, he’s moved up from a pick late in the round, aiming to land one of the top prospects in the class.
How have these trades worked out? Let’s review all three.
2018: Packers trade down, trade up, draft Jaire Alexander
After a disappointing 2017 season, the Packers had the rare opportunity to pick at No. 14 overall. Derwin James was one of the top names still on the board along with Tremaine Edmunds and Jaire Alexander. Surprisingly, Gutekunst traded down all the way to No. 27, receiving a first-round pick in 2019 along with the New Orleans Saints’ fifth-rounder that year.
But that wasn’t the end. Gutekunst would then package that No. 27 pick along with a third and sixth in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, moving all the way up to No. 18 where he selected Alexander.
So, in all, the Packers moved down four positions and gave up a third-rounder, but picked Alexander and received a 2019 first-rounder in return.
Alexander is now one of the best cornerbacks in football and was named an All-Pro in 2020. A masterclass from Gutekunst in his first draft.
2019: Packers trade up, draft Darnell Savage
After selecting Rashan Gary 12th overall, the Packers also owned the 30th pick which came from the Saints in the Alexander trade. Once again, Gutekunst traded this pick. Again it was a deal with the Seahawks, sending them the No. 30 pick along with two fourth-rounders.
Green Bay selected Darnell Savage, who has been a starter from Day 1 at safety. He was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2019 and, in the second half of 2020, played as well as just about any safety in the league.
Don’t be surprised if Savage follows Alexander in becoming an All-Pro in his third season. Another great trade-up by Gutekunst.
2020: Packers trade up, draft Jordan Love
Ah, a decision that still leaves a fanbase split.
It’s also a decision we can’t judge yet. Some will point out that the Packers should’ve used this pick on a player who would’ve made an impact in year one. And it’s a fair point. However, the Packers made a move for the future here.
Green Bay gave up a fourth-rounder to move four spots from No. 30 to No. 26, where it picked quarterback Jordan Love.
Unsurprisingly, Love didn’t play a single snap in 2020 with Aaron Rodgers putting together his third MVP campaign.
Gutekunst took a risk. If Love never becomes a starting-caliber quarterback, this will be looked at as one of his biggest blunders. But if Love becomes the next superstar QB in Green Bay, it will prove to be a genius decision.
Gutekunst rolled the dice, there’s no doubt. But the upside is huge. And his previous track record of trading up in the first round has worked well. Time will tell.