Packers: When it comes to the Draft, R.E.L.A.X.

Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** Brian Gutekunst
Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** Brian Gutekunst /

As we approach the 2021 draft, Green Bay Packers fans are full of doubt angst and ready to grab their pitchforks. After all, we are coming off an NFC Championship game loss heading into a draft for the second time in back-to-back seasons. We had high hopes for 2020 after a similar scenario in 2019, but then the draft happened…

We all know how it played out. In what was regarded as a “wide receiver heavy” draft, the Packers used their first three picks on a back-up QB, back-up RB, and a tight end intended to play the H-back position. They ended the 2020 season with almost identical results, and people are up in arms over another wasted year of one of the most extraordinary quarterback talents to play the game.

I am with you. I have been craving the title of being world champions once again! I want 12 to be regarded as one of the best winners as well. We all want this. Here is what we know:

  • We can’t go back and change the Packers’ draft picks, it’s time to move forward
  • The system is relatively complex, especially on offense, and typically takes some time to adjust to
  • With the core pieces the Packers have, they are VERY close.

All of that said, I believe we need to trust Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur in this offseason process, especially on draft day. In each of their brief stints, they have built a solid winning culture once again. The pair also brought in great pieces via free agency and the draft that have landed them in this position in the first place.

So whether they trade up, trade back, or use their early picks for depth, we have to trust the process because this leadership is building a team to last. You don’t have to take my word for it.

Let’s take a look at the moves this GM and coach have made that have contributed to the team’s success.

Draft hits

Since his first draft as GM in 2018, Gutekunst has found some critical contributors throughout each of his three drafts. Not to say they haven’t had their busts and misses, but each team has many.


  • Jaire Alexander
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling
  • JK Scott

TBD: Equanimeous St. Brown

With the first pick in 2018, the Packers selected a shutdown corner in Jaire Alexander. He has already posted league-leading numbers and earned the title of Pro Bowler. Other key selections in that draft include both JK Scott and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, both in the fifth round. Yes, each has had some negative moments, but both were significant contributors in both NFC Championship runs.


  • Rashan Gary
  • Darnell Savage
  • Elgton Jenkins

TBD: Jace Sternberger, Kingsley Keke, and Ty Summers

In the 2019 draft class, the first with both LaFleur and Gutekenst making the calls, the Packers walked out with many significant pieces that will serve as starters and key contributors for years to come.

Rashan Gary, who was once irrationally feared as a bust after one year, came alive in Year 2 with five sacks and 35 tackles, occasionally rotating in as a starter with Preston Smith. Elgton Jenkins is a Pro Bowler in Year 2 and is debatably an All-Pro level player and maybe the most versatile OL in the entire NFL. Darnell Savage is a rock-solid starter who had four interceptions, one fumble recovery, and a sack in 2020, yet continues to grow each and every week.


  • AJ Dillon
  • Kamal Martin
  • Jon Runyan Jr.

TBD: Jordan Love, Josiah Deguara, Jake Hanson, Vernon Scott

Finally, there is the 2020 draft, in which the Packers took Jordan Love, AJ Dillion, Josiah Deguara in the first three rounds. These were not heavy contributors towards the 2020 run, but Dillon and Deguara definitely could be moving forward.

With Jamaal Williams leaving, Dillon is due for a bigger workload. We got a flash of his potential in the Tennessee game due to Covid and injuries. Dillon showed out with a total of 21 touches for 124 yards and two TDs. He could be the perfect Yin to Jones’ Yang.

We also saw significant contributions from fifth-round pick Kamal Martin. He started in 10 games as a rookie. Green Bay’s sixth-round pick was a needed rotational lineman and was the definition of next man up when the O-line sustained any injuries. Jon Runyan Jr. played a role in filling in for injuries of Lane Taylor and Corey Linsley in Weeks 1 and 2. He was also there to step up in different spots due to the injuries of Lucas Patrick and eventually David Bakhtiari.

Trust the process

All of this is to say that the Packers have managed to draft at least three or more key contributors in each of these three drafts under this leadership. That and we still have big expectations for a couple more of these draftees.

Outside of the draft, Gutekunst has also been great at bringing in critical veterans on reasonable contracts in free agency. The additions of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner have been significant in their recent run of success.

Defensively, these players have contributed 372 tackles, 45 sacks, five interceptions, and four fumble recoveries in the last two years. Even players who had brief runs with the team like Jimmy Graham, Rick Wagner, and Christian Kirksey have contributed in some fashion.

With a fair amount of veterans still available in free agency and many of the Packers’ main contributors returning for 2021, Gutekunst and LaFleur will be sure to have the team in contention to make a run at another Super Bowl in 2021.

No matter how the draft may play out, sit back, R.E.L.A.X., and enjoy the ride.