2021 Draft: Packers willing to ignore athletic thresholds

Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers‘ love for drafting players with size and athleticism has been well documented over the last few months.

Between both current GM Brian Gutekunst and his predecessor Ted Thompson, both have tended towards a few athletic requirements, such as receivers with height, and cornerbacks with agility skills. Gutekunst specifically appears to have a preference for prospects with a strong relative athletic score.

A player with a relative athletic score (or RAS) of 8.0 and above is defined as a ‘great’ athlete. Of Gutekunst’s 25 total draft picks who registered a relative athletic score, 22 of them have had a RAS of 8.0 or above. It’s clear, he prefers athletes.

However, last night he was willing to buck that trend to select Amari Rodgers, who scored a 5.37 RAS, which defines him as an ‘okay’ athlete. Similar to how he set aside Jaire Alexander’s lack of size back in 2018, Gutekunst was willing to ignore Rodgers’ average pre-draft testing because he knew how talented Rodgers is on the field.

Speaking of first-round cornerbacks, while Eric Stokes registered an elite 9.37 RAS that included a blazing fast 40-yard dash time, he just barely met the Packers usual 3-cone drill preferences.

The 3-cone drill is an indicator of agility, and it’s rare for the Packers to draft a CB who runs the drill slower than seven seconds. Stokes barely met that mark, running it in 6.96 seconds. It wasn’t enough to deter the Packers from selecting him at the end of the first round.

As for Josh Myers, he did not participate in any pro-day drills due to a turf toe injury that has since recovered well, but nobody has any doubts of Myers’ athletic ability.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah reminded us that Ohio State usually put their most athletic lineman at the center position, which is where Myers started for each of his two full years with the Buckeyes.

What does this mean for day three?

Rounds 4-7 are where we truly find out if Brian Gutekunst still trusts athletic ability over everything. With six picks today, we’ll see if the Packers continue to draft elite RAS athletes as they have done in the last three years.

My prediction would be that they will continue the trend. While Gutekunst hasn’t exactly been prolific on day three of the draft, frankly he’s been very disappointing so far in his career, he’s still a GM who values upside over everything.

He’s confident that the Packers have the coaches who can teach you to play smart, and to make the right decisions. However athletic capability cannot be taught.