Packers: Power ranking Brian Gutekunst’s draft classes

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

Ranking all four of Brian Gutekunst’s draft classes for the Packers.

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is set to put together his fifth draft class this month.

So far, it’s hard to argue with his results as GM. He inherited a team that had failed to make the playoffs in 2017 and desperately needed a reboot. They have now won the NFC North three years straight, secured the top seed two years running, and made the NFC Championship Game twice.

Let’s look back at Gutekunst’s four draft classes. Which is the best?

1. 2019 draft class

  • Round 1: Rashan Gary, EDGE
  • Round 1: Darnell Savage, S
  • Round 2: Elgton Jenkins, OL
  • Round 3: Jace Sternberger, TE
  • Round 5: Kingsley Keke, DL
  • Round 6: Ka’dar Hollman, CB
  • Round 6: Dexter Williams, RB
  • Round 7: Ty Summers, LB

Most draft classes are best remembered for their early-round picks, and Gutekunst hit his top three out of the park in 2019.

Rashan Gary has improved in all three of his seasons and enters 2022 as the Packers’ best pass rusher. He made 9.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hits last year.

Darnell Savage has started 46 games at safety for the Packers, helping turn what was then the team’s biggest need into a strength, alongside Adrian Amos.

Elgton Jenkins might be Gutekunst’s greatest ever pick. A Pro Bowler in 2020, Jenkins can step in at any of the five offensive line positions and dominate.

There are plenty of swings and misses later in this draft, but that’s the same as any year. The top three makes this a special one for the Packers.

2. 2018 draft class

  • Round 1: Jaire Alexander, CB
  • Round 2: Josh Jackson, CB
  • Round 3: Oren Burks, LB
  • Round 4: J’Mon Moore, WR
  • Round 5: Cole Madison, OL
  • Round 5: JK Scott, P
  • Round 5: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR
  • Round 6: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
  • Round 7: James Looney, DE
  • Round 7: Hunter Bradley, LS
  • Round 7: Kendall Donnerson, LB

The Packers made a lot of picks in 2018, and most of them weren’t good. But it’s hard to argue with Gutekunst’s top selection, Jaire Alexander. Alexander is an All-Pro cornerback and will soon become one of the highest-paid at the position.

Gutekunst also added a 2019 first-round pick in this draft, which would later be used to move up to get Darnell Savage.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling became one of the best deep threats in the NFL with the Packers. In 2020, he led the NFL with 20.9 yards per reception. With his ability to change games on one play, the Packers will miss MVS as he moves on to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022.

Gutekunst got a lot wrong in his first draft class, but the picks he hit on paid off.

3. 2021 draft class

  • Round 1: Eric Stokes, CB
  • Round 2: Josh Myers, C
  • Round 3: Amari Rodgers, WR
  • Round 4: Royce Newman, G
  • Round 5: TJ Slaton, DT
  • Round 5: Shemar Jean-Charles, CB
  • Round 6: Cole Van Lanen, OL
  • Round 6: Isaiah McDuffie, LB
  • Round 7: Kylin Hill, LB

This draft class could rank much higher when it’s all said and done. It’s tough to place it on the list after only one year, but the early signs are encouraging.

Eric Stokes exceeded expectations in his first season. Rookie cornerbacks typically struggle, but Stokes started 14 games and made 14 pass defenses and an interception. According to Pro Football Reference, he allowed a passer rating of just 71.3 in his coverage. A fine rookie year in which Stokes displayed Pro Bowl potential.

Josh Myers missed over half the season due to injury but looked rock solid at center when he did play. Royce Newman made 16 starts at guard. He had his ups and downs but showed the potential to become a long-term starter in Green Bay.

TJ Slaton also had a solid rookie season.

The Packers will want to see more from Amari Rodgers in year two, but this class could be a strong one.

4. 2020 draft class

  • Round 1: Jordan Love, QB
  • Round 2: AJ Dillon, RB
  • Round 3: Josiah Deguara, TE
  • Round 5: Kamal Martin, LB
  • Round 6: Jon Runyan, OL
  • Round 6: Jake Hanson, OL
  • Round 6: Simon Stepaniak, OL
  • Round 7: Vernon Scott, S
  • Round 7: Jonathan Garvin, DE

This draft will always be remembered for Gutekunst’s decision to trade up for Jordan Love, one that has since backfired.

However, there were some solid picks made too.

AJ Dillon put up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2021 and has become a key part of the Packers’ offense. Jon Runyan Jr. has earned a starting job at guard and has been impressive in his first two seasons.

Overall, it’s hardly a terrible draft class, but it’s hard to look past the Love pick. This is comfortably the Packers’ worst class under Gutekunst.