Brian Gutekunst's 3 best moves of the offseason for Packers, ranked

Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst
Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst / Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin /

The Green Bay Packers needed another successful offseason to bridge the gap between a divisional-round exit and becoming Super Bowl contenders.

General manager Brian Gutekunst continued to build the roster with a number of smart moves. The NFL Draft wasn't flashy, but Gutekunst's work made sense.

He attacked positions of need by focusing on prospects who met their thresholds for athleticism and versatility. The Packers also prioritized leadership, with 10 of their 11 draft picks having previous team captain experience in college or high school.

With most of the Packers' roster building for 2024 completed, let's zoom out and reflect on Gutekunst's smartest moves.

Ranking the Packers' best offseason moves in 2024

3. Rebuilding offensive line depth

The Packers had one of the best pass-protecting offensive lines in the league last year, ranking second in pass-block win rate, per ESPN. However, after losing David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan, Yosh Nijman, and their combined 203 career starts, the Packers needed reinforcements.

Gutekunst selected Jordan Morgan in the first round of the draft, and you won't find a better fit for the Packers with his athleticism, four-position versatility, and experience as a team captain. Green Bay tripled down in the draft by selecting Jacob Monk, who could eventually start at center, and Travis Glover, who could replace Nijman as the swing tackle.

Undrafted free agent Donovan Jennings may not only land a roster spot, but also has future starting potential at guard.

The Packers need to figure out their best starting lineup, but there's no shortage of talent or depth along the offensive line.

2. Drafting Edgerrin Cooper

In a rookie class filled with smart, solid picks that might not grab headlines, Edgerrin Cooper stands out as the player with superstar potential.

ESPN's Louis Riddick believes Cooper was the best linebacker in the class and expects him to "continue his dominance in 2024 in a key role."

Cooper is a playmaker. He has game-changing speed and athleticism and can make a difference as a run defender, in coverage, and rushing the passer. His blitzing ability will interest new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley and his aggressive scheme, as Cooper made eight sacks in 2023.

Of every addition the Packers made in the draft, Cooper is the most likely to become an All-Pro.

1. Signing Xavier McKinney

Xavier McKinney to Green Bay made so much sense. Almost too much sense, in fact, that many Packers fans believed it wouldn't happen because the fit was so perfect that it was too good to be true. Another team would pay more than the Packers, right? Green Bay isn't known for big spending.

Gutekunst recognized the value of signing McKinney and what it could mean to the Packers' defense. Green Bay had competition but got a deal over the line, with McKinney signing a four-year contract worth $68 million.

When Hafley took the defensive coordinator job, he described the "perfect" safety for his scheme. He said his post safety had to be able to "erase things" and "eliminate explosive plays." They also needed "high ball production."

Hafley could've summed it up in four words: "We need Xavier McKinney."

Last season, McKinney had a PFF tackling grade of 89.1, the third-highest among safeties. He led the way in coverage with a grade of 91.2. Overall, McKinney was the fourth-highest-graded safety in the NFL.

McKinney eliminates explosive plays, which is what Hafley needs from a free safety. He also had 11 pass defenses and three interceptions. On top of that, he offers the versatility to play in multiple positions, allowing Hafley to move him around. McKinney is the perfect safety for Green Bay's new-look system, and Gutekunst deserves credit for making it happen.

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