Gutekunst previews first draft as Packers GM

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FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, New Green Bay Packers NFL football team general manager Brian Gutekunst gestures while speaking at an introductory news conference in Green Bay, Wis. A life around football has prepared Gutekunst for his new job as the GM of the Packers. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer, File)

Brian Gutekunst has been in the war room for plenty of drafts. This one will be different. It will be the first as the boss in Green Bay.

After nearly two decades climbing the latter of the Packers personnel department, Gutekunst took over as general manager this past season. Watching former GM Ted Thompson there were plenty of lessons for a potential successor to learn from during the draft.

“The one thing I was always impressed with Ted, through all the drafts, was kind of his conviction and his discipline. Somebody asked about patience, he was phenomenal at that. Not only that, but kind of sifting through all the voices and all the information that we have. His steady hand was something that the whole room felt,” said Brian Gutekunst.

Thompson isn’t exactly out of the building though. That’s allowed him to be a good resource for his protege.

“It’s all sound advice. One of the things that’s a common theme, keep your head clear, there’s a lot of voices in the room, and do what you think is best for the Green Bay Packers,” said Gutekunst.

What that could be in the first round is anybody’s, on the outside at least, guess. Green Bay has plenty of needs on both sides of the ball, and 12 draft picks to help address them. Most of the mock drafts have Green Bay taking a defensive player in the first round. Gutekunst could move up in the draft given all those picks in the later rounds.

“I feel really good about how it looks right now, all the different scenarios and situations we’ve gone through. I think we’ll have the ability to go up if we need to, go back if we need to, or just stay and pick. There’s times when it can get a little tough to watch your board thin out, and the players you hope to take start coming off, that’s always tough deal.”

If the Packers look at bringing a cornerback, it could be one that doesn’t fit the so called threshold set long ago by former general manager Ron Wolf. Gutekunst started with the Packers during the Wolf era, and has largely said in the past he would like to stay with those thresholds.

“We work backwards from that a little bit. The first thing is can they play. If they can play and they don’t meet our thresholds, then it’s kind of a case by case basis. There’s always the old saying, I remember Tom Landry saying ‘If you draft with exceptions, you end up with a team full of exceptions,” said Gutekunst.

“But I think it’s player by player. We do a lot of work and if that exception is one that we want to take, or one we dont.”

Finding the players to help rebuild the roster as they enter into the league is always a major focus of the general manger’s job this time of year. Handling those that remain on the roster from years past can be as well. Right now for the Packers it’s a lot of talk about Aaron Rodgers and the star quarterback’s contract extension.

Less than a week ago Rodgers said there wasn’t much news to report, and that he’d like to finish his career in Green Bay. On Monday, Gutekunst said he hasn’t had many conversations about any of the current players, but the door is always open.

“To be honest with you, I’ve ben consumed with the draft things. So I haven’t really had any discussions with any of our players since we started. I will welcome them, but I have certainly seen what’s been reported. Nobody’s voiced any frustrations to me or anything like that. I’m always one to listen to any of our players, or coaches, or scouts. You know at the end of the day it’s my job at the end of the day to do the task at hand, which is to make decisions for the Green Bay Packers on our roster.”

As for rebuilding the roster through the draft, that process beings on Thursday night. With Gutekunst’s first pick as the general manger coming at 14th in the first round.

That process started long before the Packers will be on the clock.

“The one thing with that is how important getting it right from the get-go is as far as doing the work, getting the board correct. If you don’t do it back then, it doesn’t matter what you do now,” said Gutekunst.

“You can’t go in to the weekend and hope to be right, you have to do it right ahead of time.”

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