“We are planning on taking the best player available”. This is a phrase fans should be prepared to hear leading up the NFL draft. This time of year NFL teams act more like the CIA than a professional football team. It might be Green Bay Packers personnel executive Brian Gutekunst’s first time running the Packers draft, but he learned under one of the best when it came to the draft the best player available approach. Former general manager Ted Thompson lived and died by this mantra. But the best player available approach wasn’t all just talk under Thompson’s guidance. The Thompson led Packers stuck to that approach when it came to the draft. However, Packers fans are expecting to win now. Not filling holes might prevent this from occurring. The Green Bay Packers draft the best player available approach will be put to the test.
Green Bay Packers Draft the Best Player Available Approach will be put to the Test
The Packers haven’t had this high of a first round draft choice since 2009 when they drafted ninth overall. Last season was a disappointment, but there might be a silver lining from it. Gutekunst has a chance to select a player that might help get the Packers back to the playoffs.
Along with owning the 14th overall pick, the Packers own a total of 12 picks in this year’s draft. That amount of picks will give Gutekunst some options. Where they pick in the first round will as well. With 12 picks, he will have an opportunity to do some maneuvering if he chooses to. Something that Thompson rarely did when he was in charge.
With selecting at 14, the Packers could have the opportunity to land more draft picks as well. If a player another team covets were to slide, the Packers could execute a trade with that team. But the fall back is that the Packers need prospects that can contribute immediately. They would need to make sure they stay in the first round if they do commit to a trade.
Unlike recent drafts where the Packers were sitting at the end of the first round, the Packers have options. With drafting 14th, drafting for a need is a possibility. This would put their draft the best player available approach to the test.
Draft for Need or Stick to Your Board
The Packers roster hasn’t had this many holes in several years. Because of Thompson’s lack of free agent moves and missing on some recent draft choices, the Packers have several areas of need on their current roster.
It appears that the top two positions that the Packers have been projected to fill in this year’s draft is cornerback and EDGE pass rusher. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that their biggest needs are on the defensive side of the ball.
Recent Packers defenses have ranked near the bottom of the NFL, which is why head coach Mike McCarthy replaced former defensive coordinator Dom Capers with new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The Packers are expecting a lot out of Pettine this season. It would go a long way if the Packers were to give him more weapons on that side of the ball.
When the Packers were drafting in the latter half of the first round in recent drafts, the draft the best player available approach was a lot easier to stick to. When the Packers were coming off successful seasons, they had less holes to fill on their roster. That made drafting the best available player a lot easier to implement. But this could be why they are in the situation they are currently in.
Because Thompson relied so heavily on the draft to stock the Packers roster, when he missed on a player in the first round, it would put their team in a hole for future seasons. Gutekunst dabbled a little bit in free agency, but there are still holes to fill. That is why it is vital for him and the Packers to land talented players in this year’s draft.
Time to Show the Football World he is Worthy
Players such as Harold Landry and Josh Jackson are two popular names that have been linked to Green Bay for their first round pick, but Gutekunst and the Packers are the only ones that know right now if they even have any interest in either of them. Both of them could be ranked high on their board which might make it easier for them to select either of them, with thinking one of them is the best player available.
One player that might show that Gutekunst is sticking to the draft the best player available approach is Derwin James. The Packers might have some holes on their roster, but safety isn’t one of them.
It appears the starting two safeties for the Packers this season will be Ha Ha Clinton Dix, a former first round pick, and Josh Jones, one of last year’s second round picks. Behind them is Kentrell Brice, an ultra-talented player that the Packers are very high on. Although not a hole, if James were to be available, it might be difficult for the Packers to pass on him. In this scenario, Gutekunst will have to figure out if need is more important than drafting the best player available.
Packers fans are waiting eagerly to see how Gutekunst approaches his first draft in charge. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with how the Packers have done business for so many years, or pave his own way.
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