Green Bay Packers

Why Does Gutekunst Have So Much Trouble Scouting Quarterbacks?

Photo Credit: Dan Powers/Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK

Brian Gutekunst has assembled a strong roster since the Green Bay Packers promoted him to general manager in 2018 — but he’s also struggled. The problem we’re talking about is the quarterback, the most important position in all of sports. So far, Gutekunst has failed to find a quarterback to backup or eventually replace Aaron Rodgers.

Gutekunst traded, drafted, and scouted several QBs with similar positive characteristics, like a strong arm and athletic ability. But they also had similar drawbacks, like inaccuracy and a turnover-prone style of play.

DeShone Kizer

Gutekunst traded for a quarterback months after being hired as the Packers general manager. He sent defensive back Damarious Randall and received former second-round pick DeShone Kizer, plus fourth- and fifth-round swaps. Kizer had been the Cleveland Browns’ starter during their 0-16 season in 2017. He started 15 games and threw 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for a poor 60.5 passer rating.

Kizer played extensive time for the Packers in two games, at the start and end of the 2018 season. He played part of the first and all of the second quarter in the season opener when Aaron Rodgers suffered a knee injury against the Chicago Bears. Kizer was terrible, throwing a pick-six to Khalil Mack. In the season finale, Kizer went into action after Rodgers suffered a concussion, and he threw another interception during a shutout loss to the New York Jets.

Kizer stayed in Green Bay through the 2019 training camp, but he lost the backup job to Tim Boyle and the Packers released him during final cuts.

Drew Lock

In 2019, one year before drafting Jordan Love, the Packers had strong pre-draft ties with Drew Lock. However, the Packers drafted Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage when Lock was still on the board. The Denver Broncos ended up picking Lock in the second round. Lock had a pre-draft visit with the Packers, but Gutekunst said it was part of his process to build a long-term QB scout plan.

“Every year, we spend a lot of time on quarterbacks and try to figure out what kind of players those guys are going to be in the NFL,” Gutekunst said. “I think it’s really, really important to us because if you don’t have one, it’s really tough to win in this league. So, you know, for us, it’s just about each and every year trying to decide which of the guys that could potentially be starters in this league and difference maker-type players.”

We don’t know exactly how much Gutekunst liked Lock or if he would have selected him in the second round. The Broncos took the former Missouri quarterback two picks before the Packers got Elgton Jenkins. However, the Packers also didn’t show similar interest in the other top-rated guys, like Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, and Dwayne Haskins.

Lock has failed to establish himself as a starter in his first three seasons. He was injured for most of his rookie season and had a lousy sophomore year, starting 13 games in 2020 (1.06 TD/INT ratio, 75.4 passer rating). Lock lost the job to Teddy Bridgewater in 2021.

Jordan Love

The Packers infamously traded up and drafted Jordan Love 26th overall in 2020. Love fit the Gutekunst mold. He is a strong-armed quarterback with accuracy issues.

“As far as his skill set, he’s a very natural thrower, can make all the throws, he’s a very good athlete. He has the kind of size we look for,” Gutekunst said after the selection. “I just think there’s some rawness to him, but I just think he’s got everything in front of him. And we really like the guy.”

With a playing style much more reminiscent of Brett Favre than Aaron Rodgers, Love had 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his final college season. And after sitting all of his rookie season, his gunslinger mentality percolated in his sophomore year. Love had many turnover-worthy plays, including three interceptions and three fumbles (one lost) in limited action.

What about the future?

We still don’t know if Love will ever be the starter in Green Bay. Gutekunst and the Packers appear to be locked into the idea of keeping Rodgers as long as possible. But when the Hall of Famer decides to retire or leave Green Bay, Gutekunst will have to take a critical look at his own scouting process. It doesn’t matter how well he drafts if he doesn’t have a franchise quarterback.

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