Green Bay Packers

Will Gutey Move Up? Plus Four Other Draft Questions

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are so many more questions than answers when it comes to how Brian Gutekunst and his team will attack the 2024 draft. But there are a few things that seem pretty clear-cut.

Armed with 11 picks – no team has more heading into the draft – including five in the first three* rounds, it’s safe to say Gutey will have the option to move up and down, depending on how things fall. His draft history tells us he will likely do just that.

I think it’s also safe to say Gutey is unlikely to part with any 2025 draft capital. He’s never traded future assets, and with Green Bay hosting next year’s draft, if anything, he might be tempted to add some juice to the ’25 draft if an intriguing offer presents itself.

With all that in mind, here are the five questions running through my head two weeks ahead of the draft:

1.  Will Gutey move up in the 1st round?

I think there’s a better than 50-50 chance this happens. If a defensive player he’s targeting starts to fall a bit, I believe he’ll pounce. I think the only position he would do this for is a CB, possibly an edge rusher – two premium positions that the Packers like to target early. After drafting 11 contributors last year, identifying a true difference-maker early has to be something he’d strongly consider. Quality over quantity for a team that has the look of a contender.

So let’s say we get to pick 16, and one of the top corners like Terrion Arnold or Quinyon Mitchell is still on the board, or maybe a pass rusher like Jared Verse or Laiatu Latu. Gutey could call his old pal John Schneider, who doesn’t have a second- or fifth-round pick, and offer picks 25 and 58 (his second 2nd round pick) for 16 and 118 (Seattle’s second 4th round pick).

Another option would be to climb to the 21-hole and make a deal with Miami, a team that doesn’t pick in the third or fourth rounds. Gutey could dangle his second 3rd round pick, No. 91, to leapfrog a team like the Philadelphia Eagles, who might also be interested in a defensive back like Cooper DeJean or Nate Wiggins.

If he decides to stay put or move back a little, I think offensive line could be the first pick, speaking of which…

2. How many offensive linemen will Gutey draft?

The answer is probably either two or three. After avoiding the line in last year’s draft, it’s time to make it a priority this time around, especially after moving on from David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan, and Yosh Nijman, which zapped the team’s depth. It’s imperative that the Packers create competition for Rasheed Walker at left tackle and Sean Rhyan at right guard.

The good news for the Pack is that this is a draft brimming with O-line talent, and the Packers have a remarkable track record of finding starters on Day 3. I don’t think they’ll wait that long to address the line this year, however, and would be stunned if they don’t select one before Saturday.

3.  Will Gutey draft a running back before Saturday?

I don’t see a scenario where the Pack doesn’t draft a running back; the question is, how long will Gutey wait to add some competition for Josh Jacobs’ backup job? He hit on two Saturday picks back in the ’17 draft, with Jamaal Williams in the fourth and Aaron Jones in the fifth.

The answer may come down to whether he’s traded one of his top 100 picks to move up at some point. If he ‘only’ has four picks to make in the first three rounds, I’d be surprised if one of them is a back. There are eight or nine guys who project as third- or fourth-round picks, and I gotta believe the Pack will end up with one of them. I’m high on Jaylen Wright, Audric Estime, and Will Shipley. My gut says he waits ‘til Saturday.

4. Which will Gutey draft first, a safety or an inside linebacker?

I’ll be surprised if we don’t see both positions addressed before Saturday. Safety is the more immediate need, with a starting spot available. The Pack will look to bring in some competition for Isaiah McDuffie, who has the inside track to replace De’Vondre Campbell alongside Quay Walker right now.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s amazing draft guide, The Beast, has the top five linebackers projected to go in Rounds 2 and 3. Junior Colson, Edgerrin Cooper, Trevin Wallace, Payton Wilson, and Tommy Eichenberg would look great in Green and Gold. I like the last two guys, and both could easily be there late in the third round when the Pack picks.

The second and third rounds are also the sweet spot for the top seven or eight safeties in the draft, and the Pack will absolutely be selecting one of them. If Gutey looks there early in the second, he could have his choice of Jaden Hicks, Javon Bullard, or Tyler Nubin. I’m not sure Nubin’s skill set fits the Pack as well as the other two.

My guess is he grabs one of those first two safeties early in the second and follows it up with a linebacker before he goes to bed on Friday night.

5. Will Gutey draft a wide receiver?

Conventional wisdom says no, after Gutey went to the well there three times last year. The Packers look pretty set at the position, with Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, last year’s draft picks Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, and Grant DuBose, and undrafted finds Bo Melton and Malik Heath. Samari Toure is also still around.

I don’t think he’ll hesitate to add some competition if he sees a WR at the top of his draft board when he’s on the clock, but I think it would need to be a certain type. The Pack could use another speed guy behind the oft-injured Watson. No one else on the roster can scare a defense with his speed. If a guy like South Carolina’s Xavier Legette (who has the size to go along with the speed), Oregon’s Troy Franklin, or UNC’s Devontez Walker is staring him in the face when he’s on the clock in the third round, don’t be shocked if he injects the WR room with a little lightning.

*An earlier version of this post misstated how many picks the Packers have in the first two rounds. We regret the error.

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