NFL Scouting Combine: Day 2 observations

Indianapolis – The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine continued on Thursday in Indianapolis. The offensive linemen and running backs were the position groups to meet with the media, as well as other various coaches and front office personnel.

With both Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Brian Gutekunst addressing the media on Wednesday, things were relatively quiet on the Green Bay front on Thursday. That, combined with the thought that Green Bay won’t be too likely to select a running back or offensive lineman early in the draft, made for an uneventful day.

Three takeaways from Thursday in Indianapolis.

Gutekunst receiving praise

With Gutekunst taking over as the general manager in Green Bay many felt like it was a breath of fresh air that the Packers organization needed. Obviously, the Packers weren’t the only franchise this offseason to make a leadership change.

Roughly halfway through the 2017 season the Cleveland Browns hired former Packers Director of Football Operations John Dorsey as their general manager. Dorsey also hired a pair of former front office members of the Packers in Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith.

He did speak with the media on Thursday and was asked about Gutekunst due to the obvious history that comes with working together from 2002-12.

“Outstanding, I think Brian [Gutekunst] has done a nice job,” said Dorsey of Gutekunst’s career in Green Bay. “He will do a nice job for the Packers moving forward.”

Dorsey also shared the story of giving Gutekunst his start with the Packers back in 2002.

“Brian Gutekunst was a GA at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I had called up Roger Harring, who was a legendary coach at Wisconsin-La Crosse. I said we were looking for a young intern. He said ‘I’ve got this guy Brian Gutekunst who would be really good.

“We sat and talked about it and then next thing you know I call [Gutekunst] up on Friday night. I said ‘[Gutekunst], it’s about eight o’clock,’ – and I think he’s working at some country club trying to put some extra cash in his pocket – ‘this is John Dorsey from the Green Bay Packers. You got the job. Just be here at 7am Monday morning.’ Then I hung up the phone.”

Interest in Quenton Nelson

Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson is widely regarded as the best offensive linemen in this draft class. There are some who believe that he may be the best player available. With that being said, it’s very rare for an offensive guard to be drafted as high as he is projected to go.

It’s likely, according to most, that Nelson will be drafted before the Green Bay’s first selection at No. 14 overall.

That didn’t stop the Packers from having an official meeting at the combine with Nelson, he said.

While it wasn’t expected that the Packers would be in the running for not only an offensive lineman early in the draft, trading up for Nelson cannot be ruled out now.

Green Bay’s wide receiver situation

The Packers have decisions to make at wide receiver with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. That’s no secret. The team extended the contract of Davante Adams late this season, despite issues with concussions during the year.

Adams’ agent, Frank Bauer, told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky that there are no long-term concerns surrounding the health of Adams.

Adams suffered a pair of concussions in the 2017 season. One was caused on a head-to-head blow by Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan that caused Adams to leave the game on a stretcher. The second concussion was due to a hit from Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers in Week 15, causing Adams to miss the remainder of the season.

NFL Scouting Combine: Day 1 observations

Indianapolis – The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine is underway and the path to the draft is officially underway for not only the Green Bay Packers, but the other 31 teams in the NFL, as well. On Wednesday Packers’ general manager Brian Gutekunst and coach Mike McCarthy both met with the media.

Here are three observations from the first day of the combine:

Aggressiveness in free agency

There has seemed to be a renewed sense of optimism since Gutekunst was given the job as the successor to former Packers general manager Ted Thompson in January. The Packers, at times, thrived under the ‘draft and develop model’ that Thompson preferred. This past season it seemed as if the model failed the Packers, especially with the injury to quarterback Aaron Rodgers in early October.

In the absence of Rodgers there were few bright spots offensively. Wide receiver Davante Adams was tremendous with backup quarterback Brett Hundley, and the running back positon was solid with rookies Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Other than that, there wasn’t much to write home about.

Last offseason the Packers attempted to make a splash by signing free agent tight end Martellus Bennett. That move didn’t work out as Bennett underperformed and was waived after injury issues midway through the season.

Most of the renewed hope among fans is that the free agent market will be something that the Packers will be aggressive in this offseason. That was the talk of the day on Wednesday at the combine.

“Obviously, there’s limits on what you can do, but we’d like to be really aggressive and see what we can be in every conversation,” Gutekunst said of the upcoming free agency period. “Now, whether that leads us to signing a bunch or not, we’ll see. Like I said, there’s limitations there, but we’d like to be as aggressive as we can to try and improve our football team. At the same time, it’s a smaller market, it’s a little bit riskier market, so I think as my mentor and predecessor would say ‘you have to be very cautious as you enter that.’ But I think we’d like to look at every option we can.”

“We like the word ‘aggressive,’ but I think it’s like anything, you have to be in touch with reality of the process,” McCarthy said. “The process of veteran free agency is different today than it was prior to Brian [Gutekunst] being the GM.”

Aaron Rodgers’ contract

Obviously, Rodgers is the quarterback of the present and future for the Packers. That’s not earth-shattering news to anyone that pays attention to the NFL in any capacity. Rodgers thought of by the Packers as the best player in the NFL. He’s currently on a contract that expires after the 2019 season. Both he and the Packers would like that to change as there have been talked between the parties of an extension.

“I don’t know if there’s pressure [to get an extension done], but we certainly would like to get it done sooner rather than later,” Gutekunst said. “When you have the best player in the NFL it’s not going to be inexpensive, you know what I mean? Obviously, Aaron is a high priority, he’s a great player. That should take care of itself at some point.”

The answer Gutekunst gave was sparked by a question about the salaries that other high-end quarterbacks are anticipated to receive in free agency. Rodgers’ track record proves that he deserves to be shown a payday. It will certainly be interesting to see the amount of guaranteed money he receives if and when a contract extension with the Packers becomes finalized.

New life on defense

After nine seasons at the helm of the defense for the Packers, defensive coordinator Dom Capers was let go following the season. The Packers struggled on that side of the ball and McCarthy felt that a change was needed.

“Obviously, the last nine years I felt that internally we were able to take the resources that we had, build the vision, the plan for the upcoming season,” McCarthy said of the defensive side of the ball. “Obviously, I felt differently this year and the result was all of the coaching changes.”

Green Bay hired Mike Pettine as the replacement to Capers. Pettine has had stops as a defensive coordinator with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. He also has two-year stint as head coach of the Cleveland Browns to his name.

While McCarthy shot down the idea of the hiring of Pettine being a total culture change, it is something that was needed.

“I don’t get too far away from the reality of how our operation is every day and that is the culture. Our culture is what makes it go. That’s how you sustain success. It definitely has been changed, on a lot of levels it has been adjusted, too.”

Report: Packers hire Cignetti as quarterbacks coach

The Green Bay Packers have hired Frank Cignetti as  their new quarterbacks coach, according to a report by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein.

Cignetti was the New York Giants quarterbacks coach last season and has over nine years of coaching experience in the NFL. He has also spent a number of years at the college ranks as a quarterbacks coach and an offensive coordinator.

Cignetti is just the latest hire the Packers organization has made over the past few days, joining  new GM Brian Gutekunst, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, and  defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Report: Eliot Wolf on the move to Cleveland

According to a report by Green Bay Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky, Eliot Wolf has picked the Browns over the Packers and Raiders, and will re-join GM John Dorsey in Cleveland.

Wolf, the son of Packers former GM Ron Wolf, is expected to join the Browns organization as the assistant GM.

He was one of three in-house candidates up for the open GM position with the Packers, but the team ultimately chose Brain Gutekunst for the position.

This to some could be considered a lateral move, since there was some speculation that the Packers wanted to use Wolf as part of a three-person tandem between Russ Ball, Gutekunst, and himself.

Wolf was the Director of Football Operations for the Packers and was with the organization since 2004.

Packers executive to interview for Buffalo GM opening

One of the Green Bay Packers most trusted front office officials is interviewing for the general manager job in Buffalo.

Multiple outlets reported that Director of College Scouting Brian Gutekunst was expected at the Bills complex on Monday to meet with team officials about the opening.

With the Packers since 1998, Gutekunst was in the running for the San Francisco 49ers general manager position this offseason before pulling his name out of contention and getting a new contract from Green Bay.

Among the others that have interviewed for the Buffalo job include Philadelphia Eagles director of college scouting Trey Brown, Houston Texans director of player personnel Brian Gaine and Carolina Panthers assistant general manager Brandon Beane.