Packers add veteran tight end

The Green Bay Packers have dipped back into the free agent market for another tight end.

Veteran Marcedes Lewis posted a picture of him signing his contract with Green Bay early Thursday night.

A first-round pick in 2006, Lewis had spent his entire 12-year career with the Jacksonville Jaguars before becoming a free agent this offseason. He’s started 157 of 170 games, catching 375 passes for 4,502 yards and 33 touchdowns. Though not the receiver he was earlier in his career, Lewis is still considered among the better blocking tight ends in the league and was a major part of Jacksonville leading the league in rushing.

Lewis joins a unit that was lacking any kind of support behind Jimmy Graham and Lance Kendricks, and he becomes the fifth veteran free agent the team has signed at the position in the last three years.

Green Bay finished its first week of OTAs on Wednesday and will get the second week started next Monday.

Packers hit the field for the first open practice of OTAs

The Green Bay Packers were on the field for the first public practice of OTAs Tuesday afternoon.

Here’s a look at what we saw and heard.

Aaron Rodgers speaks

The biggest news item of the day came courtesy of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After practice, the two-time NFL MVP was asked about the Packers being connected to former Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant and whether he’d like him in Green Bay.

“I’m paid to play quarterback,” Rodgers said, “so I don’t make those decisions.”

Pressed further about a receiving core that lost 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, has two established pieces in Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, a talented but still developing Geronimo Allison and then a lot of young unproven players, Rodgers seemingly made it clear what he thought about the idea of bringing in Bryant, who will turn 30 in November.

“We like young receivers, so I’m assuming that’s the way they are going to keep going,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy [Nelson] and bring in Dez, but he’s a talented player. He’s going to end up somewhere. If he ends up here, we’ll obviously welcome him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as possible.”

It’s been reported that Green Bay has no interest in Bryant, so Rodgers comments about him are irrelevant. But his decision to bring Nelson’s name up again, despite saying last month that everyone needed to move on, would suggest he’s still not over losing one of his favorite targets, especially with the uncertainty at the position.

New QB on the field

If there was a thought that DeShone Kizer would come in and be Rodgers’ backup from Day 1 after being traded for from Cleveland, that got shut down pretty quickly on Tuesday. Instead of Kizer following Rodgers in team drills, it was his backup from last year, Brett Hundley, getting the second-team reps.

It’s possible that Kizer is still processing and getting a full grasp of the offense, though everyone is kind of starting over following coach Mike McCarthy’s promise to tear down the playbook and rebuild it with new offensive coordinator Joe Philbin this offseason. Either way, backup quarterback may be one of the more interesting position battles of the summer.

In the backfield

It’s just the second day of OTAs, but the running back rotation gave us a glimpse of what the Packers think of the guys in their backfield right now. Second-year back Jamaal Williams took first-team reps, with last year’s fifth-round pick Aaron Jones following him and veteran Ty Montgomery third.

Some fire on defense

Special teams’ coach Ron Zook uses a sound system with a mic to communicate with his players. No matter where you go on the practice field, you can hear Zook through the speakers. New linebackers coach Patrick Graham needs no microphone or sound system to be heard. Almost from the start of practice, Graham got after his guys, lamenting a mistake or asking for more energy, often in colorful language that didn’t go unnoticed.

“There’s a little bit of yelling at practice,” Rodgers said with a smile. “The linebackers coach does a lot of yelling, actually. That’s new [and] different. It’s energy. It’s yelling energy, but it’s good.”

Jimmy Graham makes his debut

For a third year in a row, Green Bay is introducing a new tight end to the mix. In 2016, it was Jared Cook. Then it was Martellus Bennett last season. This year, it’s five-time Pro Bowl selection Jimmy Graham. At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, Graham has already started making an impression.

“I thought those guys were big until I saw Jimmy,” said 5-foot-10 Randall Cobb of the previous No. 1 tight ends. “He’s a big dude. I try not to stand by him too often.”

Graham is a physical marvel and should provide a big target for Rodgers. But it wasn’t just his size that left the quarterback impressed.

“The guy is pretty damn talented,” Rodgers said. “He’s got some different elements that we haven’t had around here in a while with his ability to read coverages really quickly. He catches everything with his hands. We’re pretty excited about him.”

Rodgers found Graham several times Tuesday during team drills, including on what turned into a long catch and run for a touchdown off a broken play.

Concern on the edge

Though he didn’t take part in practice, linebacker Clay Matthews met with the media afterwards. And, according to PackersNews.com’s Michael Cohen, expressed significant concern about the depth at outside linebacker.

Matthew certainly has a point. Most thought Green Bay would take an edge rusher early in the draft, but new general manager Brian Gutekunst never did. He didn’t believe it was a very good year for the position. And while that might be true, it’s left the Packers counting on the guys behind Matthews and Perry — Reggie Gilbert, Vince Biegel and Kyler Fackrell — to provide a lift with zero assurances it’ll happen.

The following players didn’t take part in practice due to injury:

WR Davante Adams
LB Clay Matthews
LB Nick Perry
WR Trevor Davis
OL Bryan Bulaga
OL Lane Taylor

Two players — safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and cornerback Tramon Williams — did not attend the voluntary session.

Packers: Brett Favre’s rehab stint in 1996 wasn’t his only one

Brett Favre’s trip to rehab prior to the 1996 season is one that most fans know. The three-time NFL Most Valuable Player announced in May of that year he would be checking himself in to a facility in Kansas to battle his addition to pain killers. Favre exited after 72 days and led Green Bay to its first Super Bowl title in 29 years. What no one had heard of, or at least written about, was the fact Favre actually had three stints in rehab.

This is from Peter King’s final Monday Morning Quarterback:

“A year or two before (1995), I went to a place in Rayville, La., just outside Monroe. It was pills then too. Deanna and [agent] Bus [Cook] talked me into it. I didn’t think I had a problem, but they talked me into it. I went for 28 days. When I got out, I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn’t take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess. So when I went in the second time, to the place in Kansas, I remember vividly fighting them in there. They said drinking was the gateway drug for me, and they were right, absolutely right, but I wouldn’t admit it. I will never forget one of the nurses. I had it all figured out. I fought with the nurse all the time. I would not admit the drinking problem. At the end she said to me, ‘You’ll be back.’

“I was back. 1998. Guess who was waiting there when I walked in—that same nurse. This time it was strictly for drinking. I didn’t go back to the pills. I admitted my problem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked. When I got out, the toughest thing was the first three months, because I had to change my thought process. When I played golf before, I realized the only reason I wanted to play was to drink. After a while, instead of thinking, ‘How many beers can we drink in 18 holes?’ I fell into a pattern of what could I do to get good at golf. I realized with each passing day I really didn’t like drinking.”

Favre’s time in Green Bay came to an end after the 2007 season. After playing three more years — one with the New York Jets and two with the Minnesota Vikings — he retired and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

Packers announce the signing of second-round pick Josh Jackson

The Green Bay Packers are down to just one unsigned draft pick.

The team announced Thursday morning that it had signed second-round pick Josh Jackson to his rookie deal. Thought by some has a first-round pick, the cornerback slid to the Packers at No. 45.

“We were pretty surprised Josh lasted as long as he did,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said on the second night of the draft. “He’s a long corner with excellent balls skills.”

An Iowa product, Jackson started just one year for the Hawkeyes because of a pair of NFL caliber players in front of him. But he made that one year count, grabbing eight interceptions, the most of any player in the country.

Jackson, along with first-round pick Jaire Alexander, figures to battle for a starting spot in a revamped Green Bay secondary.

The only remaining unsigned pick is inside linebacker Oren Burks, who was taken in the third round.

Report: Packers not interested in Dez Bryant

Depending on your opinion of Dez Bryant, this will make your day or really make you upset.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, despite the Green Bay Packers being a logical landing spot for Bryant, the former Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver isn’t expected to sign with them.

“They do not seem to be in on him,” Rapoport said of the Packers. “And at this point, [they] aren’t expected to be.”

When Bryant was released earlier this year, many pegged Green Bay as somewhere he could end up, but the lattest round of chatter came courtesy of his former teammate, Jason Witten. The former Cowboys’ tight end, now working for ESPN, said on Adam Shefter’s podcast that he thought Bryant would eventually end up going to Green Bay.

Though he hasn’t had 1,000 yards receiving since 2014, there are some that think Bryant could revive his career with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, especially with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb the only established wide receivers on the roster. But the Packers spent three draft picks on wide receivers and signed tight end Jimmy Graham in free agency. It appears they will let those moves play out as opposed to bringing in someone else from the outside.

Packers sign first-round pick Jaire Alexander

Green Bay has nine of its 11 draft picks under contract.

First-round pick Jaire Alexander signed his rookie deal Tuesday, according to the Packers.

The 18th pick of the draft, Alexander is expected to battle for a starting spot in a revamped secondary. The Packers traded 2015 first-round pick Damarious Randall to Cleveland and allowed safety Morgan Burnett to walk in free agency. The team then added veteran cornerback Tramon Williams, before drafting Alexander and second-round pick Josh Jackson.

“The competition in the cornerback room, and just the whole defensive back room, is vastly improved [from] where it’s been the last two years,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the draft.

The only remaining unsigned picks are Jackson and linebacker Oren Burks, the team’s third-round pick.

NFL Draft: Packers Day 3 recap

GREEN BAY — Three wide receivers, a guard, a defensive lineman, a linebacker, a punter and a long snapper. That’s what Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft brought the Green Bay Packers. But the more notable aspect on Saturday is what rounds three through seven didn’t bring. There was very little help at tackle, not a single tight end and no accomplished edge rusher among the eight picks.

So, after appearing to help themselves significantly on the first two days with a pair of NFL-ready cornerbacks and an intriguing prospect at inside linebacker, the final day for new general manager Brian Gutekunst and coach Mike McCarthy seemed somewhat underwhelming on the surface.

“That’s not really what this day is about. This day is about getting better,” McCarthy said when questioned about not filling what perceived holes in his roster. “It’s not so much about the guys [already] here, it’s trying to add the best prospects to our football team.”

There’s no doubt that Gutekunst and his staff added talented players, at least based on what they accomplished in college. The three wide receivers they drafted — Missouri’s J’Mon Moore (fourth round), South Florida’s Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth round) and Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth round) — were all productive guys with great size and speed.

Green Bay got a versatile offensive lineman in Washington State’s Cole Madison (fifth round), another big body for its defensive line in California’s James Looney (seventh round) and an athletic rusher in Southeast Missouri State’s Kendall Donnerson (seventh round).

Gutekunst also addressed the special teams by drafting Alabama punter JK Scott (fifth round) and Mississippi State long snapper Hunter Bradley (seventh round).

Despite all that, there seem to still be plenty of questions remaining. What do they do at right tackle if Bryan Bulaga isn’t healthy enough to start the year after coming off a torn ACL in November? They added Jimmy Graham in free agency and still have Lance Kendricks but behind them are only inexperienced undrafted free agents. And where was the help for a pass rush that produced 37 sacks last season, ranked in the bottom half of the NFL?

“Player acquisition is still going on as we speak,” McCarthy said, “and it will continue all the way up to training camp.”

Green Bay has operated, largely, as a take the best player available model dating back to the mid-1990s. It won’t always work out, but being diligent and keeping to your draft board will at least stop you from rash decisions. And that’s exactly what happened this weekend with Gutekunst. He trusted the work he and his staff put in and did not waver.

“[The draft] is one of the bigger opportunities to fill some of those needs, and I think we did a good job of it,” Gutekunst said. “[But] you’ve got to stay really, really disciplined to not get out of your comfort zone and go get a player that isn’t what you think he is because you feel you need to plug that hole.

“That’s where you can make mistakes, because those things can really come back to hurt you if you make the wrong decision.”

A punter? A long snapper? Really?

For the first time since 2003, when GM Mike Sherman used a third-round pick on Ohio State’s B.J. Sander, the Packers drafted a punter. Sander was a horrendous flop and ended up appearing in just 14 games in his career. That disaster didn’t scare Gutekunst, though, as he spent a fifth-round pick on Scott and followed that up by taking Bradley in the seventh round.

The team, at least special teams coach Ron Zook, was not satisfied with what rookie Justin Vogel gave them last season, while injuries and inconsistency hampered them at long snapper. Still, drafting a punter and a long snapper?

“We saw a lot of value,” Gutekunst said. “I think both players have performed extremely well at a high level in college football. We just thought it was an opportunity to provide a lot of competition in that area.”

Ted Thompson in the room

This weekend wasn’t just the first draft for Gutekunst. It was also the first draft since 2004 that wasn’t run by Ted Thompson. And yet, he still played a role in the draft room.

Sitting at the head table next to McCarthy and Gutekunst, Thompson, whose title is Senior Advisor to Football Operations, served as a sounding board, especially on Saturday.

“There were numerous conversations with him about players,” Gutekunst said of Thompson’s help. “I hope he sticks around for a long time.”

Bryan Bulaga making his way back

Former first-round pick Bryan Bulaga is in the process of working his way back from a torn ACL and there had been some speculation in recent months that he was in danger of being cut. But Gutekunst made it clear that the veteran right tackle is still very much in their plans this fall.

“Those are big injuries. He’s fought through those things before. We expect him to be able to do that again,” Gutekusnt said. “We expect him to be a part of our team.”

McCarthy and Gutekunst each said Bulaga is ahead of schedule in his return, though it seems unlikely that he’ll be full go by the time training camp rolls around.

Notable quotes

“I’m kind of an old-school guy, don’t really dabble in the social media stuff. Don’t need to look at people’s food that they post.”

— Madison on why he doesn’t have a Twitter account.

“He needs to work on his introduction to the new players and his hand off [of the phone] to the head coach needs to be better, but we’ll get that right next year.”

— McCarthy joking about Gutekunst’s first year running the draft room.

“Coming from Houston to Missouri, I had to adjust to that cold weather quickly. I’ve seen some cold weather [and] I’ve seen some snow in my early time at Missouri. I’m pretty sure I can handle some snow here and there. That’s not problem with me.”

— Moore on the change in weather from his home in college to Green Bay.

“It’s obvious. The competition in the cornerback room and just the whole defensive back room it’s vastly improved of where it’s been the last two years. We definitely hit the target there.”

— McCarthy on what drafting first-round pick Jaire Alexander, second-round pick Josh Jackson and adding veteran Tramon Williams does for them in the secondary.

“Spotted cow. What else would there be?”

— Gutekunst on what kind of beer he has in the garage fridge he mentioned Friday night.

Reported undrafted free agents:

QB Tim Boyle | Eastern Kentucky (Tom Silverstein)
OT Alex Light | Richmond (Tom Silverstein)
WR Damon Gibson | Minnesota State-Morehead (Tom Silverstein)
DT Ofa Atu | Utah (Tom Silverstein)
OLB Naashon Hughes | Texas (Jeff Howe)
C Austin Davis | Duke (Tom Silverstein)
S Raven Greene | James Madison
TE Kevin Radar | Youngstown State (@DraftDiamonds)
OLB Marcus Porter | Fairmount State (Tom Silverstein)
EDGE C.J. Johnson | Texas Baptist (Aaron Wilson)
DL Tyler Lancaster | Northwestern
G Jacob Alsadek | Arizona (Tom Silverstein)
CB Chris Seisay | Oregon (@DraftDiamonds)

NFL Draft: Packers Day 2 recap

GREEN BAY — Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft was more evidence that the Green Bay Packers are still very much in the building stages of putting together what they hope is a championship-level defense.

Armed originally with one pick in the second round on Friday, new general manager Brian Gutekunst went with Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, and then traded back into the third round to grab Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks.

“It’s not about filling holes,” Gutekunst said of his defensive focus. “It’s about taking really good football players, which I think we did today.”

Doubling up at cornerback

No one expected Jackson to fall into the middle of the second round, so when he did, the Packers grabbed him. It meant, after grabbing Jaire Alexander in the first round on Thursday, they went back-to-back cornerbacks in the first two rounds for the second time in four years. Back in 2015, it was Damarious Randall in the first round and Quinten Rollins in the second. Having to pull the same maneuver so soon would seem to indicate what a failure the first try was.

“Those are two completely different situations,” said Gutekunst, who was the team’s director of college scouting at that point. “I wouldn’t really want to compare the two (years). I wouldn’t necessarily say [2015] was a disappointment, either. We still have one good player from that draft, and we expect big things from Quinten. The previous player that was here (Randall) is a talented player.

“Rosters evolve and this was a chance for us to kind of really beef up our secondary, and we think we did that.”

Gutekunst may not have wanted to compare the two years, but when he was asked whether they learned any lessons from 2015, his answer said plenty about what may have gone wrong, especially with the player — Randall — that is no longer around.

“The wiring of the football players we bring into this building is really important,” Gutekunst said. “I think the three guys we’ve had a chance to take so far fit what we’re looking for in how they approach the game and their mental makeup. I think those are important things.”

Also important? How good is the guy you drafted. And most think Jackson is pretty darn good. Wisconsin fans don’t need a reminder. He returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns and in doing so accounted for the only points the Hawkeyes scored in a 38-14 blowout loss to the Badgers.

He’s not as fast as Alexander, but the Packers love his ability to play the ball in the air, saying he has a knack for coming down with it nearly every time. It’s what helped him lead the country in interceptions (8) in his lone year as a starter.

“Incredible,” college scout Alonzo Dotson said of Jackson’s skills. “Strong, smart, can jab people at the line of scrimmage with those long arms. Has an uncanny ability to get out those breaks and play down the field.”

Green Bay’s cornerback room is all of a sudden very full. With Alexander and Jackson, along with last year’s second-round pick Kevin King, the Packers have an exciting young group on the outside, which paired with veteran Tramon Williams, and perhaps another young guy like Lenzy Pipkins, give new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine a lot to work with.

Going back up

Gutekunst loved having the first pick of Day 3, but he apparently loved Oren Burks more. Because he used the pick, along with a sixth-round selection, to move into the third round and take the linebacker.

“I knew it would be a valuable pick and it was,” Gutekunst said. “As the board kind of thinned out in some spots, we felt really good about going up and getting Burks.”

Recruited as a linebacker, Burks played his first two years at safety for the Commodores, before moving to hybrid spot as a junior and then inside linebacker as a senior. It’s where he’ll play for the Packers, though his ability to move around should serve him well.

“What we liked was his quickness, his burst and his acceleration to the ball,” director of pro personnel John Wojciechowski said. “That’s the thing you’re looking for in this — athleticism. Then, the toughness, to be able to come down inside there.”

Wojciechowski continually came back to Burks’ athleticism. It’s actually impossible to ignore. He tested the best of any of the inside linebackers on the Packers’ draft board, running a 4.59-second 40-yard dash (7th best among LBs) and posting a vertical of 39 inches (2nd among LBs) at the NFL combine. But he did so at 233 pounds, which would seem to be a bit small for an every down inside linebacker. Don’t tell the Packers that, though.

“He is not small by any means for today’s inside linebackers,” Gutekunst said. “We think his best football is ahead of him. The athletic gifts he has, and his two years of experience as a linebacker, we think it’s all heading in the right direction.”

Where’s the edge rusher?

Many thought Green Bay could have gone with an edge rusher in the first round. The Packers didn’t. Same thing in the second and third round. Again, they didn’t. So why haven’t they? Well, it appears Gutekunst has a lot of confidence in some of the players on their roster already.

“We have some guys that probably weren’t able to show what they can do last year as much as we’d [have] liked [them] to,” Gutekunst said. “[utside linebacker] Reggie Gilbert had a really good end to the year. [Outside linebacker Vince] Biegel, I think, will have a good second-year jump.”

That doesn’t mean, though, that they are satisfied with what they have. It’s just that they haven’t made the moves…yet.

“I think they’re will be opportunities [Saturday], or even further down the line, for [adding guys],” he said.

What’s next?

Green Bay owns eight picks on Saturday, but by trading the first selection of the fourth round — pick No. 101 — to get Burks, the Packers aren’t scheduled to be on the clock until No. 133. But, like they did on Friday, having all that ammunition should allow them to move around.

“We’ll be on the phones, and if it makes sense, we have no problem pulling the trigger to do it,” Gutekunst said trading. “We have a lot of picks, so I’m sure we’ll field a lot of calls. And maybe be making those as well.

“I would expect to move at some point.”

And until then?

“I go home, get two beers out of my garage fridge, hope that the door is not locked and try to get a little sleep,” Gutekunst said with a laugh.

“Tomorrow is a big, big day.”

NFL Draft: Packers Day 1 recap

GREEN BAY — Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books and the Green Bay Packers made plenty of noise under new general manager Brian Gutekunst.

Here’s our look at some of the main storylines from Thursday.

Brian Gutekunst makes his first pick

It came later than expected (we’ll get to that in a minute), but Gutekunst is on the board with his first-ever draft pick, taking cornerback Jaire Alexander.

“He was one of those targets early on that we liked quite a bit,” Gutekunst said late Thursday night inside the media auditorium at Lambeau Field. “He was a guy from early on in the fall that our (scouts) were really excited about.”

Alexander definitely fills a need. Prior to the selection, the cornerback room consisted of a number of unproven players, guys returning from serious injuries and veterans that have likely already seen their best days. Adding Alexander gives them an athletic and talented player that was a team captain at Louisville and played his best football in some of his biggest games, including a two interception performance against two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson and Clemson in 2016. Limited by injuries last season, the 21-year-old ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash and had a 35-inch vertical at the NFL Combine, both figures that were among the best for cornerbacks.

“Very few corners, when they play the game and the ball is in the air, can you feel them close space,” Green Bay’s director of college scouting Jon-Eric Sullivan said. “He’s one that, when you watch him play, you can feel him close space when the ball is in the air. The kid can run, and on top of that, he’s quick…[We’re] just excited about the skillset as a whole.”

But why does a guy that talented fall to No. 18? Well, it’s largely because he’s just 5-foot-10. In a big man’s game, Alexander is on the smaller side. Green Bay has long had a height threshold that cornerbacks needed to meet and Alexander doesn’t. Yet, he was the pick anyways, with Gutekunst saying the North Carolina native was right on the cutoff line in terms of his height.

“He’s very physical. He’s very aggressive,” Gutekunst said. “He’s a dynamic, explosive athlete. We felt really good about [him].”

The question is whether Alexander is a guy that can play both inside and outside in Green Bay’s scheme under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Alexander estimated he played 70-percent of his time at cornerback on the outside and the other 30-percent in the slot as the nickel back during his sophomore season. His height would suggest he’s more suited to play inside, but the Packers weren’t putting any kind of limits on what he can do.

“He’s scrappy and he’s competitive,” Sullivan said. “Is he as tall as some others? No, he’s not. But I think when you watch the tape, he doesn’t play like a little guy. He’s very competitive. He gets in people’s business, but most corners do.”

Ah, yes, the confidence. Outside of quarterback, there may not be a position that requires an insane amount of confidence more than cornerback. You’re going to get beat and you have to shrug it off. Alexander comes across like a guy that has no issue doing that, and when he does make a play, he’ll let you know.

“That seems to help a lot,” Alexander said of throwing guys off their game by jawing with them. “I do a little bit of talking, but I definitely do it within [the rules].”

First picks for general managers in Green Bay have been all over the board since the resurrection of the franchise in the early 1990s. Mike Sherman’s first official pick didn’t come until 2002, but he pushed heavily for the team to take defensive end Jamal Reynolds with the No. 10 pick in 2001. He played in just 18 games over three years before being cut.

Nine years earlier, his predecessor, Ron Wolf, selected cornerback Terrell Buckley. Though Florida State product fizzled in Green Bay, he wasn’t a complete bust, going on to a 14-year career and picking off 50 passes. He’s since turned to coaching and was actually Alexander’s position coach at Louisville in 2015.

And then there is Ted Thompson, who made the very controversial, but ultimately right, decision to take quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2005.

As you can see, there are varying levels of success there. If Green Bay can get something between Buckley and Rodgers, they should be ecstatic.

The trades

The draft was playing out like so many Green Bay fans had hoped. A run on quarterbacks kept pushing impact defensive players down to Packers, and when they went on the clock with pick No. 14, there was a bevy of talent right there, including Florida State safety Derwin James and Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.

But any excitement quickly faded, as Gutekunst traded out of the spot with New Orleans. It was a move straight out of Thompson’s playbook and left many grumbling. It netted Green Bay the Saints’ first-round pick in 2018 (No. 27), their fifth-round pick (No. 147) and their first-round pick in 2019.

“The ability to get a first-round pick in next year’s draft wasn’t something we started off thinking about trying to acquire, but it was just too good to pass up, quite frankly,” Gutekunst said of the trade. “Those first round picks don’t come around very often. We just thought it was in our best interest to do that.”

At first glance, it made you shake your head. Why is Gutekunst leaving impact players on the board when the defense clearly needs one? Even taking into account the draft trade chart — that overwhelmingly favored Green Bay in the transaction — how will this help the team right now? Does Gutekunst have such a low opinion of his roster that he needed to add another pick to the 12 they already had?

All those questions were answered rather quickly, when just minutes later, the Packers traded back up, this time with Seattle, whose GM just happens to be John Schneider, someone Gutekunst worked under in Green Bay. The Packers ended up giving the Seahawks picks No. 27, No. 76 (third round) and No. 186 (sixth round) for the No. 18 pick — used on Alexander — and No. 248 (seventh round).

“You haven’t mapped out to move that far back and then come back up, but you kind of knew what the likely trade partners might be for something like that,” Gutekunst said. “There was a lot of action from the beginning to the end. I knew once we got back to 27, that if I wanted to get back up, (Seattle) was one of the first calls.”

What it meant was the Packers essentially moved down four spots, gave up a third-round pick and gave themselves two first-round picks in 2019. But it also now sets up, like it did last year when Green Bay opted to trade down and missed out on drafting Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt, the possibility that the guy they did take — Alexander — will be compared to the guys they didn’t take — James and Edmunds.

“All those guys are good players,” Gutekunst said of James and Edmunds, who both came to Green Bay on pre-draft visits. “We would have been happy with either one of those players as well, but we just thought this [trade] was something we couldn’t pass up.”

What’s next

The second and third round of the NFL draft will commence Friday night. As it stands, Green Bay has just one pick (No. 46), but don’t be surprised if that changes considering the team still has 11 picks to play with.

“The way our board looks right now, I would assume we would move around a little bit,” Gutekunst said. “We’ve got a lot of picks, and there’s areas of the board we feel really good about, so I would assume we would.”

ICYMI:

— Just because Green Bay spent its first-round pick on Alexander, doesn’t mean Gutekunst is satisfied with where his secondary or roster currently stand.

“I don’t know if we ever feel like we’re set anywhere. If we have an opportunity to take good players anywhere, despite what our team looks like right now, we’re going to take good players,” Gutekunst said. “I feel really good about the additions we’ve made, but I think getting our defense to a championship level is something we’re still very much in progress [of doing].”

— Gutekunst said there were discussions about moving up in the draft, but those went by the wayside when certain guys came off the board early. Though he didn’t mention names, the likely targets would have been Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward and N.C. State linebacker Bradley Chubb.

Milwaukee Bucks announce Aaron Rodgers as part-owner

The Milwaukee Bucks have not lost a game since it was announced that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers purchased a stake in the team.

The team made an announcement during Friday night’s 116-92 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Rodgers was sitting court side with girlfriend Danica Patrick and Bucks owner Wed Enseld.

Rodgers, a southern California native, has spent the past 13 years with the Packers, leading the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2010.

“I’ve lived here for 13 years, I love this state, I love this region…to show my love and support for the rest of the region and our team in Milwaukee, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Rodgers told Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Telly Hughes during a television interview during Game 3.

Game 4 of the first round between the Bucks and the Celtics is set for Sunday at noon CT, no word on whether or not Rodgers will be in attendance.