Packers go running back in the second round

The Green Bay Packers didn’t help themselves for 2020 when they took quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. It remains to be seen, but there’s no guarantee they got immediate help with their second-round pick either.

Despite having Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams returning, general manager Brian Gutekunst decided to go with a running back with his second pick, choosing Boston College’s A.J. Dillon.

At 247 pounds, Dillon has some similarities to Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, who put the Titans on his back in the playoffs in a run to the AFC title game last year. Packers coach Matt LaFleur was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee in 2018.

Dillon ran for a Boston College record 4,382 yards in just three seasons. He then went and put together a really good NFL combine, running a 4.53 40-yard dash, with a 41-inch vertical and 23 reps on the bench press.

Where Dillon didn’t produce was in the passing game. He caught just 21 passes his entire college career, though he did have a career-high 13 this past season.

Dillon joins a running back room that was very productive a year ago. Jones ran for a career-high 1,084 yards with 16 touchdowns, and then added 474 yards and three more touchdowns in the passing game. Williams ran for 460 yards and put up 253 yards receiving with five scores.

Jones and Wiliams will both be free agents have the 2020 season.

https://youtu.be/-AKvgLK0TKE

Packers’ David Bakhtiari on drafting QB Jordan Love: ‘Look. Out. Aaron is about to be on fire’

We don’t know yet what Aaron Rodgers thinks about the Green Bay Packers trading up to grab his potential replacement on Thursday night, but one of his teammates has a feeling he knows how the future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback will react.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari was taking part in the NFL Network’s Draft-A-Thon during when Packers’ general manager Brian Gutekunst traded up four spots to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. After the initial shock wore off, Bakhtiari offered up a warning.

“Let me tell you all something right now,” Bakhtiari said. “Look. Out. Aaron is about to be on fire. He’s already great when he’s just chill, but I’ve seen him when he gets riled up … I’m getting my hair raised up just thinking about this.”

Love was the first skill position player Green Bay had drafted since taking Rodgers with the 24th pick in the 2005 draft.

To get Love, the Packers used a fourth-round pick to move up four spots to No. 26. They’ve got two picks tonight — No. 62 in the second round and No. 94 in the third round.

Packers trade up, take Utah State QB Jordan Love

The Green Bay Packers grabbed Aaron Rodgers’ potential replacement with its first-round pick on Thursday in the 2020 NFL Draft.

General manager Brian Gutekunst traded up four spots with the Miami Dolphins to No. 26 to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. The Packers gave up their first-round pick (No. 30 overall) and a fourth-round pick to make the move.

Love was the fourth quarterback off the board. The 6-foot-4, 224-pound, California native had a stellar sophomore season for the Aggies, throwing for 3,567 yards, 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions. But under first-year coach Gary Anderson, and with a new offensive coordinator and nine new starters on offense, he regressed in 2019, throwing for 3,402 yards with 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

“I’m a playmaker. I’m always ready to make plays. Whatever is needed,” Love said when asked what he brings to the table. “I’ve got a really good arm, I’d say. A lot of confidence in that and a lot of confidence in my ability to make plays as a quarterback. I’m going to come in here and work, continue to get better and improve my game.”

The pick comes 15 years to the day that Green Bay selected Rodgers in the first round while still having a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett Favre. But Favre was talking about retiring every year, while Rodgers has said he’d like to play out the four years remaining on his current deal and potentially more after that.

“We did draft him in the first round, so we like a lot about him. We certainly think he has a very good upside to become a starter in the National Football League,” Gutekunst said of Love. “(But) we got the best quarterback in the National Football League, and we plan to have him for a while competing for championships. I can understand the fanbase and people thinking why would you do this at this time, but I just think the value of our board, and the way it set up, it was the best thing for the Green Bay Packers.”

Earlier on Thursday, Rodgers was on the Pat McAfee Show and said no matter who the Packers picked — offense or defense — he’d welcome him with open arms. He added it would be pretty cool if Green Bay added a skill position player in the first round for the first time since Rodgers was taken in 2005. Gutekunst did just that but it turned out to be another quarterback and not the wide receiver many were expecting or hoping the team would take.

“It’s just how the board fell,” Gutekunst said of not taking a wide receiver or another more immediate position of need. “Obviously, if there was a game-changer type player at another position, we would have seriously considered that. We didn’t feel like there was, so we took Jordan, and we’re really happy to do it.”

Gutekunst said they did consider trading back but didn’t get the right kind of offers to do it. Instead, they gave up a mid-round pick to take a player they hope will be the future of the franchise — whenever that might be.

“Playing quarterback in the National Football League is probably the hardest position in all of sports,” Gutekunst said. “I just think whenever you have the ability to take a player, whether it’s in the first round, second round, third round, that you think has a chance to play, I think you have to consider it.”

Rodgers has been dinged up in recent seasons. He missed 11 games in 2017 due to a broken collarbone, played almost the entire 2018 season with a broken leg suffered in Week 1 and then was on the injury report much of 2019 with a variety of ailments that he managed to play through.

Gutekunst said he has not talked to Rodgers prior to taking Love, but felt he’ll handle it well.

“Aaron’s been through a lot in his career and certainly he’s been through a situation like this,” Gutekunst said. “I think he’s a pro’s pro. He’s playing for legacy things here, not only in Green Bay but in the NFL, historic type stuff. I know (he’ll be) very, very motivated and, again, I don’t foresee this being an issue.”

Final Packers mock draft round up

The 2020 NFL Draft is now just a day away and the Green Bay Packers will be on the clock with the 30th pick of the first round.

Here’s a look at where various mock drafts have general manager Brian Gutekunst going with the first pick as well as later in the draft:

Mel Kiper (ESPN)
No. 30 — WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
No. 62 — TE Adam Trautman, Dayton

Pro Football Focus
No. 30 — WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
No. 62 — LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
No. 94 — CB Josiah Scott, Michigan State

Jason McIntyre (Fox Sports)
No. 30 — WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

Albert Breer (Sports Illustrated)
No. 30 — WR Jalen Raegor, TCU

Nate Davis (USA Today)
No. 30 — WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

Ryan Wilson (CBSSports.com)
No. 30 — WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
No. 62 — CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
No. 94 — LB Logan Wilson, Wyoming

Brad Biggs (Chicago Tribune)
No. 30 — WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
No. 30 — OT Josh Jones, Houston
No. 62 — WR Chase Claypool
No. 94 — LB Troy Dye, Oregon

Charles Davis (NFL.com)
No. 30 — WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

Rhett Lewis (NFL.com)
No. 30 — WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

Chad Reuter (NFL.com)
No. 23 — CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah (Trade with Patriots)
No. 62 — WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado
No. 136 — QB Nate Stanley, Iowa
No. 175 — DL McTelvin Agim, Arkansas
No. 208 — CB AJ Green, Oklahoma State
No. 209 — LB Dante Olson, Montana
No. 236 — WR Isaiah Wright, Temple
No. 242 — OL John Molchon, Boise State

No Packers have tested positive for COVID-19, GM Brian Gutekunst hopeful season will be played

The NFL is reportedly proceeding as if it will play a full season in 2020 despite the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc in many places across the world. That doesn’t mean the league isn’t developing contingency plans like going to go to a shortened schedule, playing in empty or partially full stadiums or even moving games to different locations. Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst is trying to be that optimistic as well.

“To be honest with you, I won’t let myself go there. I certainly hope not,” Gutekunst said Monday when asked if he had thought about the possibility of there being no season at all. “I don’t think that would be good for anyone. Certainly not in our business, but just the country as a whole.

“I’m sure we get a few months out from now, depending on how things are, the league will probably have a bunch of contingency plans. Right now, I’m trying to control what I can control and focus on what matters at the moment. I certainly hope that wouldn’t come to fruition. I’m planning like everything is going to be normal. We’re going to play games and everything is going to go on. That’s just my hope.”

We already know that offseason programs will happen virtually for all 32 teams. That means no rookie minicamps, OTAs or mandatory minicamps in the next two months. But what about training camp starting on time?

“This is such a unique thing, I’m probably not qualified to answer that,” Gutekunst said. “I think we’re going to prepare like it’s going to. We’re going to kind of prepare for every scenario we can, but this is unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

While at least two NFL players — Brian Allen of the Los Angeles Rams and Von Miller of the Denver Broncos — have tested positive for COVID-19, Gutekunst said his franchise was virus free as of Monday.

“I’ve heard of no one on our staff, none of our players, at this point, that have tested positive for COVID-19. If anybody has, I do not know about it,” Gutekunst said. “So I’m very prayerful for that. It’s kind of one those times in our world where every day it changes. Hopefully, there’s a time when we can get back to normal because I know I miss it.”

GM Brian Gutekunst wants to surround Aaron Rodgers with good players but won’t rule out taking QB

The Green Bay Packers do their homework on every draft-eligible quarterback each year. Even with a future Hall of Fame quarterback like Brett Favre leading the team for 16 seasons, former general manager Ron Wolf and his protege, Ted Thompson, broke down the leading college signal callers as if they’d be playing for them the next fall. It’s how the team was prepared to take Aaron Rodgers when he fell to them with the 24th pick of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Current general manager Brian Gutekunst, who learned under Wolf and Thompson while working his way up through the organization, has continued that form of pre-draft evaluation, admitting they do it even on guys that almost surely won’t fall to them, including potential top picks like LSU’s Joe Burrow. The idea being that even if they don’t pick them now, they may be available later in their career and they’d already have a good idea of who the player was.

“Whether it’s philosophy or not, I know this, you have to have one to win. If you don’t, it’s a really tough challenge,” Gutekunst told reporters Monday during his pre-draft press conference. “I think it’s one of those things that you can’t overvalue that position. It’s something you always have to look at. If you think a guy has an opportunity to play in this league, and play at a high level, you have to consider it and really no matter where your team is at, because it’s just too hard to win without one.”

This year has been no different in preparation, with reports of Green Bay doing their homework on quarterbacks like Utah State’s Jordan Love, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Though completely in character for the franchise, that extra homework raises eyebrows a little more these days as Rodgers gets set to turn 37 this December.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback still has four years left on his contract and has said he intends to play past that. But he’s already older than Favre was in 2005 when Green Bay shocked many and took the California product. That choice set off a drama storm that didn’t truly conclude until Favre and the franchise reconciled in 2015 with his number being retired. On Monday, a reporter asked Gutekunst whether he had talked with Rodgers this offseason about the possibility that he’ll have his potential successor as a teammate this fall.

“I know that we’ve had some conversations about different personnel issues and things along the way, but I don’t know if we’ve particularly talked about that,” Gutekunst said. “It’s part of the business. If there is anybody that understands it, it’s him. He’s really focused on doing something here legacy-wise. I really appreciate that and certainly we’re going to try do everything we can to put guys around him to accomplish those things.”

That’s all true, but Rodgers has been dinged up in recent seasons. He missed 11 games in 2017 due to a broken collarbone, played almost the entire 2018 season with a broken leg suffered in Week 1 and then was on the injury report much of 2019 with a variety of ailments that he managed to play through.

Right now, Tim Boyle is Rodgers’ backup. He’s played in three games and thrown four passes. That means he’s far from proven and certainly doesn’t have the pedigree of some of the quarterbacks available in this draft. Given how important the position is to Gutekunst, it seems possible that the Packers could grab a quarterback higher than the fifth round for just the second time since Rodgers was chosen in 2005.

Despite draft challenges, GM Brian Gutekunst thinks the Packers can ‘operate pretty close to normal’

The 2020 NFL Draft will be like none before it. When commissioner Roger Goodell announces the Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock Thursday night, he will do so from his basement in New York and not, as was planned, in front of thousands of fans in Las Vegas. Later in the night, when Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst makes his first selection, he’ll do it from his home and not from inside Lambeau Field. Both situations are the result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forcing the NFL into its first ever fully virtual draft.

“For me personally, not being in our draft room with our guys together is just disappointing,” Gutekunst told reporters Monday afternoon. “I think we work really well together. It’s an exciting time. There’s a lot of juice. Not having those guys around, it won’t be the same. But at the same time, I think we’re very well prepared to attack this thing and accomplish what we need to accomplish.”

What comes with drafting from home — outside of kids running around and perhaps trying to give their opinion on who a team should take — are challenges, especially of the communication variety. Gutekunst wouldn’t describe the exact method of how he plans to speak with his staff — be it by phone or video conference or something else — but he doesn’t believe they’ll be caught off guard.

“I feel good about having not only the main way we’re going to talk to our guys, but then also some backup plans as well in case anything were to go awry,” Gutekunst said.

Gutekunst, who will be overseeing his third draft since taking over for Ted Thompson in 2018, admitted there is one scenario that has him a little concerned.

“I think one thing, as we’ve gone through this, once (the clock) starts to get to a certain time, you just worry if all of a sudden there’s going to be some kind of communication breakdown that might get in the way,” Gutekunst said. “I think the league is going to give you a little leeway if you’re in the middle of a trade or something like that the way they described it. Again, I’ve got a lot of experienced guys on staff, so I feel pretty good that we’re going to be OK to operate pretty close to normal.”

If it were a truly normal year, Gutekunst would be at the head of a table in the draft room with his staff right in front of him. He could talk to them as a group or individually and there has always been a lot of non-verbal communication. That last part is something very valuable when it comes to doing trades, a significant part of Gutekunst’s first two drafts. This time around will be different.

“I’ll just hear their voices. I won’t be able to see their facial expressions,” Gutekunst said. “For me sometimes, just hearing their phones ringing and them picking it up, knowing that, hey, there’s something there, it’s helpful. Not really being able to see that is really the only difference. I’ll have to wait for them to say, ‘Hey, by the way, we got this out there, we got this out there,’ instead of just being able to see the phone ring, see them pick it up and knowing something is going on on the other end of the line. So, from an instinctual way that I’ve worked in the past, that’ll be a difference. But other than that, I’ll still be in constant communication with those guys.”

In each of his first two drafts at the head of the table Gutekunst has made moves in the first round. He traded back in 2018 with the New Orleans Saints to acquire another first-round pick in 2019, but still managed to move back into position to grab cornerback Jaire Alexander with the 18th overall selection. Then he used that extra pick from the Saints in 2019 (No. 30 overall) to move up in the first round to select safety Darnell Savage with the 21st pick. Both were immediate contributors as rookies and figure to play important roles for years to come. So, with the 30th overall pick and nine other selections in this draft to work with, could Gutekunst be on the move again?

“Really, obviously, it always comes down to the player and what kind of player is required as far as whether we’re going to try to make a move to go up, Gutekunst said. “But I’d like to move around. I think it’s a very good draft and I’d like to move around if we can get to the areas that I think are strong. But, again, it takes two.

“I do like picking towards the back of the draft than up front there. Obviously, that means we had a pretty good team last year, but at the same time, that’s a long wait to see a lot of really good players come off the board. We’ll be prepared to move up if we need to be and we’ll be prepared to move back if that’s what’s best for us.”

Because this is the first time the league is doing the event fully virtual, they held a mock draft on Monday with all 32 teams. Outside of an initial issue with the first pick, most felt good about how the rest of it played out, including Gutekunst.

“I thought it went pretty smooth. I think a lot of it was just getting comfortable in how I was going to communicate not only with the league and other teams but also just with the guys,” Gutekunst said. “I think we got a lot of answers. That was the big thing. Kind of get through this and find out the answers of exactly how we want to do this.”

The league is also allowing each general manager to have one security employee and one information technology employee on-site at their homes in case something goes wrong, while also allowing teams to designate two other people that could make the pick if the general manager can’t.

“If something were to go down here, and I couldn’t get the pick in one way or the other, I would be able to contact whoever outside of here and they could put the pick in,” Gutekunst said. “It’s really procedural more than anything else.”

It’s not just how they’ll make the pick that’s different about this year’s draft. The lead up to it has been far from normal. NFL teams got to scout players during the college season last fall, in the all-star games in January and then at the NFL combine in late February and early March. But soon after that, the world, or at a minimum the sports world, came to a screeching halt due to the pandemic.

While the NBA and NHL suspended its season, the NCAA shut down March Madness and MLB postponed the start of its season, the in-person scouting process also was nixed. Gone were a majority of pro days at colleges, coach visits to work out players and player visits to various cities to workout for teams. Instead, Gutekunst and everyone else had to use FaceTime, Zoom and other means of technology to learn more about guys they plan to gamble on picking.

“I think we had to be more creative in how we acquired that information this time around,” Gutekunst said. “A lot of the opportunities to meet face-to-face with players with our scouts at pro days and then also the players we’re able to bring into Green Bay (didn’t happen) … We had to be creative in how we went about that. I think there were a number of ways that our guys did that. I’m excited with the efforts they put in to do that.”

Packers: Aaron Rodgers on first year with coach Matt LaFleur: ‘We got along really well’

At this time last year quite a few people were debating how the relationship between Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his new coach, Matt LaFleur, would work. Some wondered aloud if the 15-year veteran would respect a coach just a few years older than him and whether he would be willing to be coached. There was even a story that got weeks of coverage about Rodgers wanting to have the ability to call audibles when he wanted at the line of scrimmage, something previous quarterbacks in LaFleur’s offense didn’t do very often.

But when the season started, and the wins began piling up, there were no signs of discontent between the two, perhaps outside of a couple spirited conversations on the sideline during games.

“Yeah, it was pretty f|king quiet, wasn’t it,” Rodgers said of the relationship on The Hawkcast podcast with former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk. “Winning does cover up a lot, for sure. But, the fact was, we got along really well. When some of those stories happen, it’s the offseason, and as you know being a media type now … you need to dig up or make up some stories to get the clickbait viewership going, and that was obviously one of them.”

Hawk followed up by asking Rodgers why so many people immediately went to that narrative.

“There was a ton of conjecture about how (former Packers coach) Mike (McCarthy) and I got along, and was I going to be able to get along with a different coach, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah,” Rodgers said. “Those storylines didn’t stick this year and didn’t work. We’re great.”

You can listen to the full podcast episode here.

It appears former Packers QB Brett Favre is going stir crazy at home

Brett Favre is clearly going stir crazy like nearly everyone else in America.

The former Green Bay Packers quarterback did an interview with CBS Sports Network and at the end of the segment the host asked him to take off his hat. What it revealed can never be unseen.

Favre has spent the last month inside his home as the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues.

Vegas oddsmakers set Green Bay’s over/under win total

The Green Bay Packers won 13 games, the NFC North and made it to the NFC title game in 2019. It appears Las Vegas doesn’t think a repeat of that success is likely.

Caesars Sportsbook released its NFL futures this week, including over/under win totals for all 32 teams. Green Bay was set at 8.5 wins, a figure the team has eclipsed in every season but two when quarterback Aaron Rodgers has played at least 15 games. There are seven teams in the NFC alone with a higher over/under than the Packers, including Minnesota at nine wins. Chicago is set at 8.5 wins, while the Lions round out the NFC North at 6.5.

Green Bay and the Vikings have the same odds of winning the division (+175), while the Bears (+225) and Lions (+950) fall in behind.

Oddsmakers are a little more bullish on the Packers winning the NFC and the Super Bowl than the over/under win total suggests. Green Bay is listed at 7/1 to win the conference, trailing San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle and New Orleans.

As for the Super Bowl, the Packers are sitting at 16/1 to win it, the seventh-best odds in the entire league. Reigning champion Kansas City is the favorite at 4/1, with the runner-up 49ers below that at 7/1.