Packers' scouting department making big turnover

Feb. 22, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS – In three years, Ted Thompson’s top tier of personnel advisers has completely turned over.

Thompson’s top three scouts in 2009 now are general managers for other teams: John Schneider with the Seattle Seahawks, Reggie McKenzie with the Oakland Raiders, and now John Dorsey this offseason with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Thompson still has Russ Ball, the Packers’ vice president of football administration, as his salary-cap manager and personnel confidante. But on the scouting-only side, Thompson’s replacements are younger and greener: 30-year-old Eliot Wolf, who for now is director of pro personnel; 47-year-old Alonzo Highsmith, whose title is senior personnel executive; and 39-year-old Brian Gutekunst, currently the team’s director of college scouting. Those titles and others below them probably will change after the draft.

“It’s always been the older guys’ jobs to make sure the shelf wasn’t bare so those guys could learn and teach,” Dorsey said today at the scouting combine. “That’s what we’ve always done there, you always teach, because you’re in a teacher-mentor role, and it’s your job to leave it better than when you got there. These guys are ready and they’re going to continue to learn and grow. They understand the process and they have a bright future ahead of them.”

Thompson said he encourages his scouts to advance their careers and that the scouting department has to handle such losses just as the team does when a starting player is injured.

“It’s next man up,” Thompson said. “You try to train your players and you try to train your personnel staff and coaching staff to take the next step and be able to grow and evolve. The NFL is all about evolving. The Baltimore Ravens, world champions, they would like to hold all that together and keep it and go forward like the ’29 or ’30 Yankees or wherever it was.

“You can’t do that in the NFL anymore, the NFL is always evolving, so you have to continue to evolve. I think our players do a good job of that, they’ve had to do it because of injuries and things like that a little bit more abnormal than normal. I think our personnel staff does the same thing. We put some people in position to take on more leadership, and it’s the next man up.”

Thompson’s new group of top scouts has been with the Packers for a long time, even if they’re new to top roles. Wolf, though he turns only 31 in March, has worked officially or unofficially the last 20 Packers drafts and joined the team as a full-time pro scout right out of college in 2004; Highsmith, a running back in the NFL from 1987-92, was an area college scout with the Packers since 1999 until his promotion last year; and Gutekunst has been working for the Packers since joining the team as a scouting intern in 1997, save for one season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Still, the loss of Dorsey this offseason completes a changeover that will be especially big for Thompson, who had worked on and off with Dorsey, McKenzie and Schneider since 1993. All four are proteges of former Packers GM Ron Wolf.

“(Thompson) is a leader of men,” Dorsey said. “He’s true. I’ve always said he’s got a very pure and a very true heart. He will not lie. He will not break rules. He believes in honor. And Ted is extremely smart. None of us likes change, but change sometimes is inevitable. He’ll adapt.”

About this blog

Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1279 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports


Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports