It’s Green Bay Packers day at the NFL scouting combine, with general manager Brian Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur addressing media from the podium in Indianapolis.
Gutekunst was first up, chatting for almost 15 minutes with reporters. Here are some highlights.
On signing kicker Mason Crosby to a three-year deal:
"Really happy to have him back. He's been a 14-year pro now, holds all our records. I think by the time he's done with us, at least in our lifetime it'll be pretty hard for anybody to catch that. He's a leader in our locker room, just really a positive impact on our football team."
On what Aaron Rodgers can improve on in his second season under head coach Matt LaFleur:
“I just think it’s just making it more instinctual for him so that each week, each game, it’s not something that they’re going through. Where it’s just something that our team as a whole starts to understand exactly the nuances that Matt wants. I think I’ve referenced Matt Ryan in Year 2 when they were there, and I think it’s just Matt and his staff having another year with our guys to develop them, kind of get them further than where they were last year. I think it’s probably true of any new staff. Obviously, Matt had an excellent first year, but I’m really excited to just kind of see how our players react kind of when they know what’s coming already.”
On his evaluation of the inside linebacker position:
“I think it’s a little bit of an evolving room right now. I feel really good about Oren (Burks). He’s got to stay healthy, but I think he has all the talent in the world to be a productive player for us. I think Ty Summers did a really, really nice job, not only on special teams but how he developed as a linebacker as well. And then Curtis (Bolton), obviously, he had the knee injury, so really we didn’t get a big opportunity to see him. But early on in training camp he was making some big strides. So I’m excited about those guys, but I think with Blake (Martinez’s) situation uncertain at the moment, it’s a little bit in flux as we go forward.”
On how he evaluates the incoming receiver draft class:
“I think it is a deep group. It’s pretty heavy at the top. More numbers than what we’ve seen in the past. It’s early. They’ve got to run, there’s a lot of things they’ve got to do still, but going through draft meetings early, I was impressed with the class as a whole. It’ll be interesting how it falls, but there were some good players out there. I think in today’s day and age where these guys were starting seven on seven, it’s almost like AAU basketball. The receivers are so much more advanced in terms of their fundamentals coming into college and the league than maybe they have been in the past. It’s really just the NFL offense that will take time. So I think there’s some guys sitting here today that I think will have a chance to make a pretty immediate impact, and I’m excited about that.”
On not getting caught trying to play catch-up to the 49ers despite a pair of blowout losses in 2019:
“I think all you guys who have been around the NFL for a length of time, it’s year to year. There’s probably a lot less carryover than people think that there is from year to year. So the challenges that we’re going to face this year are really unknown, and I think the way I go about it — I think the way Matt goes about it — we’re not looking to catch any particular team. I think we’re trying to build a football club and develop a club that can kind of withstand whatever storms come our way. We always start with the division and then work beyond that. So, again, I think if you focus too much on that, you’re going to miss things.”
On what he’s learned since returning from San Francisco on how to move forward to take the next step after a 13-3 season and NFC championship game loss:
“I don’t know if I’ve learned anything. I think the biggest thing is just going through our process, the self-evaluation, and then kind of getting into this process right now and seeing the landscape of free agency, the draft, and just getting prepared to make the decisions we’ve got to make for our football club. So it’s always about bettering ourselves and trying to be a diverse enough team to compete with whoever comes next year.”