Pete Dougherty and Olivia Reiner discuss the challenges the Packers and other NFL teams may face in the league's first virtual draft this week. Packers News
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst conducted a conference call Monday afternoon in advance of the NFL draft, the first time he or any member of the organization has spoken publicly about football matters since the scouting combine in late February.
The nearly 40-minute call covered numerous topics. Here are some key takeaways:
On whether Gutekunst is in position to be aggressive with trades with his 10 picks in the draft:
“Certainly, we have five in the first five rounds and then five in the last two rounds so I think we’ll be able to be as aggressive as we need be. Though it really obviously always comes down to the player and what kind of players it requires as far as whether we’re going to try and make a move to go up (from the No. 30 spot in the first round). 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 of the draft that I think are strong. But again it takes two so we’ll just kind of ... I do like picking toward the back of the draft than up front there. Obviously that means we had a pretty good season last year but at the same time that’s a long wait; see a lot of good players come off the board so we’ll be prepared to move up if we need to be and we’ll be prepared to move back if that what’s best for us.”
On whether his staff, coach Matt LaFleur and his assistants and the Packers players are healthy:
“Yeah. I have heard of nobody 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. So, very prayerful for that, but it’s kind of one of those times in our world where you see every day it changes. Hopefully there’s a time where we can get back to normal.”
Gutekunst was asked about the free-agent signings Christian Kirksey, Rick Wagner and Devin Funchess regarding the status of their physicals and being able to fill some roster holes with them:
“Yeah so we’re working through; certainly Wagner and Kirksey we were able to get done right away before any of these things came into play. Funchess we were not able to. There’s still a portion of that he’ll have to get through once hopefully this clears up or we’re able find another way to do it. But yeah, we did get through Wagner and Kirksey the full physicals and everything, so that’s done.
“I think the players we acquired so far, I really like the experience factor of all those guys. They’ve played a lot of football. They've started a lot of games. They’ve kind of been in trying to improve our football team throughout. But I know those guys have been there, done that. That makes me feel pretty good, especially when you lose some of the really talented players that we lost over the course of this offseason. To bring guys in that have played at a high level and in big-time games makes a difference”
The Packers were scheduled to begin voluntary workouts Monday, but the league mandated the spring workouts must be conducted virtually. Gutekunst was asked how the Packers were going to handle that:
“That’s really probably a better question for Matt. I’ve been so focused on this draft the last three weeks. We’ve definitely had some conversations. Obviously I think the creativity of Matt’s staff is unique and I think they’re kind of champing at the bit to get with their guys. I think you’re going to have to find some creative ways to teach these guys. In some ways our guys are so good with the technology part of it, some of the ideas that he’s been bouncing off me are really interesting and I think that our guys will soak it up. It will never replace having guys in the building and being able to coach them like that, but I do think we probably have a little bit of an edge there, I’d like to think so.”
Gutekunst on if he felt training camp would begin on time in late July:
“To be honest with you, this is such a unique thing and I’m probably not qualified to answer that. I think we’re going to prepare like it’s gonna. We’re going to prepare for every scenario we can. But this is obviously; I know you guys are in the same boat; this is unlike anything I’ve really seen in my lifetime and really just taking it day by day and trying to make the best decisions we can and try to be prepared for all different kind of outcomes. But I sure hope so.”
On if he has any concern of the season being canceled outright:
“To be honest with you, I won’t let myself go there. I certainly hope not. I don’t think that’d be good for anyone, certainly in our business but the country as a whole. But I’m sure that when we get a few months out from now, depending how things are, the league will probably have a bunch of contingency plans. Right now I’m kind of trying to control what I can control and focus on what matters in the moment. But I certainly hope that that won’t come to fruition. I’m planning like everything’s going to be normal and we’ll play games and everything is going to go on. That's certainly my hope.”