On Sunday, Jason Wilde, writing for the Wisconsin State Journal, covered a number of topics of interest to Packers fans. When he got to the subject of “standing pat at receiver,” he began in this way:
“While some self-appointed draft gurus saw wide receiver as a clear need after the Packers parted ways with two of their longest-tenured wideouts over the past two offseasons (Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb). . . Gutekunst clearly didn’t see it that way.”
Before I give Gutey (he favors that over “Gute,” so I’ll go with it) the last word, I’ve got to tell you it sounded like Wilde was aiming his remarks directly at yours truly).
I’ll grant you that GM Brian Gutekunst has the experience and the resources that self-appointed opinion givers lack. He’s got an entire team of scouting professionals. He gets an up-close look at players that we don’t get. He has one-on-one interviews with them. It’s Goliath versus David! No contest, right?
But before I slink away in humiliation, let’s take a peek at the results that Gutekunst and his brain trust have achieved over the last six years (give or take) in appraising receivers, including tight ends.
Prior to the last six years, the Packers had a win streak going: Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb. Since then, though, we’ve had Davante Adams – and an endless succession of receivers who’ve been given two or more years to develop, but haven’t. Here’s some of those guys: Charles Johnson, Kevin Dorsey, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross, Myles White, Trevor Davis, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, Ty Montgomery. . .
And, oh, the carnage at tight end: Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor, Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Marty Bennett, Emanuel Byrd, and Lance Kendricks. Plus, we let Jared Cook get away. And dare I say the name: Colt Lyerla?
There are others who came and went before we even go to know them: Max McCaffrey, Michael Clark, DeAngelo Yancey, and Malachi Dupre are among the most recent of them.
Counting just those mentioned above, I have the score being one hit and 23 misses. I’ve not included the 2018 receiver draftees, or Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, or Jake Kumerow, who may or may not still become a solid contributor to the team – but first they have to remain on the 2019 roster come September.
Can you blame me for wishing we had chosen a receiver with a high draft pick last month?
Sure, Ted Thompson was the official GM when a lot of these guys were brought on board, but Gutey began in Green Bay as a scout in 1998, was the director of college scouting from 2012-15, and had the title of director of player personnel in 2016 and 2017. I personally think Gutey was doing more of the acquisition decision-making than the unhealthy Thompson from 2016 on.
At any rate, when he spoke to the press after the draft, Gutekunst stressed that he feels good about the three receivers he chose in last year’s draft, who will vie for playing time along with Geronimo Allison, who’s returning from injury, and Kumerow, who is still trying to catch on in the NFL at age 27. Here’s his take on things:
“You know, I’m really content with the three guys we drafted last year. I think they have huge upsides; I thought they took really good steps last year,” Gutekunst said. “Obviously (with) Geronimo coming back, he’s kind of a veteran guy stepping into that role, and I do like some of our guys that are kind of competing for some spots there as well. It’s not like we wouldn’t add one if we thought the right guy was there, but I like that group.”
Gutekunst has had his ups and downs in less than a year and a half as the general manager. He’s sticking with last year’s receiver group, including the three rookie draftees. I sure hope his contentment is justified.