For the first time since 2005, Ted Thompson won’t be running the show for the Green Bay Packers on draft day.
Thompson, a highly regarded personnel man whose draft success had waned in recent years, was relieved of his general manager duties in January. He was kept on as a senior adviser and will be in the Packers’ war room Thursday night, but new GM Brian Gutekunst will be calling the shots.
While Thompson was relatively conservative in the draft, Gutekunst is reportedly working to make a very bold Day 1 move.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Packers want to trade up from their No. 14 slot to acquire an unidentified “top-tier talent.”
The new #Packers may be on display Thursday night. They are among the teams plotting a potential trade up — from No. 14 — for a top-tier talent, sources say. It would be their first opening round move up since Clay Matthews in 2009.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2018
The last time the team made a big move in the first round was in 2009, when they drafted B.J. Raji at No. 9 overall and then made a deal with New England to get back into the first round to grab Clay Matthews at No. 26.
Green Bay has the capital to do it again this year, entering the draft with 12 selections, including six of the first 138 picks.
So which “top-tier talent” has the Packers plotting a draft day trade?
It almost certainly would be a defensive back or lineman, given Green Bay’s struggles on defense and the criticism that Thompson received for neglecting that side of the ball.
Although it could be a smokescreen, Gutekunst has made his preference clear.
“Big guys are harder to find than small guys at every level of football,” he said Monday via USA Today.
The obvious top-tier big guy is N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb, a dynamic edge rusher who is widely considered one of the top five players in the draft.
However, the Packers also have glaring needs in the secondary, where they have to replace the departed Morgan Burnett and Damarious Randall.
Green Bay might be setting its sights on one of the top three DBs in the draft: Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, Florida State safety Derwin James or Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The team has plenty of other needs, including a wide receiver to replace Jordy Nelson. The top two wideouts in the 2018 class are Maryland’s D.J. Moore and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, but both should be available at the Packers’ No. 14 slot if they decide to go in that direction (to the dismay of most Cheeseheads).
We’ll find out by the end of the day whether Gutekunst will let the draft come to him or make his mark with a big move.
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