Packers GM Brian Gutekunst makes case for drafting a QB in the 1st round

Brian Gutekunst isn’t shy about discussing Aaron Rodgers’ replacement.

The second-year Green Bay Packers general manager said in January that he’d never pass up a chance to draft a quarterback who can start in the NFL.

On Friday, he hammered that point home while telling Packers beat writers that he’d even consider using a first-round pick in this year’s draft to select a quarterback.

‘It’s a good crop this year’

“Sure,” Gutekunst told reporters when asked if he’d take a quarterback with the No. 30 pick. “You guys have heard me say this before. Everything I’ve been taught, that’s where you start — you start with the quarterback. So, you evaluate them every year, and I think it’s always on the table.

“It’s a good crop this year. It’s a good group of quarterbacks. I think it’s a little deeper than it has been in the past. It will be interesting. But yeah, sure.”

Gutekunst’s strategy begs the question: You know you’ve got Aaron Rodgers, right?

Why not improve elsewhere?

At 36, Rodgers is on the decline. But he just came off a Pro Bowl season that saw the Packers finish with the second-best record in the NFC and advance to the NFC championship game. He’s not at the peak of his game, but he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

And granted, the Packers were a deeply flawed 13-3 team that the San Francisco 49ers exposed in the regular season and the playoffs. But this is a team that’s built to win now, and taking full advantage of Rodgers’ final seasons is the obvious priority when it comes to team building.

It’s all the more reason the Packers should look anywhere but quarterback in the upcoming draft.

Is it wise to spend a high pick on a quarterback when Aaron Rodgers is still around? (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Where the Packers need help

Making the most of Rodgers’ final seasons means landing him and head coach Matt LaFleur talent that can contribute now.

Like defensive help over the middle after getting thrashed by the 49ers’ running game. Or finding Rodgers some downfield help on offense so he’s not dependent on targeting Davante Adams 10 times per game.

Drafting Rodgers’ successor sounds good ...

The idea of having a successor ready for when Rodgers retires is appealing. The strategy’s worked for the Packers before when Rodgers sat on the bench for three seasons before taking over for Brett Favre.

But it’s an ultimate luxury. And it’s a luxury a team that needs help now can’t afford.

So, who would the Packers take?

The strategy also assumes that Gutekunst is going to get it right if he does pull the trigger on a first-round quarterback. Take Utah State’s Jordan Love for instance. Yahoo Sports draft guru Eric Edholm doesn’t think Love is out of the question.

But even the best front-office minds in football are rolling the dice when they draft a quarterback. Regularly predicting long-term professional success at the position is an elusive skill, if it even exists at all. Will a guy like Love — or any quarterback available at No. 30 — be a surefire starter?

No. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be available at No. 30. There’s no guarantee the guy going No. 1 will have NFL success.

Would Brian Gutekunst seriously consider taking a quarterback in the first round? (Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There’s no reason for Gutekunst to get tricky here. Take a cue from Ben Roethlisberger, who publicly questioned the Pittsburgh Steelers when they spent a third-round pick on Mason Rudolph in the 2018 draft.

Stop worrying about the quarterback of the future when you’ve got a guy still capable of winning now. Otherwise, just tear everything down and get the rebuild started.

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