Many pundits questions Green Bay Packers GM when one of his first personnel moves was to let number one wide receiver Jordy Nelson walk. Nelson had had a bad season but it was mostly due to backup quarterback Brett Hundley’s deficiencies. Yet Gutekunst stuck to his guns.
Then Dez Bryant became available. While he was a bit of an unpopular addition among fans there was likely still deliberation at the heart of Green Bay’s operations. Do they stick to their plan of going young and to they take a risk on an aging, and injured, superstar? Could he give them the boost they need to get over the hump and perhaps get one last Super Bowl in the Rodgers era? Even at the expense of the future?
Gutekunst brushed aside all thoughts of deviation and traversed his course the way he had laid it out in his mind. With Nelson gone, he decided to restart the competition at wide receiver. As his first step he went out and drafted three rookie wide receivers. Even though it’s very early on, it seems the Packers are already reaping the benefits of that decision.
Last week the Packers easily felled the Titans 31-17 in their first preseason game of the year and some of the top performances of the night included the stable of young wide receivers. 5th round pick Marquez Valdes-Scantling led the way with five receptions for just over 100 yards and a touchdown. The two other drafted wide receivers, Equanimeous St. Brown and J’Mon Moore combined for six catches and also 100 yards. That’s impressive considering that Moore had some big drops that could’ve made him the top receiver on the night. That may remind us of another wide receiver currently on the roster earlier in his career. That’s not to mention that former undrafted player Jake Kumerow had himself a night of three catches, 76 yards, and a touchdown.
Obviously Devante Adams will be leading this young group of pass catchers and very likely Randall Cobb will be the number two. However, the depth of this group has proven to be beyond what anyone could’ve expected after Nelson’s departure. I’m not so certain there are enough spots to include all the players that deserve a position. There are those three talented rookies plus Kumerow, but I didn’t even mention Geronimo Allison or DeAngelo Yancey, who was last year’s fifth round pick.
Having too many players to consider is always a good problem to have and the Packers have time to slowly cut down their roster to the proportions they want it to be. There are three more preseason games to see which of these guys start to emerge as clear and consistent threats worthy of making the final 53. Competition in sports is what makes players perform their best and work as hard as they can, and the Packers have certainly created that environment on the team. So fans can sit back and watch the players it fight it out for a starting spot, but in the meantime, let’s remember the man that orchestrated it all. Gutekunst has stacked the team’s wideouts and has given Rodgers plenty to work with and time to pick his favorites. There is still a lot of time for the current circumstances to change, but these early returns certainly look good on Gutekunst’s resume. He didn’t give in to flashy free agents or bloated contracts. In his first year so far, he’s shown savvy experience.