By Mark Daniels
Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst held his second pre-draft news conference at the Lambeau Field media auditorium Monday afternoon.
He opened the session by expressing his sorrow over the passing of Reggie Cobb, the former NFL running back and pro scout who’s death at the age of 50 was reported on Saturday. Drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1990 out of Tennessee, Cobb played his first four seasons in Florida before joining the Packers in 1994. He was the second leading rusher on the team that year, behind Edgar Bennett, gaining 579 yards with 3 touchdowns in 16 games, 13 of which he started. He finished his career with stops in Jacksonville and in New York with the Jets. Cobb later returned to Green Bay as a scouting intern and for the past 10 years, was a scout with the 49ers. A cause of death hasn’t been released.
As for the upcoming draft, Gutekunst said he closed the door to his draft room today and while there will still be a few discussions about the team’s board, little should change between now and Thursday night’s first round.
The second-year GM has two picks in the opening round on Thursday and he said that will give him some flexibility, especially with teams looking to trade.
The March free agent signings, heavy on defense, could sway his decision making to some degree but Gutekunst said even with the additions of two linebackers and a safety, how the board falls will eventually determine which direction the Packers go with their picks.
Gutekunst believes this year’s overall draft class is solid but he’s not sure where the “shelf” as he put it, lies in round one. There’s always a group of elite level players at the top of the draft. Sometimes it’s just two or three and Gutekunst recalls one year when it was as high as 12 or 15 players but after that shelf, the next big collection of prospects are all rated almost equally. Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder.
The Packers have ten choices overall and Gutekunst says the team may have gotten a bonus pick with the return of offensive lineman Cole Madison. The 5th round pick from Washington State in 2018 appeared at the rookie orientation camp but never came back in the summer. He was placed on the reserve/did not report list. Madison was dealing with a personal issue and it came to light this off-season it was regarding the suicide of a Cougar teammate last year. Madison has returned to join the team for the off-season conditioning program and is expected to resume his NFL career. Gutekunst said it was a pleasant surprise to have Madison back in the fold and he should fit right back into the offensive line room, even with an adjusted scheme under new Head Coach Matt LaFleur.
Gutekunst knows after missing the playoffs for two straight years, losing several key veteran players like Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Randall Cobb, this is a very important weekend for the Pack’s new regime but the pressure to deliver talent remains the same no matter the circumstances.
So just days away from his second draft, what are the Packer needs right now? Specific positions aside and in a word, it’s impact. That could and must come from anywhere, a tight end, edge rusher, offensive lineman. It’s a big week for the young GM.