We’ll find out soon whether Brian Gutekunst will take a more active approach to free agency than his predecessor did but if the Green Bay Packers new general manager values the draft as much as Ted Thompson did, he has a chance to make a significant impact there this year.
Gutekunst learned Friday that he picked up four additional draft picks via the NFL’s compensatory process that takes into account free-agent losses versus free-agent gains from the previous offseason.
Here are the picks the Packers gained on Friday:
Fourth round: No. 133 overall
Fifth round: Nos. 172 and 174
Sixth round: No. 207
According to the NFL, the Packers were awarded those four picks because they lost tight end Jared Cook, safety Micah Hyde, running back Eddie Lacy, guard T.J. Lang, linebacker Julius Peppers and center JC Tretter. The only signing that counted against the Packers was guard Jahri Evans. Tight end Martellus Bennett did not factor because he was released only seven games into his three-year, $21 million deal. The Packers did not get picks for every net free-agent loss because the NFL limits the compensatory picks to 32 each year.
The Packers tied for the most this season along with the Bengals, Cowboys and Raiders. Since the compensatory program began in 1994, the Packers have gained an additional 42 picks – second most behind the Ravens (49).
In all, the Packers now own 12 selections in the draft. They have their own original seven picks (starting with No. 14 overall), an additional seventh-round pick from the Bills in the 2016 trade that sent linebacker Lerentee McCray to Buffalo plus the four compensatory picks. It gives them one pick in each of the first three rounds, two in the fourth, three in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the seventh.
“There was a foundation of draft, develop and retaining our core players; that won’t change a whole lot,” Gutekunst said at his introductory news conference last month. “That’s going to be the foundation of the way we build the roster. But I do think I will lead in my own personality and probably a little bit more aggressive in certain areas. We’re not going to leave any stone unturned as far as every avenue of player acquisition. Doesn’t mean we’re always going to get to the finish and actually sign the guy, but we’re going to go throughout the entire process and be in on every possible acquisition.”