Brian Gutekunst was named GM of the Packers on January 8, 2018. He’s made over 100 personnel moves since that time – some good and some bad. I’ve been listing his best moves over the course of the last few weeks. Here’s No. 4:
The Packers ended the 2017 season with Lenzy Pipkins, Josh Hawkins, and Davon House playing cornerback and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett starting at safety, so the secondary clearly had to be rebuilt. Gutekunst sped up the process on April 26, 2018, when he traded his first-round pick (No. 14) to the New Orleans Saints for their first-round pick (No. 27) and another first-round pick in 2019. Those two picks ultimately turned into Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage, a pair of young starters with unlimited potential.
Alexander didn’t play quite as well as expected in his second season. He got beat more than he should by being overly aggressive jumping routes and taking chances, but he was still one of the top-15 corners in the National Football League. The former Louisville star possesses explosive athleticism and surprising toughness for somebody his size (5-10, 195). And best of all, he just turned 23. Savage looked like a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year until an ankle injury in week 5 slowed his progress. He wasn’t quite the same after missing a couple of games, but he still provided the finest play at free safety for the Packers since Clinton-Dix in 2015. Like Alexander, he’s also 23 and blessed with all the physical ability in the world.
The only reason this trade isn’t even higher on the list is because of the player Gutekunst didn’t draft at 14. He passed on Derwin James, who’s already arguably the best safety in the league. So while it’ll take a few more years to properly assess this move, as of today, it’s hard to imagine the Packers having any second thoughts.
#12 – Sullivan Surpised In Secondary
#11 – Veldheer Saved The Days
#10 – Ervin Provided Positive Returns
#9 – Greene’s Injury Hurt Defense
#8 – Lewis Starred Off The Field
#7 – Amos Delivered As Expected
#6 – Lazard Leapt To Starting Job
#5 – Preston Smith Enjoyed Career Year