When he came on board in January of 2018, Green Bay Packers fans struggled to pronounce his name. After the 2020 NFL draft ended, many of those same Packers fans were struggling to find out what Brian Gutekunst was thinking. Gutekunst replaced Ted Thompson as the Packers two years ago, and although the jury is still out on the new GM, he left a lot of people scratching their heads after the NFL draft.
Who is Brian Gutekunst?
Brian Gutekunst comes from a football family and has an extensive background in the sport. Gutekunst’s father, John, was the head coach of the Minnesota Gophers football team from 1985-1991, going 29-37-2.
Brian Gutekunst played college football at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse as a defensive back. A shoulder injury halted his playing days and he turned his attention to coaching. Gutekunst became an assistant coach with his college team and was part of its national championship team in 1995.
In 1997, he was hired as an intern to work in the front office of the Green Bay Packers. He became a scout with the team and worked his up the ranks and became the team’s director of college scouting in 2012. He interviewed for the San Francisco 49ers general manager position in 2017, but was beaten out by John Lynch. Gutekunst replaced Ted Thompson as Green Bay’s general manager in 2018.
What they’ve said about Brian Gutekunst
Brian Gutekunst was 44 years old when he was hired as the general manager back in 2018. He had a lot of familiarity with the Green Bay Packers organization as he began as an intern and worked his way through the front office as a scout. Former Packers team president Bob Harlan oversaw Gutekunst’s previous work in the front office and said the Packers were hiring the right guy.
“He’s a low-key, intense person,” Harlan said at the time of the hiring. “Very talented. Very thorough in his evaluations. And the thing that got to me most of all was Ron Wolf had great faith in him. I thought that was a great compliment to him. “He’s got a little bit of (former GM) Ron Wolf in him as far as that intensity and great work ethic. I just think he’s a wonderful choice.”
Team president Mark Murphy said at the time that Gutekunst’s knowledge of the Packers helped, but he felt he was the man who could get them back to the Super Bowl. “I think there are certainly benefits in that,” Murphy said of hiring someone with inside knowledge of the Green Bay way. “We’re a unique organization across the league but I wouldn’t say it’s mandatory. My goal is to find the right person and general manager who will be able to get us back to where we all think we should be and that’s winning Super Bowls.”
The Packers’ strange draft of 2020
After the Green Bay Packers came within one game of reaching the Super Bowl last year, the draft would’ve been the perfect time to plug in some holes and help get the team ready for another deep run through the playoffs. Instead, Brian Gutekunst shocked the world by trading up in the first round to grab Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.
Love is a 6-foot-4, strong-armed quarterback who would be a nice fit for a team other than Green Bay. With future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers still playing at a high level, Gutekunst opted to secure the future by drafting Love with the first pick. In the second round, he selected Boston College running back AJ Dillon despite Aaron Jones’ 19 touchdowns (16 rushing) and 1,000-yard season. The wide receiver-depleted team never selected one in the seven-round draft.
The draft left many Packers fans (and several non-Packers fans) wondering what was going on inside the mind of Gutekunst. Gutekunst was asked why the team neglected the wide receiver. “Once we got to the middle and towards the end of the draft, I just didn’t think there was great opportunity to add a player that was going to make an impact on our roster this year,” he said. Yet, he took Love in the first round? If Jordan Love makes an impact with the Packers this year, Green Bay is in bigger trouble than we think.