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Packers changed strategy for pre-draft visits

Brian Gutenkunst, Packers Brian Gutenkunst

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, New Green Bay Packers NFL football team general manager Brian Gutekunst gestures while speaking at an introductory news conference in Green Bay, Wis. A life around football has prepared Gutekunst for his new job as the GM of the Packers. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer, File)


In the past, former Packers General Manager Ted Thompson would use his team’s 30 pre-draft visits on guys he wanted to sign as undrafted free agents, though that probably had as much to do with masking intentions as mining late-round gems.

This year, however, G.M. Brian Gutekunst is bringing actual good players to Green Bay before the draft.

According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the 28 known visits the Packers conducted included some of the top players in the draft, including multiple first-rounders.

That group included Florida State safety Derwin James, Washington nose tackle Vita Vea, Virginia Tech inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes, among the other visitors.

“I just thought for me and how I wanted to go about it, there’s just a certain amount of, yes, I wanted to have some face-to-face time with (them) individually,” Gutekunst said. “I also think getting them with our coaching staff and seeing how they might fit in our room and our team locker room was important.

“We’ve done that in the past, I don’t know if it’s been as publicized as it has been, but we’ve done that in the past and I always liked it. We just did a little bit more of it this year.”

The Packers choose 14th overall, and a few of those visitors are likely to be off the board when they pick. But expanding the pool of visitors probably won’t keep them from landing one of their targets, while leaving enough visits for those later-round prospects they’ve leaned on in the past.