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5 things learned from Packers GM Brian Gutekunst heading into the 2021 NFL Draft

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3. All signs are positive on Bakhtiari’s recovery from ACL surgery.

Gutekunst didn’t put a timeline on the veteran left tackle’s return in 2021 from his late December injury, but when Bakhtiari left Green Bay 3-4 weeks ago he was “way ahead of schedule.” Regarding the possibility of Bakhtiari being ready for Week 1 in September, “Nothing would shock me,” Gutekunst noted.

That said, the team will be very careful with the five-time All-Pro as he works his way back.

“We have a lot of confidence in David and the way he takes care of his body, the way he works, how important it is to him, what a professional he is, that he’s going to be on target with all that stuff,” Gutekunst said.

“We’re going to make sure we do the right thing as we go through his rehab and protect him a little bit from himself, because he’s a grinder and he’s going to push himself as hard as he can to get back.”

4. As he’s done in the first round of all three of his drafts as GM, Gutekunst is always looking to trade up if the right player is there, but he takes a disciplined approach so as not to overpay to make the move.

With the Packers owning the 29th pick in the first round, Gutekunst said it’s “always tempting” to trade up as really good players go flying off the board.

“You gotta be careful not to fall in love with any one individual player,” he said. “If it makes sense, we certainly won’t be afraid to do that.”

Keeping the core of the team together through his offseason moves has left no glaring hole in the starting lineup if the Packers had to play a game this weekend, and Gutekunst likes having that flexibility as he works the draft board.

“We have a very good football team coming back, which gives me a little more freedom, I think, as we attack the board, to go with the best player,” he said. “But if we have a chance to move up to take a specific player that we feel is special, I think you have to always consider that.”

5. The board is built, but the unusual circumstances over the past year have put players on it Gutekunst has never seen in person.

Between visiting campuses in the fall and going to the combine in Indianapolis in February, Gutekunst normally gets a first-hand look at every player the Packers are considering drafting.

But traveling restrictions and campus limitations during the college season, combined with the lack of a combine this past winter, have changed that for 2021.

“This will be the first year I can remember going into a draft where I didn’t feel like I saw pretty much very player on our board to some extent,” he said, adding that he did get to about a dozen campus pro days in recent months, more than he would normally attend in person, to try to see more players.

“There’s guys we will draft that I haven’t actually seen live.”

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