The Green Bay Packers using both of their two first round draft picks on the defensive side of the ball should be no surprise. Afterall, the organization, which general manager Brian Gutekunst has been a part of for that entire time and beyond, has gone the defensive rout in the first round for the 8th straight year.
The Packers made Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary the 12th overall pick in Thursday’s opening round. Gutekunst later traded up from 30 with Seattle to select Maryland free safety Darnell Savage at number-21. To make the move, it cost the Packers two fourth-round selections, numbers 114 and 118 on Saturday.
The last time the Packers used a top pick on an offensive player was Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod in 2011.
The Packers have had their eye on Gary for years.
“He was a very highly rated recruit,” Packers college scout Joe Hueber said. “He’s a guy that’s been on our radar since the day he stepped on campus.”
At 6’4, 277 pounds, Gary has the appearance of a 3-4 defensive end. The Packers believe Gary will be able to transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He fits the mold of the outside linebackers the Packers are looking for.
Recently signed free agents Preston Smith (6’5, 265) and ZaDarius Smith (6’4, 272) are similar size to Gary and Gutekunst said that is not by coincidence.
Gary had 9.5 sacks in three seasons and only 3.5 last season at Michigan. He had 5.5 as a sophomore in Ann Arbor, then saw a big drop off in his Junior season.
The other concern is Gary’s right shoulder. He reportedly played with a torn labrum last season. But both Gary and the Packers don’t seem concerned.
“My shoulder’s good,” said Gary. “It’s not a torn labrum. I did 26 reps at the combine, and I’m ready to go, and I’m ready to be great right now.”
In Savage, the Packers selected a burner. He ran a 4.36 40-yard-dash and started his college career at cornerback. He moved to safety after that freshman season. His flexibility is also a strength.
It’s obvious that the Packers put a high value on Savage. Gutekunst justified trading up to 21 with Seattle by saying, “It wasn’t a deep safety group.” He said, “Darnell Savage was an absolute difference maker.” He added, “I didn’t think Savage would be there at 30.”
The Packers have a pair of selections on day two Friday. They have the 44th overall pick in round 2 and the 75th overall pick in round 3.
Unless Gutekunst trades back into the fourth round on Saturday, the Packers would have four more selections on the final day Saturday, a fifth round pick, two sixth rounders and a single pick in round seven.