Packers Have Had Success With NFL Draft Triple-Dipping

Brian Gutekunst has selected three players at the same position in all but one of his seven drafts as the Packers' general manager.
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst speaks to media during a pre-draft press
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst speaks to media during a pre-draft press / Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY
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Brian Gutekunst tends to prefer to have as many throws at the dart board as possible. The Green Bay Packers' general manager not only likes to have an abundance of selections (no team has made more selections than Green Bay since 2022) but he has created a habit of drafting three players at a position of need.

Out of Gutekunst’s seven drafts as general manager, he’s selected three players at the same position in each year besides 2019. He did it again this year, selecting three safeties and three offensive linemen. Those moves came after allowing safeties Darnell Savage, Jonathan Owens and Rudy Ford and offensive linemen Jon Runyan Jr. and Yosh Nijman to walk in free agency and releasing offensive tackle David Bahktiari.

Gutekunst and the Packers’ front office don't come into the draft with the goal of hitting a certain quota for a position. Rather it comes from sticking to the principle of drafting the best player and fit for the team available, regardless of earlier selections.

“I think we tried to follow the board and I’d like to think that we’re disciplined enough that even though we’ve picked a guy at that position, if the highest rated guy is at that position, we’re not afraid to stay there,” Gutekunst said after Day 3 of the draft.

“I think you can make a mistake maybe because ‘hey, we just picked a guy at this position, maybe we should not take him even though he might be the highest rated guy,’ but I think we do a pretty good job of staying disciplined to the process.”

History isn’t always a direct indication for future outcomes, but it can predict trends that might continue to happen. Looking back at Gutekunst’s past "triple dip" drafts, at least one of the safety and offensive linemen from this year’s selections should turn out as a valuable player for the Packers.

Here’s a look back at each time the Packers have done so under Gutekunst.

2023 - Wide Receiver

Jayden Reed (Round 2), Dontayvion Wicks (4), Grant Dubose (7)

The verdict is still out on this group but Reed and Wicks performed well beyond most people’s expectations for rookie receivers. 

Reed led the team with 64 receptions for 793 yards and eight touchdowns, ranking sixth, fifth and second, respectively, among all rookie receivers. Wicks caught 39 passes for 581 yards and had two games with over 90 receiving yards. Dubose was shelved on the practice squad for most of the season.

This group seems to include at least two hits for Gutekunst, a successful retooling of the wide receiver room.

2022 - Wide Receiver

Christian Watson (2), Romeo Doubs (4), Samouri Toure (7)

The first part of that retooling was the 2022 class, which again seems to include two hits from Gutekunst.

Watson has dealt with injuries in both seasons but has shown that he can be a dynamic threat for years to come for Green Bay. The Packers traded up from pick 53 to pick 34 to select Watson.

Doubs has been a reliable option, surpassing 400 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons. He had six receptions for 151 yards in Green Bay’s playoff win over Dallas.

Both of these overhauls of the receiver room have placed Green Bay in an ideal situation with most of their offensive skill-position players being on rookie contracts.

2022 - Offensive Line

Sean Rhyan (3), Zach Tom (4), Rasheed Walker (7)

Gutekunst has triple-dipped on the offensive line more than any other position. He’s done so in 2020, 2021, 2022 and now 2024. The Packers clearly value the position group, especially versatile players.

“I would like to do that all the time,” Gutekunst said on drafting three this year. “I think it's such an important part of what we are do, protecting our quarterback, and I just think you gotta win the game in the trenches. … I think these guys not only fit athletically for what we want to do but culture fits for our room as well.”

For 2022, Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker have turned into starters for Green Bay, and Rhyan will enter the offseason as the starter at right guard.

Tom has shown versatility at all five positions and seems to be the next late-round offensive line steal for the Packers. Walker started 15 games in 2023 and should be one of the top names in competitions for the starting left tackle position this fall.

Rhyan’s rookie season was marred by a six-game suspension but the coaching staff has talked highly of the development he made in 2023.

2021 - Offensive Line

Josh Myers (2), Royce Newman (4), Cole Van Lanen (6)

This offensive line class has been disappointing in comparison to 2022's.

Myers has improved each year but hasn’t exactly matched the expectations for a second-round pick that was asked to replace All-Pro Corey Linsley. 

Newman has made 23 starts over his career but has been somewhat of a liability in most of them.

Van Lanen spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad before being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a seventh round pick ahead of the 2022 season. 

2020 - Offensive Line

Jon Runyan Jr. (6), Jake Hanson (6), Simon Stepniak (6)

All three of these interior linemen were selected within 17 picks. Hanson only started one game for Green Bay and Stepniak was placed on the retired/reserve list in July 2021. 

But finding a three-year starter in Runyan makes all three rolls of the dice worth it. He signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the New York Giants this offseason, which will likely warrant a compensatory pick for Green Bay in 2025.

2018 - Wide Receiver

J’Mon Moore (4), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (5), Equanimeous St. Brown (6)

Ahead of the draft, the Packers had released Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb’s contract was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season. 

These three selections didn’t turn out to build the receiver room for the future like the 2022 and 2023 classes did, but Green Bay did find a playmaker in Valdes-Scantling. The Packers received a direct return on investment for him too, earning a fifth-round compensatory pick in 2023 after Valdes-Scantling signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

2017 - Running Back

Jamaal Williams (4), Aaron Jones (5), Devante Mays (7)

This was the final year before Gutekunst took over but is one of the best triple position drafts for the Packers under Ted Thompson. Jones turned into one of the top backs in the league with excellent returns for a fifth-round pick. Williams provided stellar dance moves as a change-of-pace back for four years. 

Mays only lasted one year in the NFL but his career statline is pretty memorable — four carries, 1 yard, two fumbles. 

As Mays’ career shows, the NFL draft is mostly a guessing game with a good amount of luck involved. Even the best talent evaluators miss on at least a  few picks each year. By constantly drafting multiple players at the same position of need, the Packers provide themselves with security and insurance with hopes to find at least one great player that fills the need.

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Joey Van Zummeren

JOEY VAN ZUMMEREN

Joey Van Zummeren, who has created online Packers content since 2020, is an intern of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: vanzummerenjoseph@gmail.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeyVZ_ Background: Van Zummeren is a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia studying journalism. In Columbia, he covers Mizzou football and basketball.