Brian Gutekunst has been the GM for a little over a year. He started his tenure by claiming he was not Ted.
So far, he’s proved it.
So we know what kind of GM he isn’t. That begs the question: what kind of GM is he?
Well I’m glad you asked!
Let’s look at his short track record to see what we can glean from his approach in regards to what kind of GM Gutey is. I’m going to look at some of his biggest moves and try to find common threads.
- Traded down in the 1st round to pick up a future 1st round pick
- Traded back up in the 1st round to pick Jaire Alexander, an athletic phenom that can play slot, outside corner, or safety and return kicks
- Traded up in the 3rd round to pick Oren Burks, an athletic phenom that can fill a number of hybrid safety-linebacker roles
2019 Free Agency
- Quickly signed Adrian Amos, who could play either safety position or in the box
- Quickly signed Za’Darius Smith, who played defensive line and linebacker
- Quickly signed Preston Smith, who played all linebacking positions as well as defensive end
- Quickly signed Billy Turner, who can play multiple spots across the offensive line
- Drafted Rashan Gary at 12 overall, an athletic phenom who played edge, linebacker, and defensive line, and reportedly a player that Gutenkunst had been “locked in” on since February.
- Traded up in the 1st round to pick Darnell Savage, an athletic phenom that can play either safety position or in the box.
When looking at Gutey’s first two drafts and this year’s free agency process, two things become abundantly clear.
- Gutey values versatility. High draft picks and recent free agent signings are all guys who play multiple positions (and his draft picks are all pure athletes). Most of them are on defense and this fits with a coordinator like Mike Pettine, who is known for using players to maximum effect (and not needing them to fit a predetermined scheme like the previous DC). I also feel that this may be a way to guard against depth issues – when guys can play multiple positions, you can move pieces around when someone gets hurt instead of needing to find the next niche player with the same skill set.
- Gutey is decisive. For better or worse, when he sees a guy he wants, he goes and get him. All four of this years big free agent signings were immediate (and in some cases part of rumored bidding wars), meaning that he had identified his guys and moved quickly to get them – there was no waiting for bargains; he took what he wanted, regardless of cost. In the draft, he made up his mind and locked in to Gary very early in the process. He wanted Alexander, Burks, and Savage, so he traded up to get them – he did not wait to see what the best value was and he didn’t concern himself with keeping picks to have multiple swings at finding a good player. He identifies his guys and gets them – this is great when it works and can be a double-whammy disaster when it doesn’t (burning multiple picks on each miss instead of just missing on one pick and having another chance to fix it later).
I look at the trade down with New Orleans as a bit of an outlier. A huge value presented itself and he took it. It shows he’s flexible, but it doesn’t really prove much on its own without corroborating evidence (which may come in the future).
However, there are a lot of moves that show us that he values versatility and is decisive in his approach to building a team. Neither of these traits are inherently good or bad. Like anything, they are approaches that look good when they work and look bad when they don’t.
The clear thing is that they are a very direct opposition to everything that the previous GM did. Ted Thompson seemed to look for specific role players, particularly on defense (which may have had as much to do with his DC as his personal approach) and, rather than targeting individually identified players, seemed to take a wait-and-see approach to finding value in accumulating talent.
That in and of itself is interesting, and, in the eyes of many fans, a good thing. But let’s not forget that our previous GM has a long track record of success and our current GM is just getting started.
Let’s see how it pans out.
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