North Notes: Packers Execs, Browns, Lions

In the past year, the Packers have denied its three highest-ranking personnel executives under GM Ted Thompson the opportunity to interview with other NFL clubs, as Bob McGinn of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Eliot Wolf was not allowed to speak with the Lions in November about their GM job, Brian Gutekunst was not permitted to interview with the Eagles in 2015 for a major front-office position or with the Titans in January 2016 for Tennessee’s director of player personnel position, and Alonzo Highsmith was denied the chance to interview with Washington last year for its director of player personnel job.

Thompson, the man responsible for denying those opportunities, has attempted to “make it up” to Wolf and Gutekunst by giving them more grandiose titles and higher salaries, even though their duties did not change much, but Highsmith has remained senior personnel executive since May 2012. Those executives have expressed a small degree of frustration, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, but by and large they enjoy working for Thompson and are part of a generally positive environment. Wolf, of course, is widely viewed as Thompson’s heir apparent, although scouts who have recently interacted with the 63-year-old GM say they cannot envision his retiring anytime soon. Thompson has three years left on his current contract.

Now for some more notes from the league’s North divisions:

  • In a different piece, McGinn spoke with an NFL personnel executive who said the Packers really need to focus on the defensive line in this year’s draft, particularly with the team’s first pick, No. 27 overall. Although that executive believes Green Bay can “get by” with its skill positions, he believes the Packers, after addressing their defensive line, should grab a running back, and should also fortify their offensive front.
  • In her latest mailbag, Mary Kat Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer says that the Browns and head coach Hue Jackson were simply not high enough on Jared Goff or Carson Wentz to justify staying put with the No. 2 overall selection, particularly when the Eagles’ presented them with a bounty of draft picks that they could not refuse. Jackson has indicated he might like another quarterback just as much or more than Goff and Wentz, and Cleveland will stockpile talent until it can justify pulling the trigger on that particular signal-caller.
  • Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press takes a look at five players that may be available when the Lions are on the clock with the N0. 16 overall selection. True to Birkett’s statement that Detroit is one of the biggest wildcards in this year’s draft, each of the five players Birkett lists plays a different position.
  • The Ravens are no strangers to picking up quarterbacks in the later rounds of the draft, having selected Keith Wenning in the 2014 draft and Tyrod Taylor in 2011, and Clifton Brown of thinks Baltimore could do it again this year. With Ryan Mallett‘s contract set to expire at the end of the 2016 campaign, Brown sees Kevin Hogan, Dak Prescott, and Brandon Allen as potential fits.


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