Draft Analysis – NFC North

Chicago Bears

After an offseason in which the Bears loaded up on offensive talent, they continued that trend in the draft while also getting numerous defensive players. They selected a trio of explosive linebackers in the draft, starting with inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round. Smith was the perfect pick at eighth overall, as he is a leader and explosive playmaker. However, the selection of Joel Iyiegbuniwe was anything but a perfect pick, as the Bears reached to acquire the athletic linebacker. To complement the two inside linebackers, the Bears followed up with edge rusher Kylie Fitts in the sixth round. Fitts is highly injury prone, but he has the talent to become a force opposite Leonard Floyd. The second round provided the Bears with two offensive starters: James Daniels and Anthony Miller. The former is a dominant run blocker who can help solidify the interior of the offensive line, although his pass-blocking woes could prove problematic. The latter is a short but extremely talented wide receiver who is dominant both in the slot and on the outside – he should become the team’s WR2. In addition to the linebackers and offensive players, the Bears also drafted a solid backup in defensive tackle Billy Nicholls. All the players drafted – at the very least – fit the scheme well, while a few provide the team with a needed influx of talent at key positions.

A-

Detroit Lions

After years of relying on the strong arm of Matthew Stafford, the Lions may finally have found some semblance of a run game. In addition to being a dominant force in the run game, first round center and guard Frank Ragnow is an amazing player who can greatly bolster Matthew Stafford’s pass protection. The Lions also traded up in the second round to acquire running back Kerryon Johnson, a versatile power runner who can instantly improve the running game as an every down back. Late round tackle Tyrell Crosby is a good developmental prospect who can help the run game, particularly if he moves to guard. Meanwhile, the Lions also added some versatile high upside players on the defensive side of the ball: Tracy Walker and Da’Shawn Hand. Safety Tracy Walker was a bit of a reach in the third round, but the Lions have been known to draft their targets aggressively. While not quite an asset in the run game, Walker is an extremely talented and instinctual player in coverage, with the ability to get on the field at corner while developing at the safety position. Although he played as a two gap defensive end in college, Hand figures to be more of a defensive tackle for the Lions, as he lacks the edge rushing ability to play on the outside. However, he is a dominant run defender with a good deal of upside rushing from the inside. The first two picks are the strength of the class, while the later picks could develop into key pieces down the line.

B+

Green Bay Packers

The Packers have struggled to develop a stable cornerback rotation over the past few years, something that they tried to address with their first two picks. Cornerback Jaire Alexander struggled with injuries, but can otherwise serve as a consistently impactful lockdown corner opposite Kevin King. In a trade down and subsequent trade up for Alexander, the Packers were also able to acquire the Saints first round draft pick for next year. In the second round, the Packers stopped the slide of fellow cornerback Joshua Jackson. While a high risk upside corner in cover three schemes, Jackson’s talent should be wasted in the man heavy Packers scheme. The Packers continued to confront their defensive woes in the third round, although they surprisingly failed to address their pass rush. Instead, they drafted speedy cover linebacker Oren Burks, a nice compliment to tackle machine Blake Martinez. The Packers also drafted a trio of wide receivers in the later rounds, likely hoping one of them can emerge as a viable option. Two of the chosen wideouts are raw and risky talents with size and speed, while the earliest drafted – J’mon Moore – is a well rounded player who could provide good depth. While the Packers successfully filled their needs, it is highly possible that only Jaire Alexander will be an effective starter.

C

Minnesota Vikings

One of the most well rounded teams in the NFL, the Vikings entered the draft with few major needs. As such, they opted for the best player available strategy in the first round, selecting cornerback Mike Hughes. While Hughes projects as a solid starter rather than a transcendent player, he gives the Vikings depth at both the corner and nickelback positions. The Vikings also drafted for talent in the middle rounds, picking tight end Tyler Conklin in the fourth. A former basketball player, Conklin is big and strong with elite potential as a pass catcher. Additionally, defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes was picked a round later, a decent attempt by the Vikings to add some upside and versatility to their defensive line rotation. Although a solid unit as a whole, the Vikings still felt the need to upgrade the depth on the offensive line, selecting Brian O’Neill and Colby Gossett in the second and sixth rounds, respectively. The former – while highly flawed – is an athletic and talented swing tackle who also has potential at the guard position. Meanwhile, the latter is a solid run-blocking guard prospect with minimal upside. The Viking’s sole major need was addressed in the late fifth round with the selection of kicker Daniel Carlson, a consistent extra point kicker with the ability to hit field goals over fifty yards. The Vikings did a good job of not wasting any picks, as well as getting players who can fit on their roster.

C+

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