GRADING THE DRAFT: NFC NORTH

 

Now that the dust is settling and the "priority" is being take out of priority free agents, I want to reflect back on each teams' draft class and share initial thoughts. The number in the parentheses next to the player names is where they were selected vs. where they were on my final big board; a positive number means value, negative number means reach. I added the total numbers up for a total grade for each team, and it means absolutely nothing besides letting me know how I off I was in my evaluation for each players, so take it for what it's worth.

 

While this article focuses on the AFC South, you can click on a different division below.

 

AFC West | AFC South | AFC North | AFC East || NFC West | NFC South | NFC North | NFC East

 

CHICAGO BEARS - A- (-188)

LB Roquan Smith (-1)

OL James Daniels (+4)

WR Anthony Miller (-35)

LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe (-234)

DT Bilal Nichols (+10)

LB Kylie Fitts (0)

WR Javon Wims (+68)

 

Notable UDFAs: RB Ryan Nall, OG Dejon Allen, DT Abdullah Anderson, LB Nyles Morgan, CB Kevin Toliver, CB Rashard Fant, CB Michael Joseph

 

Loved what Ryan Pace and the Bears did this draft. Roquan Smith not only fills the biggest need on the defense, but could be a ten year Pro Bowler in Vic Fangio's defense. James Daniels was another good need-meets-value pick and while he will have to make an adjustment to left guard this season, having Harry Hiestand shepherd him through the switch should put Bears fans at ease. Anthony Miller is a gritty receiver who will slide into a starting role in the slot and his competitive toughness fits what Matt Nagy wants to bring to this team. Joel Iyiegbuniwe, although he seems like a reach based on the net attribution score, fits really well with the defensive scheme due to his awesome speed and striking ability and gives them a guy who can eventually replace Danny Trevathan. Bilal Nichols was another good value pick and could compete for a starting position this year. Kylie Fitts gives them another edge rusher to develop and Javon Wims gives them some good insurance as a red zone weapon in case Allen Robinson re-injures his knee on the Soldier Field turf. In free agency, the Bears recruited a nice power runner in Ryan Nall and out of the trio of cornerbacks they brought in, one or two should make the squad. Ultimately, the Bears added some crucial weapons for their young franchise quarterback while also not disregarding the defense which lost some talent in the offseason. Bravo, Bears.

 

DETROIT LIONS - C+ (-232)

C Frank Ragnow (-13)

RB Kerryon Johnson (-29)

FS Tracy Walker (-251)

DT Da'Shawn Hand (+19)

OT Tyrell Crosby (+95)

FB Nick Bawden (-53)

 

Notable UDFAs: TE DeAndre Goolsby, DT JoJo Wicker, DT Michael Hill, LB Al-Rasheed Benton, CB Chris Jones, CB Mike Ford, CB Amari Coleman

 

Weird draft for the Lions and it's obvious there is a new sheriff in town with Matt Patricia. Re-building the offensive line and the running game was a clear priority for the Lions and the selections of Frank Ragnow and Tyrell Crosby up front is an obvious indicator of that. I was surprised they went with Ragnow over Harold Landry, and hopefully they can secure Ziggy Ansah long-term or the DE group will have a lot of work to do. They may try Crosby at left guard, and if he wins the job and plays well, the Lions may challenge the Cowboys for the top offensive line unit in the NFL. I thought trading up for Kerryon Johnson was a bit bold and unnecessary, and Tracy Walker wasn't super impressive on tape. Da'Shawn Hand was a nice selection as a pass rushing defensive tackle and has some familiarity with new defensive line coach Bo Davis. Finally, Nick Bawden was one of the two fullbacks with a draftable grade for me and is the perfect fit for the type of smash-mouth offense this team wants to build. Out of the UDFAs, I really liked Al-Rasheed Benton as a prospect and although the LB depth chart will be tough to crack, he should hang around on the practice squad. DeAndre Goolsby also has a good shot to make it as an H-Back since they are missing a bona fide receiving option in the TE room. Ultimately, I see what the Lions were trying to do in re-branding their offense, but the mega-reach on Tracy Walker and not doing more to pick up an edge rusher limits them to a C+.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS - B (-224)

CB Jaire Alexander (-12)

CB Josh Jackson (+25)

LB Oren Burks (-78)

WR J'Mon Moore (+8)

OL Cole Madison (-25)

P JK Scott (-126)

WR Marques Valdes-Scantling (-82)

WR Equanimeous St. Brown (+93)

DT James Looney (-27)

LS Hunter Bradley (NR)

OLB Kendall Donnerson (NR)

 

Notable UDFAs: TE Damon Gibson, OG Jacob Alsadek, DT Filip Mokofisi, LB Naashon Hughes, CB Chris Seisay, S Raven Greene

 

I like new Packers GM Brian Gutekunst going all in at the CB position early to overload the secondary with talent, and Jaire Alexander figures to start inside at the nickel with Josh Jackson competing with Tramon Williams on the boundary. Oren Burks is a very good fit for what they Packers want to do at the inside linebacker position with his linebacker size and safety speed. The Packers took a trio of WRs and I'm not sure all three make the roster. J'Mon Moore is the most likely to hang on behind Davante Adams, but it's likely that Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown will be fighting for one spot. Both players both have effort/coachability concerns coming out of school so this will be an interesting battle to watch. Cole Madison has a really good shot to start at right guard this year and I really liked the selection by the Packers. They also addressed special teams selecting their punter and long snapper of the future, but I was surprised that they took Hunter Bradley over Tanner Carew, who was all over the place in Mobile. James Looney was an underrated player at Cal and should make this team, and to be honest, I'm not sure what a Kendall Donnerson is, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that selection. The free agent class was mediocre to say the least, and no one jumps out to me as potentially challenging for a roster spot. Overall, the Packers reaching for a punter, overdrafting the WR position and not adding a blocking tight end or running back makes this a meh C draft, but the fact that they picked up an extra 2019 first rounder bumps this up an entire letter grade.

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS - B+ (-171)

CB Mike Hughes (-18)

OT Brian O'Neill (-22)

DT Jalyn Holmes (+5)

TE Tyler Conklin (-70)

K Daniel Carlson (-13)

OG Colby Gossett (+60)

LB Ade Aruna (-2)

LB Devante Downs (-111)

 

Notable UDFAs: RB Kamryn Pettway, WR Korey Robertson, WR Jeff Badet, LB Garret Dooley, DT Hercules Mata'afa, CB Holton Hill, SS Tray Matthews

 

The Vikings, a very good American football team, added more very good American football players. They found their new Marcus Sherels in the first round, and as much as Mike Hughes should threaten for a starting spot in nickel sets, he will make more of an immediate impact as a return specialist. Brian O'Neill is a developmental project that needs to hit an NFL weight room and add more upper and lower body strength, but really fits the type of offense that John DeFilippo wants to execute. I liked that they selected Jalyn Holmes as an interior penetrator, as I thought that was his best position for the NFL and they need to refill the funnel after losing both Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen. Tyler Conklin immediately becomes the team's second best tight end and his blocking ability will help in two TE sets. Daniel Carlson should give them a long-term kicking solution over the band-aid that was Kai Forbath and I always like stabilizing that position, especially for a team that has been famously snakebitten over their kicking game in recent memory. Colby Gossett was outstanding value in the bottom of the 6th round and I would be shocked if he doesn't earn a starting spot due to the lack of depth at guard on the roster. Ade Aruna fits the classic Rick Spielman mold for an athletic, high-upside pass rusher and will have time to develop under Mike Zimmer. Devante Downs is a depth inside linebacker that slid due to a knee injury and will have to compete for his spot on the roster. With all this being said, it was a fine draft, but the UDFA class flipped it to a really good one. The Vikings recruited so many notable free agents that I couldn't even list them all, and I especially love Korey Robertson, Hercules Mata'afa and Holton Hill for this team. Skol Vikings.

 

 

 

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