Entering the 2015 season, the Detroit Lions were considered a team to make a quality push for the playoffs following a Wild Card birth in 2014. However, the Lions stumbled out of the gates to a 1-7 start. That left the gates open for the Minnesota Vikings, who won the division after improving from 7-9 to 11-5 in head coach Mike Zimmer’s second year steering the ship.
The Lions lost All-Pro Calvin Johnson to retirement and have conducted a major overhaul of their front office. Head coach Jim Caldwell was kept on for a make or break season. In Chicago, the team had it’s growing pains under head coach Jim Fox’s first year in the Windy City. Then in Green Bay…well…they were Green Bay again. Some ups and downs, but ultimately they made their way into the playoffs yet again.
So, where does that leave us for 2016? Everything is up for grabs in the division that always seems to fluctuate from year to year. Lets breakdown there youngest addition to their rosters.
Chicago Bears: A
1.) Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
2.) Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas St.
3.) Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida
4.) Nick Kwiatkowski, ILB, West Virginia
4.) Deon Bush, S, Miami
4.) Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa
5.) Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
6.) DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William & Mary
7.) Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan
The Bears jumped up a few spots to take Floyd and he should fit well. It was so surprise, as the linebacking corps was lacking and Floyd could grow into a dynamic pass rusher. Kwiatkowski, is a throwback thumper who should excel in the 3-4. Whitehair, fills a need as well and gives them a versatile interior lineman who could very well be a Day One starter. Bullard is a versatile five-technique. Hall and Houston-Caron gives the Bears versatile and big defenders in the secondary. Bush, is a heat-seeking missile, but lacks in coverage. He could star as a special teams ace. Howard, adds to a youthful and talented backfield that will hope to ease the departure of longtime vet Matt Forte.
Sleeper: Daniel Braverman
The team lost Brandon Marshall, but will get last year’s first-round pick Kevin White back. That leaves the slot position virtually up for grabs. Braverman, is sneaky good. While undersized, he provides the hands, agility, and speed to really excel.
Detroit Lions: B
1.) Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio St.
2.) A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
3.) Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan
4.) Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah
5.) Joe Dahl, OG, Washington St.
5.) Antwione Williams, LB, Georgia Southern
6.) Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan
6.) Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn St.
6.) Jimmy Landes, LS, Baylor
7.) Dwayne Washington, RB, Washington
The Lions new GM Bob Quinn made things clear with his draft day approach: build from the inside out. The Lions are essentially rebuilding and landing mammoth building blocks in Decker, Robinson, and Glasgow provide Detroit with pieces they could have for the next ten years. Dahl and Zettel, provide depth and versatility as they continue to grow. Killebrew never posted an interception in college but had over 100 tackles and 16 pass breakups as a senior. His development is worth watching in this new hybrid safety/linebacker role the NFL is trending towards. Is it really any surprise that someone from the Bill Belichick tree drafted a long snapper?
Sleeper: Antwione Williams
Williams, was everywhere in his two years at Georgia Southern. Williams has NFL size and can make things happen. As a senior he posted over 100 tackles and had four forced fumbles. He still has room to grow, but he could be a starter.
Green Bay Packers: B+
1.) Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
2.) Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
3.) Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah St.
4.) Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford
4.) Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern
5.) Trevor Davis, WR, Cal
6.) Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford
Like Detroit, Green Bay’s biggest needs came along the trenches and with their first two picks addressed the needs. Clark, could fill the shoes of B.J. Raji in his first year, but he could marinate for a year. The same goes for Spriggs. Lowry, gives the Packers a versatile five-technique who could develop into a quality role player. Fackrell, brings youth and depth to the pass rushers in the linebacking corps. It may seem like Julius Peppers can play forever, but will retire at some point and when he does Fackrell should be ready to go. The selection of Murphy in the sixth-round is an absolute value steal. He’ll become a valuable swing tackle.
Sleeper: Blake Martinez
Only a two year starter while at Stanford, Martinez shined when his number was called. He racked up back-to-back 100 tackle campaigns and has the athleticism to provide some better than average coverage. He could be a Day One starter.
Minnesota Vikings: B
1.) Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
2.) Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
4.) Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan
5.) Kentrell Brothers, ILB, Missouri
6.) Moritz Boehringer, WR, Germany
6.) David Morgan, TE, Texas-San Antonio
7.) Stephen Weatherly, OLB, Vanderbilt
7.) Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson
The Vikings are riding high after a great 2015 and turned their 2016 draft into an opportunity to bolster the depth of their roster. Treadwell, was a no-brainer in the first-round and provides an excellent compliment to last year’s breakout rookie receiver Stefon Diggs. Zimmer, is known as the cornerback whisperer, so the Alexander selection wasn’t too shocking. He should excel as the team’s nickleback in time. Beavers and Brothers provide malleable talent with starter upside. Kearse, is a giant who could become a special teams ace.
Sleeper: Moritz Boehringer
We all know the story. First foreign football player ever drafted. Their have been other foreign players to make it to the NFL, but they came through the draft via American colleges. Hollywood script aside, this is a great selection. Addressed a need and has the size and raw talent to potentially develop into a high caliber receiver. A player certainly worth watching develop.