The big question in the NFC North is Teddy Bridgewater and the state of the Minnesota Vikings. Bridgewater went down with a gruesome injury right before the start of last season. The team made a panic trade for Sam Bradford, then Adrian Peterson went down for the year, then offensive coordinator Norv Turner removed himself from the team. It was a strange year in 2016. Now AP is gone and all eyes are on Bridgewater’s health. Can the Vikings rebound?
The other big question is, are the Detroit Lions for real? Team legend Calvin Johnson retired early and the state of the team was up in the air — especially considering head coach Jim Caldwell was on a trial year with new management. What happened? They made the playoffs as a wild card.
Two things that are for certain in the NFC North is that Green Bay Packers are still the divisional powerhouse and the Chicago Bears are still rebuilding. Here is a look at what talent was brought into the division…
Chicago Bears: D
1.) Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
2.) Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
4.) Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
4b.) Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T
5.) Jordan Morgan, OG, Kutztown
What were the Bears thinking? They moved up one spot and surrendered two third-round picks and a fourth-round pick. Comparatively, the Browns gave up a fourth, fifth, and seventh-round pick to move up one spot to take Trent Richardson in 2012. That is a LOT of capital to hand over. Not to mention the team gave Mike Glennon a $45 million deal. Jackson, in Round 4 addressed a need. He’s a rangy center fielder, but coming off a broken leg. Cohen, is an intriguing pick. He’s only 5’6″, but is a human highlight reel. He’ll balance with Jordan Howard nicely. Morgan, a four year starter, is a developmental prospect with starter upside.
Best pick: Adam Shaheen
The former basketball player turned tight end checks all the boxes you would want in a tight end. He is a match-up nightmare for defenses at 6’6″ and nearly 280 pounds. Obviously, coming out of Ashland, he is raw, but if he can put it together, he could be special.
Detroit Lions: B
1.) Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
2.) Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
3.) Kenny Golladday, WR, Northern Illinois
4.) Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee
4b.) Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo
5.) Jamal Agnew, CB, San Diego
6.) Jeremiah Ledbetter, DE, Arkansas
6b.) Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
7.) Pat O’Connor, DE, Eastern Michigan
This is a quality draft class, but how do you pass on a running back after finishing the previous year 30th in rushing offense? Outside of that, this is a high ceiling class. Davis and Tabor will come in and contribute right away. Davis, sets the tone with his physical style of play. Golladday and Roberts are high ceiling players who will take time to adjust to the NFL. Golladday, has tremendous size, speed, and hands. He just has to refine his route running. Reeves-Maybin, was a standout, sideline-to-sideline linebacker before shoulder injuries derailed him. He has to stay healthy, if he can he could become a starter.
Best pick: Brad Kaaya
Don’t be surprised if Kaaya winds up as the backup to Matthew Stafford as a rookie. He would have benefited from staying in school for another year, he is still very inconsistent, but his flashes hint at starter upside.
Green Bay Packers: B-
2.) Kevin King, CB, Washington
2b.) Josh Jones, S, NC State
3.) Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
4.) Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin
4b.) Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
5.) DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Purdue
5b.) Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP
6.) Kofi Amichia, C, South Florida
7.) Devante Mays, RB, Utah St.
7b.) Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
The last time the Packers tried to address their defensive secondary on back-to-back picks was in 2015 with Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollin in 2015. Those picks aren’t working out so well. Hence King and Jones to kick off the selection process in 2017. King, could start as a rookie, as could Jones. Adams provides depth upfront after losing former-first round pick to Minnesota via free agency. Biegel, is a classic Packer. They’re hoping they drafted the 2014-2015 version. Jamaal Williams, is the back they desperately need. He has good vision and can pound it between the tackles.
Best pick: Malachi Dupre
Dupre, was never consistent enough at LSU, but had plenty of flash plays. Part of that was the quarterback play in Baton Rouge. Dupre, has the size and speed to a big play threat in Green Bay, he just needs to get stronger.
Minnesota Vikings: B+
2.) Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St.
3.) Pat Elflein, C, Ohio St.
4.) Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
4b.) Ben Gedeon, LB, Michigan
5.) Rodney Adams, WR, South Florida
5b.) Danny Isidora, OG, Miami
6.) Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
7.) Stacy Coley, WR, Miami
7b.) Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern
7c.) Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas St.
7d.) Jack Tocho, CB, NC State
For not having a pick in Round 1, the Vikings brought in an outstanding draft class. Cook, will make everyone forget about Adrian Peterson. Cook is a special talent. Elflein, is a technically sound center who should start Day One. Johnson, is an ascending talent. He capped off his collegiate career with career bests at tackles for loss and sacks. Gedeon, is another ascending talent. After finally cracking the starting lineup, he posted 106 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss. He could grow into a starter. Isidora, a three year starter at The U, could be developed into a starter.
Best pick: Bucky Hodges
Hodges, has issues with effort and drops, but his natural athleticism are very impressive. A “flex” tight end, who plays more like a wide receiver, if Hodges can put it together he could become an match-up problem for defenders.