Tag Archives: NFC North

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

The 2017 season for the NFC North went through Minnesota, who had a miracle run with their third string quarterback Case Keenum. After second stringer Sam Bradford went down with injury and star rookie Dalvin Cook was also lost, it was Keenum who steered the Vikings to a NFC Championship appearance.

And after all that, the Vikings still moved on from Keenum…and Bradford for that matter, and even Teddy Bridgewater, who before a gruesome knee injury was viewed as a franchise quarterback for them. Instead, they went out and signed Kirk Cousins. A signal to all that the Vikings are ready to win now.

Despite going 9-7, the Lions fired their head coach and brought in New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to lead the team. It’s not a rebuild as much as it is a re-envisioning. The Bears also tabbed a first time head coach to lead them in Matt Nagy, the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.

But for all this hope springing around the division, the Green Bay Packers are still the sleeping giants. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only made it seven games before a broken clavicle ended his season. The Pack also made a mini shift in Brian Gutekunst taking over the GM position from longtime leader Ted Thompson.

So, how did Gutekunst and the rest of the new look NFC North due this weekend? Here’s the breakdown…

Chicago Bears: B+
1.) Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
2.) James Daniels, C, Iowa
2.) Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
4.) Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
5.) Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware
6.) Kylie Fitts, OLB, Utah
7.) Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

The Bears did a stellar job. Their first three picks could all start as rookies. Smith, is the defensive leader the Bears have needed for a long time. With veterans Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan injury prone, Smith could wrestle a starting spot for himself sooner than later. Some may find Daniels selection curious with a quality guard in Cody Whitehair already in place. Whitehair’s best position is guard, so by selecting Daniels (a potential Day One starter), the Bears now can shift Whitehair back to left guard and suddenly the Bears offensive line is a real strength. With the healthy duo of Allen Robinson and Kevin White, the Bears needed someone to work the middle of the field and that’s Miller. His last two years he totaled 191 catches for 2,896 yards and 32 touchdowns. Fitts and Wims are quality late round additions with who could grow into serviceable players.

Detroit Lions: B-
1.) Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
2.) Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
3.) Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette
4.) Da’shawn Hand, DT, Alabama
5.) Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
7.) Nick Bawden, RB, San Diego St.

The Lions were aggressive in first time head coach Matt Patricia’s first draft. If there is one consistent thread through all of these picks it’s that all the players are big and physical. Ragnow, should start Day One (if healthy) and man the pivot. He’ll bring some nastiness to the trenches and that’s always a plus. Bringing in Crosby later in the draft continues to bring depth and nastiness. Like Ragnow, Crosby is a road grader. A right tackle by nature, but may kick inside to guard. He has starter upside. Johnson, in Round 2, is an intriguing pick. He is a massive running back who just ran all over the SEC last year, racking up 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns, while flashing the ability to be a playmaker in the passing game as well. The only downside there is injuries. With a big back, you also get a big target. Hand and Walker help bolster depth along the defense.

Green Bay Packers: B
1.) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
2.) Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
3.) Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
4.) J’mon Moore, WR, Missouri
5.) Cole Madison, OG, Washington St.
5.) JK Scott, P, Alabama
5.) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, USF
6.) Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
7.) James Looney, DT, Cal
7.) Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi St.
7.) Kendall Donnerson, OLB, Southeast Missouri

Last season the Packers drafted a cornerback and a safety with their first two picks. And as you can see this year, brought in two more cornerbacks at the top of the draft. That is an incredible amount of capital spent on the secondary. Alexander, is a playmaker, who make work best in the slot while Jackson and Kevin King (last year’s top pick) work on the outside. Burks, was a bit of a reach, but should contribute on special teams and sub packages. He’s a bit of a Swiss army knife. The wide receiver additions is most interesting. All are well over six feet tall. Moore had the best college career, posting back to back 1,000 yard seasons and 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons. St. Brown, is raw but has the size to be a factor in the red zone. Valdes-Scantling, is the most intriguing. He is fast and can fly down field. If he continues to work on better route running, he could be a factor. The Scott addition is also worth noting. In a division that is becoming more and more contentious, a punter who can flip the field is a big asset.

Minnesota Vikings: B
1.) Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
2.) Brian O’Neill, OT, Pitt
4.) Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio St.
5.) Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
5.) Daniel Carson, K, Auburn
6.) Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian St.
6.) Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane
7.) Devante Downs, LB, Cal

The Vikings really fleshed out their roster with this draft. Hughes, is a classisc Mike Zimmer cornerback. He should make his way onto the field sooner than later. He has off the field concerns, but should he keep things in line, he’ll be a factor. O’Neill, offers great versatility. He could start at right tackle, he could be kicked inside to guard. Either way, they needed help in the trenches and they got some. Holmes, didn’t do much in college, but that could be more of a result of having such tremendous depth at defensive end at Ohio State. He has upside and could develop into something special. Remember that time the Vikings missed a field goal in the playoffs against the Seahawks? So does every Minnesotan. Hopefully Carson can become a steady contributor. He’s got the leg, the accuracy is the question.


2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

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.