NFC North: Draft Review

We’re off and running with the NFC now, today turning our attention to the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Round 1: (No. 8 overall) Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia.

Round 2: (No. 39) James Daniels, OL, Iowa; (No. 51) Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis.

Round 4: (No. 115) Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky.

Round 5: (No. 145) Bilal Nichols, DL, Delaware.

Round 6: (No. 181) Kylie Fitts, Edge, Utah.

Round 7: (No. 224) Javon Wims, WR, Georgia.

­Up until the draft, the Bears spent most of the offseason acquiring pieces for their young QB to throw to.  In the first round, they addressed the other side of the ball in a big way picking up, who many consider to be, the best linebacker in the draft in Smith.  He may be slightly undersized for the position but what he lacks in size he makes up for in athleticism and agility.  As well as that, he demonstrated excellent leadership skills in his time in Georgia.  The Bears have a history of having Hall of Fame linebackers, there’s a good chance that Smith could follow that tradition.

In the second round, the Bears went back to spoiling Trubisky by selection Daniels and Miller.  Many mock drafts had Daniels going in the first round with a good few pundits suggesting that he was the best centre in the draft.  His fall from the first was the Bears gain and whether they deploy him at centre or guard, he should be a good addition to an already decent offensive line.  Miller had issues with drops in college where he was the main man.  Now with Robinson and Gabriel there won’t be as much pressure on him and he’ll be given a chance to learn and develop.  When he did get a firm grip on the ball he looked to be dangerous.

Green Bay Packers

Round 1: (No. 18 overall) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville.

Round 2: (No. 45) Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa.

Round 3: (No. 88) Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt.

Round 4: (No. 133) J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri.

Round 5: (No. 138) Cole Madison, OL, Washington State; (No. 172) JK Scott, P, Alabama; (No. 174) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, South Florida.

Round 6: (No. 207) Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame.

Round 7: (No. 232) James Looney, DE, Cal; (No. 239) Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi State; (No. 248) Kendall Donnerson, Edge, Southeast Missouri State.

There was a lot of action over the three days of Green Bay’s draft to talk about!  First year GM, Brian Gutekunst has come out of the event with a bevy of young defenders and big pass catchers to help out Aaron Rodgers.

On the first night, the Packers traded back, picking up the Saint’s first round pick next year in the process and picked up one of the top cornerbacks in Alexander.  They doubled down on the position in the second round taking Josh Jackson. Both corners had been seen in various first round mocks previously the signs are good for the pass defence in Green Bay in 2018 after giving up an NFL high 21 passing TDs in 2017.  Both players have ball hawking skills, so there’s the very real chance that Rodgers will see even more of the football in 2018.  Coupled with those backfield additions, the Packers took linebacker Oren Burks in the 3rd round.  Whilst he can be a useful addition to the special teams unit to begin with, Burks also has great coverage skills.

Jordy Nelson is gone and that’s a blow to Rodgers.  But now he has three new receivers who are all over 6’3”!  Moore (6’3”), Valdes-Scantling (6’4”) and St.Brown (6’5”) will give the star quarterback a range of options.  Following on from last night’s podcast – look for Rodgers to also take advantage of further pass interference calls as these three on the field at the same time could be a nightmare for defensive back groups (Sorry Gary!).

Detroit Lions

Round 1: (No. 20 overall) Frank Ragnow, C/OG, Arkansas.

Round 2: (No. 43) Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn.

Round 3: (No. 82) Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette.

Round 4: (No. 114) Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama.

Round 5: (No. 153) Tyrell Crosby, OL, Oregon.

Round 7: (No. 237) Nick Bawden, FB, San Diego State.

The Lions ground game has ranked 32nd, 30th and 32nd in the last three seasons.  So what does GM Bob Quinn and newly minted head coach Matt Patricia do?  Invest significantly in upgrading the running game!  With this draft you can see the Lions running game get nasty, just like their new head coach.  Ragnow is another solid offensive line pick and can play one of two positions depending on where Graham Glasgow will be put next year.  In Kerryon Johnson they have a powerful runner to combine with free agent LaGarrette Blount.  On day three they take two more run blockers.  Tackle Tyrell Crosby demonstrated the ability to run block and full back Bawden has the potential to lead the way on what will be a very new look run game.

The Lions defence was ranked 27th last year, some of that likely down to not being able to control the clock with a terrible run game.  If the run game improves and clock control is gained, then that will help.  Da’Shawn Hand may also help as well.  He’s a long athlete and has the ability to play both on the inside and outside rush.  Interesting times in Detroit.

Minnesota Vikings

Round 1: (No. 30 overall) Mike Hughes, CB, UCF.

Round 2: (No. 62) Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh.

Round 4: (No. 102) Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio State.

Round 5: (No. 157) Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan; (No. 167) Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn.

Round 6: (No. 213) Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian State; (No. 218) Ade Aruna, Edge, Tulane.

Round 7: (No. 225) Devante Downs, LB, Cal.

The Vikings already had a good squad and with the addition of new QB Kirk Cousins it got better.  So they had the luxury of picking some of the best players available when their turn came.  Mike Hughes was certainly that and he’ll join a very talented backfield.  There were some character concerns about Hughes coming into the draft, hence his drop, but if he gets his act together this pick could be the steal of the draft.

O’Neill is another good pick up and helps out the Viking on one area of need there may have been.  He can play both left and right tackle and allows Mike Remmers to move inside to guard.  Holmes has the figure of a defensive end but needs time to develop, which is fine as the defensive line is yet another area of strength for the Vikings.  In a similar boat to Holmes is Ade Aruna, again he has the physique for the position and demonstrated good speed and agility in testing but needs time to develop his craft.


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