Now that we’ve taken a look at the NFL draft and scouted the players who will be wearing purple and gold, it’s time to take a look at the other teams in the NFC North.
By using both NFL.com and Pro Football Focus, we’ll have a better idea if our divisional foes have gotten stronger through the draft or if they are primed to take a step back.
“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Chicago Bears had nine draft picks and used six of them on defensive players. In the first round, the Bears selected Leonard Floyd, a linebacker from Georgia who is versatile and will line up all over the field in John Fox’s defense. In the second round, the Bears selected Cody Whitehair, the top rated offensive guard and someone that Vikings fans were keeping an eye on. The Bears also drafted a defensive end, a second linebacker, three players for the secondary, a running back and a wide receiver.
On NFL.com, Bucky Brooks gave the Bears a B minus, and while that’s not a bad grade, it was the lowest grade given out by Brooks in the NFC North. Pro Football Focus, however, gave the Bears an A minus, which was the highest grade given to any in the division.
Detroit made ten selections in the Draft, five on offense, four on defense, and a long snapper for special teams. In the first round, the Lions selected Taylor Decker, a mauling offensive tackle who should be able to start right away at tight tackle. In the second round, the Lions selected A’shawn Robinson, a mammoth defensive tackle who should have been a first round selection. The Lions clearly made it a priority to protect Matthew Stafford, because three of their first five picks were offensive linemen.
Bucky Brooks gave the Lions a B, slightly better than the Bears but still only good for third in the division. PFF gave the Lions a C, which was one of the worst grades given by them to any team in the NFL and certainly the worst grade in the NFC North.
Every year, the Packers are brought forth as a shining example of how teams are “supposed” to build their teams because they rarely make a splash in free agency and instead prefer to focus on the draft. And then every year the draft comes and Green Bay appears to have had a mediocre draft. Well, this year is no different. In the first round, the Packers selected Kenny Clark, a defensive tackle out of UCLA. Then in the second round, the Packers traded up to land one spot ahead of Chicago and select Jason Spriggs, an offensive tackle. The Packers made seven selections in total, with four of those selection spent on maulers on both the offensive and defensive lines.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks also gave the Packers a B grade, but he has them ordered above the Lions, good for second best draft class in the NFC North. Pro Football Focus also gave the Packers a B, which ranks them second in the division.
If you are curious, Bucky Brooks gave the Vikings a B plus and said Laquon Treadwell was the best pick in the division. Pro Football Focus gave the Vikings a B minus, a grade that was severely brought down when the Vikings drafted Willie Beavers, who was PFF’s lowest ranked offensive tackle in college football (seriously, his -46.0 player grade was the worst out of 258 qualifying tackles).
Well there you have it. Did the Vikings do enough to remain atop the division? Or did the Packers, Bears or Lions begin their ascent in the NFC North? Let me know be reaching out to me on Facebook (facebook.com/skoljwright), twitter (@skoljwright) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)