How do the Lions compare to the rest of the NFC North?
Now that the 81st NFL Draft has ended, it’s time to take a look around us and see what the rest of the NFC North teams did to try to improve their squads. If you came here looking for Lions analysis, thanks for the click, but you won’t find it here.
Outside our Lions, the most important thing to evaluate post-draft is what the rest of the division did, since the Lions will see them in six out of sixteen regular season games. In the NFC North I don’t think there are any bad teams, or any games that are sure wins. Teams in the AFC South can count on two automatic wins against the Browns like NFC North teams used to do for the Lions in the Millen era, but that’s not the case anymore. Even though Jay Cutler is pretty frustrating for Chicago fans, he isn’t Brian Hoyer bad (FYI: they just signed Hoyer, probably to scare their fans). The Vikings are definitely on the rise and will be the preseason bet to finish second, and the Packers still have he-who-shall-not-be-named at quarterback, so they’re the team to chase. Let’s dive into each team’s draft class, and how I think each one did.
Round One: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Round Two: Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
Round Three: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
Round Four: Nick Kiwatkoski, ILB, West Virginia; Deon Bush, Miami, S; Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa
Round Five: Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
Round Six: Deondre Houston-Carson, FS, William & Mary
Round Seven: Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan
With nine selections in seven rounds, Vic Fangio got his way this year when the Bears went defensive heavy with six of nine picks going to that side of the ball. The Bears traded up from eleven to nine in the first round to get Leonard Floyd, the 6’6” outside linebacker from Georgia. Floyd is an athletic freak, and will fit into the Bears 3-4 scheme. He isn’t completely polished like Von Miller was coming out of college, but if Floyd becomes 80% of the player Miller is today he will haunt his NFC North foes for years to come.
In the second round, the Bears snagged guard Cody Whitehair, who many analysts believed to be the best guard in the draft. Then in the third, they selected defensive end Jonathan Bullard from Florida. Bullard is someone who fires off the ball quickly and makes plays in the backfield.
From rounds four and on, there are a few picks of note. The Bears added two small-school DB’s whose names are pronounced the same but spelled differently, Deiondre’ Hall from Northern Iowa and Deondre Houston-Carson from William & Mary. They also selected Daniel Braverman, the undersized yet shifty wide-receiver from Western Michigan.
Overall, the Bears had a solid draft but whether the group will be considered a good class depends on the development and performance of Leonard Floyd. A few linebackers with his characteristics have come into the NFL recently, and they have been flops. (Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan). Hopefully the Lions will be able to extend the winning streak against the Bears to seven and eight this season.
Round One: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Round Two: Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Round Four: Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan
Round Five: Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri
Round Six: Moritz Boehringer, WR, Europe; David Morgan, TE, Texas-San Antonio
Round Seven: Stephen Weatherly, OLB, Vanderbilt; Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson
With eight picks, Vikings GM Rick Spielman spread the wealth and took four offensive players and four defensive players. In the first round, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell fell to twenty-three and the Vikings must’ve been thrilled to get him. Treadwell fell due to a slow forty time, but a big possession receiver is perfect for Teddy Bridgewater who doesn’t have a very big arm. The big Treadwell will pair very nicely opposite the shiftier more versatile Stefon Diggs.
In the second round, the Vikings again picked a player who had slid down draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft. Mackenzie Alexander has round one talent as far as technique and competitiveness, but with zero career interceptions and a 5’10” 190 pound frame, a top thirty-one pick is hard to justify. He will likely play the nickel as a rookie alongside Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes.
Willie Beavers was taken in the fourth to solidify offensive line depth, and the Vikings took ultra-productive old-school linebacker Kentrell Brothers from Mizzou in the fifth.
The Vikings made a big splash in the 6th round when they selected foreign wide-receiver Moritz Boehringer. He said he fell in love with football when he watched an Adrian Peterson highlight video on YouTube, and now he feels very lucky to be teammates with him. There’s no doubt Boehringer has the physical traits, at 6’4” 224 and a sub 4.5 40. The question remains, will he be able to handle playing against world-class athletes after destroying lowly euro-league corners?
The Vikings had a solid draft and continue to surround Teddy Bridgewater with offensive help, and additionally Mike Zimmer got some new toys for his defense. The Vikings will be a force once again this year in the NFC North, and some will pick them to be back to back champs.
GREEN BAY PACKERS:
Round One: Kenny Clark, NT, Notre Dame
Round Two: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Round Three: Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State
Round Four: Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford; Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern
Round Five: Trevor Davis, WR, California
Round Six: Kyle Murphy, T, Stanford
With an NFC North low of seven picks in the draft, the Packers spent four of them on defense and three on offense. In round one, the Packers replaced the recently retired B.J. Raji with athletic nose tackle Kenny Clark from UCLA. In the second round, they addressed an o-line that was debatably worse than the Lions’ last season with tackle Jason Spriggs from Indiana. Spriggs is a great athlete but lacks the prototypical power for the tackle position.
In the third round, the Packers picked blitzing specialist, outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell. He and Clay Matthews will be a great tandem. The team then addressed the middle of their defense, taking linebacker Blake Martinez from Stanford.
In the sixth round, they selected a defensive end project in Dean Lowery from Northwestern. At 6’6” 296, Lowery has the potential to be a game-changer on defense. He will play in a rotation for at least a few seasons, but the Packers will hope to develop him into a starter, much like what the Lions have done with Devin Taylor.
Albeit not very flashy, as long as the Packers’ QB situation stays the same, they will always be the team to beat in the NFC North.
Across the board, all four NFC North teams had solid drafts, mostly sticking to their respective positions of need.