NFC North NFL Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 14 (14)
Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech
Round 2, Pick 19 (51) Ego Ferguson DT LSU
Round 3, Pick 18 (82)
Will Sutton DT Arizona State
Round 4, Pick 17 (117)
Ka’Deem Carey RB Arizona
Round 4, Pick 31 (131) (From Broncos)
Brock Vereen FS Minnesota
Round 6, Pick 7 (183) (From Buccaneers)
David Fales QB San Jose St.
Round 6, Pick 15 (191)
Pat O’Donnell P Miami
Round 7, Pick 31 (246) (From Broncos)
Charles Leno Jr. OT Boise St.
OVERALL GRADE: A-
The Bears had to reshape their defense in this draft and they got started early by grabbing corner back Kyle Fuller in the first round. Though corner wasn’t their most pressing need, Fuller offered good value here and adds much needed youth and potential into the Bears corner group. When you are playing in a division with the Packers and Lions you can never have too much secondary help. The Bears continued their defensive trend by taking defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton in the 2nd and 3rd round. The Bears were desperate for defensive tackle help and Ferguson and Sutton were great picks at their respective spots and should turn one of the Bears weaknesses into a strength. Both tackles complement one another and should offer improved run stopping and pass rush for the Bears defense this season.
The Bears took a break from their defensive run in the later rounds grabbing just one guy for the defensive side of the ball in 4th rounder S Brock Vereen. The Bears added some nice offensive depth in the mid-to-late rounds grabbing RB Ka’Deem Carey, QB David Fales and OT Charles Leno. All three help fill out the depth chart at thin roster spots and were good values. Carey especially could make an impact for the Bears as Chicago needs a reliable back-up to Matt Forte. Carey was one of the better running backs in this class and should do a nice job as a number two back in Chicago. Forte will still be their main guy, but Carey should carve out 100-125 carries next year and be pretty effective in those opportunities. Chicago also grabbed punter Pat O’Donnell in the 7th round, which makes a lot of sense given the open competition the Bears have for the job right now.
Overall the Bears did extremely well bringing in impact guys early on and filling depth needs later in this draft. Fuller, Ferguson and Sutton should all play significant snaps for this defense next year, and should all make a positive impact. Carey will likely be the top back-up running back and should see some significant work as well. And if O’Donnell wins the punting job, Chicago will get excellent value from their 7th round pick.
Round 1, Pick 10 (10)
Eric Ebron TE North Carolina
Round 2, Pick 8 (40) (From Vikings through Seahawks)
Kyle Van Noy OLB BYU
Round 3, Pick 12 (76)
Travis Swanson C Arkansas
Round 4, Pick 33 (133) (Compensatory selection)
Nevin Lawson CB Utah St.
Round 4, Pick 36 (136) (Compensatory selection)
Larry Webster DE Bloomsburg
Round 5, Pick 18 (158) (From Cowboys)
Caraun Reid DT Princeton
Round 6, Pick 13 (189)
T.J. Jones WR Notre Dame
Round 7, Pick 14 (229) (From Bears through Cowboys)
Nate Freese K Boston College
OVERALL GRADE: B+
The Lions came in the draft as one of the bigger first round wild cards given their sheer number of needs and players that fit for them. That proved to be the case when they selected TE Eric Ebron with their first selection, despite re-signing Brandon Pettigrew this offseason and having young Joseph Fauria in the fold. Ebron seems like a luxury pick that the Lions couldn’t afford, but for Detroit he could make sense. The Lions needed to get another pass catcher to complement Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate and the top two receivers were off the board. Ebron can split out wide and create mismatch problems for the Lions opponents. Given how much Detroit throws the ball, Ebron should still be able to catch 60-70 balls a year and be one of the top TE producers in the league. In the 2nd round the Lions grabbed outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy who was college teammates with their first rounder from a year ago Ziggy Ansah. Van Noy can be used in a role where he stands up on early downs and rushes the quarterback on passing downs. He fills two needs by filling the void at OLB and adding another pass rusher to the mix. In the 3rd round the Lions took center Travis Swanson, who was a 4 year starter at Arkansas. Swanson isn’t likely to play as a rookie, but with the Lions center nearing retirement he’s a smart pick for next season.
With the rest of their draft the Lions got some really interesting selections. Corner Nevin Lawson has the ability to help in the slot and could be a future slot corner for this team. Defensive tackle Caraun Reid is a nice late round player as his skill set shows nice potential, but he was a little overlooked because he was an Ivy leaguer. Defensive end Larry Webster is one of the most athletically gifted players in this draft and though he is a bit raw he could have a real nice upside if the Lions develop him. Wide receiver T.J. Jones has some nice promise as a back-up receiver and helps fill out the depth chart here.
Overall the Lions added an impact pass catcher and a very good front seven defensive player who can get after the quarterback. That is a good draft right there, but the Lions did a nice job adding a number of other guys to help improve their depth. In addition to adding quality depth options most of these guys have potential for greater roles going forward. This was a really good draft for the Lions and one that should benefit them going forward.
GREEN BAY PACKERS:
Round 1, Pick 21 (21)
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix FS Alabama
Round 2, Pick 21 (53)
Davante Adams WR Fresno St.
Round 3, Pick 21 (85)
Khyri Thornton DT Southern Miss
Round 3, Pick 34 (98) (Compensatory selection)
Richard Rodgers TE California
Round 4, Pick 21 (121)
Carl Bradford OLB Arizona State
Round 5, Pick 21 (161)
Corey Linsley C Ohio St.
Round 5, Pick 36 (176) (Compensatory selection)
Jared Abbrederis WR Wisconsin
Round 6, Pick 21 (197)
Demetri Goodson CB Baylor
Round 7, Pick 21 (236)
Jeff Janis WR Saginaw Valley St.
OVERALL GRADE: B
The Packers got one of the steals of the first round when safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix fell into their lap at pick 21. He was the top safety on many draft boards and fills the Packers biggest need. He should be an immediate starter and should help the Packers slow down some of the top passing attacks from their division. In the 2nd round the Packers land WR Davante Adams. Wide receiver wasn’t the Packers biggest need, but Green Bay loves stocking up on receivers which allows them to let free agents walk if they are looking for too much money. Adams could push for time in the Packers 3 WR sets and if Randall Cobb leaves after the season he could take on a bigger role next year. In the 3rd round the Packers had a pair of picks and it looks like they reached on both of them in DL Khyri Thornton and TE Richard Rodgers. Though both were positions of need, both players seem like 1-2 round reaches at this point and it appeared that there were better guys on the board at that time at those positions.
The Packers did a really nice job in the late rounds though picking up a number of interesting players. Linebacker Carl Bradford should move inside for them and should develop into a starter in a year or two. Center Corey Linsley offers depth at a thin position, while corner Demetri Goodson offers some intriguing developmental potential. The real value in their late round picks though may be a pair of guys at a position they really didn’t need additional help; wide receiver. In addition to Adams who they drafted earlier the Packers already have Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and the surprising Jarrett Boykin, so worrying about their 5th and 6th receiver weren’t exactly top priorities for the Packers, but when Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis fall to them where they did it is tough to pass up.
Overall the Packers had a really strong draft with two very good picks in the first and 2nd round that should make an early impact in Green Bay. Later the Packers got a lot of value and some interesting upside players. The only thing keeping this grade from being higher was their pair of picks in the 3rd round. There was so much talent still on the board and the Packers just seemed to really reach at these spots.
Round 1, Pick 9 (9) (From Bills through Browns)
Anthony Barr OLB UCLA
Round 1, Pick 32 (32) (From Seahawks)
Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville
Round 3, Pick 8 (72)
Scott Crichton DE Oregon St.
Round 3, Pick 32 (96) (From Seahawks)
Jerick McKinnon RB Georgia Southern
Round 5, Pick 5 (145) (From Browns)
David Yankey OG Stanford
Round 6, Pick 6 (182) (From Falcons)
Antone Exum CB Virginia Tech
Round 6, Pick 8 (184)
Kendall James CB Maine
Round 7, Pick 5 (220) (From Falcons)
Shamar Stephen DT Connecticut
Round 7, Pick 8 (223)
Brandon Watts OLB Georgia Tech
Round 7, Pick 10 (225) (From Giants through Panthers)
Jabari Price CB North Carolina
OVERALL GRADE: B+
The Vikings were faced with an interesting decision early in round one as they could take either an impact defensive player or a much needed top quarterback. The pressure was on them to take a quarterback with fan favorite Johnny Manziel still on the board, but the Vikings added a high upside pass rusher in Anthony Barr instead. Barr will play a hybrid role in Minnesota, but his greatest impact will come on passing downs when he gets the chance to get after the quarterback. He’s still a bit raw, but his potential is there to be a great rusher and could go a long way to help replace Jared Allen. Though the Vikings passed on Manziel, they traded back into the first round to land Teddy Bridgewater. Though Bridgewater’s stock had taken a turn for the worse, he was still considered a very good quarterback prospect and a potential franchise guy. Bridgewater may need to sit a year, but he could offer a tremendous return at this selection for the Vikings down the road.
Despite trading up the Vikings still had eight more picks in this draft and they added a number of good players. Third rounder DE Scott Crichton seems redundant, but Mike Zimmer the new Vikings coach loves having defensive line depth and he will find a way to get all these players on the field enough to make an impact. Minnesota’s other 3rd rounder RB Jerrick McKinnon was maybe a slight reach, but he’s a real intriguing prospect with a lot of raw talent. Guard David Yankey has starting potential and slid due to him not being a great athlete. Corner Antone Exum has starting potential, but an ACL injury last year set back his status as a top corner. While there is some risk here the Vikings land him in the 6th round. Minnesota landed four additional depth players all on the defensive side of the ball.
Overall the Vikings added a high-upside impact pass rusher, a potential franchise QB, an additional quality pass rusher and a number of intriguing mid-to-later round options. Minnesota really fixed their depth issues on defense with this draft which should make new coach Mike Zimmer very happy. The impact from this class might not be immediately felt as Bridgewater might not even play this year and Barr may be more of a situational guy at first, but the long term potential here is impressive.