Hard as it might be to believe, but the Vikings weren’t actually the only team to participate in this weekend’s draft. All 31 other teams did as well, but there are three in particular that I’m sure Vikings fans were watching closely.
So I thought now would be a good time to walk through the multitude of picks the other NFC teams made and see what kind of risks they took and who the Vikings might have to look out for in the upcoming season. Just to promote my own work, when discussing their team needs, I’ll be using my own article that was posted right before the draft started.
Both alphabetically and results-wise, the Bears are currently top dogs in the North. But that top-dogginess came at a bit of a price, as the Bears were limited in their draft picks and while they moved around a little, they still ended up with only five draft picks.
Picks: 73 (trade up), 126 (own pick), 205 (own pick), 222 (trade), 238 (own pick)
My pre-draft needs: OT, TE, RB, DE, S, K, CB
Selections: David Montgomery (RB), Riley Ridley (WR), Duke Shelley (CB), Kerrith Whyte (RB), Stephen Denmark (CB)
Analysis: I had kinda pre-targeted the Bears as a team that might be interested in moving around the board (mostly down) to pick up a couple more draft picks, due to the fact they started with only five. They actually moved around the board a little to get the guys they wanted, but still ended up with just five draft picks, and only one in the first 125 selections.
They did, in my opinion, nail that one lone top-125 pick, as Montgomery is quietly the hardest-to-tackle running back to come out of the draft this season, and he’ll be giving the Vikings some problems if they don’t hold to their usual pristine level of tackling. They also added another running back later on, Whyte, who appears to be a potential returner for the Bears along with his abilities as a running back.
They did manage to grab two late-round corners, Shelley and Denmark, to fill in that potential need. Denmark is a converted wide receiver who is lacking in some agility that corners usually have, so he’ll be a big project for their coaching staff. As for Shelley, his size says the Bears might be trying him inside, but he has mostly been an outside corner for most of his career (sounds a little like Mack Alexander, no?)
Now, I suppose my belief that the Bears would have offensive line, especially offensive tackle, as one of their needs, is that they wouldn’t want to be going into the season with Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie as their starting tackles, but unless a backup surprises, those will in fact be their starters. They really don’t have much in the way of experienced backups on either the interior or exterior of their OL, which could give them issues if injuries are more prevalent this season than last.
Considering their low capital, I think the Bears did an okay job of addressing their needs. I do, however, think that this could be a Bears team with a couple more exploitable holes in it than last season.
After a season where they finished a disappointing 6-10 under a new head coach, the Lions headed into the draft with possibly the most team-wide needs of any of the four NFC North teams.
Picks: 8, 43, 81, 117, 146, 184, 186, 224, 229
My pre-draft needs: WR, OG, TE, DL, LB, DB
Selections: T.J. Hockenson (TE), Jahlani Tavai (LB), Will Harris (S), Austin Bryant (DE), Amani Oruwariye (CB), Travis Fulgham (WR), Ty Johnson (RB), Isaac Nauta (TE), P.J. Johnson (DE)
Analysis: The Lions had a lot more needs than the Bears and they had enough draft picks to fill almost all of those needs. They added five picks to their defense and four to their offense.
The big one they didn’t fill, though, was guard. With the retirement of T.J. Lang, the Lions both went into and left the draft with their starting right guard being Kenny Wiggins. That is not good if they want to have any hope of competing in the NFC North, and I would not be surprised at all to see the Lions toss a 2020 pick at a team to try and pry away even a backup-caliber guard, because that might immediately become their new starting right guard.
But focusing on what picks they did make instead of the ones that didn’t, this is likely going to be a draft that needs a couple years to sort itself out. Scouting reports on Tavai, their second-round pick, range from being more or less worthy of that second rounder to being a massive overdraft of a player who might top out as a special teams guy. Harris was a leader at BC and is a good athlete but has negligible ball skills (only four pass breakups in his final two collegiate years).
Hockenson is a good player and will likely be stepping into the role of Detroit’s No. 3 wide receiver. He is likely going to be much more of an issue for the Vikings than the last tight end the Lions took in the first round. Austin Bryant should give the Lions some help up front on the defensive line, but he’s also going to be coming into their training camp behind the ball as he’s recovering from surgery on a torn pec muscle that he played through the end of Clemson’s season with. Oruwariye is a great scheme fit for the Lions defense under Patricia and will likely be a thorn in the Vikings side for a while.
Check out Pride of Detroit for more on their picks, but after a good choice on Day 1 and a shaky Day 2, the Lions seemed to have an okay Day 3.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers finished third in the NFC North last season but had the benefit of a second first-round pick after the Saints gave away their first-round pick this year to the Packers to draft Marcus Davenport last season.
Picks: 12, 21, 44, 75, 150, 185, 194, 226
My pre-draft needs: WR, IOL, OT, TE, DL, ILB, CB
Selections: Rashan Gary (DE), Darnell Savage Jr. (S), Elgton Jenkins (C), Jace Sternberger (TE), Kingsley Keke (DT), Ka’Dar Hollman (CB), Dexter Williams (RB), Ty Summers (LB)
Analysis: Whether or not you take any of that recent report that came out about the strife inside the Packers the last few seasons seriously, one thing was pretty clear: Aaron Rodgers, even on tape last season, had trouble trusting some of the Packers wide receivers and besides Davante Adams, the Packers didn’t have a whole lot of talent at receiver.
After this year’s draft, that appears to still be the case. The only full-time pass-catcher they drafted was Jace Sternberger at tight end, so unless some of the UDFA pickups the Packers signed make a big splash, they will pretty much be going into this season with a lot of the same skill players they did last season.
I had listed both the interior and exterior of Green Bay’s offensive line as targets for improvement. While second-round pick Elgton Jenkins is listed as a center, the Packers are talking him up as being a super-utility lineman to start his career, with the versatility to play him anywhere on the offensive line.
The Packers put a 5/3 split on defensive players in this year’s draft, and that started by taking defenders Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage in the first round. Opinions are particularly split on Gary, with opinions by even Vikings fans wishing we had either drafted him or supremely glad we didn’t take a guy they believe to be a bust. Savage is a continuation of Green Bay’s attempts over the last decade to find a Harrison Smith-quality defensive back that can stick in the back of their defense.
For more on their other picks, visit Acme Packing Company.
Of the other three teams in the NFC North, I’d say the Lions had the best draft, though I do believe all three teams left the draft with a hole in their lineup that they could have/should have addressed.
I think the Vikings did a better job in general of addressing their blatant needs and filling in depth holes to the point where pretty much all of the needs I would have identified for the Vikings before the draft were addressed by the team. The third wide receiver spot is a hole, but the Vikings now have plenty of options added to the team before and after the draft that if any one of them can step up, they should be able to shove Laquon Treadwell down the depth chart and continue to improve Minnesota’s offense.
It’s the end of the NFL draft season. Now there’s actual football to look forward to and obsess over!
Of the other teams in the NFC North, which had the best draft?
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