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NFC North Draft Review 2020

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/10/2020

With the NFL draft in the rear view, now is a time for reflection on each team’s individual class. While it may be too early to give a full-on grade and assessment, we can see how each team did in terms of filling needs while also finding value with each pick.



Today, we’re taking a closer look at the NFC North to see how all four teams came out of the weekend.

Chicago Bears

The Bears were one of a few teams who didn’t have a first round pick, due to the Khalil Mack trade with the Raiders right before the start of the 2018 season. From that deal, however, they ended up with an additional second round pick for this year, putting them in a position to add a couple of starting-caliber players.
 
With pick No. 43 in the second round, Chicago went with Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet. Kmet is a good receiver and the consensus best tight end in the class, but the pick gave the Bears a whopping 10 tight ends on their roster. Seven picks later, Chicago addressed their need at cornerback with Jaylon Johnson from Utah. Despite a number of injuries in college including a torn labrum last season, Johnson could’ve gone in the first round, so there was solid value at pick 50.

 

On day 3, the Bears made five selections to round out their class. They traded next year’s fourth round pick for a fifth rounder this year, using the pick on Tulsa LB Trevis Gipson. Gipson is another player who fell on draft day, as some had a third or fourth round grade on him. With two more fifth round picks, Chicago grabbed Georgia Southern CB Kindle Vildor and Tulane WR Darnell Mooney, each of whom will compete for time on the field. To wrap things up, the Bears used back-to-back seventh round picks on linemen, going with Colorado OG Arlington Hambright and Tennessee State OG Lachavious Simmons.
 
Overall, the Bears succeeded in adding cornerbacks and pass-catchers, and found good value with each of those picks. Their biggest miss was not addressing their offensive line until the very end, which keeps them from having a great draft class.

Detroit Lions

After taking calls and making calls in regards to the third overall pick, by the time the Lions were on the clock they decided to hold onto their selection and take their next cornerstone piece. In this case, that’s Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah. After trading Darius Slay earlier this offseason, the consensus best corner from this draft class will become Detroit’s new number one option at the position.
 
Day two was a very good day for the Lions. With pick No. 35, the team selected Georgia RB D’Andre Swift, arguably the draft’s top running back. Swift will likely get the nod over an incumbent like Kerryon Johnson as the team’s lead back in the fall. Then in the third round, Detroit added Notre Dame EDGE Julian Okwara, who will join his brother Romeo on the team. Eight picks later, they added much-needed help along the offensive line with Ohio State OG Jonah Jackson.
 
On the draft’s final day, Detroit targeted offensive line again, this time with Kentucky OG Logan Stenburg. They might have gotten a steal in the fifth round with Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus, who had third round potential but fell due to a lackluster combine performance. They also added New Mexico State RB Jason Huntley, who is expected to be a valuable contributor on special teams, as well as a pair of defensive linemen late in Utah DT John Penisini and Ohio State DE Jashon Cornell.
 
From the outside, the Lions had one of the better draft performances in the league. They secured at least two, if not three, first round-worthy players, while also greatly improving their offensive line and receiver depth. Detroit should be well in position to improve in 2020.

Green Bay Packers

There was perhaps no bigger shock of the first round than when the Packers traded up to the 26th overall pick to select Utah State QB Jordan Love. Even though many believed that at some point during the draft Green Bay would target a QB, few thought they would use their first pick on one, considering Aaron Rodgers isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But they’re banking on the big-armed Love to be their QB of the future.
 
The surprises continued on day 2. In the second round, Green Bay took Boston College RB A.J. Dillon. The bruising Dillon can be a fit in Matt LaFleur’s offense, although he was projected as more of a third or fourth round player. Then in the third, the Packers grabbed another offensive player, this time Cincinnati TE Josiah Deguara. Even though he’s a solid route runner, Deguara was a projected sixth round pick who will likely be more of a fullback than tight end going forward.
 
As day 3 went along, Green Bay used their six remaining picks to add depth to the offensive line and the defense. They added Minnesota LB Kamal Martin in the fifth round, someone who projects as a decent athlete. Their next three picks all went to fixing the interior of the offensive line, going with Michigan OG Jon Runyon, Oregon C Jake Hanson, and Indiana OG Simon Stepaniak. They ended with two seventh round picks; TCU DB Vernon Scott and Miami pass-rusher Jonathan Garvin.
 
Even though the Packers did address some areas of need, they failed to address their top need, selecting zero wide receivers throughout the draft. They also picked a number of players, especially on day two, who likely would have been available later. Green Bay’s draft class will look a lot better if Love ends up being the QB they think he will be, but it’s hard not to be skeptical with the class as a whole.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings found a way to net themselves 15 draft picks last week, which included two in the first round. Their first pick at 22nd overall was LSU WR Justin Jefferson, who Philadelphia passed on the pick prior. Jefferson is a no-doubt first round talent who will immediately replace Stefon Diggs as the team’s number two receiver. After a trade-down with San Francisco, Minnesota got a new cornerback at No. 31 in TCU’s Jeff Gladney. After losing all three of their starting corners this offseason, Gladney is a dependable option who will start right away.
 
Minnesota continued to meet needs with value on day 2. Just over halfway through the second round, they landed Boise State OT Ezra Cleveland, who some believed would be a first-rounder. Cleveland could be a swing tackle at first but an option to start going forward. Then in the third round, they took Mississippi State CB Cameron Dantzler, whose poor combine showing likely kept him from being a second round selection.
 
The Vikings had a busy Saturday, grabbing a total 11 picks over the last four rounds. Among the notables was South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum, who was overshadowed by teammate and first rounder Javon Kinlaw but showed athleticism and toughness. Baylor DT James Lynch was another fourth round pick who experts believed was a steal, as was Oregon LB Troy Dye two picks later. Temple CB Harrison Hand, Miami WR K.J. Osborn, and Michigan State DE Kenny Willekes are among some other day three picks that experts liked from their Saturday selections.
 
Look at any list of draft winners and you’ll be sure to see the Vikings near the top. Minnesota had a ton of draft picks, sure, but did a sensational job of using each of them to their maximum potential. They had many areas of need to address, and ended up filling all of them with smart picks at valuable spots. It was a great draft overall for GM Rick Spielman and the Vikings.

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