The NFC North looks like a three-team race heading into 2017, with the Chicago Bears a good distance behind the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings in their quest for division dominance.
All four teams entered the 2017 NFL Draft with areas needing improvement. Here’s a breakdown of how each team fared on draft weekend.
Chicago Bears: C+
Mitchell Trubisky | QB | UNC (1.02)
Adam Shaheen | TE | Ashland (2.45)
Eddie Jackson | S | USC (4.112)
Tarik Cohen | RB | NCA&T(4.119)
Jordan Morgan | OL | Kutztown (5.147)
Analysis: The Bears swung for the fences on all of their 2017 draft picks. Mitchell Trubisky will ultimately decide whether this year’s class is a success or a failure. Ryan Pace traded three picks to move up one spot for the strong-armed yet inexperienced passer, placing his reputation as a general manager squarely on the former Tar Heel’s right arm. Adam Shaheen, Tarik Cohen and Jordan Morgan are all small-school standouts who will make a massive jump from FCS and Division II to the NFL. Time will tell if they were a gamble worth taking. Eddie Jackson is the only pick that looks like a candidate to start in 2017.
Detroit Lions: B-
Jarrad Davis | LB | Florida (1.21)
Teez Tabor | CB | Florida (2.53)
Kenny Golladay | WR | Northern Ill. (3.96)
Jalen Reeves-Maybe | OLB | Tennessee (4.124)
Michael Roberts | TE | Toledo (4.127)
Jamal Agnew | CB | San Diego (5.165)
Jeremiah Ledbetter | DE | Arkansas (6.205)
Brad Kaaya | QB | Miami (6.215)
Pat O’Connor | DE | Eastern Michigan (7.250)
Analysis: The Lions added major upgrades with their first two picks, Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor. Both former Florida Gators should factor in the starting lineup, especially Davis who brings a physical presence to the linebacker group. Tabor is more football player than athlete, which tends to make people forget about poor 40 times once NFL Sundays roll around. Michael Roberts is a nice addition and represents a good Plan B if Eric Ebron fails to develop. Brad Kaaya represents good Day 3 value and has a chance to emerge as Matthew Stafford’s immediate backup throughout the life of his first contract.
Green Bay Packers: B
Kevin King | CB | Washington (2.33)
Josh Jones | S | NC State (2.61)
Montravius Adams | DT | Auburn (3.93)
Vince Biegel | OLB | Wisconsin (4.108)
Jamaal Williams | RB | BYU (4.134)
Deangelo Yancey | WR | Purdue (5.175)
Aaron Jones | RB | UTEP (5.182)
Kovi Amichia | OG | South Florida (6.212)
Devanta Mays | RB | Utah State (7.238)
Malachi Dupre | WR | LSU (7.247)
Analysis: The Packers added several starting-quality players in their massive 2017 draft class, which totaled 10 players. Kevin King is a first-round value who brings size and length to Green Bay’s secondary. Josh Jones has starter’s ability. Montravius Adams was a handful at the Senior Bowl and could be a better pro than college player, which is a scary thought. Jamaal Williams has a chance to become the Packers’ featured running back; he’s a hard-nosed downhill runner who has similar traits to James Starks. If he fails, fifth-round pick Aaron Jones will be ready and waiting. Seventh-round pick Malachi Dupre was an absolute steal; he’ll make the team.
Minnesota Vikings: A-
Dalvin Cook | RB | Florida State (2.41)
Pat Elflein | OC | Ohio State (3.70)
Jaleel Johnson | DL | Iowa (4.109)
Ben Gedeon | LB | Michigan (4.120)
Rodney Adams | WR | South Florida (5.170)
Danny Isidora | OL | Miami (5.180)
Bucky Hodges | TE | Virginia Tech (6.201)
Stacy Coley | WR | Miami (7.219)
Ifeadi Odenigbo | DE | Northwestern (7.220)
Elijah Lee | OLB | Kansas State (7.232)
Jack Tocho | CB | NC State (7.245)
Analysis: The Vikings had a fantastic draft headlined by a first-round value falling to them in the second round. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook won’t be an Adrian Peterson-type in the pros, but he’ll be an exciting and highly productive starter. He has a chance to be one of the NFL’s better running backs by year’s end. Ohio State center Pat Elflein will start in 2017, even if it’s at guard. Jaleel Johnson was a steal in Round 4. He’s going to make noise in the pros. Bucky Hodges is a walking mismatch, while Danny Isidora and Ben Gedeon bring toughness to both sides of the ball.