NFC North Draft Grades

For months, NFL teams and media have been watching hours upon hours of film, talking to coaches, and gathering as much information on this crop of collegiate football players. After all that preparation work and three days of selecting the next generation of NFL players, the draft has come to an end. 

Before the majority of NFL media begin summer scouting for the 2023 draft cycle because we are all film thirsty maniacs that don’t know when to quit, I’m going to use the next week or two to reflect on this past week’s draft and give out some thoughts, opinions, and grades to close out this current draft cycle. 

For those who haven’t read any of my draft grades articles in past years, here is how I personally hand out grades for draft classes. I assess each pick individually based on the value of the pick and who else was on the board at the time of the selection. Then I will take the class as a whole and grade the class based on teem needs addressed, scheme fit, and overall value found in the draft. I also take into account asset movement and allocation. This basically means that for trades that were made, I assess whether the team that made the trade got the most value out of what they were giving away and if they maximized the player and value at each of the selections that were traded for. With eight divisions to dive into over the next week or two we are going to start out with the NFC North, because I am a Vikings fan and have a lot to say.

Chicago Bears 

2.39: Kyler Gordon/CB/Washington

2.48: Jaquan Brisker/S/Penn State

3.71: Velus Jones Jr./WR/Tennessee

5.168: Braxton Jones/OT/Southern Utah

5.174: Dominique Robinson/EDGE/Miami OH

6.186: Zach Thomas/IOL/San Diego State

6.203: Trestan Ebner/RB/Baylor

6.207: Doug Kramer/IOL/Illinois

7.226: Ja’Tyre Carter/IOL/Southern

7.254: Elijah Hicks/CB/California

7.255: Trenton Gill/P/North Carolina State

The Bears were one of a handful of teams that did not have their first round pick in this draft class after trading up in last year’s draft for quarterback Justin Fields. In my eyes, the Bears had two focal points that they had to hone in on for this draft cycle. The first was to give Justin Fields pieces to help him continue to grow. With the loss of Allen Robinson on the perimeter and the holes along the offensive line those positions had to be addressed. The other focal point was finding some foundational pieces on the defensive side of the football. With the losses of Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Eddie Goldman, the defense lacks the identity it has had the last few years. 

Looking at this crop of players and the draft as a whole I think Ryan Poles started off his first draft as general manager strong with defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker. Both are starters on this defense day one to help out Jaylon Johnson in the secondary. Gordon is a hyper-athletic and super toolsy player that will match up with today’s NFL speed very well. He just needs to become a little more technically refined to become a complete NFL corner. Brisker is a do-it-all safety who offers range and high level instincts. He will slot in immediately as the starter next to Eddie Jackson as the safety tandem.

The Velus Jones selection is a massive head scratcher to me because I view him more as a returner than a true wide receiver, which you don’t typically select in round three. Furthermore, this team desperately needed to find an outside pairing opposite of Darnell Mooney with the loss of Allen Robinson and I don’t see Jones being able to do that. Especially with other WRs that I viewed higher still left on the board I think Velus Jones going this early in round three was a stretch. Outside of the day two selections I didn’t see much direction from this Chicago Bears draft class. I like Dominique Robinson as a potential rotational defensive line piece and Ja’Tyre Carter is an intriguing developmental offensive lineman they landed in the 7th round, but overall I feel like Chicago lacked the big time difference makers in this draft class and didn’t maximize the value with their selections or overall team needs. 

Best Pick: Jaquan Brisker/S/Penn State

Head Scratcher: Velus Jones Jr./WR/Tennessee

Overall Grade: D+

Detroit Lions

1.02: Aidan Hutchinson/EDGE/Michigan

1.12: Jameson Williams/WR/Alabama

2.46: Joshua Paschal/EDGE/Kentucky

3.97: Kerby Joseph/S/Illinois

5.177: James Mitchell/TE/Virginia Tech

6.188: Malcolm Rodriguez/LB/Oklahoma State

6.217: James Houston/EDGE/Jackson State

7.237: Chase Lucas/CB/Arizona State

The majority of those that follow football are well aware of the fact that Detroit is a rebuilding team. Brad Holmes was brought in and tasked with this rebuild and he has done an excellent job so far bringing in pieces to this roster, and this draft he did a lot of really great things to accelerate the rebuild and make this roster a competing one sooner rather than later. 

I really like what Detroit did this year. Holmes and Dan Campbell had a vision and were able to execute it really well. Aidan Hutchinson was their guy from the beginning of the draft process and being able to land him with the second overall pick is great for their defensive front. Trading up for Jameson Williams was the best move of round one by any team in my opinion. They were able to move up 20 spots, get a second round pick swap, and picked my WR1 in this draft class. Easily one of my favorite moves. Williams would’ve been a bona fide top 5-7 selection in this draft class if he was fully healthy and now Detroit has a trio of receivers to help Jared Goff out. 

In addition to Aidan Hutchinson, Holmes and company were able to add Joshua Paschal from Kentucky to help complete the rebuild of the defensive line in Detroit that they have desperately needed for the last several seasons. A defensive line room of Romeo Okwara, Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, Michael Brockers, Aidan Hutchinson, Julian Okwara, Joshua Paschal, and Charles Harris is a very deep group. 

In the later rounds Detroit was able to grab solid depth pieces that could develop into starters rather quickly, especially in guys like Malcolm Rodriguez and Chase Lucas who I think are impact players and great value adds on day three. 

Best Pick: Jameson Williams

Head Scratcher: N/A

Overall Grade: B+

Green Bay Packers

1.22: Quay Walker/LB/Georgia

1.28: Devonte Wyatt/IDL/Georgia

2.34: Christian Watson/WR/North Dakota State

3.92: Sean Rhyan/OT/UCLA

4.132: Romeo Doubs/WR/Nevada

4/140: Zach Tom/OT/Wake Forest

5.179: Kingsley Enagbare/EDGE/South Carolina

7.228: Tariq Carpenter/LB/Georgia Tech

7.234: Jonathan Ford/IDL/Miami Fl

7.249: Rasheed Walker/OT/Penn State

7.258: Samori Toure/WR/Rutgers

A lot has been made of the Packers’ drafts in recent years between trading up for Jordan Love in 2020, failing to bring in any extra wide receivers for Aaron Rodgers in 2021, and then trading away Davante Adams this off-season. Packers fans have voiced very strong opinions on the current front office. General manager Brian Gutekunst has received heavy scrutiny from many since he took over in 2018. A switch must have been flipped, because this draft he and his staff knocked it out of the park. 

After taking a pair of Bulldog defenders in the first round, many were worried that Green Bay would have a draft like they have been the last several years; neglecting positions that will help Aaron Rodgers. However, the rest of the draft Gutey was maneuvering the board and attacking high value players in all rounds. I actually like the Quay Walker selection at 22. Devin Lloyd was the better linebacker prospect on the board, but Walker is a perfect scheme fit for what Green Bay wants to do defensively and Lloyd had some lingering injury issues that caused his fall to the back end of round one. Devonte Wyatt is a top 20 player in this draft class and has one of the highest floors of any prospect in this draft so the selection is another great one. Christian Watson and Sean Rhyan in rounds two and three were great fits and values for this team. Watson slides in immediately as the Packers WR1, and Rhyan will be a starter at either guard spot week one. 

The addition of Doubs, Tom, Enagbare, and Walker on day three are immense high value and high profile adds for this team all of which could see starting time in their rookie season, or not so far after that. Overall great value and a very good draft by the Green Bay Packers. 

Best Pick: Christian Watson

Head Scratcher: N/A

Overall Grade: A

Minnesota Vikings

1.32: Lewis Cine/S/Georgia

2.42: Andrew Booth Jr./CB/Clemson

2.59: Ed Ingram/IOL/LSU

3.66: Brian Asamoah/LB/Oklahoma 

4.118: Akayleb Evans/CB/Missouri

5.165: Esezi Otomewo/EDGE/Minnesota

5.169: Ty Chandler/RB/North Carolina

6.184: Vederian Lowe/OT/Illinois

6.191: Jalen Nailor/WR/Michigan State

7.227: Nick Muse/TE/South Carolina

This draft was going to reveal quite a lot about the Vikings and the direction they will be heading over the next couple of seasons. With new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, there were a lot of unknowns on how the Vikings were going to approach the 2022 NFL Draft. This team had some glaring holes at important positions and the Vikings had to address several of them to make this team competitive in 2022. 

Kwesi started off this draft with something Vikings fans are all too familiar with: trading back. In fact, Kwesi made six trades during the NFL draft to acquire picks and move up for key players. Adding Lewis Cine in the first was a move that I liked, but didn’t love at the time for the Vikings. They didn’t acquire a lot in return from Detroit to move back 20 spots in the first round, and while they ended up with Cine at pick 32, which is good value for that draft spot, the return for the trade was not enough. However, the Vikings then made a move to trade up for Clemson CB Andrew Booth, who was a top 15 player on my board, so this was a fantastic addition for the Vikings. It was clear that the Vikings needed secondary help and the Vikings addressed that early. 

Taking Ed Ingram is a massive question mark for me here. He’s a fine player but comes with two sexual assault allegations, and spending a second round pick on him combined with the other options on the board is a questionable call. Brian Asamoah and Akayleb Evans are both key value additions for the defense who could see heavy snap counts right away. Overall the Vikings had a plan to attack the defensive side of the ball early and often with their draft picks and they hit on the majority of those. However, edge rusher and wide receiver were both needs that I felt needed to be addressed earlier than they were. That combined with the questionable selection of Ingram in the second round and lacking a significant return from Detroit in the first round trade back hinders this grade for Minnesota even if the football players they selected top to bottom are good ones. 

Best Pick: Andrew Booth Jr./CB/Clemson

Head Scratcher: Ed Ingram/IOL/LSU

Overall Grade: B-

Division Draft Rankings

  1. Green Bay Packers (A)
  2. Detroit Lions (B+)
  3. Minnesota Vikings (B-)
  4. Chicago Bears (D+)

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