The four teams in the NFC North made improvements to their football teams via last weekend’s NFL Draft.
Rookie players will be hitting the field in Detroit, Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago very soon for rookie minicamp, and then they’ll join the veterans for OTAs.
Let’s take a look at the newest faces around the NFC North:
|1||30||Mike Hughes||CB||Central Florida|
|4||102||Jalyn Holmes||DE||Ohio State|
|5||157||Tyler Conklin||TE||Central Michigan|
|6||213||Colby Gossett||G||Appalachian State|
Best pick: Mike Hughes has a chance to be a pretty good player in time. The Vikings have had good success over the years drafting cornerbacks in the first round – Xavier Rhodes (2013) and Trae Waynes (2015).
Hughes doesn’t have to step in and play right away given Minnesota’s talent on defense, but when Hughes does get in there, possibly in the slot early on, he’ll bring a physical presence to the secondary. Expect an immediate impact from him in the return game, however. Hughes averaged 31.8 yards per kickoff return (fourth best in the FBS), and had two kickoff return touchdowns last season.
Good under-the-radar pick: The Philadelphia Eagles utilized their tight ends in the passing game a ton on the way to a Super Bowl title last season. With John DeFilippo as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator (he was the Eagles’ QB coach last season), expect him to utilize multiple tight end sets. That could give a player like Tyler Conklin a chance to make an early impact as a fifth-round pick.
Twentyman's take: The Vikings are in a position roster-wise where they can look for the right athletic traits in prospects and build depth, especially on defense, because they don't have a ton of needs. O’Neill has a chance to start early at right tackle, but Hughes and Holmes are probably talented sub-package players early that just continue to add to Minnesota’s depth on defense.
|7||237||Nick Bawden||FB||San Diego St.|
Best pick: General manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia wanted a tougher and more physical football team, and they appear to have accomplished that along the interior of their offensive line with the selection of Ragnow, who's a technician inside with a mean streak.
That’s a good combination to have at either center or guard, especially when the Lions want to be better running the football. Ragnow completes an offensive line group in Detroit that’s expected to be much better this year given they stay healthy.
Good under-the-radar pick: A lot of Lions fans might not have known who Tracy Walker was before Friday night, but they could realize what he can bring to the table sooner rather than later. Walker gives a defense a lot of position versatility with his ability to line up in different spots in sub-packages. He could see some early work in the slot or covering tight ends.
Twentyman's take: It’s pretty clear from this draft that Quinn and Patricia value toughness and position versatility. Ragnow, Walker, Hand and even Crosby can play multiple positions. They all have a physical element to their games as well. I'd add Johnson to that list in terms of toughness. The Lions got tougher and more physical via this draft.
|green bay packers|
|5||138||Cole Madison||G||Washington State|
|5||174||Marquez Valdes-Scantling||WR||South Florida|
|6||207||Equanimeous St. Brown||WR||Notre Dame|
|7||239||Hunter Bradley||LS||Mississippi State|
|7||248||Kendall Donnerson||LB||Southeast Missouri State|
Best pick: No NFL team has taken more defensive backs in the first two rounds of the past five drafts than the Packers. The Packers finished 23rd in pass defense last year. Green Bay is hoping Alexander can come in opposite Kevin King – their top draft pick at corner last year – and give them some consistency in their back end. Alexander can fly (4.38 in the 40), and he isn’t afraid to mix it up.
Good under-the-radar pick: Burks began his career at Vanderbilt as a safety, moved to a hybrid linebacker role, and then played linebacker exclusively. His explosiveness was off the charts at the combine (39.5 vertical and 131.0 broad). He’ll play inside linebacker for the Packers with the ability to be a three-down player given his experience defending the pass game as a safety.
Twentyman's take: Defense, defense, defense. That was obviously an area the Packers wanted to bolster, and they spent their first three picks on that side of the ball. New GM Brian Gutekunst showed that he’s not afraid to try and fix a position of need (CB) with back-to-back picks early. The Packers have had a revolving door at cornerback over the years. The hope should be that King, Alexander and maybe even Jackson solidify that unit for years to come.
|4||115||Joel Iyiegbuniwe||LB||Western Kentucky|
Best pick: Smith is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and gives the Bears a rangy playmaker at the second level of their defense. He is expected to be a Day 1 starter, and is an immediate upgrade to the Bears’ linebacking corps. That was a terrific pick for the Bears and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Good under-the-radar pick: Miller looks like he can be a decent addition to a Chicago wide receiver corps that’s been revamped this offseason with the additions of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel via free agency. Miller (5-11, 201) had 191 catches, 2,896 receiving yards and 32 touchdown catches over the past two seasons.
Twentyman's take: This was a draft that really addressed some needs in Chicago. They had to add a playmaker on defense, the final piece to their offensive line (James Daniels) and continue to give weapons to second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. I thought Chicago had a nice draft.