The 2019 NFL Draft is in the books, and the four teams in the NFC North believe they are better teams today they were at the beginning of last week, thanks to the new infusion of young talent via this year's draft.
Now that the dust has settled on the draft, let's take a look at who Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay added to their roster and how it might impact the division moving forward:
Draft picks: Rd 3 – RB David Montgomery (Iowa State), Rd 4 – WR Riley Ridley (Georgia), Rd 6 – CB Duke Shelley (Kansas State), Rd 7 – RB Kerrith Whyte (FAU), Rd 7 – CB Stephen Denmark (Valdosta St.)
Most impactful pick: Montgomery has a chance to be an impact player right away for the Bears filling in for Jordan Howard, who the team traded this offseason. Howard wasn't a great fit in Matt Nagy's offense because he didn't offer much in terms of pass-catching ability. In Montgomery, the Bears got a two-time 1,000-yard rusher and a back that caught 58 passes over the last two seasons for the Cyclones.
Sleeper pick: The Bears have a nice stable of receivers in Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel and Cordarrelle Patterson, but Ridley's sure hands and terrific route running could help him make an early impact as a possession receiver and reliable target for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Quotable: "Yeah, there are some similarities, for sure,'' Nagy told the Chicago Sun-Times of Montgomery, when asked about the comparisons to Kareem Hunt, who was the featured back in Nagy's offense in Kansas City.
"The size of them. You see how they run between the tackles. They are physical. They run angry — both of them. But he's going to be his own person. He's going to be David Montgomery, nobody else."
Twentyman: The Bears were bystanders for the first two rounds of the draft, thanks to their blockbuster trade for pass rusher Khalil Mack last offseason. They addressed one of their biggest needs at running back with Montgomery and Whyte. This is a Bears roster, especially on defense, that was pretty well established heading into the draft. Montgomery and Ridley should play early on, and then the hope in Chicago would be they found some diamonds in the rough in their sixth and seventh-round picks.
Draft picks: Rd 1 – C Garrett Bradbury (NC State), Rd 2 – TE Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama), Rd 3 – RB Alexander Mattison (Boise State), Rd 4 – G Dru Samia (Oklahoma), Rd 5 – LB Cameron Smith (USC), Rd 6 – DT Armon Watts (Arkansas), Rd 6 – DB Marcus Epps (Wyoming), Rd 6 – T Olisaemeka Udoh (Elon), Rd 7 – DB Kris Boyd (Texas), Rd 7 – WR Dillon Mitchell (Oregon), Rd 7 – WR Olabisi Johnson (Colorado State), Rd 7 – LS Austin Cutting (Air Force)
Most impactful pick: Minnesota had to come out of this draft with offensive line help. They did that with Bradbury and Samia. Bradbury will probably start Day 1 at center, and Samia should have a shot to compete for one of the starting guard spots.
Sleeper pick: Mattison finished in the top 10 nationally in rushes (302), rushing yards (1,415) and rushing touchdowns (17). He has a chance to play very early in Minnesota as the thunder to Dalvin Cook's lightning.
Quotable: "We need to be better on offense," Vikings GM Rick Spielman told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after the draft. "That's where we needed the help. Our defense, we have, I think every starter back (other than Sheldon Richardson) and signed Shamar (Stephen) back. We kept Anthony Barr, so we don't have a lot of defensive needs from a starter position.
"Offense was kind of a point of emphasis. We were never going to pass up a defensive guy if he's sticking that high on our board, and one of those guys would have fell. We're never going to not take the best player. But as we went down through the draft, I thought it fell very well for us on the players we did get on the offensive side."
Twentyman: I agree with Spielman. Offense was the biggest issue in Minnesota last season, and the reason they were outside the playoff picture. All four of Minnesota's first four picks – Bradbury, Smith Jr., Mattison and Samia – have a chance to be impact players right away as rookies. Smith Jr. is a particularly interesting one to watch for me. He was top three at his position, and Minnesota was able to get him in the second round. They have arguably the top receiving duo in the league in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, so Smith Jr. could find a lot of room to roam in the middle early on.
Go behind the scenes to view photos from the Detroit Lions draft room on Thursday, April 25, 2019.
Draft picks: Rd 1 – DE Rashan Gary (Michigan), Rd 1 – S Darnell Savage Jr. (Maryland), Rd 2 – G/C Elgton Jenkins (Mississippi State), Rd 3 – TE Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M), Rd 5 – DT Kingsley Keke (Texas A&M), Rd 6 – CB Ka'dar Hollman (Toledo), Rd 6 – RB Dexter Williams (Notre Dame), Rd 7 – ILB Ty Summers (TCU)
Most impactful pick: Green Bay was looking to add a speedy and rangy safety coming into the draft, and filled that need with Savage Jr. He ran a 4.36 in the 40 at the Combine, which ranked fourth among all defensive backs in Indy. Savage Jr. will find his way into some defensive packages early on, and could give Josh Jones all he can handle in the competition for the other starting safety spot opposite Adrian Amos.
Sleeper pick: Sternberger is coming into a good situation with veterans Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis on the roster. That's a lot of years of experience for Sternberger to learn from. He averaged 17.3 yards per reception last season for the Aggies with 10 touchdowns, so he's shown the ability to stretch the field and make plays.
Quotable: "I thought we had to get a lot more pieces for (defensive coordinator Mike Pettine) to move around," Packers GM Brian Gutekunst told the Green Bay Press-Gazette of the additions they made on defense. "They're going to have to come together, and there's a lot of timing involved in it and different kinds of things. But I feel much better now than I did previously."
Twentyman: This was a draft to address depth in Green Bay, and I thought they did a nice job of that. Gary will join the pass rushing rotation, and Savage Jr., Sternberger and Kingsley also have a shot for rotational playing time. This was a roster that made some impactful signings in free agency and needed to follow that up with an infusion of youth and depth via the draft. Gutekunst looks to have accomplished that.
Draft picks: Rd 1 – TE T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), Rd 2 – LB Jahlani Tavai (Hawaii), Rd 3 – DB Will Harris (Boston College), Rd 4 – DE Austin Bryant (Clemson), Rd 5 – CB Amani Oruwariye (Penn State), Rd. 6 WR Travis Fulgham (Old Dominion), Rd 6 – RB Ty Johnson (Maryland), Rd 7 – TE Isaac Nauta (Georgia), Rd 7 – DT P.J. Johnson (Arizona)
Most impactful pick: The Lions likely want to run 12 personnel (two tight-end sets), and they needed a versatile tight end to join veteran Jesse James to make that a reality. Hockenson plays the pass and run equally well, which is vitally important to be an effective 12 personnel offense.
Sleeper pick: It will be interesting to see how the Lions utilize Harris and his speed, but a wild card for me is the cornerback Oruwariye. He has terrific length and speed, and the Lions have an opening at outside cornerback opposite Darius Slay. Oruwariye has some areas in his game that need improving, it's why he was a fifth-round pick, but all the physical traits are there in terms of what the Lions like on the outside at cornerback.
Quotable: "Bigger is better, right? Bigger, longer, if they're athletic enough, that's what you want to build," Lions general manager Bob Quinn said of the players he added on defense. "There's a few guys at certain positions that really matter in our defense, and you guys have been studying the kind of players we've picked here the last year-and-a-half.
"So, that kind of goes into the equation of how you do the evaluation process. Now, it's not every guy checks that box, but you try to take into account the speed, the size, the athleticism compared to the size, look at the testing numbers, you look at the film, look at Senior Bowl, one-on-one (interviews), all those things. You kind of just come to a consensus."
Twentyman: Size, speed, character and adding players that were football guys first was a big theme for the Lions in this draft. They got faster at some spots they needed to get faster at, and added depth at spots they needed to add depth, tight end in particular. Another big theme to this draft for Detroit is versatility -- players that can play multiple positions and help in different ways.