NFC North 2020 NFL Draft Grades

NFC North Draft Grades
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As the first ever NFL virtual draft has come and gone, the quarantine provided fans a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes. From the heartwarming reactions to seeing coaches draft set up, it had everything. And for the teams of the NFC North, it was full of surprises. Let’s take a look at which NFC North teams came away with the best draft grades as each team looks to the playoffs in 2020…

Divisional Draft Grades: AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC WestNFC EastNFC SouthNFC West

NFC North 2020 NFL Draft Grades

Chicago Bears: C

Player Added: TE Cole Kmet, CB Jaylon Johnson, DE Trevis Gipson, CB Kindle Vildor, WR Darnell Mooney, OG Arlington Hambright, OG Lachavious Simmons

After a disappointing season and being cap-strapped this off-season, the Chicago Bears needed to capitalize on their draft capital. So, with their first pick, they select… a tight end. The Bears now have ten tight ends on the roster, so it is not exactly a need. However, Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet is a great player. He likely will compete and eventually take the starting job from veteran Jimmy Graham, but he will contribute right away. A well-rounded player, Kmet is an improving blocker and great receiver for head coach Matt Nagy’s offense.

Seven picks later the Bears finally take care of one of their biggest needs in taking corner Jaylon Johnson from Utah. A boundary corner, he plays with quick feet and fantastic awareness. He will need to play more consistent football, but he has the talent to keep up with the division’s top receivers. With the departure of Prince Amukamara, Johnson could establish himself as a day one starter.

After two second-round picks, the Bears wait until the fifth round until picking again. Chicago’s first of three selections in the round, the Bears took Trevis Gipson from Tulsa. With the team’s pass-rushing issues, Gipson brings a developmental defensive end with size and speed. A few picks later, the Bears double down in their secondary with Georga Southern’s Kindle Vildor. He has insane ball skills and can become a turnover machine from the nickel corner spot for Chicago. That is once he adjusts to the NFL which could take more than a season to do. Closing out their fifth-round run is receiver Darnell Mooney. The Tulane speedster needs to add size to his frame to take on the physicality of the NFL but has the speed and elusiveness to be a situational playmaker.

Lastly, the Bears close out their class with back-to-back versatile offensive lineman with Arlington Hambright (Colorado) and Lachavious Simmons (Tennessee State). The Bears offensive line should have been a bigger priority this off-season for the Bears, as both these players will compete for roster spots. 

Detroit Lions: A-

Players Added: CB Jeff Okudah, RB D’Andre Swift, EDGE Julian Okwara, OG Jonah Jackson, OG Logan Stenberg, WR Quintez Cephus, RB Jason Huntley, DT John Penisini, DT Jashon Cornell

After rumors swirled about the Detroit Lions trading out of third overall, they decided to keep the pick. Selecting cornerback Jeff Okudah from Ohio State, the Lions get the best corner prospect in the draft. In head coach Matt Patricia’s defense, he needs a lockdown corner who can be relied on in man or press coverage. Okudah gives him just that and replaces the recently traded Darius Slay in the role.

It has been years since Detroit has had an effective run game, and clearly they want to fix that. Joining Kerryon Johnson in the backfield is the elusive former Georgia Bulldog D’Andre Swift. A fantastic receiver out of the backfield, he creates a deadly duo with Johnson. A do it all back, Swift is going to help give quarterback Matthew Stafford a stable run game for the first time in his career.

In the third round, the Lions take Notre Dame EDGE Julian Okwara, who will join his brother Romeo Okwara along the Detroit front. A tall, lanky defender, Julian has flashed a ton of explosives off the edge and versatility – with Patricia loves. He will need to add significant bulk to his 6’4” frame to become more than a situational rusher, as he also struggles against the run.

From there, the Lions prioritized the offensive line with guards Jonah Jackson (Ohio State) and Logan Stenberg (Kentucky). The Lions lacked depth and talent up front, which played a huge role in why they had the third overall pick. Jackson brings a great pass blocker who has versatility but struggles in the run game. Stenberg, on the other hand, is a nasty lineman who wants to attack defenders. He does not have the best build, but he is a smart player who has effective fundamentals to get the job done. 

The Lions continued to add weapons around Stafford in receiver Quintez Cephus from Nebraska and New Mexico State running back Jason Huntley. Cephus is not a crazy athlete as he wins with his 6’1” and 202lbs frame. His toughness makes him a quality possession receiver who should see playtime early. Huntley brings a speedster out of the backfield who will be a change of pace from Johnson and Swift. To conclude their draft, the Lions finally invest in the defensive line with defensive tackles John Penisini (Utah) and Jashon Cornell (Ohio State). Penisini will provide a quality run-stuffer while Cornell competes for a roster spot along a Lions defensive line that must improve against the run.

Green Bay Packers: D+

Players Added: QB Jordan Love, RB AJ Dillon, TE Josiah Deguara, LB Kamal Martin, OG Jon Runyan Jr., C Jake Hanson, OT Simon Stepaniak, S Vernon Scott, EDGE Jonathan Garvin

To say the Green Bay Packers draft did not go as fans expected would be an understatement. As quarterback Aaron Rodgers enters his age 37 season, many anticipated Green Bay to load up on weapons around him. Instead, they did what they did Brett Favre, draft his replacement to groom years in advance. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love has arguably the best arm in the draft, but decision making is a major issue. In the long-term, it could be a smart move. For now, it does not change the fact it is a big gamble, and the Packers waste a prime opportunity in a loaded receiver class to add one for Rodgers.

With their next two picks, the Packers add offensive players, just not receivers. Green Bay looks long term with Aaron Jones’ contract up at the end of the season, taking Boston College power back AJ Dillon. A downhill runner at 6’0” and 250lbs, Dillon fits the Packers run game perfectly, but with Jones and Jamaal Williams already there, he is the teams’ third option. Then in round 3, the Packers give Rodgers a new tight end in Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara. He is not the biggest tight end, as he wins through route running and catching the football. A true athlete, Deguara is a crafty player, as he could be used in the fullback/H-back role.

The Packers needed a linebacker badly, and in the fifth round, they finally take care of a need. Minnesota’s Kamal Martin is best fit for a special teams role early in his career, yet for Green Bay he will likely see significant snaps early. His speed and tackling do not make up for his poor anticipation and stiff movement. 

Three of their final five picks were along the offensive line. Michigan’s Joe Runyan Jr. is a smart football player who will transition to guard for the Packers. Part of a reliable Oregon offensive line, center Jake Hanson is a tough player who needs to add muscle to his frame. Indiana tackle Simon Stepaniak is a strong player who can play guard or tackle. Green Bay also took playmaking TCU safety Vernon Scott and Miami edge rusher Jonathan Garvin – both who should add solid depth. 

Minnesota Vikings: A

Players Added: WR Justin Jefferson, CB Jeff Gladney, OT Ezra Cleveland, CB Cameron Dantzler, EDGE DJ Wonnum, DE James Lynch, LB Troy Dye, CB Harrison Hand, WR KJ Osborn, OG Blake Brandel, S Josh Metellus, DE Kenny Willekes, QB Nate Stanley, S Brian Cole II, OG Kyle Hinton

The Minnesota Vikings made an insane 15 selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. Day 1 was an absolute dream. Having traded the disgruntled Stefon Diggs, they find his replacement in LSU receiver Justin Jefferson. With reliable hands and great size, Jefferson will make a great running mate opposite of Adam Thielen. On defense, the Vikings took TCU corner Jeff Gladney who is a tough, athletic likely day one starter.

Day two came and went with two more selections for Minnesota. The first was Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland, who had generated first-round buzz prior to the draft. Athleticism is his biggest plus, as he will need to work on the inconsistencies in his game, but is a future starter. In the third round came Mississippi State cornerback Cameron Dantzler. A tall, lanky, and physical corner, Dantzler fell to the third round due to a poor combine showing. Ultimately, Dantzler is a guy with good ball skills and instincts that can make an early impact in the Vikings secondary.

This brings us to the 11 picks made on day three. The Vikings took care of every need, from linebacker to defensive lineman, to even a quarterback. On defense, first came South Carolina edge rusher DJ Wonnum, who is a developmental prospect with a high motor. Baylor’s James Lynch can lineup anywhere along the defensive line. He has a knack for getting into the backfield and causing havoc in the backfield. Troy Dye from Oregon is a glorified box safety, with great athleticism and special teams ability. The Vikings were not done taking care of the cornerback position. In need of depth, they snagged Temple corner Harrison Hand, who never gives up on a play and has good size, except he often plays very stiff. 

Later on, the Vikings took Michigan safety Josh Metellus. The former Wolverine is a playmaker who has solid ball skills and good play recognition. After Metellus, the Vikings took his former college rival in Michigan State’ Kenny Willekes. A productive edge defender in college, Willekes has a high motor but slid due to below-average athleticism. Then came the final defender taken by Minnesota in Mississippi State safety Brian Cole II. Another depth piece, Cole II has the size to be used as a box safety. 

As for the offensive side of the ball, the Vikings did some damage there too. Miami receiver KJ Osborn provides good depth as a reliable target who is a very good special team player. They added depth along the interior of the offensive line in Oregon State’s Blake Brandel and Washburn’s Kyle Hinton. Not to mention, the Vikings took a chance on long time Iowa starting quarterback Nate Stanley. With 68 touchdowns through 44 games for the Hawkeyes, Stanley should compete with Jake Browning and Sean Mannion in the backup and third-string role.

Divisional Draft Grades: AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthNFC EastNFC South

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