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The NFC North Draft Winner Is. . .

The NFL draft brings new faces and new hope to every NFL franchise.  The draft is the gateway for these young athletes to achieve their dream of competing for a spot on an NFL roster.  This year’s draft came with a lot of depth and a lot of excitement.  The NFC North is a lot closer in talent than most realize and this years draft can prove to be the deciding factor in one of these four teams pulling away from the bunch.  When trying to figure out which of these four teams “won” this year’s draft, one must see if needs were fulfilled, if the players drafted “fit” the teams who chose them and if the potential talent was worth the value of the pick.


We’ll start with the team who had the earliest pick of the bunch, the Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings selected Anthony Barr, linebacker out of UCLA with the ninth overall pick.  Barr comes in as a great athlete with a lot of potential and can help with the pass rush but can he foster his athletic ability into grasping zone coverage?  He is somewhat of a project with a big upside if things turn out right. The Vikings “big” play was trading back into the first round and drafting Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  A year ago at this time, folks were assuming teams would “tank for Teddy” but after a season against lowly competition, no flash and a bad pro day – questions started pouring in.  Personally, I don’t see Teddy being a “franchise quarterback,” although maybe being mentored by Norv Turner he can at least be serviceable.   In the 7th round the Vikes plucked out an athletic linebacker from Georgia Tech, Brandon Watts.  Watts shows a lot of speed at the position and has the ability to play outside or middle linebacker – wouldn’t be surprised to see Watts emerge as an every day starter one day.

The Detroit Lions, made the biggest head scratching move by drafting tight end Eric Ebron with the tenth overall pick.  Ebron drops too many passes for my liking but in today’s NFL people love the size/speed combo that can be attained at the tight end position. Expectations are high on Ebron early, but just how many offensive draft picks will fizzle out with Stafford under center?  Check the history it’s all there. I would’ve thought with this pick they would’ve worked on their secondary to help compliment their front line.  Even with their second pick, they still didn’t address the secondary when selecting BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy.  Noy is yet another person on this roster who can rush the passer.  Detroit opted to bulk up on something they were already strong on, instead of developing a weakness. Detroit continues to make moves to either stunt or hurt their own growth.


The Chicago Bears had a chance to really capitalize in this years draft to make themselves the early favorite for this division considering they already made signings in free agency to help bolster their defensive line and last season had the NFL’s second highest scoring offense. With the 14th overall pick, it seemed as if Alabama safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix would just fall into Chicago’s lap perfectly, providing a void needing to be filled at the safety position.  Instead they opted to go for cornerback Kyle Fuller out of Virginia Tech.  Fuller seems to have most “mock draft experts” split.  People have him ranked as their first corner or their third, for the most part.  The Bears continued to add depth to the defensive line by adding Ego Ferguson of LSU and Will Sutton of Arizona State. Ego requires a learning curve to develop up to his potential while Will Sutton might be the wildcard for the Bears.  Sutton’s motor and character are questioned but he might have the most natural talent of the players the Bears selected this season. The Bears finally went and drafted a safety in Minnesota’s Brock Vereen.  Vereen doesn’t close in on gaps too quickly but has an NFL bloodline going for him, being younger brother of Patriots running back Shane Vereen.

The Green Bay Packers entered the draft as the current title holders of the NFC North.  The Green Bay Packers capitalized where their rivals from Chicago failed by using their first round pick on safety Ha-Ha Clinton-DIx.  The Alabama safety provides Green Bay with a day one starter at a position of need.  The Packers also looked at their depth chart and offered quarterback Aaron Rodgers more options at the wideout position by attaining the services of Wisonsin’s Jared Abbrederis and Fresno State’s Davante Adams. Adams offers the flash and big play ability while Abbrederis offers the sure hands and “dirty work” route running. The Packers seemingly drafted their new starting center in the 5th round with Ohio State’s Corey Linsley who has been on the Buckeye’s starting O-Line for the last two years.


In terms of value, fit and need – the Green Bay Packers seem to come away as the team out of the NFC North who “won” this year’s draft.  Of course it pains me to say that as a Bears fan – but in the end, these games are not won on paper – it’s all about how these kids come to perform at the start of this season.


G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


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