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NFC North 2018 NFL Draft Grades: Packers Close The Gap On Vikings

2018 NFL Draft
Roquan Smith is one of the safest picks in the entire 2018 NFL Draft (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)

The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books and it’s time to judge how each team fared. We now move on to the NFC North where it’s time to grade the division. The Vikings might have the best pure roster in the sport and didn’t really need much help, to begin with. The Packers roster is far behind but Aaron Rodgers always puts them in striking distance. Then there’s the Bears and Lions who seem miles away from competing for a division crown. Where does the NFC North stand after the 2018 NFL Draft?

Chicago Bears: Draft Grade A-

  • Round 1, Pick 8 (No. 8 overall): Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
  • Round 2, Pick 7 (No. 39 overall): James Daniels, C, Iowa
  • Round 2, Pick 19 (No. 51 overall, via Patriots): Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
  • Round 4, Pick 15 (No. 115 overall): Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
  • Round 5, Pick 8 (No. 145 overall): Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware
  • Round 6, Pick 6 (No. 181 overall): Kylie Fits, LB, Utah
  • Round 7, Pick 6 (No. 224 overall): Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

There are no more excuses for Mr. Trubisky now after what was a killer draft. Not that any of this will matter because they picked Trubisky over Deshaun Watson but at least the roster is coming together. Roquan Smith was one of my 3 can’t miss guys. Smith is a dominant linebacker with the upside to be better than Deion Jones. Smith has range, speed, cover skills, and leadership that makes this pick a home run.

To grab James Daniels in the second round is another steal. You can’t go wrong with Big 10 offensive lineman. You also have to love grabbing a center who can improve the rest of his teammates across the line. I’m still blown away from what I saw at the Combine from the Iowa product. Daniels is a stud and Chicago quietly has a very good offensive line. The rest of the picks are what give it the A-.

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Giving away a 2019 2nd round pick was crazy thinking if Anthony Miller turns out to just be an okay slot receiver. The potential for Miller is there as a good route runner and hands catcher. If Miller pans out then the trade is fin. The rest of the picks did little to impress. Don’t act like you know who the Western Kentucky guy is. Nichols could be a rotational defensive lineman. This draft was just missing picks because you know, that horrible Trubisky move up.

Detroit Lions: Draft Grade C+

  • Round 1, Pick 20 (No. 20 overall): Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
  • Round 2, Pick 11 (No. 43 overall, via Patriots): Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
  • Round 3, Pick 18 (No. 82 overall): Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Round 4, Pick 14 (No. 114 overall): Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama
  • Round 5, Pick 16 (No. 153 overall): Tyrell Crosby, T, Oregon
  • Round 7, Pick 19 (No. 237 overall): Nick Bawden, FB, San Diego State

Do I like the Frank Ragnow pick? Yes, but this is a center in the top 20. He better be a world beater. Ragnow did perform at Arkansas and is just a really good football player. The pure tools won’t wow you but he gets the job done on a consistent basis. Ragnow was an analytical darling this year where the numbers actually said he was on par with Quenton Nelson. If he is a pro bowl center, no one will argue with the pick.

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I’ll break the rest down in a simple fashion. The picks I liked were Da’Shawn Hand and Tyrell Crosby. The pick I really didn’t like was Kerryon Johnson. Hand was the number one high school recruit in his class but never lived up to the hype at Alabama. The flash plays were there on occasion and is worth taking the gamble on. Crosby might have been the best pure left tackle in the entire draft. I’m not sure how Crosby lasted into the 5th round besides the fact that he won’t ever run a great 40 time. He stonewalled people at the Senior Bowl and really excelled in pass blocking. We also know what he can do in the run game clearing pathways for Royce Freeman. However, the Kerryon Johnson pick was a stunner. I’m not sure he is even the best runner on his college team. Johnson wasn’t elusive or very quick but had an odd running style that I’m not sure works in the NFL. The Lions haven’t had much success finding a running back in recent years either so I’m not trusting that they got this one right.

2018 NFL Draft
Jaire Alexander hopes to fix the Packers secondary (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

Green Bay Packers: Draft Grade A

  • Round 1, Pick 18 (No. 18 overall) [via Seattle]: Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
  • Round 2, Pick 13 (No. 45 overall): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
  • Round 3, Pick 24 (No. 88 overall) [Via Carolina]: Oren Burks, OLB, Vanderbilt
  • Round 4, Pick 33 (No. 133 overall): J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri
  • Round 5, Pick 1 (No. 138 overall): Cole Madison, G, Washington State
  • Round 5, Pick 35 (No. 172 overall): JK Scott, P, Alabama
  • Round 5, Pick 37 (No. 174 overall): Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, South Florida
  • Round 6, Pick 33 (No. 207 overall): Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
  • Round 7, Pick 14 (No. 232 overall): James Looney, DE, California
  • Round 7, Pick 21 (No. 239 overall): Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi State
  • Round 7, Pick 30 (No. 248 overall) [via Seattle]: Kendall Donnerson, LB, Southeast Missouri State 

New general manager Brian Gutekunst knows what he’s doing. First, the swirving he did in the first round was beyond impressive. The Packers started at 13 and moved down to 26 with the Saints to pick up a 2019 first round pick. They then moved back up for Jaire Alexander at 18. To wind up with this many picks and collect a future first rounder is a huge win. Alexander, by the way, just might be the best corner in the draft. Good size, speed, and quickness make Alexander a worthwhile pick. Doubling up with Josh Jackson makes the Packers draft really good. Defensively, this was their big weakness. Now you get two solid rookie corner who has great size to pair with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? Sign me up for this.

Philadelphia Eagles Came Close To Dealing For Brandin Cooks This Past Offseason

The multitude of picks also gives the Packers some wiggle room. Green Bay already has too many receivers and they just added two more good ones with J’Mon Moore and St. Brown. Cole Madison is a productive guard. How about even JK Scott? This dude has a serious leg that will help the little things like field position. Green Bay is really closing the gap with a solid draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Draft Grade C-

  • Round 1, Pick 30 (No. 30 overall): Mike Hughes, DB, UCF
  • Round 2, Pick 30 (No. 62 overall): Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
  • Round 4, Pick 2 (No. 102 overall): Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio State
  • Round 5, Pick 20 (No. 157 overall): Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
  • Round 5, Pick 30 (No. 167 overall): Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn
  • Round 6, Pick 39 (No. 213 overall): Colby Gossett, G, Appalachian State
  • Round 6, Pick 44 (No. 218 overall): Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane
  • Round 7, Pick 7 (No. 225 overall) Devante Downs, LB, California

I’ve been a big fan of what Mike Zimmer has been building through the draft loving his picks for the past few years. This year I am not nearly as blown away. Mike Hughes is a talented corner but has some off the field issues. I trust Zimmer on this one but it’s no lock of a pick in the first round.

Then he goes with two horrendous picks with Brian O’Neill and Jalyn Holmes. If you can’t play in the Senior Bowl, you will not make it in the NFL. O’Neill really has no shot because he can’t block anyone. I’m not kidding, watch the clips! Holmes is just really raw and all over the place. Zimmer has done this before though with Danielle Hunter so maybe Holmes can pan out.

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At the end of the day when you pick this late in the draft it’s really hard to come out of it with elite talent. Conklin could contribute as a receiving tight end and former basketball player. Gossett may be good enough to start at guard. The best pick of all may have been Daniel Carlson who is sure to make a few 50-yard shots in the purple stadium over there.

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