Apart from the Packers, the NFC North was not very good last year, with the other three teams all registering losing records. In fact, they all pretty much took a step back from 2020 although this was not fully reflected in the 2022 draft due to previous trades.
2021 Finishing positions
Green Bay Packers 13-4
Minnesota Vikings 8-9
Chicago Bears 6-11
Detroit Lions 3-13-1
Green Bay has won the division by 5 games in both of the last two seasons but has the draft helped the chasing pack close the gap? Here are our thoughts…
Washington CB Kyler Gordon (No. 39 overall)
Penn State S Jaquan Brisker (No. 48 overall)
Tennessee WR Velus Jones (No. 71 overall)
Southern Utah OT Braxton Jones (No. 168 overall)
Miami (Ohio) Edge Dominique Robinson (No. 174 overall)
San Diego State OG Zach Thomas (No. 186 overall)
Baylor RB Trestan Ebner (No. 203 overall)
Illinois C Doug Kramer (No. 207 overall)
Southern OG Ja’Tyre Carter (No. 226 overall)
California DB Elijah Hicks (No. 254 overall)
N.C. State P Trenton Gill (No. 255 overall)
The Bears didn’t have a first-rounder this year but did have three in the top 71 and they made pretty good use of these picks. Both Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker are likely starters and will add a bit of steel to what was a subpar secondary in 2021.
Velus Jones was super quick at the combine but will be 25 in his rookie season which means he will have to shape up fast. This is a gamble as he didn’t look NFL ready to us in the Volunteers games we watched last year. Zach Thomas can play both Guard & Right Tackle at a push so he has a chance to see some game time and they doubled down on the position, adding Ja’Tyre Carter late on.
However, their best pick might turn out to be Trestan Ebner who should fit into the Running back rotation and could become a dangerous return man. Check out some of his highlights below…
Overall Grade A-
Chicago did a good job with their 11 picks, filling needs with the first two and then adding depth and prospects. If (and it’s a big if) Justin Fields takes the next step, this draft might just put them on the playoff fringes.
Michigan Edge Aidan Hutchinson (No. 2 overall)
Alabama WR Jameson Williams (No. 12 overall)
Kentucky DT Joshua Paschal (No. 46 overall)
Illinois S Kerby Joseph (No. 97 overall)
Virginia Tech TE James Mitchell (No. 177 overall)
Oklahoma State LB Malcolm Rodriguez (No. 188 overall)
Jackson State Edge James Houston (No. 217 overall)
Arizona State CB Chase Lucas (No. 237 overall)
The Lions needed to get better defensively, and they pulled it off by adding three nice pieces with their opening four picks. Hutchinson will give them some much-needed pass rush, while second-team All-SEC Josh Paschal has the potential to become an unsung hero on the D-Line. He has gotten better every year and may prove to be a bit of a bargain at pick 46. Safety Kerby Joseph had an impressive 2021 with 5v interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries. He will act as cover for Deshaun Elliot who the Lions picked up from Baltimore.
They gave up a lot to move up for Jameson Williams, and questions remain as to whether he is fully recovered from his ACL tear. They didn’t really give Jared Goff a fair shot last year given their threadbare receiving corp and picking a player with injury flags was a gamble. Let’s hope it pays off because a fully fit Williams was a joy to watch!
Overall Grade A
We think the Lions did a great job drafting for need. They still lack depth but if they stay healthy then they might surprise a few people!
Green Bay Packers
Georgia LB Quay Walker (No. 22 overall)
Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt (No. 28 overall)
North Dakota State WR Christian Watson (No. 34 overall)
UCLA OT Sean Rhyan (No. 92 overall)
Nevada WR Romeo Doubs (No. 132 overall)
Wake Forest OT Zach Tom (No. 140 overall)
South Carolina LB Kingsley Enagbare (No. 179 overall)
Georgia Tech LB Tariq Carpenter (No. 228 overall)
Miami DT Jonathan Ford (No. 234 overall)
Penn State OT Rasheed Walker (No. 249 overall)
Nebraska WR Samori Toure (No. 258 overall)
With Davante Adams off for pastures new, the wise money was on Green Bay finally drafting a Wide Receiver in round one. As it turned out despite having two first-rounders they waited until round two to pounce and then it was for a player who plied his trade in the FCS.
The knee jerk reaction would be to assume this was bad. However, by allowing the draft to come to them (well in round one anyway) they were able to add two key parts of Georgia’s National Championship winning defense. Nabbing Walker & Wyatt may not be what Aaron Rodgers wanted to see but they were amongst the best available at their positions and will be contributors from day one.
They addressed the bare WR cupboard early in day two trading up to grab Christian Watson and also added Romeo Doubs in the 4th. Both are big guys and Watson’s stats were affected by the fact that the Bison were largely a run-first team. Samori Toure adds a bit of depth and should figure in situational plays.
They added more depth in the trenches adding three OTs and a second DT in Jonathan Ford, although we are not sure he will see much action in 2022.
Overall Grade A
Losing two of their best receivers in Adams & Valdes-Scantling would normally be a big blow to a team, however, with Rodgers under centre, it’s a blow that can be absorbed. Not overpaying for a wideout is largely why this draft worked and they should be better on the defensive side of the ball. They remain the team to beat.
Georgia S Lewis Cine (No. 32 overall)
Clemson CB Andrew Booth (No. 42 overall)
LSU OG Ed Ingram (No. 59 overall)
Oklahoma LB Brian Asamoah (No. 66 overall)
Missouri CB Akayleb Evans (No. 118 overall)
Minnesota DE Esezi Otomewo (No. 165 overall)
North Carolina RB Ty Chandler (No. 169 overall)
Illinois OT Vederian Lowe (No. 184 overall)
Michigan State WR Jalen Nailor (No. 191 overall)
South Carolina TE Nick Muse (No. 227 overall)
The Vikings did a nice job, initially trading down with Detroit and then using one of the picks received to add more via Green Bay. Despite moving down they ended up grabbing two probable starters in their secondary. We expected the Vikings to go secondary in our mock and they filled positions of greatest need with Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth. Both could easily have gone higher and they added a bit of extra cover with Akayleb Evans.
Ed Ingram was a four year started at LSU and although not likely to start from week one will provide cover at guard and he can play either side which is a bonus.
Overall Grade A
The Vikings got a nice haul and should be improved defensively in 2022. They got good value from their trades, however, the rest of the division drafted well too so this probably doesn’t change the balance of power much.