The NFL Draft concluded over the weekend in Chicago, and with teams all over the league drafting new players for their rosters, there have been plenty of changes to evaluate as the season draws ever closer.
To put things in perspective, we have a quick look around the NFC North division to see which teams improved their 2015 chances, and which teams still have work to do before the new campaign begins.
Best Pick: Hroniss Grasu, C Oregon
Questionable Pick: Jeremy Langford, RB Michigan State
The Bears had one of the best drafts in the eyes of NFL experts, and there is plenty to be optimistic about. Kevin White could be a potential star at wide receiver, and the Bears may have secured starters with four of their first five picks, depending on how safety Adrian Amos comes along in training camp.
The only real question mark of the bunch is Langford. He has plenty of upside to be sure, but with limited experience at running back and the fact that Jay Ajayi was available when the Bears selected the Michigan State product, one can question whether Ryan Pace made the right call here.
Best Pick: Gabe Wright, DT Auburn
Questionable Pick: Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska
The Lions had some big gaps to fill on their defense with the departures of N’Damukong Suh and Nick Fairley this offseason, and they did just that as they grabbed Wright in the fourth round. He could be an explosive talent at the tackle position, and he was a great value with that selection.
The Lions also did really well on a couple of other picks too. The Laken Tomlinson selection in the first round really locks down their offensive line as well, and Matthew Stafford should be pleased with that pick. Adding Quandre Diggs and Alex Carter at the corner positions should give the Lions’ secondary a much-needed boost as well.
The one pick we really didn’t like was the Abdullah pick. He is a really quick runner, but he’s fumble prone and may not be the type of all-around pick that a second round selection should be. We could easily be wrong (after all, judging a pick just after the draft could be considered a futile exercise), but it was a bit of a questionable pick regardless.
Green Bay Packers
Best Pick: Brett Hundley, QB UCLA
Questionable Pick: Aaron Ripkowski, FB Oklahoma
The Packers started out the draft with an interesting selection, as they went with a safety for the second first round in a row as they took Damarious Randall out of Arizona State. Their draft board continued that trend with the Rollins pick in the second round, and then things got downright fascinating as they took Will Montgomery in the third round.
That pick, along with the Hundley pick in the fifth round, were arguably their two best. Adding a quality receiver like Montgomery is a smart move for an offense as talented as Green Bay’s is, and adding a quarterback who needs development and time to grow like Hundley is a masterstroke by the Packers. Best case scenario is that he becomes a huge trade chip in coming years. Worst case is that he is forced into action with an Aaron Rodgers injury.
We are genuinely curious what Ripkowski will bring to the fullback position for the Packers. They already have John Kuhn there, and in an era where teams are starting to increasingly move away from fullbacks, the Packers carrying two is certainly an interesting development.
Best Pick: T.J. Clemmings, OT Pittsburgh
Questionable Pick: Danielle Hunter, DE LSU
The Vikings have a couple of players that will legitimately be looked at as steals in coming years, with Clemmings headlining the list in the fourth round. He is a bonafide star in the making at tackle, and his athleticism and smart play far outweigh injury concerns in our eyes.
Another one to keep an eye on is inside linebacker Eric Kendricks. While we weren’t enamored with him because of his smaller stature, getting him the second round and putting him next to Anthony Barr in the Vikings’ front seven seems to be a really smart selection. His intelligence on the field only adds to the benefits he gives to that defense.
We are a little curious about how Hunter is going to develop in the NFL. The physical abilities are all there, but he’s far from a finished product. Could he become a really good player? Absolutely, but it’s far from a sure thing, and a definite roll of the dice by the Vikings.