2016 NFC North Draft Grades


Minnesota Vikings

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Laquon Treadwell-Wide Receiver-Ole Miss

Best Pick: Laquon Treadwell

For the first time since 2010, the Minnesota Vikings entered the National Football League Draft as NFC North Champions. And this time around the Vikings are looking to build off of last year’s success in the hopes of winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl Championship. Teddy Bridgewater is entrenched as the Vikings starting quarterback, but Minnesota has not had a signal caller pass for at least 4,000 yards in a season since Brett Favre in 2009.

Laquon Treadwell

The Vikings were 31st in the National Football League last year in passing offense, and first step to remedying that was using their first-round pick on Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell gives the Vikings a solid option at wide receiver, but he will have to work on his consistency as far as route running, and catches.

Minnesota knows that they’ll once again have to go through the Green Bay Packers in order to win the NFC North which means that they are going to have to find a way to neutralize quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In the second round, the Vikings looked to add another play maker in their secondary when they drafted Clemson Tigers cornerback Mackensie Alexander. In two years at Clemson, Alexander showed solid coverage skills, and he should be able to continue honing those skills as he can learn from veterans in the Vikings secondary such as Terrance Newman and Captain Munnerlyn.

The rest of the National Football League Draft was pretty pedestrian for the Vikings, but they are hopeful that the additions of Treadwell and Alexander can make them a legitimate Super Bowl contender this year.

Green Bay Packers

Grade: B+

First Round Pick: Kenny Clark-Defensive Tackle-UCLA

Best Pick: Round Four-Blake Martinez-Inside Linebacker-Stanford

Under general manager Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers haven’t been known for drafting players that were superstars in college, but more of the variety that fit into their system and this year was no different. The Packers came into the 2016 National Football League Draft knowing that they had a hole to fill on their defensive line after the sudden retirement of nose tackle B.J. Raji.

The Packers would use the 27th overall pick on UCLA Bruins defensive tackle Kenny Clark. At 6’3″, 310 lbs., Clark has solid size to be a nose tackle in the National Football League and the big fella is athletic as he was second on UCLA’s team last season in tackles with 75.

Blake Martinez

But in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft, the Packers found themselves a bargain in Stanford Cardinal inside linebacker Blake Martinez. The last two years have seen Martinez lead the Stanford defense in tackles which included 140 in 2015. Martinez is a very instinctive football player who’s presence should allow Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers to shift Clay Mattews back to outside linebacker where he’ll able to rush the quarterback more frequently.

Detroit Lions

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Taylor Decker-Offensive Tackle-Ohio State

Best Pick: A’Shawn Robinson-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

If you followed the Detroit Lions during the 2015 National Football League season you know that this was a team that struggled in the trenches on both sides of the football which was the area that the team’s new general manager Bob Quinn concentrated on the most during the NFL Draft last month. The Lions used their first-round pick on Ohio State Buckeyes offensive tackle Taylor Decker. Coming into the draft process I viewed Decker as going later in the first round, but there was a run on left tackles that forced the Lions to use the 16th overall pick on him. Decker does come to the Lions as an All-American along with being the Big Ten Conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2015. At 6’7″, 310 lbs., Decker has great size to be a left tackle in the NFL which could be a welcoming sight to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford who has been sacked 89 times over the last two years.

A’Shawn Robinson

Like the offensive line for the Lions, their defensive line was in need of help, and in the second round, Detroit would select Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson. During his time at Alabama, Robinson was a menace to opposing offenses in the Southeastern Conference as all he did was eat up space. Now the Lions are hopeful that Robinson can bring that same production to Motown along with his winning persona.

The third round round would see the Lions keep the trend of the trenches going when they selected Michigan Wolverines center Graham Glasgow, while Washington State Cougars guard Joe Dahl was selected in the fifth round, and Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle Anthony Zettel was their selection as Detroit is hopeful that this is dawn of a new brand of physical football for them.

Chicago Bears

Grade: B

First Round Pick: Leonard Floyd-Outside Linebacker-Georgia

Best Pick: Leonard Floyd

Leonard Floyd

For the first time since 2000, the Chicago Bears are coming off of consecutive last place finished. And like the Detroit Lions in the NFC North, the Bears have to get back to playing a physical brand of football. The Bears were aggressive in the early stages of the National Football League Draft when they made a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move ahead of the New York Giants in order to select Georgia Bulldogs outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with the ninth overall selection. The Bears now find themselves running a 3-4 defensive scheme, and they need that prototypical outside linebacker/defensive end that can rush the passer. At 6’6″, 244 lbs., Floyd has that size along with speed as he is expected to become an impact player for them in 2016.

The Bears used their second round pick on Kansas State Wildcats guard Cody Whitehair as they are looking to sure up their protection of quarterback Jay Cutler. In the third round the Bears picked Florida Gators defensive end Jonathan Bullard. At 6’4″, 283 lbs., Bullard could be a hybrid player, but I see the Bears using him more as a defensive end in their 3-4 system where he could still have a very solid impact for them.


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