NFC North: Teams Improved Both Sides of the Ball

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman // @Wandaw63

There is one thing we must all keep in mind; not all college prospects translate to an NFL player.  We also must keep in mind that not all scouts and NFL experts get it right either.

So let’s see how well the NFC North did.

Chicago Bears: Iowa State, RB David Montgomery; Georgia, WR Riley Ridley; Kansas State, CB Duke Shelley; Florida Atlantic, RB Kerrith Whyte; Valdosta State, CB Stephen Denmark.

The Bears won the NFC North last season with a 12-4 record. Without any picks in the first two rounds, the Bears had to take the best player available while filling team needs. With that being said, the Bears chose a running back to replace Jordan Howard, whom they traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Montgomery fits what Nagy wants to do with a three-down back. Fans did not expect the Bears to pick a wide receiver with their next pick but Ridley was still on the board, and with these two new additions they give quarterback Mitchell Trubisky more firepower.

They also chose another speedster RB in White to address the return specialist position which has been severely lacking in the Bears repertoire. The Bears lost nickel corner Bryce Callahan and replaced him with Shelley, whose size (5’-10) seems non-existent in the way he plays in nickel packages and the ball hawk that he is. But just in case, the Bears got one more CB with Denmark, who is a 6’-3 athletic specimen and can contribute on special teams as a gunner as he continues to develop.

Detroit Lions: Iowa State, TE T.J. Hockenson; Hawaii, LB Jahlani Tavai; Boston College, DB Will Harris; Clemson, DE Austin Bryant; Penn State, CB Amani Oruwariye; Old Dominion, WR Travis Fulgham; Maryland, RB Ty Johnson; Georgia, TE Isaac Nauta; Arizona, DT P.J. Johnson.

Head coach Matt Patricia worked with what he had last season, finishing in last in the division with a 6-10 record.  But it appears that the Lions address both sides of the ball starting. General Manager Bob Quinn stayed true to his draft resume’, by drafting yet another TE, this time the number one prospect Hockenson. But he made sure that there was a dual threat in that position by adding Nauta.

Patricia likes versatile defenders and got that by adding Tavai who racks up tackles like they are going out of style, Harris who ran a 4.41 at the Combine and perfect as a rotation safety. The surprise was getting Bryant from Clemson, who somehow fell without notice. A steady defensive end who will do well in that 4-3 defense.  However, I was surprised that the Lions passed over on Ridley who was there for the taking to give QB Matthew Stafford another weapon with the dual tight ends.

Minnesota Vikings:  North Carolina State, C Garrett Bradbury; Alabama, TE Irv Smith; Boise State, RB Alexander Mattison;  Oklahoma, G Dru Samia; USC, LB Cameron Smith; Arkansas, DT Armon Watts; Southern Wyoming, S Marcus Epps; Elon, OT Olisaemeka Udoh; Texas, CB Kris Boyd, Oregon, WR Dillon Mitchell; Colorado State, WR Olabisi Johnson; Air Force, LS Austin Cutting.

The Vikings finished second in the division with an 8-7 record, having a new QB under center in Kirk Cousins. GM Rick Spielman doubled down on fixing the offensive line by supplying more protection and weapons for Cousins.  The Vikings took seven offensive prospects off the board to give Cousins every opportunity to put them back on top of the division. Cousins struggled last season in connecting with star receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen. With protection up front, it is all on him to get the ball out to the weapons handed to him and win games.

Green Bay Packers: Michigan, OLB Rashan Gary; Maryland, S Darnell Savage Jr.; Mississippi State, G Elgton Jenkins, Texas A&M, TE Jace Sternberger, and DT Kingsley Keke; Toledo, CB Ka’dar Hollman; Notre Dame, RB Dexter Williams; TCU, LB Ty Summers.

The Packers finished with a 6-9-1 record and an injured Aaron Rodgers. Even though he played through a broken fibula his offensive line had him scrambling. However, the Packers decided to take care of the defensive side first, with the departure of linebacker Clay Matthews. They chose Gary who is a power-at-the –point of attack defender, especially against the run. With some good coaching from head coach Mike Zimmer, his potential to be a high caliber OLB could change the game. They also grabbed Savage who is a speedster in the backfield with great back peddle and side-to-side coverage.

They addressed the offensive line with Jenkins who can actually play all five positions up front. His versatility will be key during the season. Jimmy Graham was not the answer at tight end for the Rodgers so they went and got Sternberger who is a natural receiver and fast up the middle. With the addition of Williams to the running back core, he can provide a vision of burst and cut and run in zone-blocking schemes.

This is going to be one tough division and it will be anyone’s guess as to how the division will go. But it should never be handed to a particular single player. A team that plays together as a united front will be the team that wins the division.

#DaBears             #GoPackGo                        #SKOL                   #OnePride

 

Talk football with Wanda on Twitter // @WandaW63

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