The Green Bay Packers have won the NFC North the last three seasons. So did the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions or the Chicago Bears draft any players that could help them dethrone the Packers? Here are my 2014 NFC North draft grades.
I love both of the Vikings’ first round picks. Anthony Barr is an instant upgrade at linebacker. He is an excellent pass rusher as he recorded 23.5 sacks the last two seasons at UCLA. Barr’s speed makes him good in coverage as well. Trading back into the first round to select quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was another great move by general manager Rick Spelman. Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel have proved they aren’t the long-term answers at quarterback. So it was great strategy by Spelman to move in front of the Texans and draft Bridgewater at pick no. 32. The Vikings might have a sixth-round gem in cornerback Antone Exum. The team was 29th in pass defense last season, and Exum could become an eventual starter at safety. Overall, I thought the Vikings had one of the better drafts.
The Lions didn’t need help at the tight end position, but they selected Eric Ebron with their number 10 pick. Many thought the Lions could have selected a defensive back since the team ranked 23rd in pass defense a year ago, but the Ebron pick will help the offense in a few ways. He will take pressure away from receiver Calvin Johnson and open up opportunities on offense for Reggie Bush and Golden Tate. The Lions second round selection might have been even better than their first round pick. Former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is a speed linebacker who’s a first round talent. Not only was Van Noy a tackling machine in college, he also was a huge factor in the passing game, making him an all-around linebacker. Not sure the Lions have addressed all of their defensive issues, but at least they will be fun to watch on offense in 2014.
I loved the draft the Bears had. I think Kyle Fuller was the best cornerback in the draft. They needed to get younger in the secondary and Fuller has All-Pro potential. I also like their selections of defensive tackles Ergo Ferguson and Will Sutton in the second and third rounds. Ferguson is versatile enough to play defensive end and tackle. Sutton is good at penetrating the line and tackling ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage. Fourth round safety Brock Vereen has a chance to make an instant impact on a the Bears secondary. Chicago knew they needed to select players who could help their defense right away and that’s exactly what they did.
Green Bay Packers
I’m not the biggest fan of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He isn’t the best tackler in the secondary and he doesn’t have the strength you want an NFL safety to have. I did however love the Packers second pick Davante Adams. He fits perfectly with what the Packers usually want in a receiver and general manager Ted Thompson has had excellent success drafting receivers in the second round. The biggest issue I have with the Packers’ draft is I thought the team need to draft players to improve their offensive line. Their only drafted one offensive lineman and that was Ohio State center Corey Linsley. Green Bay’s offensive line gave up 45 sacks last year, but I guess they are comfortable with letting Aaron Rogers get hurt again.
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