Chicago Bears: A
Picks: Rd 1, Pick 8 LB Roquan Smith – Georgia; (2,39) OL James Daniels – Iowa; (2,51) WR Anthony Miller – Memphis; (4,115) LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe – Western Kentucky; (5,145) DL Bilal Nichols – Delaware; (6,181) EDGE Kyle Fitts – Utah; (7,224) WR Javon Wims – Georgia
Best Pick: WR Anthony Miller
Worst Pick: LB Joel Iyiebuniwe
Overall – The Bears had a top-10 defense in both yardage and points allowed last season. After spending most of free agency upgrading the weapons around their young quarterback, Chicago made a slam dunk, no nonsense pick for the other side of the ball at 8th overall. The Butkus Award winner can fly around the field and will only make it that much tougher to move the ball against the Bears.
The next two picks were all about continuing Chicago’s offseason plan. James Daniels went to the Bears during a rush on offensive linemen in the second round. He’ll likely line up at guard and become a sturdy protector for Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago traded up for their third pick, Anthony Miller. The steep price of the 105th pick and next year’s second rounder could easily prove worth it. Miller is a star in the making. He joins Allen Robinson and Trey Burton in the Bears’ revamped passing offense. This team has the potential to be sneaky good next season in a bloodbath of a division.
The Bears are clear-cut winners – at least until teams actually hit the field – from the first two days of the draft. It’s hard to fault them for anything in the fourth round and beyond, as teams are usually ecstatic if those selections turn into rotational players. With that said, Iyiebuniwe is Chicago’s first pick that gives pause. They could have almost certainly scooped him up later.
Green Bay Packers: B+
Picks: Rd 1, Pick 18 CB Jaire Alexander – Louisville; (2,45) CB Josh Jackson – Iowa; (3,88) LB Oren Burks – Vanderbilt; (4,133) WR J’mon Moore – Missouri; (5,136) OL Cole Madison – Washington State; (5,172) Punter Jk Scott – Alabama; (5,174) WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling – South Florida; (6,207) WR Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame; (7,232) DE James Looney – California; (7,239) LS Hunter Bradley – Mississippi State; (7,248) EDGE Kendall Donnerson – Southeastern Missouri
Best Pick: CB Josh Jackson
Worst Pick: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Overall – New GM Brian Gutekunst’s first draft was all about coverage. On the first two days, that meant literal coverage. The Packers started with two consecutive cornerback selections to address their Swiss cheese secondary. They failed with this before in 2015 (Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins). The 2018 picks seem more likely to pan out. Randall played out of position. Rollins was a basketball player. Alexander is an immediate, speedy nickel corner, and many pegged Jackson as a first rounder. Trading back into the third doesn’t seem worth it, but the Burks selection gives Green Bay a freak athlete they haven’t had at ILB for years. Again, coverage.
The Packers applied the term to the third day by picking three wide receivers. Cover your bases by picking everyone. Somebody has to stick. J’Mon Moore and Equanimeous St. Brown are the most likely to do so. St. Brown has the early leg up in camp – he played college ball with DeShone Kizer, which could pay dividends in preseason showcases. Marquez Valdes-Scantling seems to fit the mold of recent Green Bay receivers Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis. He’s blazing fast, but can he run a route?
Many might consider the 5th round punter and drafting a long snapper to be head scratchers. However, that’s the liberty teams have with 11 picks. The more concerning issue is the lack of help at edge in a weak class. The Packers can address that with one of their two 1st round selections next year. Fleecing the Saints was one of the best moves of any team in the first round.
Minnesota Vikings: B
Picks: Rd 1, Pick 30 CB Mike Hughes – UCF; (2,62) OT Brian O’Neill – Pittsburgh; (4,102) DE Jalyn Holmes – Ohio State; (5,157) TE Tyler Conklin – Central Michigan; (5,167) K Daniel Carlson – Auburn (6,213) G Colby Gossett – Appalachian State; (6,218) EDGE Ade Aruna – Tulane; (7,225) LB Devante Downs – Cal
Best Pick: CB Mike Hughes
Worst Pick: OT Brian O’Neill
The Vikings defense doesn’t need much help, but it got some in the first round with a player who can compete for a job in the nickel package. Hughes has his share of character concerns, but Mike Zimmer is one the easiest head coaches to trust when it comes to handling those players. The added benefit of landing Hughes is that it sets the team up for future departures in the secondary. If a player like Trae Waynes is too expensive after his fifth-year option in 2019, Hughes makes the loss negligible. The same logic can be applied to fourth round pick Jalyn Holmes if he makes strides rotating into an already solid defensive line.
Minnesota’s only true weakness is in the offensive line. The team waited too long to pick up a big man for the trenches – and therefore reached when they looked up at pick 62 and only saw Brian O’Neill available. Perhaps they should have traded up in the second or used a first on the team’s only real need. The O’Neill selection probably left a sour taste in some Vikings fans’ mouths.
Packers fans may have mocked Minnesota for drafting a kicker (that laughter lasted for all of five picks, when Green Bay took a punter), but the Vikings need a better kicker than Kai Forbath. The hope is that Daniel Carlson can push Blair Walsh’s playoff failures further into oblivion.
Detroit Lions: B-
Picks: Rd 1, Pick 20 C Frank Ragnow – Arkansas; (2,43) RB Kerryon Johnson – Auburn; (3,82) S Tracy Walker – Louisiana-Lafayette; (4,114) DE Da’Shawn Hand – Alabama; (5,153) G Tyrell Crosby – Oregon; (7,237) RB Nick Bawden – San Diego St.
Best Pick: G Tyrell Crosby
Worst Pick: DE Da’Shawn Hand
The Lions didn’t go flashy in the first round, but they selected a solid player at a position of need. This is all about protecting Stafford, as the team might fall apart even more quickly than the Packers if he went down. Ragnow should become an immediate starter. He also bolsters Detroit’s run game, which they addressed by trading up for Kerryon Johnson in the second round. Swapping a fourth to move up eight spots is bad value, but the pick itself is solid.
Another bad value move with a worse result involved trading next year’s third to move up for Da’Shawn Hand. Perhaps Detroit views him a future replacement if the team fails to reach a long-term agreement with Ziggy Ansah. It’s unlikely he’ll live up to that or the 3rd round price tag. Detroit also may have reached on Tracy Walker, but the safety does fulfill a need. A tight end at some point would have also been nice. Tyrell Crosby stands out as Bob Quinn’s best decision in the middle rounds. Despite sliding down draft boards, Crosby has all the makings of a stud.
Giving the Lions the lowest grade in the NFC North may not age well if this class finally turns around their abysmal run game. Imagine Kerryon Johnson breaking out behind his 2018 classmates, Ragnow and Crosby. Matthew Stafford would become that much harder to contain.
Header Photo: Flurry Sports