The NFC North is a division where the favorite is hard to pin down. There’s of course the Packers, who were really good last year and didn’t lose much in the offseason. I think it probably has the best odds to win again but I’m not completely convinced.
There’s the Vikings who were also good a year ago but lost Stefon Diggs so Adam Thielen will be required to carry a heavier workload.
Chicago is in an interesting spot as Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky will battle for the quarterback spot on an average team. If Foles wins the job I think it has a chance to contend, but Trubisky would not be confidence inducing.
The Lions are coming off of a really bad season but Matthew Stafford is back, and who knows maybe it will get off to a hot start. It's defense should be better than last year, at least that’s what you would expect of Matt Patricah, but losing Darius Slay definitely hurts.
Draft analysis in order of the strongest draft class to the weakest:
Detroit Lions (3-12-1): Detroit had a great class if you look in particular at its top three picks. Okudah was the best cornerback in the class without a shadow of a doubt and looks set to be a perennial all-pro in the near future. He will be a key piece in what Matt Patricah hopes will be an electrifying defense similar to what was seen when he was the coordinator in New England.
The Lions then went out and got the best runningback in the draft taking D’Andre Swift, who fell to it early in the second round. Swift should start year one, adding a new element to a lackluster Detroit run game.
The Lions also picked up two guards to potentially protect Matt Stafford next season. Adding Julian Okwara in the third round also gives the defensive line another option in someone who has potential to plug right into a starting spot. The Lions had a strong class that could actually give the team a chance if Matt Stafford stays healthy.
Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Minnesota’s first pick wasn’t a bad one at all, taking Justin Jefferson in the back half of the first round. Jefferson has a tough task for sure though being the new replacement for Stefon Diggs. He’s a good slot receiver who had the most receptions last year at LSU and finished the season with 18 receiving touchdowns.
Jeff Gladeny was good in college coming up with 14 pass deflections in his senior season, but his undersized frame could be an issue in the NFL. With the 31st pick though it’s an OK value for a player in a position that was a huge need.
Troy Dye is another player whose size is called into question but has immense in-game knowledge and is a good linebacker who can play all three downs.
Ezra Cleveland at tackle filled the other major need for the Vikings and is a good run blocker, which could help Dalvin Cook have even more success if Cleveland gets on the field this season which you would expect him to.
Chicago Bears (8-8): If you can look past the fact that Cole Kmet joins a roster with already over 10 tight ends, then it's not actually a bad pick. Bears fans may not have been happy initially, but Kmet should become a great receiving tight end for the team and his height at 6-feet-6-inches will make him a safe target anywhere on the field. His main issue right now is not being the best blocker but it's something he can build upon in his first couple of seasons.
The Bears also addressed a need by taking Jaylon Johnson. The cornerback has good size and looked decent in coverage in college. An injury will force him to have surgery during the offseason so who knows if he will be 100 percent.
Trevis Gipson is a pick that is boom or bust. Using a fifth-round pick on him is definitely worth it. He’s a raw prospect who possesses great athletic ability and can work on bettering his fundamentals in the future. Last season he was explosive, providing 15 tackles for losses, eight sacks and two forced fumbles. If he develops into a good football player rather than just a great athlete this pick will be exceptional.
Green Bay Packers (13-3): Trading up to take Jordan Love was a gutsy move by a team that should be acquiring threats to gear up for a playoff run next season. Love is an unpolished quarterback who wasn’t consistent in college and had a knack for turning the ball over. He has the physical traits wanted in a quarterback though. With the ability to fit the ball in tight windows and good arm strength, there’s a reason Love was still seen as a first or second-round talent even with his inconsistencies.
The A.J. Dillon pick was questionable with running back not being one of the team's particular needs. He’s not bad, but the Packers don’t really need him besides maybe for more depth. It also made picks to beef up its offensive line which is understandable.
The main issue with this class though is how there wasn’t a single wide receiver taken with nine picks. Aaron Rodgers should be offended that no receivers were added to assist him and his potential replacement was taken in a spot where a quality receiver could have been added.