NFL

NFL Draft 2017: Breaking down the draft needs for the NFC North


Written by: David Parks – Staff Writing Intern (@_Parskie)

The next stop is the first division featuring a team with a top five pick in this year’s draft, the NFC North.

That honor, belongs to the Chicago Bears who are once again in search of a franchise quarterback. We’ll get to Chicago in a minute – I do not think they should or will take a quarterback at three.

One of the league’s most disappointing teams was the Vikings. After starting out 5-0, the team stumbled to a 2-9 finish. Minnesota was derailed all season by a subpar offensive line and lack of a true running game. Not only do they not have a first round pick in this year’s draft, they’ll have to make a decision on Adrian Peterson and his $18 million cap hit for 2017. And if that’s not enough – what happens when Teddy Bridgewater is healthy again? A mess in Minny.

Detroit is close to being a breakthrough team, but they too have no running game whatsoever. Even with a healthy Ameer Abdullah, he’s not the between the tackles runner the Lions need. A decision will need to be made on Theo Riddick as well as he’s a free agent. As is the case almost every year, the secondary could stand to be upgraded as well.

And then finally, there’s the NFC Runners-up. Aaron Rodgers overshadowed a lot of faults with the Pack. The secondary needs to be upgraded in a big way after they finished 31st in the league in pass yards/game and were shredded by Atlanta. The situation with Eddie Lacy’s contract bears watching – if Cook or Fournette were to slip, Green Bay may pounce.

 

Chicago Bears: 2016 record: 3-13 (Last in NFC North)

First round selection: 3rd
Offseason needs: QB, OT, CB

On first glance it would appear the Bears would be a lock to take a quarterback at three. Jay Cutler’s time appears to be over and Matt Barkley isn’t the long-term answer. But for as much as a quarterback makes sense for Chicago, it’s not that simple.

GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox are entering a crucial third season. Although the team has showed promise and does possess some young talent, it eventually has to translate to wins. And in such a pivotal year for both, it seems unlikely a rookie quarterback will get them the results they need.

Outside of quarterback, the two biggest needs are along the offensive line at tackle and in the secondary at both corner and safety.

No tackles are worth taking top three, and given the depth this year’s secondary class has, it seems unlikely the Bears will opt to improve that unit with their first pick. He won’t exactly fill the biggest need, but it appears likely Chicago will be in a prime spot to land Jonathan Allen.

Ideal Picks:

  • Jonathan Allen, DE – Alabama
  • Malik Hooker, S – Ohio State
  • Reuben Foster, LB – Alabama

 

 

Minnesota Vikings: 2016 record: 7-9 (3rd in NFC North)

First round selection: None

Offseason needs: OT, RB, OG

One of the more bizarre seasons for any team in the NFL I can remember.

No team had more of a roller coaster year than did the Vikings. From starting out 5-0 only to finish 2-9 the rest of the way, to players freelancing (or not?) and undermining the coaching staff, to the head coach missing a game because of eye surgery, it was a strange year to be a Viking fan.

The team must decide what it wants to do with Peterson. He has an $18 million cap hit that when coupled with his age and injury history, makes it seem likely he’s played his last game as a Viking.

Of course, even when healthy, Peterson couldn’t get anything going behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Minnesota had to rely on a short passing game to act as their run game because of how porous Minnesota was along the line.

The Eagles currently have the Vikings’ first round pick at 15 overall which would’ve been prime position to grab either Ryan Ramczyk or Garrett Boiles, but will have to wait until 46th overall unless they opt to trade one of Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater.

Ideal Picks: (46th overall)

  • Pat Elflein, OG – Ohio State
  • Zach Banner, OT – USC
  • Ethan Pocic, OG – LSU

 

 

Detroit Lions: 2016 record: 9-7 (2nd in NFC North)

First round selection: 21st

Offseason needs: DE, CB, LB

The Lions secured their second playoff appearance under Jim Caldwell last season and with a couple of moves, can push Green Bay for the division next year.

Ziggy Ansah is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but outside of him they have almost no threat of a pass rush. Devin Taylor is decent, but shouldn’t be relied upon on a consistent basis. Detroit can have their choice of pass rushers at 21.

As is the case seemingly every offseason, the Lions could stand to upgrade their secondary. Darius Slay is a stud, but outside of him, they have no real playmakers at corner or safety. Might Jabril Peppers stay in the state of Michigan?

Ideal Picks:

  • DeMarcus Walker, Edge – FSU
  • Taco Charlton, DE – Michigan
  • Jabril Peppers, S/LB – Michigan

 

 

Green Bay Packers: 2016 record: 10-6 (1st in NFC North)

First round selection: 29th

Offseason needs: CB, RB, LB

If you really dive into this roster you gain even more appreciation for Aaron Rodgers and what he did this season.

How does the team feel about Eddie Lacy as their running back long term? Giving big money to a running back – especially one that’s been plagued with weight issues – doesn’t seem like a Packer thing to do. Fournette and Cook will be gone by 29, but someone like Alvin Kamara would still be available and form to make a nice (and much cheaper) duo with Ty Montgomery.

Despite spending a first round pick addressing the secondary in both 2014 and 2015, the Packers are yet again in need of upgrading their secondary after finishing with the second-worst pass defense in the league in terms of yards/game.

Great year to hold a late selection and need a corner because of this year’s depth. Look for a couple of Big Ten guys to be in play here.

Ideal picks:

  • Gareon Conley, CB – Ohio State
  • Jourdan Lewis, CB – Michigan
  • Alvin Kamara, RB – Tennessee

 

 

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