Around the NFC North: 2020 NFL Draft Edition

Taking a look at the drafts for the other three teams in the NFC North.

Welcome back to Around the NFC North. During the season this weekly post keeps you up to date with everything happening with the Packers' primary nemeses. Here's a special edition centered on the 2020 NFL Draft. 

What did the Bears, Lions and Vikings do, and what does it mean for the Packers? Let's take a look. As always, there is a disclaimer surrounding draft analysis that you can never be certain what you have (or don't have) until a few years have passed.

Chicago Bears (2019 record: 8-8, 3rd place)

The full 2020 Bears draft class is as follows:

  • Round 2, 43rd overall: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
  • Round 2, 50th overall: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
  • Round 5, 155th overall: Trevis Gipson, EDGE, Tulsa
  • Round 5, 163rd overall: Kindle Vildor, CB, Georgia Southern
  • Round 7, 226th overall: Arlington Hambright, OL, Colorado
  • Round 7, 227th overall: Lachavious Simmons, OL, Tennessee State

The Bears had hardly any draft capital to work with in this draft, thanks to some big roster-building moves over the last couple years, most notably the Khalil Mack trade in 2018. Those moves have resulted in a first-round playoff exit followed by missing the playoffs entirely, so if the Bears are going to return to the postseason in 2020, they needed to nail their offseason.

The draft got off to a dubious start for the Bears, who took a tight end with their first selection in what many saw as a weak tight end class, and when they already had nine tight ends on their roster, and just paid Jimmy Graham a boatload of money in free agency. A head scratcher to be sure.

Jaylon Johnson could prove to be an intriguing selection. He comes at a big area of need for the Bears, who (like every other one of the Packers' foes in the NFC North) needed to do some retooling in their secondary. 

Picks in the fifth through seventh round are generally tossup selections--you grab people who show flashes of big potential and hope to get lucky with them. The Bears ultimatley decided to double dip at corner and bring in a couple new bodies for the offensive line. Gipson, like any late rounder, is a developmental prospect, but has a lot of athleticism.

With the weight of the Bears' draft in the later rounds, it's unlikely any will be big difference makers in 2019, so they're going to have to hope their other offseason work is sufficient for bringing the team back to the playoffs. But with the Packers and Vikings still contenders in the same division, they're going to face a tall order this season.

Detroit Lions (2019 record: 3-12-1, 4th place)

The full 2020 Lions draft class is as follows:

  • Round 1, 3rd overall: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
  • Round 2, 35th overall: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
  • Round 3, 67th overall: Julian Okwara, LB, Notre Dame
  • Round 3, 7th overall: Jonah Jackson, G, Ohio State
  • Round 4, 109th overall: John Simpson, OL, Clemson
  • Round 4, 121st overall: Logan Stenberg, G, Kentucky
  • Round 5, 166th overall: Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin
  • Round 5, 172nd overall: Jason Huntley, RB, New Mexico State
  • Round 6, 197th overall: John Penisini, DT, Utah
  • Round 7, 235th overall: Jashon Cornell, DE, Ohio State

The headline pick here obviously is Okudah. Rare is it to see a defensive back go in the top three in the modern NFL.  Even before the Lions traded away Darius Slay they were in desperate need of additional secondary help, so going CB high was a sensible choice for the Lions, who were among the league's worst passing defenses in 2019. The Lions are going to have to hope Okudah adjusts to the speed of the NFL game quickly, which can be a difficult task for all young NFL players, but particularly defensive backs.

Swift is the kind of running back highly valued by today's pass-heavy NFL game, a player who is versatile enough to feature in the running and passing game, and who's got plenty of speed. Okwara is likely to play at the outside linebacker spot, and Jackson adds some much needed competition to an offensive line that wasn't particularly inspiring in 2019.

The later round selections show the Lions filling out other areas of need, as well as doubling down at the running back spot. Wisconsin natives will certainly watch Cephus's career with interest. Cephus was a reliable presence for the Badgers in the passing game, but was doomed to late-round status after running the 40 at a dismal 4.73.

Minnesota Vikings (2019 record: 10-6, 2nd place)

The full 2020 Vikings draft class is as follows:

  • Round 1, 22nd overall: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
  • Round 1, 31st overall: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
  • Round 2, 58th overall: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
  • Round 3, 89th overall: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
  • Round 4, 117th overall, DJ Wonnum, DE, South Carolina
  • Round 4, 130th overall: James Lynch, DT, Baylor
  • Round 4, 132nd overall: Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
  • Round 5, 169th overall: Harrison Hand, CB, Temple
  • Round 5, 176th overall: KJ Osborn, WR, Miami
  • Round 6, 203rd overall: Blake Brandel, OT, Oregon State
  • Round 6, 205th overall: Josh Metellus, S, Michigan
  • Round 7, 225th overall: Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State
  • Round 7, 244th overall: Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa
  • Round 7, 249th overall: Brian Cole II, S. Mississippi State
  • Round 7, 253rd overall: Kyle Hinton, OL, Washburn

The Vikings stockpiled a massive number of draft picks, giving them the ability to fill out a lot of areas of need on their roster and to be aggressive with their early round picks.

Their first selection was one a lot of Packer fans (including yours truly) hoped Green Bay would manage to snag: Justin Jefferson out of LSU. Jefferson is an extremely talented, versatile player who the Vikings will hope to slide into Stefon Diggs' recently vacated role in the passing game. 

The Vikings addressed another one of their biggest team needs with their second first-round selection by snagging Jeff Gladney, the TCU cornerback. Ever since Xavier Rhodes' game dropped off a cliff, the Vikings have been getting routinely exposed by receivers on the outside. Gladney will likely be thrown into the fire right away after a large exodus of Vikings defensive backs in the offseason, so Packer fans will be hearing his name come up a lot in matchup previews in games against Minnesota this year.

The second and third rounds also saw the Vikings focus on areas of need, including offensive line (grabbing another possible Packer selection, Ezra Clevleand) and another corner (Dantzler). The Vikings would go back to the cornerback well a third time int he draft with their first selection in the fifth round.

One intriguing selection is Troy Dye, the Oregon linebacker. This wasn't exactly a position of need for the Vikings, but Dye has a lot of experience and is one candidate for a mid-round selection who may be a valuable member of the rotation and allow players like Anthony Barr to move around the field a bit more. 

You'll hear a lot of the experts declaring the Vikings to be one of the biggest winners of the draft. It is certainly true that the Vikings built up an impressive selection of picks and that they clearly focused on filling big roster holes. But of course, whether that translates to results on the field is still to be determined. 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (35)

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albert999's picture

April 28, 2020 at 11:15 am

This is inconceivable...

Career TD passes to 1st round picks:

Brees 104
Brady 105
P Manning 293
Favre 127
Marino 84
Rivers 35
*Rodgers 1
Roethlisberger 69

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Bure9620's picture

April 28, 2020 at 11:56 am

Cobb, Jordy and Adams are all high 2nd rounders........

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albert999's picture

April 28, 2020 at 01:58 pm

Not 1st rounders

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TimBackes's picture

April 28, 2020 at 12:07 pm

This means absolutely nothing.

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albert999's picture

April 28, 2020 at 01:59 pm

So does your comment

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fthisJack's picture

April 29, 2020 at 08:15 pm

It shows that the Packer brass won't invest in their great QB.....fuck them and their trashing any chance at a SB for the next 3 years...at least. Gute and LaFleur will get ridden out of town in 2 or 3 years.

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PeteK's picture

April 28, 2020 at 01:02 pm

It only highlights the greatness of Rogers, who without a 1st rounder still threw 364 TDs.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:54 pm

All by himself, too, with a bad line, bad receivers, bad coaches and a bad GM. Right.?

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PeteK's picture

April 28, 2020 at 05:21 pm

You know what I meant. Get some conditioner, you're drying up. LOL

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mrnadar's picture

April 28, 2020 at 01:11 pm

What a dumb take. We have been competitive and in contention for a SB the majority of years the past 15 years. This stat line just goes to show anyone can pull stats out of their ass to suit their agenda.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:54 pm

I'd like this stat broken down a bit more or differently. But it is a stark stat.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:58 pm

How about Super Bowl wins? Brees, Favre, Rodgers 1, .....Manning and Roethlisberger 2, Marino, 0, The anomalous Brady.

I’m not seeing any kind of a correlation here.

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Barnacle's picture

April 28, 2020 at 11:39 am

It is interesting to see what our opponents did with draft and salary capital. Then we have Gute who wasted $6,500,000 on McCarthy’s contract and probably $50-70,000,000 on Rodgers and $10-15,000,000 on Jimmy Graham and then confused the football world with “baffling” draft picks.

Gute has reduced the fun of being a Packer fan.

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albert999's picture

April 28, 2020 at 11:44 am

They paid mccarthy 9 million to sit home last year

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Hematite's picture

April 28, 2020 at 12:40 pm

That didn't affect the salary cap or player acquisition in any way.

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gkarl's picture

April 28, 2020 at 11:53 am

It's in the past, you can't change it. Only one thing left. Kool-aid for everyone, make it a double, on the house.

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Lare's picture

April 28, 2020 at 12:50 pm

Gutekunst is lucky he doesn't have an owner to answer to.

With no one else holding him accountable, fans need to vote on his performance with their wallets.

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PeteK's picture

April 28, 2020 at 01:36 pm

YES, I'm buying a Dillon bobbing head doll as soon as it comes out.

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flackcatcher's picture

April 28, 2020 at 01:58 pm

Yeah right. Gute didn't handle McCarthy nor Rodger's contract extension. Graham's is all on him. Whine all you want about Gute, but be more accurate.

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Barnacle's picture

April 28, 2020 at 03:47 pm

Flack
McCarthy extension was January 2018 and Gute became GM January 2018, Rodgers extension was in August 2018.

Your accuracy is probably more questionable than mine. Gute was promoted one week after McCarthy was extended. I suspect Gute had some input in both extensions.

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dobber's picture

April 28, 2020 at 07:28 pm

If Gute didn't have the power to hire or fire McCarthy -- which by all accounts he didn't -- why would we expect him to have any influence over his contract extension?

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Barnacle's picture

April 28, 2020 at 07:59 pm

Daaaaahhhhhber

Are you suggesting that GB’s GM isn’t a real GM? Are we paying a GM salary to a nonGM.

Would a sharp individual capable of being a great GM accept a half-assed GM job? Lots of evidence about Gute’s judgement or lack thereof.

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albert999's picture

April 28, 2020 at 11:49 am

Dejon Brissett WR
Undrafted rookie is still available
SNATCH THIS KID UP

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PeteK's picture

April 28, 2020 at 01:34 pm

I'm not jumping for joy that we didn't get a WR. However, there is plenty of hope in the following: Lazard for the whole season ,I didn't like the Funchess signing, but he's better than Allison, Sternberger will provide the same offense and will be a willing blocker( a practice dummy could block better than Graham), there is a small chance that MVS improves, and Ervin is of some interest. I can understand some disappointment ,but the amount of anger is unwarranted.

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albert999's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:01 pm

What about Begelton?

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dobber's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:43 pm

A WR with no specific defining physical attribute who needs to learn how to release against NFL CBs without the benefit of a 5 yd run at the LOS? We'll see.

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PeteK's picture

April 28, 2020 at 05:33 pm

Less interest than Ervin because of the NFL experience factor, but definitely a possibility. What are you crabby about AL, you just added more hope.

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CheesyTex's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:32 pm

Give Equanimeous some love...

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Lphill's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:44 pm

The bottom line is the rest of the North have picks to help them this season against the Packers , the Packers got unknown for years to come . Forget Dillon, needs a hole to run through , no breakaway speed , gives a hand shove instead of squaring down to block , as per scouting reports, a real gem Gute.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 28, 2020 at 03:03 pm

Actually, Dillon kind of makes his own holes. It’s pretty obvious you’ve never seen him run. Your take on Larry Csonka or John Riggins would have been similar,I bet.

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splitpea1's picture

April 28, 2020 at 03:20 pm

Csonka had two HOF interior lineman to help him. Those Dolphins teams were the first teams I remember. Very boring, but a ball control strategy executed to perfection. Rarely got called for any penalties, either. Tough to beat.

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PeteK's picture

April 28, 2020 at 05:46 pm

He's certainly not running up hill with 4.53 speed in the 40, our line is good , blocking is about will, and he has plenty of that.

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Chevy572rat's picture

April 28, 2020 at 07:03 pm

He makes holes by running people OVER !! When he does, he's not slow and loves punishing DBs !! Besides, what RB doesn't like a hole to run through ??

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 28, 2020 at 02:52 pm

Jaylon Johnson (50th) has late first/early second talent, and a fifth round shoulder. He had his THIRD shoulder surgery March 4, 2020 and recovery time is five months.

MN lost a lot of vets, had Rhodes fall off a cliff and lost MacKensie and Waynes in FA. Gladney isn't going to make up for all of that. MN lost Griffen and his 14.5 sacks and Linval Joseph, but replaced him with Michael Pierce. Jefferson replaces Diggs if things go well. Not really a ton of improvement.

Okudah replaces Slay if it works out. It probably does and maybe this year even because the rookie is good. Swift is a nice receiving RB, but they already had a pretty good RB. Still, he should help.

Thanks for the article.

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fthisJack's picture

April 29, 2020 at 08:24 pm

they know how to build a DL. they will be a force. GB IMO fell off the face of the earth. Even if they make the playoffs its a one and done proposition. They were on the verge of a SB and now they tore it down and are going in a different direction. be prepared for a big step back you one eyed optimists.

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