Around the NFC North: 2021 Draft Edition

The NFC North had an unusually strong set of drafts from its four teams.

Every year in the aftermath of the draft, we like to take a brief look around the division to check out what the other teams took home.

The bad news for the Packers is the other three teams in the division had generally strong drafts (by popular opinion).

The good news is that all of these teams have been generally inept for most of their histories.

Let's take a look.

Chicago Bears

  • Round 1, #11: Justfin Fields, QB, Ohio State
  • Round 2, #39, Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
  • Round 5, $151, Larry Borom, OT, Missouri
  • Round 6, #217, Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech
  • Round 6, #221, Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
  • Round 6, #228, Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
  • Round 7, #250, Kyiris Tonga, DT, BYU

The Bears only had two picks in the first four rounds, but they certainly made the most of them. Trading up to get heralded QB prospect Justin Fields could be a franchise-altering move if Fields lives up to the potential many scouts saw in him entering the draft. It was certainly a surprise to me that Fields lasted into the double digits, and credit where credit is due, the Bears saw their opportunity to take him an dpounced on it. Now we just have to bank on the Bears' awful track record with quarterback play.

Teven Jenkins is a player many Packer fans undoubtedly hoped would fall to them, and would even have been a reasonable first-round selection. Really strong prospect at a major position of need who should come in and start right away.

The Bears finished the draft on day three by adding depth at important positions. The one slight head scratcher is Herbert, as the running back position appears set for Chicago, but there's a chance the Bears seee him as a possible return specialist.

Detroit Lions

  • Round 1, #17: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
  • Round 2, #41, levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
  • Round 3, #72, Alim McNeill, DT, NC State
  • Round 3, $101, Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
  • Round 4, #112, Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
  • Round 4, #113, Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue
  • Round 7, #257, Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State

Clearly the front office wanted this team to get tougher in the trenches, because the top three selections in the Lions' draft all will provide some extra beef along the line of scrimmage.

It's hard to argue against picking a strong offensive lineman early in teh first round. Sewell had an extremely low pressure rate in college, and considering the Lions just invested in a younger quarterback who could play for them for some time, it's going to be crucial to give him some protection.

The back-to-back DT selections show the Lions are sick and tired of being pushed around by opposing running games.Both of these guys are big, strong with great college pedigrees. It marks the first time in nearly three decades the Lions used two of their top three picks on defensive line.

The St. Brown selection probably hurt some Packer fans, who were hoping he could be paired with his brother EQ with a day three pick. St. Brown has a lot of talent and could well become a solid slot receiver in the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings

  • Round 1, #23: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
  • Round 3, #66, Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
  • Round 3, #78, Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
  • Round 3, #86, Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
  • Round 3, #90, Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh
  • Round 4, #119, Kene Nwangwu, RB/Return Specialist, Iowa State
  • Round 4, #125: Camryn Bynum, S, Cal
  • Round 4, #134: Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State
  • Round 5, #157, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
  • Round 5, #168: Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri State
  • Round 6, #199: Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh

Two years in a row with a boatload of draft picks for the Vikings, and they got off to a strong start. Most analysts had Darrisaw among the best tackles in the draft class, and a plug-and-play guy who can start immediately. The Vikings will hope this pick will help solidify what had been an area of weakness: the offensive line.

Mond is very much a developmental quarterback, and given Cousins is going to be in Minnesota for at least a couple more years, there was little risk in taking him. Surratt was a particularly strong selection, as this is a possible starting-quality player in the third round. The Vikings already have a really strong linebacking corps, and the speed and versatility of Surratt could make it even more dangerous.

The Vikings continued to invest in defensive line, a need after the way the last couple years have played out. 

__________________________

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.

4 points

Comments (32)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

May 03, 2021 at 11:00 am

Players I do like and players I don’t in all of them. I think it’s fair to say they are good drafts in terms of the names pundits liked ( which tends to get plaudits from those same people) but let’s wait for 3 years and see before crowning. Obviously some QBs in there that will be a big factor in the outcome.

+ REPLY
8 points
10
2
13TimeChamps's picture

May 03, 2021 at 12:16 pm

"I think it’s fair to say they are good drafts in terms of the names pundits liked ( which tends to get plaudits from those same people)"

Very spot on observation. I know it's a tired cliche....but the draft really is a huge crap shoot. No way of knowing a few days after the draft which teams did well.

+ REPLY
4 points
7
3
optimisticfan's picture

May 03, 2021 at 01:28 pm

As it stands all the NFC teams had fairly good drafts. However the Packers were picking at the end of each round, so for their position of picks I think the Pack FO did admirable. Still optimistic the Packers will be picking at the bottom of the rounds next yr. Packers = more complete team. Rest of NFC North middle of the road.

Side note on the great (potential) value of the Packers day three selections and UDFA Christian Uphoff (S). They found some strong potential talent at positions of depth need which alleviates bringing in FAs in the fall (besides another DL).

Over looked by much of the media in the whole AR saga is the effect on the salary cap. Most likely situation is the Packers refuse to trade AR. His teammates encourage AR to come back for at least one more yr. Play for his teammates while publicly still voicing displeasure with the FO. No extension or readjustment to his contract happens. Subsequently, no extension of Adams happens until after this season. FO needs to make a little more room to pay the 53 and be under the cap. So they make a few small cuts/renegotiate one middle of the road contract (Lowry takes a pay cut or is told he will be let go?).

All of this means that there is almost no money for a good FA. Welcome OL draftees to find a RT of the future/depth (Newman?) so we don’t need to sign Veldheer types, welcome Jean-Charles for DB quality competition, Uphoff safety comp, Kylin Hill 3rd RB, and even McDuffie so we don’t have to hopefully sign another Goodson type, etc.

This is how AR’s situation effected this draft. This is why (potentially) BG and the FO had a stellar draft. Time will tell. Likely the players who come into camp and make the 53 are your Packers. Expect few if any FAs, unless vet cuts on cheap 1 yr deals. Not sure we will be Snacking this yr.

+ REPLY
9 points
9
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 04, 2021 at 03:35 am

GB is effectively about $7M over the cap. Strictly speaking, a June release of Lowry would provide what is absolutely essential (sign draft, PS and pay for 52/53rd contracts) but not for PUP or IR contingencies, much less even a modest FA.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
splitpea1's picture

May 03, 2021 at 11:37 am

Lions: Loved their first three picks. I dearly wish we had taken two defensive linemen in the first half of the draft. The Lions will have an additional first-round pick in 2023 from the Stafford trade. Looks like they're getting their act together in Detroit--finally.

Bears: At least they were smart enough to address their needs right away. The only way that offense works is to have a QB with wheels. Fields will need to sit and take some time to develop; he tends to stare down targets and sometimes loses track of the center fielder. I read somewhere else that he is slow to process. But he is a tough guy, has the arm, and does very well on the move. I'm sure Bears fans are feeling much more optimistic than they did after the Dalton signing.

Vikings: This shows you the value of trading down in the first round, as they netted two extra third-rounders. Damn, look at all those picks!

We're not going to be able to take division titles and double-digit win seasons for granted anymore. The NFC North is going to be a lot more competitive in the coming years, and I know we're going to be in a lot more dogfights within the division.

+ REPLY
7 points
8
1
stormin's picture

May 03, 2021 at 07:55 pm

So troll somewhere else !

+ REPLY
-4 points
1
5
splitpea1's picture

May 03, 2021 at 08:26 pm

Uh-oh, I said something good about other teams beside the Packers and offended some parochial little twit.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 03, 2021 at 11:25 pm

splitpea is not a troll.

Sometimes disgruntled, sometimes gruntled (I know, I know... but cannot resist... always wanted to get rid of the "dis"). But still a GB fan.

This article is after all about the NFC North, therefore nothing wrong with his comment.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
mnbadger's picture

May 03, 2021 at 12:15 pm

We've been in dogfights in most all division games prior the a.r. turdshow and the draft. We won those games because we had a unified team and a good balance of talent. The turdshow negates unity, so these and past picks can hopefully increase what they bring to the table or we may lose as many of those close games as we've won in the past.
Not to jump too deep into the turds, but how many of qb1's past injuries, that he played through, will he be cautiously sitting through this season? I've loved AR the player, and stood up for him from the time he was drafted. Now, for the good of the team, I hope he takes his pile of turds to Houston for a boatload of picks after June 1st. Houston will be terrible so picks will have added value. GPG!

+ REPLY
6 points
9
3
greengold's picture

May 03, 2021 at 03:06 pm

Houston literally drove their team straight into the ditch. Shows just how important it is to have a good GM and personnel staff, separate from the HC. Wow. One look at their depth chart and you can readily see and smell the dumpster fire that it is.

There's NOTHIN' pretty down there... woosh!

Poor Randall Cobb. Maybe by some small miracle, HOU releases him as a cap casualty and the Packers bring him back to play with Amari Rodgers on a vet min...??? That would be kinda cool.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
pack1487's picture

May 03, 2021 at 12:28 pm

I think the Lions had a great draft and nailed their first 5 picks. I like GBs draft as well and can see their top 3 picks contributing immediately, which I couldn't say about last year's draft so that's a plus.

I think the NFC North will be much more competitive over the next 2-3 years as the Lions get adjusted to new regime and Bears welcome new QB.

+ REPLY
5 points
6
1
Coldworld's picture

May 03, 2021 at 12:34 pm

The lions are going to get better, maybe not this year as much, but it looks like they finally have a plan and leadership. The Bears May have another QB but they did not change the people driving. The Vikings will at some point be free of their millstone QB contract.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
Matt Gonzales's picture

May 03, 2021 at 12:54 pm

The Lions have always been a sneaky dangerous team, especially against division opponents. They look like they have a clear direction again, and while it might take a year or two to get there I expect to see them in the mix for the division and be sniffing the playoffs next year, if not this year.

Chicago has been very boom or bust, fortified by a strong defense. They look like the most complete team they have been for years and Dalton is a capable enough QB to keep them relevant until Fields is ready.

The Vikings took a major step back last year with their roster purge, but they could have a bounce back year. I'm still not sold on Cousins, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if we see Mond take the field at some point this year getting meaningful snaps.

Overall, I think the NFC North has become a very balanced division, and could very easily be a team that sends two teams to the playoffs this year.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Leatherhead's picture

May 03, 2021 at 12:49 pm

The Lions will line up 45 complimentary players and no straw that stirs the drink. Last place,
.
The Vikings always fade. Always.

The Bears will find a way to screw it up with Justin Fields. 2nd place.

+ REPLY
-3 points
1
4
Lphill's picture

May 03, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Well the good news is if Love is the QB this season at least the Packers will have the number 1 pick in the draft next year.

+ REPLY
-8 points
4
12
Leatherhead's picture

May 03, 2021 at 02:23 pm

This is nonsense. This offense is so loaded it could score 14 with me at QB.

+ REPLY
4 points
6
2
13TimeChamps's picture

May 03, 2021 at 03:30 pm

Well, this is the same guy who said GB would finish 8-8 and not make the playoffs last year. His sole reasoning....that Oren Burks would be our starting ILB. Of course, neither ended up being true.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 04, 2021 at 03:39 am

Seven safeties per game? JK couldn't resist. Next time choose 17 points instead of 14!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

May 03, 2021 at 02:50 pm

It will only take Clark and Jones.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
MITM's picture

May 03, 2021 at 01:58 pm

Passing on Teven Jenkins was asinine. Alim Mcneill going to the Lions really SUCKS.

Additionally would have loved Surratt,Wyatt Davis or even Tonga.

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
greengold's picture

May 03, 2021 at 03:19 pm

Yeah, I really wanted McNeill and was hoping GB would just take him at 29 and get that out of the way. However, they know what they are doing, and compared to other top R1 NTs that have been drafted, his stats don't hold a candle to them. The Packers refused to overdraft.

I really liked Chazz Surratt as well. He was my #2 ILB choice.

As for Teven Jenkins, there is not much to dislike with his play style and stats, except his 32 7/8" arms, for a starting OT. Jason Peters had enormous success with short arms - AND THOSE ARE SHORT. Peters was 1st Team Pro Bowl 9 times and All-Pro twice. A rare occurrence.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
PackfanNY's picture

May 03, 2021 at 02:38 pm

My two cents.

The Vikings picked Kellen Mond in the 3rd round. He’s terrible. I wonder if Kirk Cousin’s is upset. n/m

The Bears? The offensive line pick was a fine pick. However, I don’t get all the love for Justin Fields. I think he’s ok but he breaks down in the face of a good pass rush and tends to struggle with finding 2nd and 3rd reads. He’ll be more dangerous running around but that’s what Nagy probably wants. They’ll screw it up though.

The Lions had a nice day. Building the lines is probably where their rebuild should start. Long way to go but it looks like they may have finally started to build the right way. Only time will tell.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
Turophile's picture

May 03, 2021 at 04:50 pm

I had about 60 or so 'favourite' guys. The Packers managed to get one of them, the 7th round RB Hill.
My favourite drafts over the whole NFL, in descending order, were:

DETROIT OT Sewell, DT Onwuzurike, DT McNiel, CB Melifonwu, WR St.Brown, LB Barnes, RB Jefferson
Basically a who's who list of my favourite prospects. Barnes was the only one I was ambivalent about. Best draft in the league, imo.

CAROLINA CB Horn, WR Marshall, TE Tremble, OT Christensen, RB Hubbard, DT Nixon, CB Taylor, OG Brown, WR Smith, LS Fletcher, DT Hoskins
Loved it from Horn to Taylor, the last few not so much

CLEVELAND CB Newsome, LB Owusu-Koromoah, WR Schwarz, G/T Hudson, DT Togiai, LB Fields, S LeCounte, RB Felton
Liked most picks. Schwarz, Hudson, Togiai, Fields, was nice in the middle there.

CHICAGO Like it mainly for the first 2 picks of QB Fields and OT Jenkins.

Where did GREEN BAY rank ? Well, immediate impressions are little more than darts tossed blind at a board, but I didn't like what I saw, so I'd have them sitting in the lower third of teams. I'm hoping my very underwhelmed first impression is thoroughly disproved over time, especially as two of the teams whose draft I really liked, are in the NFC North.

As for the VIKINGS, they were ok. I liked WR Smith-Marsette and also Edge Patrick Jones II, though getting both him AND Janarius Robinson was strange. They are fairly similar in build, with Robinson having the elite physical numbers and little production, while Jones RAS is less gaudy, but has managed much more production in college.

+ REPLY
-1 points
2
3
LambeauPlain's picture

May 04, 2021 at 12:18 pm

I don't ever rank a draft on the Sunday after. Usually 3, maybe 2 years later. On paper the Packers seem to have drafted many players that will contribute immediately...a few as starters or garnering many snaps. The key is the quality of coaching the rookies will receive. I like the Packer staff...even on D as Barry is keeping most of Pettine's assistants.

I recall right after TT's 2015 draft class many fans were raving about it. Worse draft during his tenure.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
MarkinMadison's picture

May 03, 2021 at 03:01 pm

I'm probably the only one, but I've never been sold on Fields. He just has some games that feel like clunkers to me, and they are usually against the better opponents on the Ohio State schedule.

In a poor draft for DL the Lions took 2 in the first 3 rounds. I'm o.k. with that.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
byu.tech's picture

May 03, 2021 at 03:05 pm

they all had great drafts...except packers of course.
gutekunst had F grades for the second year in a row.
so you trade an mvp QB but you keep mr. F????? ahahahah

+ REPLY
-6 points
1
7
13TimeChamps's picture

May 03, 2021 at 03:34 pm

Lphill...is that you?

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
packer132's picture

May 04, 2021 at 01:30 pm

No, I think its Stockholder.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
greengold's picture

May 03, 2021 at 03:24 pm

byu, that is such TOTAL GARBAGE.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

May 03, 2021 at 05:41 pm

I was praying that the Bears would draft Mac Jones and not Fields, but they will find a way to screw him up I'm sure. BTW, did anyone else crack up when they showed the picture of an empty Fields' living room when the Bears were on the clock. I believe he was hiding behind the couch. He was BY FAR the least excited draft pick of the 1st round night.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
greengold's picture

May 03, 2021 at 11:19 pm

“Chicago. Where Quarterbacks go to die.” I’m a big old kid, and I love saying “Detroilet” I just wanted to share.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Fenwoodian's picture

May 04, 2021 at 10:07 am

My son is a Vikings season ticket holder. He tells me that he likes Cousins a lot, and that his problem has been inadequate protection. Looks like the Vikings draft addressed that problem.

The Vikings split with the Packers last year (remember that loss at Lambeau), and with increased protection for Cousins, the best receiver pair in the NFC, and a healthy Cooke running the ball, the Vikings will likely be an even tougher win for the Pack this year.

The Lions & Bears both had good drafts, however it will take a few years for each of them to climb out of the NFC North cellar.

Yeah, I see the Vikings as the main threat to Packers winning the division in 2021.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.