Around the NFC North: Draft Preview

We're closing in on the best weekend of the year. This is the weekend when most fan bases have reason to feel optimistic. For the past three decades, the Packers in-division dominance has made it hard for any of the other three teams in the NFC North to truly be optimistic in any off-season. Now Rodgers is (maybe?) moving on and the division is up for grabs. Let's go over some bullet points for each team to keep in mind as we count down the last week and a half. 

Lions

  • The Lions are putting a lot of effort into projecting outward confidence in Jared Goff as their starter for the foreseeable future. We all know that's nonsense, you can have a top-5 offense for one season with Goff and a bunch of pro bowlers, but then the regression starts. The Lions reportedly watched Anthony Richardson five times last season. If he's their guy, they might have to give up that second first-round pick to move up and get him. 
  • They don't have many other needs on offense. They don't care about having a plus tight end, they already have a top o-line, and their top two wide receiver spots are good to go for the next decade. Will they use high draft capital on a third receiver? Decide they care about tight end again? Or punt on offense and build up the defense. 
  • As far as the defense goes, the Lions could take a QB and then go BDPA (best defensive player available) for the rest of the draft. Keep in mind that their DC wants to pressure with four big interchangeable down linemen and run press man coverage. 

Bears

  • The Bears reportedly have Jalen Carter first on their draft board despite his numerous off-field issues and scouting reports that he takes half of plays off. If Bears GM Ryan Poles does take Carter, and even potentially trades up for him, it is a make-or-break pick. In a draft with five potential first-round QBs, the Bears had the first overall pick and a QB who was a worse passer than Zach Wilson and potentially chose to trade out of that pick to take a problem player at interior d-line. It's easily the highest ceiling/floor variance pick to be made in the draft. If Carter gets his life together and becomes another Ndamukong Suh while Justin Fields evolves into a pro bowl QB, the Bears are probably the best team in the division. Eberflus's defense revolves around the 3-tech and trading down gave the Bears a ton of ammo to build up the other positions on the defense. If Carter washes out and Fields is a bust, Poles might never get another chance to be an NFL GM. 
  •   After that pick, the Bears should go full BPA; outside of linebacker, there isn't a single position on the roster where they shouldn't consider an upgrade. Even linebacker, you could argue would be OK for a day two pick if they decide to use Tremaine Edmunds as an edge rusher on third downs. 

Vikings

  • The Vikings have a clear need on defense: press man corners who can hold up in Brian Flores' cover-0 scheme. Lucky for them, this draft is high in corner depth, don't be surprised if they go corner early and often. 
  • Like the Lions, the Vikings have a passable QB who will only keep them in QB purgatory. They won't be bad enough to get a top pick to use on a QB, but they won't be good enough to have a high pick to use on QB. They reportedly like Hendon Hooker, who could drop to them because he is almost a full year older than Jordan Love, coming off an ACL tear, and played in a fake offense in college. He's the Velus Jones of QBs. 
  • The Vikings also have a lot of holes and a GM in love with trading down. They start the draft with five picks, how many players will they end the draft with? 

  

 

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Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan who recently moved form Utah to Stoughton (a Madison suberb). You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

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Comments (12)

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

April 17, 2023 at 05:51 pm

The Vikings are at a big disadvantage going into this draft because they only have 5 picks and three of them are 119 or lower, so if you want to trade down for more picks, you don’t have a lot of draft capital to work with. Contrast that with the other three teams in the division.

They have picks at 23 and 87. They aren’t going to take CBs early and often, because mostly they’re going to be watching their division opponents load up.

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splitpea1's picture

April 17, 2023 at 07:57 pm

Your Bears mock doesn't sound like a bad plan for us, either. It crosses off three needs and adds another viable option at center.

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StarrtoRodgers's picture

April 17, 2023 at 08:19 pm

Everyone should watch the game tapes and videos of Hendon Hooker and then compare them with the game tapes of Jordan Love.

Watch Hendon Hooker vs. Alabama and National Champion Georgia the last 2 years and then watch Jordan Love against top competition - LSU in 2019. Watch Aaron Rodgers against #1 ranked USC and not the differences. Video is out there for the COMPLETE games on Youtube.

The SMARTEST THING FOR BRIAN TO DO would be to trade Jordan Love and - GIVEN several Packer fans think Jordan will be better than Aaron was and lead the Packers to more than 11 playoffs and 1 Super Bowl over the next 15 years - Jordan should return the Packers trade compensation better than:

1) whatever the Jets would pay for Aaron Rodgers

2) what Denver paid for Russell Wilson
and

3) more than what the Rams paid the Lions for Matthew Stafford

and

4) more than the Texans paid for the Bears 1st overall pick

as Jordan is at least 14 years younger than Rodgers and 10 years younger than Wilson and Stafford and has more NFL experience than whomever the Texans will draft.

With the draft compensation from Jordan Love, the Packers could not only draft a Tight end or wide receiver in the first or second rounds, but a QB that has excelled against BIG FIVE Conference teams week to week.

Someone like Hendon Hooker, a ball protecting dual threat THIKING COMPOSED QB - like Aaron Rodgers - who played week to week against SEC competition (LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, etc.) week to week for 2 years and ACC competition (Clemson, Florida State, Pitt, Georgia Tech) week to week for 2 years and made Tennessee receivers like injured Cedric Tillman (son of former Bronco Cedric Tillman Sr.) and Jalin Hyatt look good:

Love Freshman Utah State, Mountain West, 54.8% Completion %, 8 TDs, 6 INTs, 6,9 yds per attempt, 77.4 NFL passer rating

Hooker Freshman, Virginia Tech. ACC 61.1% Completion %, 13 TDs, 2 INTs, 9.6 yds per attempt, 114.6 NFL passer rating

Love Sophomore, Utah State, Mountain West 64% Completion %, 30 TDs, 6 INTs, 8.6 yds per attempt, 110.6 NFL passer rating

Hooker Sophomore, Virginia Tech, ACC, 65.3% Completion %, 9 TDs, 5 INTs, 8.9 yds per attempt, 99.8 NFL passer rating

Love Junior, Utah State, Mountain West, 61.9% Completion %, 20 TDs, 17 INTs, 7.2 yds per attempt, 82.7 NFL passer rating

Hooker Junior Tennessee, SEC 68% Completion %, 31 TDs, 3 INTs, 9.7 yds per attempt, 129.2 NFL passer rating

Hooker Senior, Tennessee. SEC 69.6% Completion %, 27 TDs, 2 INTs, 9.5 yds per attempt, 124.6 NFL passer rating

In any case, the Packers should not exercise Jordan's $20M 5th year option & should exercise their 2025 option on Aaron Rodgers by the day before September 2023 season opener to be able to spread Aaron's $58M option payment over 4 years.

If you can't trade Jordan Love for sufficient value by September 2023, start Love for the regular season and keep Aaron Rodgers on the bench.

Sensible too as it is more probable than not, based on all the Jordan Love data points, that Jordan fails to perform at even a fraction of Aaron Rodgers 2008 level, where Aaron, despite playing through injury to right throwing shoulder at Tampa in game 4, was near the top of 32 QB starters in nearly every passing category, but 2008 Packers due to loss of 3 significant defensive starters to injury - Cullen Jenkins, Atari Digby and Nick Barnett gave up nearly 100 more points than 2007 and Packers finished 6-10.

In that case (keeping Rodgers as backup to Love for 2023) , Aaron can be there to SALVAGE the Packers' season and carry them to the playoffs once again as he did in 11 of his 15 years as Packer Starter - 11 years in the playoffs over those 15 years is more than any other NFC team or QB over that period - and that is despite the Packers being the only team in the NFL that has not spent a #1 draft choice on a running back, tight end or wide receiver during the 20 year period 2003 through 2022.

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DoubleJ's picture

April 18, 2023 at 07:20 am

GO AWAY!!!!

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coolhand's picture

April 18, 2023 at 03:58 pm

Just shut up already. You post the same stupid thing on every subject.

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tonyorth's picture

April 18, 2023 at 04:43 pm

I think you should accept the reality that Rodgers will never play for the Packers again. The Rubicon has been crossed, goose cooked, bridge burned. Complain all you like but this is what it is.

Just as Rodgers is not the player HE was in college, neither is Jordan Love. Just as the Packers invested years in Rodgers' development as a backup to Favre, so too have they invested in Love. So trading that promise for the diminished diva that Rodgers is - no throws over the middle as it hurts his stats and weaker runs - is a decision I and many others support. It will happen at some point and what better time than now? I think we waited a year too long to trade Rodgers but waiting does NOT makenus better next year and thereafter. This year could be a wash.

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dobber's picture

April 18, 2023 at 08:03 am

Please, MN, get so enamored with Hooker that you deal capital out of 2024 to panic-move up to get him.

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BirdDogUni's picture

April 18, 2023 at 09:15 am

Gutey won't, that's all that matters.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 18, 2023 at 12:33 pm

You know, dobber, because it's the kind of guy I am, I'd desperately like to bone the Vikings in this draft.

They only have two picks in the top 100, so if we could get them to panic for a QB, like Hooker or even Levis, and trade us their 23 and 87 for the chance to take him at 15, I'd jump on that opportunity like a rabid wombat.

That means they get ONE player out of the draft, essentially, and if he doesn't pan out, you have nothing. And they still have a totally porous defense.

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BillHayhoe's picture

April 18, 2023 at 12:08 pm

I believe Jordan Love will turn out to a good but not great qb. I can't imagine much trade interest out there at this point for such a limited amount of NFL tape. In fact the suggestion above that a trade is the best route to go is ludicrous at best. Who plays for you this year? I will be glad to see how this plays out. I am okay with a competitve record, 8 and 9 is about what I'd expect.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 18, 2023 at 12:29 pm

"....8 and 9 is about what I'd expect"

I think we're going to be better than last year. We scored 370 points last year, which is less than 22 ppg. We had 7 games where we scored 17 or less and we were 1-6 in those games, including 3 losses to division opponents.

We're not going to start training camp with 3 of our offensive linemen recovering from serious injuries, like last year. We're not going to have a bunch of old guys like Watkins, Cobb, Lewis as part of our 10 man skill position group.

We ARE going to have Watson, Doubs, Jones, Dillon, Deguara, and we ARE going to add to this group. Love will have the line in front of him he needs, he'll have weapons to work with. I'd expect us to do better on offense this year.

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LeotisHarris's picture

April 21, 2023 at 03:04 pm

About that culture change in Detroit...

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2023/04/21/jameson-wi...

I found this tidbit, tucked in near the end of the article, to be most interesting:

"In addition to the four Lions players, a league source confirmed several staffers from various departments within the organization were terminated earlier this offseason. The NFL gambling policy is stricter for non-players, prohibiting wagers on any sporting events."

Carry on.

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