NFL 

NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

I wanted to give myself adequate time after the draft to let these selections resonate with me before I gave grades. Then I graduated college and I apologize for the delay, so here are my Draft grades, which I’ll be doing by Division. Here’s the NFC North:

Chicago Bears: 5-11 Record in 2015, 7th Overall

Round 1 Pick 7                   Kevin White                       WR         West Virginia

The Bears had a lot of holes to fill, but White was the right pick to make, even if they already had Alshon Jeffrey. White is the most physically impressive Wide Receiver in this class, and if anything will make Jay Cutler care about his job, maybe adding White will help. White has the physical potential to be Brandon Marshall, and his speed will threaten all opposing secondaries. White lit up the Combine, so it was no surprise to see him go Top 10. White will have a bit of a learning curve coming from a Spread Offense, but should be a very good pro. Grade: B+

Round 2 Pick 39                 Eddie Goldman                 DL           Florida State

Dick Butkus personally endorsed this pick on ESPN, and I also really liked this selection. Goldman has some work ethic and motor issues, but he has the versatility to play any spot on the Bears D-Line. He’s also an impressive athlete for a 6’4″ 336 pounder. Goldman was dominant at times at Florida State, but he was inconsistent. Goldman can be a major chess piece in Vic Fangio’s defensive front. This is a pretty good value for the former Seminole as well. Grade: B+

Round 3 Pick 71                 Hronnis Grasu                   OC          Oregon

This was an awesome pick. Grasu has the smarts to step in immediately and make the calls from the pivot. This is a really good value, as he was one of the best true Centers in this draft. He’s a tough kid who gets people blocked, and will quickly become a fan favorite in the Windy City. He’s a little light in the pants, but once in a pro weight program, he can be a rock solid pro. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 106              Jeremy Langford              RB           Michigan State

I also really liked this selection. Runningback is one of the few positions in Chicago that didn’t need to be addressed right away, but Langford will help build the physical and tough culture John Fox will attempt to instill in Chicago. Langford was a dependable back for Michigan State, and actually had the fastest 40 Yard Dash among Runningbacks in Indianapolis. Langford will be a rotation back right away, but could be an eventual replacement for Bears mainstay Matt Forte. Good value in the 4th. Grade: B+

Round 5 Pick 142              Adrian Amos                      DB          Penn State

Adrian Amos was a very good value in the 5th, as he could have gone in the 4th and no one would have thought anything of it. Although he played Cornerback at Penn State due to a lack of depth after the sanctions imposed on the program a few years ago, he projects favorably to Safety in the NFL. He could create a solid tandem with recently acquired Antrel Rolle. Amos is a versatile piece, which is sought after in Fangio’s 3-4 scheme. Grade: A-

Round 6 Pick 183              Tayo Fabuluje                    OL           Texas Christian

One of the most inspirational stories in the entire draft, Fabuluje has to drop some weight, but could end up being a diamond in the rough. He struggled with his weight throughout his college career, and will need to improve his conditioning. He is a good value in the 6th, and he could either end up being a starter, or out of the league; he can be as good as he decides to be. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B. It’s hard to give Chicago anything but good grades, because they needed so much help. This is Adam Pace’s first draft as a GM, and it’s clear he is trying to establish a culture of size and physicality. The Bears will go as Jay Cutler decides to go, but they are improved from a year ago, and will continue to add 3-4 personnel to help Fangio.

 

Detroit Lions: 11-5 in 2015, 23rd Overall

Round 1 Pick 28                 Laken Tomlinson              OG         Duke

After trading down with the Broncos, the Lions took the road-grading Guard from Duke. The Chicago Prep star came home to be selected in the 1st Round. Tomlinson is solid in pass pro, but excels in making holes in the run game. Along with Larry Warford, they should make one of the best Guard tandems in the league. This draft made it clear that Detroit was attempting to become more physical, and this pick epitomizes that. This is a good spot for Tomlinson. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 54                 Ameer Abdullah               RB           Nebraska

Abdullah was one of the most exciting backs in the country to watch a year ago. With the recent absence of Reggie Bush, Abdullah provides that scat-type runner to pair with Joique Bell’s power. He’s an instant 3rd Down back with some return ability who should develop into a starter. Also, with Detroit’s negative reputation for being a dirty team, Abdullah was considered by several teams as the top character player in this draft. Grade: A

Round 3 Pick 80                 Alex Carter                        CB           Stanford

Alex Carter is a long, physical Corner to help combat the big receivers in the division. Carter is another plus character kid, coming from Stanford. This is a little later than I thought Carter would be selected, so this is a good value for the Lions, who will be looking to replace RaSean Mathis. Carter should be a starter for Detroit within two years. Grade: B

Round 4 Pick 113              Gabe Wright                      DT           Auburn

Wright is a solid Defensive Tackle who will play 3 technique in the Lions’ 4-3 Defense. Wright is a good athlete for the position and will look to add production and depth for a D-Line that although adding Haloti Ngata, lost Nick Fairley and the league’s best DT, Ndamukong Suh. The 4th round is a pretty decent value for Wright, who could top out as a starter, but will most likely be a solid rotational Defensive Lineman during his career. Grade: B-

Round 5 Pick 168              Michael Burton                 FB           Rutgers

Burton was a versatile player for the Scarlet Knights, and will look to bring the same value to the Lions. He can play Fullback, and in a pinch, he could also play Tight End if you needed. He’s a solid receiver and is a traditional lunch pail worker who will fight and claw to make the roster. The Lions will also be looking to improve their running game, something that Burton, along with the additions to the Offensive Line will help with. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 200              Quandre Diggs                  CB           Texas

Quandre Diggs was a former Blue Chip recruit who went to “Defensive Back U” at Texas. Diggs’ biggest detriment is probably his height, but Diggs is scrappy and will be a good slot Corner in the league. This is also a good value for the Lions to get Diggs, because if he was taller than 5’8″ he would likely have been a Early Day 3 pick. With the Packers having Randall Cobb and the Bears with Eddie Royal, slot Corners will be very important in the NFC North. Grade: B+

Round 7 Pick 240              Corey Robinson                OT          South Carolina

This is probably my favorite pick for the Lions. Corey Robinson should have been picked in the 4th or 5th Round, so getting him so close to the end of the 7th is a great value. Robinson also possesses good potential. He’s likely a Right Tackle only in the NFL, but he could play Left Tackle in a pinch. Detroit is also a good situation for Robinson, who could realistically start Week 1 for the Lions. A solid starter and good run blocker is a great pick in the 7th. Grade: A

Overall Grade: B. This is a solid class for the Lions, who weren’t in any major need for a difference maker, so they get some solid “safe” picks, and picked up 2 likely starters on the Offensive Line, as well as a Fullback and rotational Runningback. It’s clear what the Lions were trying to do, and they did a good job.

 

Green Bay Packers: 12-4 in 2015, lost to Seattle in NFC Championship, 30th Overall

Round 1 Pick 30                 Damarious Randall           DB          Arizona State

Randall was a late riser that was a bit of a surprise pick for Green Bay at first glance. They picked a Safety in last year’s First Round, HaHa Clinton-Dix. However, after some thought, it makes a lot of sense. Ted Thompson clearly didn’t think a whole lot of this year’s Linebacker class, and thought to address some losses in the Secondary. The Packers lost Tramon Williams and Davon House this offseason, and in today’s NFL, you need all of the pass defense you can get. Randall will likely play Cornerback in Green Bay, and will be a Special Teams ace, something that’s a sensitive subject here in Wisconsin after the loss to Seattle last year. I just think that Green Bay could have traded back, and still gotten Randall, or got a better value at #30. Grade: B-

Round 2 Pick 62                 Quentin Rollins                 DB          Miami (OH)

Rollins was one of the more interesting stories of this year’s class, as he only played one year of college football. He had played Point Guard for Miami (OH) for four years before deciding to give football a shot. It proved to be a good decision as he was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Rollins played Corner in college, but could be seen as a Safety in the NFL, again helping the losses of Williams and House. Rollins is also a good Special Teamer. I liked this pick a little more than Randall. Grade: B

Round 3 Pick 94                 Ty Montgomery                WR         Stanford

Ty Montgomery was one of my favorite players in this draft, however I think this was a little early for him. Montgomery is built like a Runningback, and is a jack of all trades, and therefore a master of none. Montgomery will succeed immediately as a Kick Returner, as well as a satellite-type player, or someone who you can get the ball to in a lot of ways. Again, Special Team emphasis with his pick, and you can never give Aaron Rodgers too many good Wideouts. I thought this was a round too early for Montgomery. Grade: C

Round 4 Pick 129              Jake Ryan                            LB           Michigan

Here’s the Linebacker help that the fans have been looking for, and they don’t have to look far from home. Jake Ryan is a bit of a throwback in the middle of the defense, will provide depth right away for the Packers, before potentially starting down the line. Ryan is at his best attacking the line of scrimmage, but is passable in coverage. This was a good value for Ryan, and he should be a solid pro. Again, Special Teams value here too. Grade: B+

Round 5 Pick 147              Brett Hundley                    QB          UCLA

This is easily my favorite pick by the Packers. Brett Hundley should have been picked in the 2nd Round, or at least before Sean Mannion. Hundley provides exciting athletic upside, as well as some traits that will help him succeed in the NFL. He also has a pretty decent teacher, with a fairly comparable skill set. This is a huge value for Green Bay, and is an excellent environment for Hundley to develop. Look for the Packers to flip him for a pick in a couple of seasons. Grade: A

Round 6 Pick 205              Aaron Ripkowski              FB           Oklahoma

Despite John Kuhn’s popularity here in Wisconsin, he’s not getting any younger, and here is his eventual replacement. Look for Ripkowski to ride on the Packers’ practice squad for a year before being brought up to be the lead blocker for Eddie Lacy. He’ll also contribute on Special Teams. Ripkowski fits the range here in the 6th round. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 210              Christian Ringo                  DL           Louisiana-Lafayette

Props to Justin Higdon, as he was the only reason I had any idea who Christian Ringo was, especially since ESPN mis-tagged him as a Long Snapper. Ringo is a penetrator on the D-Line, and reminds me a bit of Mike Daniels, who Green Bay struck gold with a couple years ago. Ringo isn’t a great fit for Capers’ 3-4, but neither was Daniels. Plus it’s the 6th round, and Ringo is a decent value here. Grade: C

Round 6 Pick 213              Kennard Backman           TE           UAB

To be 100% honest with all of you, I had no idea who Kennard Backman was, but I’m happy that UAB was represented in the Draft after the unfortunate loss of their football program. I doubt that Backman makes the roster, but Thompson has taken Tight Ends late in the draft in the past, so this wasn’t a big surprise. Grade: C-

Overall Grade: C+. Before this class is criticized too harshly, you can never underestimate adding talent to your roster, and that’s what the Packers did. They were a couple fluke plays from being in the Super Bowl, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with Ted Thompson’s drafts.

 

Minnesota Vikings: 7-9 in 2015, 11th Overall

Round 1 Pick 11                 Trae Waynes                      CB           Michigan State

Mike Zimmer is a defensive wizard, getting the absolute most out of his players. He also has a good track record with developing Corners, and Waynes has the great speed to compliment Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings needed some help in the secondary, and Waynes gives them that. He should step in and start Day 1 in Minnesota, and he could develop to be at worst, a solid starter in the league. I think this is a little early for Waynes, but if Zimmer liked Waynes the most out of this class, I trust him. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 45                 Eric Kendricks                    LB           UCLA

Reuniting last year’s 1st rounder Anthony Barr with his former college teammate, the Vikings got the best off-ball Linebacker in this class. Kendricks, much like his older brother in Philadelphia, wins with his instincts and athleticism. He fits right in with Zimmer’s 4-3 scheme. He should be another Day 1 starter for the Vikings and is an excellent value in the 2nd round. Grade: A

Round 3 Pick 88                 Danielle Hunter                DL           LSU

I wasn’t a huge fan of Hunter, but he is an undeniable talent, and getting him in the 3rd round is another solid value. Hunter is very raw athletically, and compares physically to Barkevious Mingo, his former LSU teammate. Les Miles likes his Defensive Ends long and athletic, and Hunter is that to a tee. He won’t start right away, but possesses the talent to start down the line, and should be a sub-package rusher as a rookie. Grade: A-

Round 4 Pick 110              T.J. Clemmings                  OT          Pittsburgh

This is one of my favorite picks in this whole class. Clemmings provides immense physical potential and upside. He’s only played Offense for two years, but is as athletic as any lineman in this class. Once thought to be a 1st Round pick, a foot injury was the main reason for Clemmings’ slide. At the worst, he was a 4th Round pick that didn’t work out. But he could potentially be your starting Left Tackle, and protecting Touchdown Teddy should be a top priority. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 143              Mycole Pruitt                     TE           Southern Illinois

Pruitt is a small school Tight End with some big school speed. He ran the fastest 40 of any Tight End at the Combine. He’s a move Tight End in the NFL, as he’s not a big enough, or a good enough blocker to play in-line. That’s okay though, because Minnesota has one of the league’s best in-line Tight Ends in Kyle Rudolph. Pruitt will cause mismatches for the Vikings, something they don’t have many of on offense. Grade: B-

Round 5 Pick 146              Stefon Diggs                       WR         Maryland

Stefon Diggs is more talented than this draft slot would imply, so this is another good value for the Vikings. Diggs provides Kick Return value, and he’s a lightning quick slot Wide Receiver. Minnesota needs to add weapons for Teddy Bridgewater, and Diggs provides that at a small cost. I felt that he was a very underrated prospect throughout this process. Grade: A-

Round 6 Pick 185              Tyrus Thompson              OT          Oklahoma

More protection for the Franchise, Thompson is a good value in the 6th Round. A multiple year starter for the Sooners, Thompson could project inside to Guard in the NFL. With the Vikings maybe moving on from Adrian Peterson to Bridgewater, the more you can keep him upright the better. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 193              B.J. Dubose                        DL           Louisville

Dubose is an intriguing prospect. Recruited to Louisville by Charlie Strong, Dubose can play multiple spots along the Vikings defensive front. At 6’4″ 284 lbs, he can play Left Defensive End, as well as 3 Technique Tackle. He is an impressive athlete for his size, and he might be best suited to drop some weight and play Defensive End. This is the right range for Dubose, who was never quite able to put all of his talent together for long stretches at Louisville. He has a good shot at making the roster. Grade: B

Round 7 Pick 228              Austin Shepherd              OT          Alabama

Have I mentioned how important it is for the Vikings to protect Teddy Bridgewater? Well here’s another emphasis on this, as well as adding a smart and technically sound Offensive Lineman is never a bad thing. A multi year starter for the Crimson Tide, Shepherd projects to Guard in the NFL due to some athletic limitations. This is the right range for Shepherd, so I like the pick. At worst, Shepherd should provide good depth for the Vikings. Grade: B+

Round 7 Pick 232              Edmond Robinson           LB           Newberry

Mike Zimmer clearly prioritizes athleticism on defense, so why stop in the 7th? Robinson was the only Division 2 defender invited to the Combine. Robinson doesn’t have much short term potential for production, but in two years or so, Robinson could be a fringe starter or a solid depth player at Linebacker. Grade: B

Overall Grade: A. The Vikings had the best draft in the division, and one of the best in the whole league. They picked up at least 2 Day 1 starters, with the potential to get 5 or 6 starters from this class. They didn’t “reach” for anyone except maybe Waynes, and I’ll trust Mike Zimmer on that. They got great value at nearly every slot, and got much closer to competing for the NFC North crown.

Written by 

Adams-Friendship Green Devil and Carroll University Pioneer for life. Aspiring to be great. @RieseDraft

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