NFC North – 2014 Draft Recap

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I am satisfied with the Chicago Bears draft and have already given them a solid B grade, but the rest of the NFC North did pretty well for themselves too. I’ve broken down each team’s draft picks and any UDFAs of note below. Feel free to comment if you think I am wrong or missed any significant players.

Green Bay Packers

Might as well start with the Bears biggest rival and the defending NFC North champion. The Packers got lucky that the #1 safety on most draft boards, S Ha Ha Clinton Dix, fell all the way to the 21st pick. Safety was the Packers most glaring need (imo) and they got my #1 rated player at the position. Solid start, but I hope Clinton Dix posts more pictures like this one on his Twitter feed. I might like their 2nd round pick, WR Davante Adams, even better. I thought he had a chance to go in the 1st round and think he could have a significant impact as a rookie. He catches everything, is a polished route runner and is shifty enough to make people miss and strong enough to break tackles when they don’t. I think Adams will be able to take advantage of single coverage in the slot and could be in the rookie of the year mix. I’ll be writing more about Adams in my upcoming fantasy rookies to watch column.

At this point in the draft, the Packers have an A grade, but I thought the wheels came off in the 3rd round. I like DT Khyri Thornton, I wrote about him a few times during draft season as a potential late round target for the Bears, but that is my problem with this pick. I had Thornton graded as a 5th-6th round pick at best and a guy that needs a year of development before seeing the field. There were other DTs or 5-tech DEs available who I had rated much higher like DaQaun Jones, Justin Ellis, Brent Urban or Caraun Reid to name a few.

Tight end was a definite need for the Packers coming into the draft so it was no surprise that they drafted one, but I was surprised they used their second 3rd round pick on TE Richard Rodgers out of Cal. Rodgers was used primarily as a receiver in college and has limited blocking ability. After his 4.87 40-time at the combine I thought the earliest he would get drafted was the 6th-7th round. Rodgers has decent size (6’4, 257) but doesn’t use it to shield defenders, doesn’t block, and doesn’t have the speed to get open down the seam. I had six TEs rated ahead of Rodgers who were still available at this point of the draft including Arthur Lynch and Crockett Gilmore who I thought would have been much better selections for the Packers.

I thought the 3rd round was a disaster, but from this point on I like most of the picks. 4th round LB Carl Bradford is a fierce player who has the versatility to play either inside or out and has natural pass-rush ability. Bears fans are going to hate Bradford.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I thought drafting C Corey Linsley with their first 5th rounder was a reach. He’s a hard-worker and smart player but I think he projects as a back-up and I had 3-4 centers rated higher that were still available, especially Wesley Johnson from Vanderbilt who the Steelers grabbed 12 picks later. With their second 5th rounder the Pack took WR Jared Abbrederis from Wisconsin and this is one of my favorite picks in the draft. I thought he had a shot to go in the 3rd round and think he had the best route-running ability of any receiver in the draft. He makes tough catches, he blocks, and has underrated quickness. If you don’t like this pick, watch the tape of the Wisc / Ohio St game last year. Abbrederis destroys 1st round corner Bradley Roby over and over again.

6th round pick, CB Demetri Goodson, is a project but will be 25 years old by opening day, so thy Packers will need to develop him quickly. Goodson is very raw (#47/50 in my CB rankings), but has good size & strength for a corner and the Packers have a history of success with late round / undrafted defensive backs, so I can’t really knock this pick. WR Jeff Janis was a steal in the 7th round. He has great size (6’3, 219), speed (4.42), and had the 2nd fastest 10-yard split at the combine (1.47) behind only Dri Archer. Janis is facing a big jump in competition level, but has the physical tools to be an NFL player.

UDFAs:

LB Adrian Hubbard has NFL size (6’6, 257) and athleticism, but wasn’t very productive at Alabama and could have used another year in school. His technique needs a lot of work, but he has starter potential as a 3-4 OLB in a few years. 

RB LaDarius Perkins was one of my favorite sleeper running backs, he’s short (5’7) but well-built and tough. He is shifty in the open-field and his low center of gravity gives him great balance and a pinball running style. He could make the roster as a change of pace back, but last year’s 4th round pick Jonathon Franklin is a similar player and I don’t think the Packers will keep both on the 53 man roster.

Grade: C+

My grade might come as a surprise considering many analysts graded the Packers’ draft as the best in the division. I think the Packers started strong in the first two rounds, but I don’t like their two 3rd rounders at all and think they missed on a couple late rounders as well. The Packers did well to find two solid starters in Clinton-Dix and Adams, and two useful rotation players in Bradford and Abbrederis but their 5 other picks are depth players / projects and their UDFAs are long shots. In most years that would be a pretty good haul, but in one of the most talent rich drafts in recent history that’s not enough for a positive grade.

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