Around the NFC North: NFL Draft edition

The 2015 NFL draft is complete and the Green Bay Packers are still the best team in the NFC North. But that doesn’t mean we should completely ignore the other teams in the division.

Just like the Packers added a bunch of new players, the Vikings, Lions and Bears now have new faces as well. Let’s recap the draft for the Packers’ divisional foes and ask ourselves if any of these teams are now in position to grab the NFC North title belt away from the Packers.

Minnesota Vikings

1 (11) — Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St.
2 (45) — Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
3 (88) — Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU
4 (110) — T.J. Clemmings, T, Pittsburgh
5 (143) — MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois
6 (185) — Tyrus Thompson, T, Oklahoma
6 (193) –B.J. Dubose, DE, Louisville
7 (228) — Austin Shepherd, T, Alabama

Are the Vikings ready to unseat the Packers?
No, but they’re getting damn close, in my opinion. Mike Zimmer is an excellent coach. Teddy Bridgewater barely scratched the surface of his ability last season. Waynes and Kendricks add to an emerging defense and offer two more weapons to try and slow down Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy & company. Even general manager Rick Spielman seems sensible, unlike Vikings GMs of the past.

With the exception of the Adrian Peterson drama, these Vikings don’t appear to be the bumbling and bungling Vikings we’ve grown to know and despise. They might be a year away from serious contention, but the Vikings are getting closer to being the real deal.

Best pick
Waynes. You can never have enough talent in the secondary when you play against the likes of Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Alshon Jeffrey and Clavin Johnson twice per season.

Possible late-round sleeper
Clemmings. In addition to Clemmings, the Vikings also drafted two other tackles in the late rounds. All three will provide competition/motivation for former No. 4 overall pick Matt Kalil, who’s regressed big time since his rookie season.

Detroit Lions

1 (28) — Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke
2 (54) — Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
3 (80) — Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
4 (113) — Gabe Wright, DT, Auburn
5 (168) — Michael Burton, FB, Rutgers
6 (200) — Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas
7 (240) — Corey Robinson, T, South Carolina

Are the Lions ready to unseat the Packers?
LOL! No. I know it’s silly to dismiss a team’s draft class before training camp even starts, but I’m not worried at all about an offensive lineman from Duke and a fumble-prone running back doing much to close the gap between Green Bay and Detroit.

I thought last year’s Lions’ draft class, led by tight end Eric Ebron, wasn’t very impressive and I feel the same about the 2015 class.

Best pick
Tomlinson. I guess if I had to pick a best Lions’ pick, it’d be Tomlinson. He doesn’t frighten me at the moment, but I could change my mind once he lines up against the Packers’ smallish defensive front.

Possible late-round sleeper
Diggs. I almost like this kid more than Carter. He’s got the physicality that seems to frustrate Green Bay’s receivers.

Chicago Bears

1 (7) — Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
2 (39) — Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida St.
3 (71) — Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon
4 (106) — Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan St.
5 (142) — Adrian Amos, FS, Penn. St.
6 (183) — Tayo Fabuluje, T, TCU

Are the Bears ready to unseat the Packers?
No way. Kevin White was the best receiver in this draft, but he can’t play defense, which is where the Bears needed help in order to prevent Rodgers from constantly carving them up. Having John Fox as your coach should automatically upgrade the defense a little bit, but the Bears need a lot more help on D if they want to even entertain the idea of unseating the Packers.

Best pick
White. Why did Packers GM Ted Thompson use his first two picks on defensive backs? Because the receivers in the NFC North keep getting better.

Possible late-round sleeper
Amos. The Bears desperately need re-enforcements in the secondary. If they are to have any shot at slowing down the Packes, Amos needs to quickly develop from the rangy prospect he currently is into a contributing player.

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Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .

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  • Chad Toporski

    I’m with you, Adam. I think the Vikings will be a contender this year. They’re rising while the other two teams are falling.

    • croatpackfan

      I agree with you… But just one remark… Vikings are better, Lions seems to stay at the same level and Bears are still falling but that drop is somehow slower…

    • Mike Sherman

      Surprised how fast the Vikes were able to rebuild. I still think they are likely 2 years and several moves away from being a legit Super Bowl contender, but I thought they were going to be a below average team for most of the rest of this decade. They’re lucky to find a QB so fast after whiffing on Ponder.

  • NemoOutis

    Goldman in the second round was a great pick by the Bears. Wish we had him. Raji and Guion may be gone after this year.

  • I did like the Vikings draft, and I think the Vikings will be a contender this year: For the wildcard. They are NOT getting close to unseating GB. GBs offense is better by far and while I think the purple hornies D will be better than GBs, it won’t be enough to close the gap.

    Their defense will be dang good and their running game will be good (assuming AP stays). They have a fair shot to split with GB. But their options in the passing game are uh… not good. Their OL stinks. Bridgewater can’t throw the deep ball. Rudolph is always hurt. Charles Johnson isn’t ready to be a #1, and Mike Wallace can’t run anything but the post and the go. So they won’t be able to keep up with a team who scores more than 24 on them. And GB will do just that.

    Bottom line is that they won’t go better than 10-6. Which means GB wins the division by 3 or 4 games.

  • I hate to admit it, but I LOVE this draft by the Vikings. Best CB in the draft. 2nd best ILB in the draft and in my opinion, 3rd best OT in the draft. Clemmings in Rd4 was the steal of the draft. Hunter will be a starter. Love the late round guys too… Vikings are causing me to squirm a bit here in my comfy “Packers rule the North” seat…

    • SchenySchen

      it was a great draft on paper……that’s all. The scuttlebutt here in the twin cities is they don’t know if they will make Kendricks the middle or weak side linebacker. That leaves Audi Cole for the middle on running downs and Lacy and our Oline will dominate them. GoPack!

    • They did have a good draft, but they had a LOT of ground to make up Al. As long as TT keeps the cupboard at least half full around ARod (and that’s what TT does), GB will rule the NFCN until he retires. Look at Indy with Peyton and Luck. NE with Brady. The only elite QB that hasn’t ruled his division is Brees with NO – because Loomis is a trainwreck. And even then, the Saints win the NFCS half the time.

      GB owns the North. They have since its inception, and they will until about 2025. 🙂

    • dobber

      The Vikes are building a fast, flexible defense. Zimmer is getting the kind of guys he wants and will need to try to neutralize the fast offenses of the NFCN. Maybe Bridgewater won’t turn out to be much more than a game manager, but with the defense they’re building, they might not need to score a lot of points.

      Clemmings is the pick I look at and wonder how he lasted that long. Ekpre-Olomu from Oregon, as well. He’s a really good CB…scouts must have info on how bad that knee really is, otherwise there’s no way he goes in the 7th.

      • Adam Czech

        Unless the Peterson situation torpedoes everything or Zygi does something really dumb, the Vikings finally have leadership in place w/ Zimmer and Spielman that isn’t a complete clown show. That, combined with a smart draft pick here and there, goes a long way in developing a good football team.

      • AgrippaLII

        I think Clemmings had some type of foot injury that put a bunch of teams out…seem to recall it was a “bone on bone” injury…most teams seemed to think he won’t last long because of it.

  • Big T

    The Vikings draft makes TT’s draft look like an uneducated inbred tool was at the helm. Anyone that doesn’t believe that TT got spanked in comparison to what the Vikings did in the draft must be completely engulfed in TT’s rectum.

    • SchenySchen

      You do recognize that picking 11th in every round and picking 30th in every round is an indication that they were really bad last year, right? it also tilts the selections and availability of players. I’m not defending TT in this draft. I’m not ripping him either. I’m suggesting time will tell. GoPack!

      • Chad Toporski

        This point is something people forget about all the time when comparing teams’ draft choices.

        • Big T

          TT may have made the same picks at 11.

      • TedTomsin

        Thank you for offering a refresher course to Big T on draft selection order. Sometimes people get so caught up in hating TT that they forget why he’s so good and always picking near the bottom.
        Ted

    • AgrippaLII

      The Vikings got good prospects in the first three rounds…who didn’t ! Clemmings dropped due to a foot injury that many believe will shorten his career…that’s why they hedged their bet by drafting two more tackles. They should draft well at #11 every round but I don’t see their late round picks as any better than anyone else’s. Do use all a favor and get your head out of your own rectum.

      • TedTomsin

        lol…man this is a fun draft!!

  • montana83

    Ted Thompson
    Look, everyone blames Ted Thompson if a player doesn’t cut it. You guys ever heard of the scouts we have? Hardly anyone knows their names, but they have to find the players and rate them. TT, MM and coaches look at what the scouts have come up with, but it is the scouts that say, “There are things I learned about player X that you can’t see on film. I will risk my job that player X should be drafted right here over any other player on the board in Round Y”. That is how it works, but TT gets the credit or blame.
    FWIW

    • dobber

      “That is how it works, but TT gets the credit or blame.”

      Too true, but TT wouldn’t be in that job if he didn’t WANT to have that be the case. You can say the same of just about any other decision-making executive in any sports franchise (or business CEO or whatever).

      People talk about TTs ego…they’re right. You need to be awful sure of yourself to have and to excel in that kind of job. You need to believe that YOU know better than just about everyone else how to build a team and run a team the right way. I actually want that person to have that kind of ego…it means they won’t kowtow to media or fan pressure.

    • TT hired those scouts. Dobber’s comment finishes my thoughts very well.

  • I have to laugh about this column (with which I agree almost in its entirety). There is no hesitation to grade/assess the drafts of other teams. I think maybe one comment below mentions that time will tell in passing. I would trade our first 4 picks for the Vikings first 4 picks in a heartbeat, but of course, since Minnesota picks 11th and we pick 30th, that should always be the case given GMs with equal ability. I didn’t really look at Waynes closely either, since I knew he wasn’t going to slide 20 spots down to us. I might do the 5th pick too, but I didn’t check out Mycole that closely, and I think drafting Hundley was smart. I like Chicago’s draft. I think Detroit’s was just plumb bad.

    Minnesota is worrisome on several levels. Coaching: check. GM: check. Their GM traded pick 76 for 80 and a 6th round pick. Then he traded 80 to Detroit and got pick 88 and a 5th rounder. With pick #88, he took Danielle Hunter. My, that’s some fine wheeling and dealing!

    • schenySchen

      That great GM also took Christian Ponder #12 overall as well as traded 4 picks (2,3,5,6) to move back into the first round to take Cordarrelle Patterson who going into year 3 still can’t run a route. Careful what you wish for…..

      • Mea culpa! Excellent riposte. Now that’s what I call citing some facts and destroying someone’s comment.

        I didn’t think Spielman was GM when Ponder was drafted. I was right, but only because Minnesota did not have the title of GM prior to 2012. Spielman was Minnesota’s VP of Player Personnel and directed their scouting department 2006 to 2011, and was promoted to the newly created position of GM in January of 2012, per Vikings.com. However, Minn had some weird triumvirate structure before that, I guess. One article says Spielman ran the draft and that the coach had final say over the roster. Looks like Spielman had something, maybe a lot to say, maybe all the say, in selecting Ponder. A third guy negotiated contracts, and managed the cap. Don’t know how you manage the cap w/o a lot of authority. IDK, I don’t follow Minnesota. A lot of articles suggest that Leslie Frazier had final say about drafting Ponder. See the links if you want. I looked at articles of Spielman in Miami, which were quite uncomplimentary, and which cited specific transactions. I looked at the Viking drafts from 2012 to now. Some nice players, but some bombs as well. I’ll stick with TT, thanks.

        So, overall, my mea culpa stands.

        http://www.dailynorseman.com/2011/4/26/2135714/which-quarterback-do-you-hope-the-vikings-draft

        http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/sports-explainingdraftgambles/4/