by Dave Syvertsen, Ourlads’ Draft Analyst
Below is a quick overview of the each team’s draft within the NFC North with a focus on what they really tried to do with this class. Also noted is their best value pick and top undrafted free agent signing. Value is based on where they were selected and where I had them graded.
1 (9) – Anthony Barr – LB / UCLA
2 (32) – Teddy Bridgewater – QB / Louisville
3 (72) – Scott Crichton – DE / Oregon State
3 (96) – Jerick McKinnon – RB / Georgia Southern
5 (145) – David Yankey – G / Stanford
6 (182) – Antone Exum – CB / Virginia Tech
6 (184) – Kendall James – CB / Maine
7 (220) – Shamar Stephen – DT / Connecticut
7 (223) – Brandon Watts LB / Georgia Tech
7 (225) – Jabari Price – CB / North Carolina
The Vikings swung for the fences with this draft class, taking several chances on players with a very high risk, high reward label to their name. Barr and Bridgewater each offer top tier potential but their fits against NFL speed and power have been questioned by many. McKinnon and Yankey were outstanding value selections based on the grades I gave them, but even I will admit these guys could turn out to be non-factors at the next level if they can’t shore up their weak points. When it came to filling the holes on their roster, I feel they approached it the right way and did not reach for more pressing needs.
Top Value Pick: David Yankey – G/Stanford (2nd round grade)
The fall of Yankey in to day three was one of the biggest draft weekend surprises for me. We are talking about a two time All American that has played tackle and guard. His tape against his more physical competition is the most impressive and I think he is a guy that can handle NFL power right away. His lack of quick-twitch footwork is a product of the Stanford system more so than a physical limitation. He showed he can pass protect in space and he showed he can pull out as a lead blocker. The Vikings may have gotten a starting guard in the 5th round, a great find.
Top UDFA: Antonio Richardson – OT / Tennessee
With off-field concerns aside, Richardson was definitely a top 100 overall player. I can understand teams passing on him during the draft, not wanting to waste a prized asset such as a selection slot, but there is little-to-no risk with Richardson as an UDFA. If you watch the right game tapes, Richardson appears to be a dominant force in the SEC that can consistently win the one on one battles. He is such a large person with good hand power that he can make up for his lack of ideal footwork in pass protection. If he does indeed turn things around when it comes to motivation, I think the Vikes have a future starter at RT.
1 (10) – Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron – TE / North Carolina
2 (40) – Kyle Van Noy – LB / BYU
3 (76) – Travis Swanson – C / Arkansas
4 (133) – Nevin Lawson – CB / Utah State
4 (136) – Larry Webster – DE / Bloomsburg
5 (158) – Caraun Reid – DT / Priceton
6 (189) – TJ Jones – WR / Notre Dame
7 (229) – Nate Freese – K / Boston College
The Lions have been great at scoring points and creating a fear factor in the eyes of opposing defenses in recent years, but just as much they have been easy to score on. I thought they needed to approach this draft with a defensive mindset but instead they added yet another weapon to the passing game in Ebron. They waited until the 133rd pick in the draft to use a selection on a defensive back, which really puzzled me. While I like a couple picks value-wise, there were just too many guys they passed on that met the grade/need requirement.
Top Value Pick: Travis Swanson – C/Arkansas (wnd round value)
Swanson was my top graded center, finishing just outside the first round. He has great size and quick feet, enabling him to take on different kinds of defenders. He looks really comfortable climbing to the second level where he can overwhelm linebackers, but he also plays a stout game against the bigger defensive tackles. I’m not sure what their plan is right away with him, but I like the system be played in last year at Arkansas. He can fit right in to the NFL if he has to and could be one of the best centers in the game down the road.
Top UDFA: Gabe Lynn – S / Okahoma (7th round grade)
There is a lot of instability at the safety spot in Detroit but I think Lynn could be a much welcomed addition. He plays a balanced game, showing the ability to stuff the run in the box but also run with defenders downfield. I think the upside is limited with him but Detroit doesn’t need a star back there, just someone that can be reliable in different roles. The anticipation and quick reaction times will sit well within a defense that has a potentially dominant defensive line.
1 (14) – Kyle Fuller – CB / Virginia Tech
2 (51) – Ego Ferguson – DT / LSU
3 (82) – Will Sutton – DT / Arizona State
4 (117) – Ka’Deem Carey – RB / Arizona
4 (131) – Brock Vereen – S / Minnesota
6 (183) – David Fales – QB / San Jose State
6 (191) – Pat O’Donnell – P / Miami
7 (246) – Charles Leno Jr – OT / Boise State
While the value didn’t always match up, Chicago did a nice job of bringing in enticing talent to the positions they needed help at on defense. I think Fuller could be best, or second best, corner in this class when all is said and done. His early tape from 2013 was superior to any I saw of all the CBs in this class throughout the year. Ferguson and Sutton didn’t grade out well from a season perspective on my sheet, but they have shown flashes of taking over games against some quality competition. I think both can get a decent amount of playing time right away for this team. Carey and Vereen are two under the radar guys that I really like within this system that Chicago plays on both sides of the ball respectively. Overall this is a nice group that has a decent shot at producing 4 or 5 long time NFL starters, a number most GMs would sign for in any draft.
Top Value Pick: Ka’Deem Carey – RB/Arizona (3rd round grade)
Before the extensive grading process took place, I thought Carey was likely to finish as my top rated back in the draft. I love his movement ability in tight spaces and there is more speed/explosion to his game than what he gets credit for. He also plays the game hard all the time whether he is carrying the ball or pass blocking. Can his frame hold up in the league? That remains to be seen but he won’t be counted on for 20+ carries per game anytime too soon and he was the only focal point of the Arizona offense the past two years. We have seen several quality backs taken in the fourth round in years past, I think Carey gets added to that list in a couple years.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
1 (21) – Ha Ha Clinton Dix – S / Alabama
2 (53) – Davante Adams – WR / Fresno State
3 (85) – Khryi Thornton – DT / Southern Miss
3 (98) – Richard Rodgers – TE / California
4 (121) – Carl Bradford – LB / Arizona State
5 (161) – Corey Linsley – C / Ohio State
5 (176) – Jared Abbrederis – WR / Wisconsin
6 (197) – Demetri Goodson – CB / Baylor
7 (236) – Jeff Janis – WR / Saginaw Valley
The Packers offense has lost a little bit of it’s former fear factor that kept defensive coordinators up at night. The offensive line is no longer the problem though, and Eddie Lacy had a fine rookie season. They needed to re-stock that WR and TE position with some fresh talent to pair with one of the game’s top QBs in Rodgers. The combination of Adams and Abbrederis could end up being enormous additions for this team as the 2014 season progresses, as both fit the system and Rodgers’ style of play pereectly. Defensively they added arguably the top deep coverage safety to help out with the overly aggressive CBs they have and an overlooked defensive linemen that again, fits their scheme really well. Overall this was a nice class for Green Bay because of how well these guys fit their systems and how much they can offer right away.
Top Value Pick: Jared Abbrederis – WR/Wisconsin (3rd round value)
I actually had Abbrederis right behind Adams on my board, and Green Bay was able to take him 120+ picks later. Abbrederis is a guy that will catch 100 passes per year if given the opportunity within this system. He can play the slot and the outside, being able to run himself open all over the route tree. His quickness in and out of breaks combined with superb ball skills is all Rodgers needs on the crucial 3rd downs. While I mostly see him as an underneath and after-the-catch threat, Abbrederis can sneak behind a defense and pose as a deep threat at times. Just an overall well-balanced receiver here that does all the little things right.
Top UDFA: Adrian Hubbard – OLB/Alabama (4th round grade)
Hubbard was a bit of an underachiever at Alabama which has to scare me a little. But if he can enter the league with a chip on his shoulder after being undrafted when he probably deserved to be a mid-round pick, the Packers may have the steal of the undrafted free agency period. Hubbard can play their 3-4 OLB role pretty quickly because that is what he did in college, and he has the tool set to handle the role in the NFL. He is really big, strong, and powerful but also has a quickness about him in short space. There is space for another OLB or two on this team, Hubbard has a good shot to earn it.