Vikings Defense on Rebound in NFC North?

The first two rounds came off as smashing successes for the Bears but the Lions and Vikings overall came close to matching what could be Ryan Pace's best draft class, while the Packers seemed content with dwelling on their past successes.
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It's difficult for any of the other NFC North teams to trump the Bears' 2021 draft based on the Justin Fields selection and two big blockers to bolster a sagging offensive line.

The lack of third- and fourth-round picks couldn't even drag down this draft class for the Bears, as it initially stacks up on paper. The Bears had the fewest picks in the first four rounds and still came away with one of the best drafts.

The Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions both did their best to equal it. Detroit had a long way to go and the Vikings made some very shrewd selections on defense.

In the meantime, the Pack fell back to the pack in many respects. 

If Aaron Rodgers' disgust with being a member of the Green Bay Packers is real, then a mediocre draft is compounded by an entirely unsettling situation. 

It all threatens to make the NFC North a much more competitive situation in coming years.

Here's how the Bears stacked up against other NFC North teams in this draft.

Chicago Bears Grade: A

Round 1, 11th: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Round 2, 39th: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

Round 5, 151st: OT Larry Borom, Missouri

Round 6, 217st: RB Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech

Round 6, 221st: WR Dazz Newsome, North Carolina

Round 6, 228th: CB Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon

Round 7, 250th: DI Khyiris Tonga, BYU

The Lowdown: On many boards, Fields was the second- or third-best quarterback and the Bears finally can look to the future again at the position. NFL Draft Bible ranked Jenkins the 17th best player overall and the Bears got him at 39. The rest of the draft is filled with players valued high by many predraft estimates. Both Graham and Herbert were steals, according to Pro Football Focus. Herbert had a fourth-round grade on the NFL Draft Bible big board, while PFF called both Graham and Herbert potential third-round picks. The Bears didn't get the slot receiver speed they needed but did find a very slippery one who was rated 35 spots better by NFL Draft Bible than his selection spot.

Minnesota Vikings Grade: A-

Round 1, 23rd: T Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

Round 3, 66th: QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

Round 3, 78th: LB Chazz Surratt, North Carolina

Round 3, 86th: G Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

Round 3, 90th: Edge Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh

Round 4, 119th: RB Kene Nwangwu, Iowa State

Round 4, 125th: CB Camryn Bynum, California

Round 4, 134th: Edge Janarius Robinson, Florida State

Round 5, 157th: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa

Round 5, 168th: TE Zach Davidson, Zach Davidson

Round 6, 199th: Edge Jaylen Twyman, Pitt

The Lowdown: Sheer numbers made this a winning draft, with 11 picks. The Vikings owned the third round and fortified their offensive line and linebackers with valuable picks over the first two days. Christian Darrisaw was a total steal at No. 23, possibly the second-best offensive lineman in the draft, and they traded down to take him. If the Bears hadn't been able to take Fields, sitting at No. 20 and taking Darrisaw would have made it a total success, anyway. Jones at 90th is another great value pick. He could supply the edge rush the Vikings seemed to lack last year. The one questionable early pick was Davis, when there were plenty of other higher-rated guards left. Getting the other Pitt edge rusher in Round 6, Twyman, is also potential robbery, and Bynum is a player the Bears likely would have had interest in if only they had a fourth-round pick. The Vikings needed plenty of help in their secondary despite their attempts at improvement last year and this helps. Mond going in Round 3 surprised some who rated him a second-rounder, but his robotic play and overall inaccuracy might have made Round 3 too soon to select him. He was one of the most experienced QBs in the class and his potential is pretty apparent.

Detroit Lions: B+

Round 1, 7th: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

Round 2, 41st: DI Levi Onwuzurike, Washington

Round 3, 72nd: DI Alim McNeill, NC State

Round 3, 101st: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

Round 4, 112th: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC

Round 4, 113th: LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue

Round 7, 257th: RB Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State

The Lowdown: Dan Campbell had to love the first three picks, considering how much he wants to kick in teeth and bite kneecaps. He's building the lines first and no one can ever question the wisdom of this. The Lions neglected this too much in the past, particularly on defense. The problem is, this was a poor year for interior defensive linemen so they'll have to make a bad situation work for them. Sewell is a real kneecap biter and teeth smasher. He'll bring physicality to the Lions offensive line, which has been a good pass blocking group but needed to be better blocking the run. This offense is going to be all about running and play-action passing, and Sewell will help make it possible. They took Onwuzurike before McNeill and both are excellent picks for when they went, though McNeill might have the higher ceiling. The Bears would have felt fortunate to get McNeill. The interior of the Lions defensive line last year was abysmal and these two can help solidify it. St. Brown is a potential steal in round 4. He didn't run as fast as some slot receivers, but he gets open better than most and has YAC capability. He is a route technician and also is big enough and fast enough to be an X-receiver. Some scouts and analysts fell in love with Melifonwu. Never made enough big plays considering his athletic potential. Overall a very good draft but more secondary help is still needed for the Lion, who have rather utilitarian receiver corps for Jared Goff.

Green Bay Packers: C-

Round 1, 29th: CB Eric Stokes, Georgia

Round 2, 62nd: C Josh Myers, Ohio State

Round 3, 85th: WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson

Round 4, 142nd: T Royce Newman, Ole Miss

Round 5, 173rd: DI Tedarrell Slaton, Florida

Round 5, 178th: CB Shemar Jean-Charles, App State

Round 6, 214th: T Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin

Round 6, 220th: LB Isaiah McDuffie, Boston College

Round 7, 256th: RB Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

The Lowdown: The Packers made Rodgers happy, just not the right Rodgers. They picked Amari Rodgers in Round 3, a value pick because he was a highly productive player from a highly successful offense as a slot receiver. He could bring more balance to their receiver corps, although looking at this position earlier could have netted them someone with better speed, more moves and far more explosiveness. Aaron Rodgers might tell them that. Amari Rodgers should be dependable. Stokes is high-risk, high reward type. His speed was said to be the greatest of any defensive player in the draft. However, he didn't play up to that speed and some of the times posted for him in that 40 were exaggerations. They said he ran 4.25 when it was 4.31. Overall, though, they should have made more picks like Stokes because they're in a strong position to take chances on real athletic wonders, but the rest of the draft they had was underwhelming from this respect. Myers was a total reach pick, driven by position need. NFL Draft Bible had him rated in a fourth-round range, not the second round, and Pro Football Focus had graded him consistently in college as an average player. Slaton is a guy the Bears probably would have liked but had to settle for Borom. Van Lanen might appease the cheesehead fans but his pass-blocking abilities are questionable. He's more of a traditional U of W straight-ahead run-blocking type. Jean-Charles as a fifth-rounder is a bargain because he's another high-risk, high-reward. If you're going to take a stab at those types, the fifth round is a good place to do it. Newman needs to develop his lower-body strength to be more effective at guard, which is where NFL Draft Bible projects he should play. The Packers' talent pool is greater than other teams from the NFC North, which is good for them because this draft will do little to supplement it. 

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