Green Bay Packers- Grade: A
“The Pack” quietly had one of the better 2018 drafts by addressing several key weaknesses on both defense and offense. While I believed Josh Jackson should have gone ahead of fellow corner Jaire Alexander, Green Bay still managed to land both players while also landing another first round pick in next year’s draft in their trade with the Saints. Bravo! However, rookie GM Brian Gutekunst’s most brilliant move had to come in the sixth round, where he ended talented Notre Dame wide out Equanimeous St. Brown’s absurd free fall as he was projected by most as a second or third pick. Even though Gutekunst had to know that by taking St. Brown it would officially leave the Packers with SIX receivers all competing for the third receiver role behind starters Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, there’s no denying he couldn’t resist passing on such a great late round steal.
I’ve been high on St. Brown since before the draft and the thought of him going from a total trash quarterback in his last year in college to a future hall of fame QB in Aaron Rodgers, has me very excited for his future. Great draft for a team that desperately needed a player of St Brown’s caliber. Despite this steal, the former Fighting Irish wide-out will face stiff competition as the Packers also drafted J’Mon Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling ensuring the battle in training camp to line up for Rodgers will be a mouth-watering affair and likely bring the best out of all three.
Chicago Bears– Grade: A-
Every year for the last three seasons the Bears just continue hammering out solid draft classes. Taking stud Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, is going to pay immediate dividends for an already somewhat stout defense at times. By adding Smith, the Bears will trot out one of the league’s best interior line backing units in the NFL this season as Smith lines up next to a bone crushing hitter in Danny Trevathan. In addition to Smith, Chicago took one of my favorite receivers in the third round with Anthony Miller. A sub six foot wide out who crushed his competition last year at Memphis with his huge hands and athletic ability. Miller could end up being a stronger version of Randall Cobb should he reach his full potential in the NFL and that should absolutely terrify the rest of the NFC North. Especially when you consider he’s going to have the luxury of growing with second year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Considering Chicago is in a division full of weak slot corners, Mitch should be able to hit Miller with a variety of unique passes in the slot- making Miller a viable draft pick, especially in dynasty league formats.
Detroit Lions- Grade: B
I don’t think new head coach, Matt Patricia, could have made it more clear that the Lions will not be a cellar dweller in rushing his first year as the Detroit Lions head coach. Selecting offensive linemen Frank Ragnow in the first round was a great pick and should make an immediate impact in the running game. Following that up by selecting Auburn bruiser back Kerryon Johnson, now gives Detroit a high upside thunder back to team up with Theo Riddick’s lightning ability.
With every move Patricia makes, the more I believe Detroit is in the midst of an immense culture change on offense this year and one that could see the Lions shifting to a more run first offense that will play to set up their traditionally explosive passing game. Call it a hunch, but I think we’ve seen the last of Matthew Stafford dominating the league in passing attempts which should be great for extending his career as long as possible. I’m leaning towards investing heavily on Johnson and Riddick in my fantasy leagues.
Minnesota Vikings- Grade: C-
Clearly Minnesota went need first in the first round, selecting a projected slot corner back Mike Hughes out of Central Florida University. While I thought it was quite the reach taking a potential slot corner back so high in the draft- especially when you consider the fact that most of the leagues best slot corners were taken later in the draft or were simply undrafted. However, I can’t argue with Minnesota being aggressive to fix their biggest need on defense, as capable offenses routinely exposed their weaknesses in the slot as a key component that generated success against an otherwise stout defensive unit. Where I think Minnesota went awry, was with their second pick, opting to select a massive offensive lineman in Brian O’Neil. Despite his excellent mobility for a guy his size, he’s projected to be the blind side tackle to help protect off-season acquisition Kirk Cousins. This could potentially be problematic when you consider he has only played the position for one full season at Pitt and was originally recruited to the university as a tight end. Apparently a smooth transition considering he earned all conference honors at left tackle his Junior season in his last year of college. While O’Neil does have very high upside in the NFL with his size and speed, I am truly concerned that he lacks the adequate strength required of a blind side tackle to keep Cousins clean against an average NFL bull rush. Considering Minnesota had a mediocre pass rush in 2017, I think the move here was to take a high upside pass rusher and seek out a veteran left tackle elsewhere.
For more articles assessing each team’s performances in this years’ draft- be sure to check back for our division by division analysis continuing throughout the month here on acrossthefantasypond.com
By Shaun Bo – @FFJuggernauts