Mason Thompson | January 25th, 2020
The Green Bay Packers were dismantled in the NFC Championship game, meaning all four of the NFC North teams have now been eliminated this year. Last April, this division had four first-round picks, with Green Bay having two of those four. The Chicago Bears were without first and second-round picks due to the Khalil Mack trade. The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings had plenty of picks throughout the draft and didn’t do much moving around. Let’s take a look at how all four teams did last April with their selections.
- 3rd Round, Pick 73: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
- 4th Round, Pick 126: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
- 6th Round, Pick 205: Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State
- 7th Round, Pick 222: Kerrith Whyte Jr., RB, Florida Atlantic
- 7th Round, Pick 238: Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State
The Bears were without first and second-round picks thanks to the addition of Mack, which took them to the playoffs in 2018. The Bears opted to take Montgomery with their first selection. Even with Tarik Cohen, the loss of Jordan Howard was very impactful to Matt Nagy’s vision of the offense. Montgomery stumbled out of the gate due to offensive line troubles, but finished with almost 900 yards rushing, 200 yards receiving, and seven touchdowns overall.
Ridley was taken mostly because of name-value because of his brother, Calvin Ridley. He didn’t show much this year, only catching six passes for 69 yards. Shelley only played in nine games this year, mostly on special teams. Whyte was signed from the practice squad by the Steelers on September 27th.
- Best Pick: David Montgomery
- Worst Pick: Riley Ridley
- 1st Round, Pick 8: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
- 2nd Round, Pick 43: Jahlani Tavai, LB, Hawaii
- 3rd Round, Pick 81: Will Harris, S, Boston College
- 4th Round, Pick 117: Austin Bryant, DL, Clemson
- 5th Round, Pick 146: Amani Oruwariye, DB, Penn State
- 6th Round, Pick 184: Travis Fulgham, WR, Old Dominion
- 6th Round, Pick 186: Ty Johnson, RB, Maryland
- 7th Round, Pick 224: Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia
- 7th Round, Pick 229: P.J. Johnson, DT, Arizona
Hockenson showed out in his first game of the year but didn’t do much otherwise. Outside of his first game, he had 26 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown. At this point, it looks like the Lions would’ve been better off taking Ed Oliver with the eighth selection.
Tavai was seen by many as a reach at the time but fit the “Belichick” scheme well. He finished with 58 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. He will have to take a big step forward for the Lions defense to make huge strides, which is necessary for the team to do well.
Harris was taken for insurance if Tracy Walker didn’t show any development this year. Well, Walker took immense strides this year, having over 100 tackles and two interceptions. Harris wound up having 43 tackles and a sack. Oruwariye fell in the draft after there were some rumblings of him being a first-round pick early in the process. He finished with two interceptions and has shown production and the ability to be a starter for the Lions outside of Darius Slay.
- Best Pick: Jahlani Tavai
- Worst Pick: Will Harris
Green Bay Packers
- 1st Round, Pick 12: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
- 1st Round, Pick 21: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
- 2nd Round, Pick 44: Elgton Jenkins, OG, Mississippi State
- 3rd Round, Pick 75: Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
- 5th Round, Pick 150: Kingsley Keke, DL, Texas A&M
- 6th Round, Pick 185: Ka’dar Hollman, CB, Toledo
- 6th Round, Pick 194: Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame
- 7th Round, Pick 226: Ty Summers, LB, TCU
The selection of Gary was a surprise to everyone when it happened. He was a complementary edge rusher to the Smiths and made some great plays when he was in the game. He had two sacks and a fumble recovery, he wasn’t expected to play much this year and that stayed true. Savage was the final piece of the remade secondary. He had 55 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and five pass deflections. The combination of him and Adrian Amos is one of the best in the league.
Jenkins was a steal in the second round as he stepped in at left guard and played great. He will be a starter for years to come. Sternberger was on injured reserve for most of the year. He had limited playing time during the regular season but was shown getting consistent separation. He caught his first touchdown in the blowout loss to San Francisco. It will be interesting to see if the Packers cut Jimmy Graham and get Sternberger more playing time next season.
The remaining selections had little to no impact on the season. Summers could step up next year if Blake Martinez leaves during free agency.
- Best Pick: Elgton Jenkins
- Worst Pick: Any of the final four selections
- 1st Round, Pick 18: Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
- 2nd Round, Pick 50: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
- 3rd Round, Pick 102: Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State
- 4th Round, Pick 114: Dru Samia, OG, Oklahoma
- 5th Round, Pick 162: Cameron Smith, LB, USC
- 6th Round, Pick 190: Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas
- 6th Round, Pick 191: Marcus Epps, S, Wyoming
- 6th Round, Pick 193: Oli Udoh, OT, Elon
- 7th Round, Pick 217: Kris Boyd, CB, Texas
- 7th Round, Pick 239: Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon
- 7th Round, Pick 247: Olabisi Johnson, WR, Colorado State
- 7th Round, Pick 250: Austin Cutting, LS, Air Force
Bradbury improved the offensive line in a big way and improved the team as a whole. Smith was a surprise selection with Kyle Rudolph already on the roster. He finished with 36 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Mattison was a solid second back to Dalvin Cook. He had 100 rushes on the year, averaging over four and a half yards per carry, while also adding a touchdown.
Samia and Udoh offer valuable offensive line depth. The Vikings offensive line has been improving but you can never have too much depth especially at that position. Boyd offers depth in the secondary that could be without Trae Waynes next year. Johnson was a great selection in the seventh round, snagging 31 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns.
- Best Pick: Garrett Bradbury
- Worst Pick: Dillon Mitchell
The Packers and Vikings had great production from their early selections. Chicago needs to do a better job of drafting if they want to claw their way back to the playoffs this year. Detroit had some hits some weeks, with some misses in other weeks. Overall, I’d give the slight nod to Green Bay for the best class because they could potentially have four starters in Gary, Savage, Jenkins, and Sternberger.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images