2015 NFL Draft: Initial Grades For The NFC North
The NFC North spent the 2015 NFL Draft getting stronger, at least until this latest crop of college prospects takes the field to prove they’re ready to play on the professional stage. With that said, it’s time for an initial grade on each team’s efforts.
Round 1, Pick 7 – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Round 2, Pick 39 – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Round 3, Pick 71 – Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon
Round 4, Pick 106 – Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State
Round 5, Pick 142 – Adrian Amos, FS, Penn State
Round 6, Pick 183 – Tayo Fabuluje, OT, TCU
The Bears got older and the talent gap between them and the rest of the division widened during their threeseasons under the Phil Emery regime. Ryan Pace has done a great job in free agency of building roster depth without breaking the bank. The one disappointment for the Bears in this draft is they only had six picks to begin the task of laying a talent foundation the team can rebuild on.
White gives the Bears another tall, physically strong receiver who also has the outside speed they’ve been lacking for a long time. He ran a 4.35 at the combine. Grasu will challenge free agent signee Will Montgomery this summer for the starting job at center. Fabuluje is a project whose value will be determined if he can keep his weight under control. Goldman is a potential rookie starter and Amos provides needed depth at safety.
Best Pick: Eddie Goldman
In many scouting reports Goldman graded as a first round talent. He has the size and strength to anchor the middle of Vic Fangio’s defense both as a run stuffer and a push-the-pocket pass rusher.
Worst Pick: Jeromy Langford
With the Bears coming off two of the worst defensive seasons in franchise history and only six picks in this draft running back was one position they could have passed on. Obviously this new regime doesn’t think highly of Ka’Deem Carey, last year’s fourth round running back selection.
Round 1, Pick 28 – Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke
Round 2, Pick 54 – Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Round 3, Pick 80 (From Vikings through Chiefs) – Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
Round 4, Pick 113 (From Eagles through 49ers and Bills) – Gabe Wright, DT, Auburn
Round 5, Pick 168 (From Buccaneers through Patriots) – Michael Burton, FB, Rutgers
Round 6, Pick 200 – Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas
Round 7, Pick 240 – Corey Robinson, OT, South Carolina
It appears Jim Caldwell is serious about reigning in Matt Stafford’s arm and re-emphasizing the run game. The Lions may have reached for Tomlinson but he’s a potential road-grader who fits that running philosophy. Abdullah is small but was one of the top running backs in the Big 10 for Nebraska.
On defense they began to address the rebuild of the defensive line with the selection of Wright in the fourth round and also did a good job adding depth to their secondary with Alex Carter and Quandre Diggs.
Best Pick: Gabe Wright
NFL.com had Wright projected as a late second, early third round talent that the Lions picked up in the fourth. The question is whether he can step in as a starter Week One.
Worst Pick: Laken Tomlinson
Tomlinson is a big addition to help build a ground game but if general manager Martin Mayhew was going to reach for a player in the first round it would have made more sense for him to select defensive lineman Malcom Brown out of Texas.
Green Bay Packers
Round 1, Pick 30 – Damarious Randall, FS, Arizona State
Round 2, Pick 62 – Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (OH)
Round 3, Pick 94 – Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
Round 4, Pick 129 – Jake Ryan, OLB, Michigan
Round 5, Pick 147 (From Patriots through Browns) – Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Round 6, Pick 206 – Aaron Ripkowski, FB, Oklahoma
Round 6, Pick 210 (Compensatory Pick) – Christian Ringo, DE, Louisiana-Lafayette
Round 6, Pick 213 (Compensatory Pick) – Kennard Backman, TE, UAB
No team in the NFL makes better use of the draft to stock their roster with talent. Considering the Packers came with minutes of going to the Super Bowl last year, they could concentrate more on filling needs than the rest of the division.
They did a great job adding to their secondary depth in the first two rounds. Mike Mayock of NFL.com raved about Randall’s coverage skills. He has potential to be a first-year starter. Rollins only played one year of college football and showed natural coverage skills.
Best Pick: Ty Montgomery
The Packers added another target to Aaron Rodgers’ stable of receivers. He’s also a talented return man who has potential to provide immediate impact on special teams.
Considering what the Packers’ objectives were going into the draft it’s tough to argue with their selections. The only criticism that can be made is they only used one pick, and a fourth round one at that, to address the linebacker position.
Round 1, Pick 11 – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Round 2, Pick 45 – Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
Round 3, Pick 88 (From Lions) – Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU
Round 4, Pick 110 – T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
Round 5, Pick 143 (From Lions through Broncos and Bears) – MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois
Round 5, Pick 146 (From Falcons) – Stefan Diggs, WR, Maryland
Round 6, Pick 185 (From Falcons) – Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma
Round 6, Pick 193 (From Chiefs) – B.J. Dubose, DE, Louisville
Round 7, Pick 228 – Austin Shephard, OT, Alabama
Round 7, Pick 232 (From 49ers through Dolphins) – Edmond Robinson, OLB, Newberry
As usual, Rick Spielman went into draft weekend prepared. The Vikings addressed all their position needs with only one real reach among their selected players.
Trae Waynes was one of the top rated players on the board at No. 11 and he’s potentially a perfect fit teamed with Xavier Rhodes in a division filled with some of the best receivers in the game. Kendricks is undersized at linebacker but he’s a ball-hawk. He started and led the team in tackles his past three seasons at UCLA
On offense Minnesota loaded up on tackles plus grabbed a receiver graded higher than his draft slot in Diggs and a tight end who can also play fullback in Pruitt.
Best Pick: T.J. Clemmings
Clemmings was ranked as the twentieth best prospect on National Football Post’s Big Board but tumbled into the fourth round on concerns about a stress fracture in his foot. He’s capable of starting as a rookie at guard while being ready to shift to tackle if needed.
Worst Pick: Danielle Hunter
The Vikings are betting a third round pick on potential. Physically Hunter has the strength to dominate but his football instincts are questionable, he only managed 1.5 sacks in 2014.