NFL Draft Grades 2021: NFC North

The NFC North had three of the very best drafts in the league and one draft that was simply atrocious. With the Aaron Rodgers news that has recently come out, the shape and feel of this division has been totally flipped on its head. It will be extremely interesting to see how everything pans out.

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears

Pick 1.11: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State (Grade: A)
Pick 2.39: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State (Grade: A+)
Pick 5.151: OT Larry Borom, Missouri (Grade: C)
Pick 6.217: RB Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech (Grade: B)
Pick 6.221: WR Dazz Newsome, North Carolina (Grade: A)
Pick 6.228: CB Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon (Grade: A)
Pick 7.250: DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU (Grade: B-)

The Chicago Bears simply dominated this draft. They were able to trade up using basically only a next year’s first-round pick to go and grab the 4th best quarterback in this class. This solves a massive need as Ryan Pace just could not figure out this situation in the offseason. Fields was basically gifted to them when he fell to 11th overall.

Then, the Bears continued to get value, with Teven Jenkins at 39th overall. I had Jenkins as a top-20 value, but he fell due to slight medical concerns. The Bears got a steal and a starter at a position of need. Other great picks included Dazz Newsome and Thomas Graham Jr., two guys who have starting potential that the Bears snagged up in the 6th round. Simply put, good players kept falling for the Bears, and the Bears did not overthink and kept capitalizing.

My least favorite pick was Larry Borom, who I do not see ever being a starter in this league. I think taking a risk on Trey Smith (OG, Tennessee) would have made a lot more sense, even with the medical red flags. However, now that the team cut Leno, it does make sense to grab the best available tackle at that spot.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 3.70 (A-)
Overall Class Grade: A

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota VikingsPick 1.23: LT Christian Darrisaw Virginia Tech (Grade: A)
Pick 3.66: QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (Grade: B+)
Pick 3.78: LB Chazz Surratt, North Carolina (Grade: B+)
Pick 3.86: OG Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (Grade: A)
Pick 3.90: DE Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh (Grade: B+)
Pick 4.119: RB Kene Nwangwu, Iowa State (Grade: D-)
Pick 4.125: DB Camryn Bynum, California (Grade: B+)
Pick 4.134: DE Janarious Robinson, Florida State (Grade: B)
Pick 5.157: WR Imur Smith-Marsette, Iowa (Grade: A)
Pick 5.168: TE Zach Davidson, Central Michigan (Grade: B)
Pick 6.199: DT Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh (Grade: A-)

The Minnesota Vikings pulled off the second-best pick of the first round, in my opinion, when they traded back from 14 to 23, picked up two third-round selections, and still got their guy. Darrisaw was a solid value at 14 in a stacked OT class, but at 23, he is a steal. He is a great pass protector who can also slide perfectly into the Vikings’ zone-blocking scheme.

There were some other selections that I loved. First is Wyatt Davis, who the Vikings got at an extreme value in the third round. If he is healthy enough, he should start Week One for the Vikings and be an improvement on the guard spot immediately. Then, I also love Patrick Jones as a freak 4-3 DE who Andre Patterson, Vikings legendary defensive line coach, can mold into a refined pass rusher. I also think that Imur Smith-Marsette is one of the late-round steals of the draft, as I project him as the next Robby Anderson. Lastly, Jaylen Twyman is not polished, but he has the traits to be a day-two selection. However, he dropped like a rock in the draft due to opting out last season. Again, I just love Patterson to mold Twyman into a productive asset for the team.

My least favorite selection was Kene Nwangwu, who basically was a waste of a pick. You draft a horrible running back, my worst graded rusher in the entire draft, to be a return man. I do not mind that pick in the 7th, but this is the first pick of Day 3; there is still value to be had! Then, you get Imur Smith-Marsette later, who is a better returner. Sure, he is not as fast as Nwangwu, but he actually knows how to cut and make guys miss. I will be shocked if Nwangwu is on the team in 2022 and probably will only be on the team in ‘21 due to the draft capital.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 3.30 (B+)
Overall Class Grade: A-

Detroit Lions

Detroit LionsPick 1.7: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon (A)
Pick 2.41: DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (B)
Pick 3.72: DT Alim McNeill, North Carolina State (A-)
Pick: 3.101 CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse (A)
Pick 4.112: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC (B+)
Pick 4.113: LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue (C)
Pick 7.257: RB Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State (A)

The Detroit Lions are in rebuild mode, so it allowed them to go best player available at pretty much every single pick. Due to this, the class was just outstanding, and the team consistently got value at every spot. Kicking things off with a generational offensive line talent, you simply could not go wrong. The Lions were shocked to see Sewell fall to them, and they snagged him up. They have their LT or LG, whichever spot they slide him in at, set for the next ten years with this selection.

My two other favorite picks for the Lions were Alim McNeil and Ifeatu Melifonwu. McNeil was overlooked in this draft process, but he has a fantastic first step and is extremely athletic for a DT. He went to NC State as a linebacker and was converted to the tackle spot, where he learned the position very quickly. Then, I gave out a 1st round grade to Melifonwu, so getting him in the third round was crazy value. His physicality and instincts are wonderful.

The only pick that I did not really love was Derrick Barnes out of Purdue, who was not on my radar to go until the 7th round. I do not really see the point of this pick, except for depth and special teams. I just think that the 4th round is a bit early to grab that kind of player, but Barnes has some okay upside.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 3.41 (B+)
Overall Class Grade: A-

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay PackersPick 1.29: CB CB Eric Stokes, Georgia (C+)
Pick 2.62: OL Josh Myers, Ohio State (B-)
Pick 3.85: WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson (A)
Pick: 4.101 OL Royce Newman, Ole Miss (C)
Pick 5.173: DL Tedarrell Slaton, Florida (D+)
Pick 5.178: CB Shemar Jean-Charles, Appalachian State (B+)
Pick 6.214: OL Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin (C+)
Pick 6.220 LB Isaiah McDuffie, Boston College (B+)
Pick 7.256: RB Kylin Hill, Mississippi State (A)

Ignoring the Aaron Rodgers situation, this draft just did not make a ton of sense for the Packers. Their first-round pick, Eric Stokes, was a position of need but not a great value. There were several other CBs and DBs on the board who warranted this pick more, and a trade-back or up would have made so much more sense if the Packers were set on addressing the secondary with this pick.

The Packers followed up that pick with Josh Myers, who is a solid player, but once again, the team left better players on the board, even at the position they were drafting. The team could have drafted Creed Humphrey, simply a much better Center and IOL.

The picks that I did love were Amari Rodgers and Kylin Hill. Rodgers is going to be an elite slot wide receiver at the next level, and he does everything right. This is a weapon that Aaron Rodgers will love if he sticks around. Then, Kylin Hill in the 7th is crazy value. He will be a very good 3rd running back on the depth chart and may even rotate in on some downs. Hill will also contribute on special teams in year one.

Weighted GPA of Selections: 2.71 (C+)
Overall Class Grade: C

  
Matthew Amato is a UC Berkeley Economics and Philosophy graduate. Matthew follows and writes about the NFL, Fantasy sports, MLB, European soccer, Professional Lacrosse, and e-sports. He has managed his own tournament baseball team and coached high school lacrosse. In his free time, Matthew used to compete competitively in Call of Duty and Counter-Strike.

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