NFC North Offseason Grades

Chicago Bears (C)

The Bears have had a disappointing last few years (well decades) and that seems to have continued into this year. Trading for Nick Foles is one that will probably not work out. Yes, he is reunited with Matt Nagy but Foles is inconsistent. He can lead a team to a few wins but the playoffs, I doubt. His greatest value would be a teacher for Trubisky but the declined 5th year option shows the Bears are willing to move on. Therefore, Foles is most likely the starting QB for the next two years. Sadly, the defence is in win now mode but Foles is a gap-fill QB. The defence was further added to as well this offseason with the addition of Robert Quinn (5 year $70 million). Giving a 5-year deal to a 30 year old, even if he is coming off an 11.5 sack year, is risky and seems an overcommitment. Whilst the Bears have a potential out after 2 years, it still leaves $9.3 million of dead cap. It likely Quinn is partnering Khalil Mack for the next 4 years and their contracts will likely hamper the team adding to the offense, it’s a shame to see wasted talent. They also added underachieve Artie Burns from the Steelers on a 1-year deal. Low floor but high ceiling, a one-year deal is perfect for the Bears to evaluate who Burns is – a change of scenery could spark some life. Signing Jimmy Graham on a two-year $16 million seems excessive now they drafted Cole Kmet, Graham is only declining in his play. Losing both Kwiatkoski and Floyd was necessary due to the Quinn signing, however, it does leave the depth in the front 7 very doubtful even if the starters are top tier of the league.

The Bears didn’t have their first-round pick due to the Khalil Mack trade and therefore, their first selection was local favourite Kole Kmet TE. He made 9 TEs on the roster but most of them were always going to be cut before the regular season. However, with the signing of Graham, TE wasn’t a major need. Grabbing O-Line or WR (potentially Mims) would have been better value. Johnson (CB from Utah) was a great pick late in the second who can immediately see playing time, most probably replacing Burns before mid-season. Gipson was very inconsistent in college and will take time to make an impact. Mooney could be a great pick, but he’ll need to have a QB that can actually get the ball to him, his smallish wingspan won’t leave any room for inaccuracy.

Detroit Lions (B)

The Lions lost both Glasgow and Wagner this offseason leaving large gaps on the O-Line. They signed Vaitai who can play both guard and tackle to replace one of them. A 5-year $45 million deal is a massive commitment for an effective backup when he was with the Eagles. It’s a massive risk. Less of a risk is the 3-year deal with Jamie Collins ($30 million). An outside linebacker with the ability to take over a game, Patricia knows how to use him from his days in New England. The Lions furthered their range of ex-patriot stars even more by signing Danny Shelton, most likely to replace Harrison as a large run stuffing DT. Desmond Trufant provides much needed experience to a very young corner back group, he can help Okudah get up to speed quickly. Trading for Duron Harmon (also ex-Patriot) provides the Lions with a dependable safety who knows how to close out big games.

The Lions got the best CB in the draft, and the best to come out of the draft in years. He is long, lengthy and doesn’t commit pass interference (as one unfortunate reporter was told at the combine). He is smooth in his movements and his size allows him to match up with any receive in the league. This was followed by selecting Swift in the second round. An electric RB who creates a ridiculous committee with Johnson (who’s ridiculously underrated). Power and speed will allow an easier season for Stafford. Julian Okwara joins his brother in Detroit. The lanky pass rusher who needs to fully recover from his broken leg and “grow into himself” provides high upside for the Lions, it will take time, however. Stenburg is a powerful guard who will hold his own in the league, may never become a star but a good pickup in the 4th. Quintez Cephus is a high upside receiver who deserves to succeed after being acquitted of sexual assault charges which almost derailed his career. He can compete for depth behind Golliday, Jones and Amendola.

Green Bay Packers (D-)

What are the Packers doing? They lost Blake Martinez, a very dependable inside linebacker to the Giants and so they go and replace him with the oft-injured Christian Kirksey. They also lost Bulaga to the Chargers (the first way they annoyed Rodgers) and replaced him with Wagner, who has the feeling of another Nate Solder, declining and overpaid by a desperate team. They then replaced depth receiver Allison with the inconsistent hands of Devin Funchess. They also lost Jimmy Graham (but for the price he went for, that may have been a good move). Now Mercedes Lewis is their top TE at the grand age of 36 (Rodgers is really having a great time right now). Then it only got worse in the draft.

Why pick Love, planning for the future is great but with Rodgers, it should be win now. Love may have talent, but he was severely inconsistent at Utah State. He shouldn’t have been a 1st round pick (neither should Herbert) and it was just a 3rd way to annoy Rodgers. Then there was the 2nd round, a chance to get Rodgers help, a great O-Lineman or receiver and they git … AJ Dillon. A good running back, but a talent that could have been selected in early day 3. Plus, the Packers already have Aaron Jones. Positions the Packers didn’t really need to add to: NO.1 QB, NO.2 RB. With their first two picks they got a QB and a running back. Then they pick Deguara. A tight end but will play fullback for the Packers, he’ll be used like Kyle Juszczyk of the 49ers. But a player like that in the 3rd is still way to high, good value still on the board at that stage such as Donovan Peoples Jones and Gandy-Golden. Martin (LB 5th round pick) is a do-it-all linebacker who would have gone earlier if not for injury. A great pick to help a defence which lost lots of key players in free agency (finally, good news for the Packers). Then 3 interior O-lineman to help depth and could turn into future starters. If Love does become a great QB, then the Packers deserve credit, but they have given up help for Rodgers for a big IF in the future.

Minnesota Vikings (A-)

A great offseason for the Vikings. They may have lost Griffen and Joseph but that D-Line is still scary with Hunter, and new signing Michael Pierce. Pierce is a massive tackling machine who will help stop any run game. Whilst they lost, Rhodes, Waynes and Alexander; they all got replaced (and even improved) in the draft. This helps their cap space. Resigning Dan Bailey for 3 years gives the Vikings a reliable kicker, something they haven’t have since before Blair Walsh missed against the Seahawks in the playoffs. Ameer Abdullah creates injury insurance at the RB position as well. Their biggest loss was that of Stephon Diggs but he was also replaced (albeit not to the same level) in the draft.

The largest draft class of the modern era from the Vikings. This is the best year to have a large draft class in the fact that so many players dropped due to injury concerns or didn’t have the chance to “pop” at a pro day, leaving talent all over the board. Might as well have more darts to throw at a harder board but with bigger rewards. Somehow Justin Jefferson fell all the way to the Vikings (the Eagles are going to hate themselves soon) who immediately creates a receiving threat once provided by Diggs. A monster against single coverage, he can open up the field for Adam Theilen. They then used their second 1st round pick on my second ranked CB in the draft, Jeff Gladney. Slightly overlooked for his smaller frame 5ft 10in 191lbs, he plays large and is a fighter. He is sticky in coverage and can even overpower some receivers. Can instantly start for the Vikings. Dantzler, the second CB the Vikings took (3rd round) is a high upside player. Long and lengthy, a true athlete who only recently converted from WR. Once he learns the position, he’ll be a great corner. They selected Ezra Cleveland in the late second, he needs to improve his strength but with Riley Reiff still manning the left tackle position, he will have a year or two to improve. Wonnum is a 4th round pick with good upside as a pass rusher. Willekes is another pass rusher (7th round) who had insane production in college. His athletic ability may not be top tier but he finds ways to produce and if he does at the NFL level, it doesn’t matter how he does it, a great 7th round pick. KJ Osborn can help in the return game and can provide slot receiving outside of Adam Theilen, provides great depth for a 5th round pick. Their great pickups continued with undrafted free agents with Quarterny Davis out of Texas A&M. He’s a sharp route-runner who can easily create separation. A truly great class from the Vikings, overall a great offseason. Cousins has no excuses next year.

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