By: Cody Manning
(Round 1, Pick 8) LB Roquan Smith, Georgia- Chicago addresses a need at their inside linebacker position by taking the best one in the draft. I love this pick because Smith can control the field with his sideline to sideline speed and can be an every-down player. He should be the leader of that unit for a long time in the Windy City.
(Round 2, Pick 39) OC/OG James Daniels, Iowa- The Bears needed to find a way to fill the hole on their line with the loss of Josh Sitton. Daniels played center for most of his college career but is versatile enough to play guard. I do like this pick because he can play in multiple spots on the line but also because of the value. He was projected to be a late round 1st round pick but he fell to them in the 2nd round.
(Round 2, Pick 51) WR Anthony Miller, Memphis- They spent their time during free agency to help find Mitch Trubisky weapons. Chicago continues that trend by upgrading their receiving core with the selection of Miller. I really like this pick because he can play on the inside and the outside. He could come in and grab the 2nd spot on the depth chart behind Allen Robinson.
(Round 4, Pick 115) LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Western Kentucky- The Bears needed to upgrade their linebacker core going into the draft and this selection helps that. Iyiegbuniwe played inside and outside while he was at Western Kentucky. He will provide depth and can be a key special teamer during his rookie season.
(Round 5, Pick 145) DT Bilal Nichols, Delaware- Chicago needed to add players across their defensive line and this pick helps fill that need. Nichols should be able to come in and compete to be in their rotation, so he gets on the field his rookie year. I like the pick because they address the need for depth on their line.
(Round 6, Pick 181) DE Kylie Fitts, Utah- Like I previously mentioned, the Bears needed to find players across their defensive line. They have been lacking pass rushers and Fitts could potentially fill that hole that they are missing. This is a good pick because it is addressing a need while they are in the later rounds of the draft.
(Round 7, Pick 224) WR Javon Wims, Georgia- He does add overall depth to their receiving core, but he will go into camp on the roster bubble. He could potentially be a weapon for Trubisky down the road, but they could of possibly look elsewhere. I can’t say I dislike a 7th round pick because he could have been the best player on their board and could find a way onto the 53-man roster.
I really like what Ryan Pace did in this year’s draft. I thought he hit a home run with his 1st round selection of Roquan Smith. He will come in as a day one starter and make an immediate impact on their defensive unit. I thought they got great value in James Daniels as they found him in the 2nd round and gives them the ability to move him across the interior of the offensive line. I am also a big fan of Anthony Miller, I think he and Robinson will make a deadly duo for Trubisky.
They didn’t address the need of cornerback that I mentioned in the Pre-Draft guide. They need someone to play nickel and could provide depth at the cornerback position. While you can only do so much with seven picks, I do think they could have taken a swing on the top corner on their board in the 7th round instead of Wims. That would have potentially given them depth and a player that could make the roster because of the ability to play special teams. Overall, I thought this was a great draft by the Bears.
Final Draft Grade: A
(Round 1, Pick 20) OG/OC Frank Ragnow, Arkansas- Detroit needed to upgrade the interior of their offensive line. Ragnow does give the team options with his versatility but will be an anchor no matter when they place him on their line. While I like the player, I wasn’t a fan of the pick because they could have addressed other needs and waited to find a player for their line in the 2nd or 3rd round.
(Round 2, Pick 43) RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn- The Lions need to find a long-term answer at the running back position and Johnson could potentially be that player. He will provide depth as a rookie and will look to take a bigger role during his second season. I like the pick because it fills a need, but I thought Derrius Guice would have been the better pick. Most of the league passed on Guice at this point so maybe Detroit looks like the smart ones in the long run.
(Round 3, Pick 82) S Tracy Walker, Louisiana-Lafayette- They needed an upgrade to their secondary and potentially find a long-term solution for the backend of that unit. Walker will provide them depth as a rookie and should have a role on special teams. I dislike the pick because they could have looked for a player to add to the interior of their defensive line or someone to rush the pass on the edge.
(Round 4, Pick 114) DE Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama- Detroit did at least address the need on their defensive line in the 4th round. Hand gives them the ability to line him up across the line and should give them an option to get after the quarterback. I like the pick because of his versatility and should be in the rotation during his rookie year.
(Round 5, Pick 153) OT Tyrell Crosby, Oregon- The Lions need to find a way to get the running game going in their offense. Crosby could help them as he is a great run blocker and can be a long-term answer at the right tackle position. While I believe they could have addressed a position of need, I like the pick because they couldn’t pass on the value of finding him in the 5th round.
(Round 7, Pick 237) FB Nick Bawden, San Diego St.- Detroit is looking at all options to help upgrade their running game. Bawden could help in short-yardage situations and could find his way onto special teams. I like the pick because he has the potential to be on the 53-man roster.
I have mixed feelings about the 2018 draft class for the Lions. I felt like they addressed some needs and got some great value out of some picks. While they could have looked elsewhere I still like the pick of Frank Ragnow. I believe he is going to have a long career in the league and should make an impact on their run game. I also thought they found great value with the selection Tyrell Crosby in the 5th round. He could be a long-term starter for them and will provide depth during his rookie season.
Tracy Walker could potentially be a great player in the future, but I wasn’t a fan of the pick because they could have targeted players that would fill more of a need at that point in the draft. Da’Shawn Robinson may potentially give them an answer at finding a way to rush the quarterback, the Lions failed to find a true edge rusher in this draft class. Overall, they did address most of their needs and added depth to their team.
Final Draft Grade: B-
Green Bay Packers
(Round 1, Pick 18) CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville- Green Bay needed to address their cornerback group going into the draft and Alexander will provide the help that they need. He is talented enough to play in the slot or on the outside. He should see plenty of time on the field to help shut down the quarterbacks of the NFC North. I like the pick because of his versatility so he can provide much-needed depth to this group.
(Round 2, Pick 45) CB Josh Jackson, Iowa- The Packers understand their secondary was not that great at all last season and they don’t want to repeat themselves in 2018. Jackson gives them a ball-hawk in the back end of their defense and he can create turnovers to get the ball back for Aaron Rodgers. I like the pick because they got tremendous value. Jackson was projected to go as high as the top half of the 1st round and they were able to land him in the middle of the 2nd.
(Round 3, Pick 88) LB Oren Burks, Vanderbilt- Green Bay knew they had to upgrade the entire defense which is why they drafted this way with their first three picks. Burks provides the ability to play as an inside linebacker and could win the starting job in training camp. While he does at least provide depth, I’m not a fan of the pick because they could have addressed the need for a pass rusher here.
(Round 4, Pick 133) WR J’Mon Moore, Missouri- They need to find a wide receiver that can help complement Davante Adams on the outside. Moore gives them that possibility as he is a productive player and should at least provide depth to their receiving core. I like the pick because he does address a need going into the draft.
(Round 5, Pick 138) OL Cole Madison, Washington St.- Green Bay has a hole at their guard position and need overall depth on their offensive line. Madison gives them the versatility to line him up as a guard or tackle. He should be able to come in and compete for the open guard spot. I like the pick because he could fill that need on their line.
(Round 5, Pick 172) P JK Scott, Alabama- There wasn’t a glaring need for a new punter, but it appears that Mike McCarthy wants to bring in competition for the position. Scott posted a higher net punting average in college compared to what Green Bay’s punter did the previous season. I am not a fan of this pick because they could have addressed the need for a pass rusher and could have held off on selecting a punter until the 6th or 7th round.
(Round 5, Pick 174) WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF- The Packers seem determined to find a receiver on the outside. Valdes-Scantling is a tall and fast receiver who could develop into a nice weapon for Rodgers. At this point of the draft, I don’t mind the pick by bringing in extra competition for the receivers.
(Round 6, Pick 207) WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame- Green Bay picked up three different running backs last year and they took that same plan for finding a receiver this time around. St. Brown is another long and athletic receiver that can compete at the next level. They also find great value because he was projected to go as high as the 2nd round. I am not a fan of the pick because I felt like they could have addressed other areas on their team.
(Round 7, Pick 232) DE James Looney, California- When it comes to the 7th round there is nothing wrong with taking a chance on a defensive lineman who could provide depth and possibly find a way into the rotation. Looney is not much of an edge rusher and is on the smaller side, so he might not be an every-down player for the Packers. I don’t mind the pick, but he could have an uphill battle to make the roster.
(Round 7, Pick 239) LS Hunter Bradley, Mississippi St.- The Packers appear to want to find a way to upgrade their special teams with a selection of a punter and a long-snapper. Bradley should be able to provide competition and possibly give the team a long-term answer at the position. I like the pick because he could make the 53-man roster as a 7th round pick.
(Round 7, Pick 248) OLB Kendall Donnerson, Southeast Missouri St.- Green Bay finally decided to find a potential answer to their pass-rushing need with their last selection. Donnerson is the only true pass rusher they picked so that gives him a chance to make the team. I like the pick because they did attempt to bring in depth to their edge rushers.
I really like what the picks of Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson to team up with Kevin King. They found great value with the pick of Jackson and the trio of cornerbacks could develop into one of the best in the league. New GM Brian Gutekunst showed that he recognized the defense needed to be upgraded and attacked it with his first three picks. While they did need to find more depth for their receiving core and someone to pair with Davante Adams, I wasn’t a big fan of drafting three different wide receivers.
The Packers had a big need for an edge rusher, but they failed to address it until their final pick of the draft in the 7th round. If they were going to draft multiple players from the same position and hope one sticks, then I believe they should have done it with guys that can rush the quarterback. Rodgers is good enough to make any receiver look great. I was also surprised they didn’t look for depth for their strong safety position as well. Overall, I thought the top half of their draft class was great while the bottom half is filled with questionable decisions.
Final Draft Grade: B-
(Round 1, Pick 30) CB Mike Hughes, UCF- Minnesota found their nickel corner for 2018 and someone that could push Mackensie Alexander for playing time. Hughes provides them someone that can shut down slot receivers and be an electrifying returner. I like this pick because I believed it help fill one of the small needs the Vikings were looking to fill with this class.
(Round 2, Pick 62) OT Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh- This was an interesting selection because they had a bigger need for the interior of their line. But most of the top interior lineman of this class were gone so they went with the potential O’Neill could be a solid right tackle in the future. I like the pick because they are investing in protecting Kirk Cousins but would have liked to see them trade up for someone that could play guard.
(Round 4, Pick 102) DE Jalyn Holmes, Ohio St.- The Vikings needed to find players to put in their defensive line rotation while planning for the future of that group. Holmes should be able to find a role on the team as a rookie and if he proves his worth he could be a starter for them down the line. I like the pick because it adds to their defensive line and can help players stay fresh.
(Round 5, Pick 157) TE Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan- Minnesota needed to find someone complement Kyle Rudolph and help open things up for that. Conklin can come in the two-tight end sets and be a big part of their redzone offense. I like the pick because he should see playing time as a rookie and because I mentioned him as a target in the 5th in the Pre-Draft Guide.
(Round 5, Pick 167) K Daniel Carlson, Auburn- The Vikings clearly want to find a reliable kicker that can get it done under pressure. Carlson was one of the better kickers in this class and has made some big kicks during his time in college. I like the pick because they already went after the majority of their needs and if they aren’t comfortable with Kai Forbath then this was the right call.
(Round 6, Pick 213) OG Colby Gossett, Appalachian State- Minnesota must make sure they are doing everything they can to make sure Cousins stays on his feet. Gossett can provide their line depth and could develop into a starting guard one day. I like the pick because they are at least taking a swing on a guy that could protect Cousins in the future.
(Round 6, Pick 218) DE Ade Aruna, Tulane- With Brian Robinson getting older and Danielle Hunter potentially leaving in free agency, this pick addresses their need to find a player to develop behind those players. Aruna may only end up being a backup with a small role in their rotation but could become an important part of their defense in the future. I like this pick because at this point in the draft you can take the risk of drafting a player that needs more development.
(Round 7, Pick 225) LB Devante Downs, California- The Vikings entered this draft with small holes to fill which they addressed with their first seven picks. Downs could find his way onto the roster by being a key special teamer and add depth to their linebacker core. I like the pick because he was more than likely the top player on their board and they didn’t want to let him test the market.
I thought Rick Spielman did a great job with his eight picks in this year’s draft. He met all the needs I thought they should have targeted prior to the draft. I really like the selection of Mike Hughes because of his shut down ability and how he can contribute on special teams as well. I thought they also did a nice job by adding players that provide depth in the trenches. I also was a fan of the Conklin selection because he gives Cousins another threat in the passing game while being able to help with his blocking skills for Dalvin Cook.
While I do like Brian O’Neill, he is more of a developmental prospect at this point, so I would have liked to see them find a player that could have stepped in as a starter for them at the guard position. They did find players that could potentially protect their franchise quarterback but that is in the future and the Vikings entered this draft with small fixes that could potentially get them to a Super Bowl. Overall, their draft class helps make them a deeper team while having guys that could have bigger roles in the future.