You can count on one hand now the days remaining until day 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft. Over these next few days, teams will be finalizing their strategies and big boards if they haven’t already. Who do these teams want on day 1? Are they looking to draft the best player available (BPA)? Or are they going to address a need? There are so many questions that are currently unanswered but by the end of day 1, we’ll get the answers to these questions and more.
We’ve all seen various mock drafts released over the last couple of months, with many analysts predicting which team will pick which player, but this will be a little different from a mock draft as I look to address potential day 1 draft scenarios for each NFC North team going into April 27, 2017. So from worst to first lets take a look.
Chicago Bears, pick #3
The Bears are coming off an extremely disappointing 3-13 record and much work is still needed to get this team back into, at least, playoff contention. Bears fans can look back to last year’s draft fondly, as the likes of Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard had great rookie seasons. If the Bears can hit on at least another three great draft picks this year, then the future is looking very promising from a player personnel and talent perspective.
But what will they do at the #3 spot? The decision has to be the right one for the sake of GM Ryan Pace’s job and probably head coach John Fox as well. The Bears signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon to be their starter after moving on from Jay Cutler, so does this mean they won’t select Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky third overall? I don’t think this scenario should be ruled out completely given that Glennon’s contract is essentially a one-year deal. The Bears also are desperate for help in the secondary and could very well take LSU’s Jamal Adams or one of Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker from Ohio State, although the latter could be on the board in the middle of the first round so picking him at #3 will be a reach.
Which brings me to another scenario that I think the Bears ultimately may land themselves in, and that’s trading back to accumulate more picks. The problem here, is finding a suitor who wants to trade up and the Bears may not find one given how deep this draft class is at multiple positions. If they do find a trade partner, however, I believe they trade down closer to the middle of the first round and pick Hooker or perhaps a quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings, no first round selection
We’re not going to see any day 1 action from the Vikings due to the Sam Bradford trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. Their first pick this year is on day 2 in the second round with the 16th pick, 48th overall.
Will having no first round pick hurt this team? Well, it’s not ideal, obviously. Remember last season when they started 5-0? Bradford was playing very well and the defense was at a level that drew comparisons to the famed 1985 Chicago Bears defense, but then offensive coordinator Norv Turner unexpectedly quit and the season ended with the Vikings finishing 8-8 and out of playoff contention.
This team needs help offensively, particularly along the offensive line, and this draft class isn’t considered deep along the OL. It will be interesting to see who is available when they make their first pick. The hope for them should be that a top offensive line prospect happens to fall to them, if not they’d be better off drafting the best offensive skill position player available.
Detroit Lions, pick #21
Well well well, who saw the Lions clinching a wild card spot in the NFC before the 2016 season started? I certainly did not, but clinch it they did, finishing with a 9-7 record behind the stellar performance of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who for the first time in his career did not have Calvin Johnson to throw to after his unexpected retirement.
This Lions organization should be looking to build on last season and once again challenge for the division crown. It starts at pick #21 where I expect them to stay. Their biggest needs is on the front seven of their defense, particularly at linebacker. They released DeAndre Levy this offseason and his replacement should be picked here. Although depending on how things shake out before they are on the clock, they could go edge rusher here to get much needed pass-rush help.
If Alabama linebacker Rueben Foster and Temple linebacker Haason Reddick are gone then edge is more likely, however, this a deep edge class so Foster or Reddick here makes more sense and fills a glaring need. Will both be sitting there for them? Maybe, and with Foster considered the better prospect I’d bet good money they go get him. But is it as easy as just sitting in this spot and waiting for Foster or Reddick, or perhaps even someone like Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis? I’d expect one of them to still be on the board when Detroit picks.
Green Bay Packers, pick #29
Once again the Packers find themselves picking late in the first round of the NFL Draft. They haven’t had a pick higher than #15 since 2009 when they selected DT B.J. Raji #9 overall. But lets face it, we would all like our teams to be picking late in the first round every year. This doesn’t mean the Packers don’t have holes to fill, and they’d sure like to fill them to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy back to Wisconsin.
So about those holes to fill, they certainly have a glaring one at cornerback and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if they address that position here. However, they could also use a running back and imagine a scenario where Christian McCaffrey is still there waiting to be picked. What would you do?
To me cornerback should be addressed here and perhaps then go running back in round 2. The likes of Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are likely gone. The Packers may have a choice here between Washington cornerback Kevin King, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, or Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie. I don’t see a scenario where the Packers trade up on day 1, as they’ll have a good choice of cornerbacks where they currently sit and potentially a top running back prospect too.