The big moment is almost here; in less than three days, the 2015 NFL Draft will kick off at the Auditorium Theatre in windy Chicago.
Knowing Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, the trade winds have been blowing steadily in Winter Park. If we’re to believe past draft trends, “Slick Rick” will snake and slither his way to nine or 10 total picks in 2015, adding to his current total of seven.
Accumulating young talent through the draft is key to staying competitive in a talented NFC North — the Packers and Lions reached the playoffs last year. Both teams select after the Vikings (30th and 23rd, respectively), and the rebuilding Bears have a chance to improve immediately with the 7th-overall selection.
Below, we’ll look at each team in the context of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay’s most recent mock draft, which aired on ESPN late last week:
Green Bay Packers (30th)
Jalen Collins, CB – LSU
The Packers watched one of their starting cornerbacks leave for greener (ha) pastures this offseason, as Davon House signed a four-year, $24.75 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in March. Now, they’re left to pick up the pieces and rebuild a depleted secondary. According to the mock draft, they’ll find their missing puzzle piece in Jalen Collins, LSU’s talented, if inexperienced, corner.
Collins started just 10 games in his collegiate career, and reportedly failed multiple drug tests at LSU, but possesses the elite height, weight, and speed to be a shutdown corner in the NFL. He’d thrive in the tight-knight Green Bay locker room, but may struggle on the field if he isn’t given time to develop his raw footwork and technique.
Detroit Lions (23rd)
Malcolm Brown, DT – Texas
Like the Packers, the Lions lost key contributors on the defensive side of the ball in free agency. For a team who fielded the league’s best defense in 2014, watching both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley depart will be a tough pill to swallow next year. To soothe the pain, Kiper Jr. and McShay envision the Lions drafting Texas’ Malcom Brown, an athletic defensive tackle well-suited to line up next to newly-acquired Haloti Ngata.
Brown reportedly impressed Detroit’s defensive line coach Kris Kocurek at the Texas pro day last month, where he went through drills at a “rapid-fire” pace and “was able to finish strong”. In the NFL, Brown will need that stamina, as he’ll likely rotate as a nose tackle, a three-technique, and a stand-up end if drafted by the Lions.
Chicago Bears (7th)
Kevin White, WR – West Virginia
As soon as the Chicago Bears lose a receiver and Vikings fans rejoice, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay enter to rain on the purple parade. According to their mock draft, new head coach John Fox opts to pass on Danny Shelton and select Kevin White out of West Virginia. The phenomenal Mountaineers product has the talent and potential to replace the departed Brandon Marshall in Chicago for years to come.
White literally exploded onto the national media scene at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he put up 23 reps on the bench press and blazed through the 40-yard dash (4.35 seconds). He boasts a complete skill set, with the ability to run any route and make defenders miss in the open field. He’d join Alshon Jeffery in Chicago, giving Jay Cutler an even more dangerous duo of receiving weapons.