Sizing up NFC North Draft Picks
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With the 2023 NFL Draft officially behind us, it’s time to consider how NFC North’s 1st-Round Draft selections can benefit each team. The 2023 NFL Draft certainly proved to be an entertaining one.
A new record of draft day trades was set at over 40. Lots of surprising picks were made. Many players found new homes with instant benefits. But let’s go over what the NFC North did and how each selection can benefit in their new digs. My Mock Draft from last Tuesday on who I thought would be taken by each of the squads in the North can be found here. Going chronologically, here’s a brief rundown of each pick and how the team can benefit.
Nate Powalie’s View on the NFC North First-Round Draft Choices and How They Can Benefit Each Team
Chicago Bears – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (10th overall, traded down with Eagles)
Well, at least the position I guessed was correct. I originally had penciled in Peter Skoronski of Northwestern for the Bears. But Darnell Wright is not a bad selection either at No. 10. He had a memorable game against Will Anderson of Alabama (now with the Houston Texans) as a Tennessee Volunteer in October of last year.
NFC North: Wright’s Benefit to Bears
The 6-foot-5, 333-pound Wright should be a day-one starter for Da Bears at right tackle, slotting in alongside Braxton Jones to protect a rising star QB in Justin Fields. For trading down, this was a wise selection by the Bears.
And, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes, Wright’s ability to beat “higher-end” defenders made him a top priority on the draft list.
Detroit Lions – Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama (12th overall, traded down with Cardinals)
Yeah… this was a whiff on my end. I also thought this pick was a bit of a reach, considering that at the time, the Lions had two very solid running backs on their roster in David Montgomery and D’Andre Swift. Saturday, however, the Lions sent Swift to the Philadelphia Eagles for a couple of picks.
NFC North: Gibbs’ Benefit to Lions
Despite a smaller frame for a back (5-9, 199), Gibbs is an incredible multi-purpose back, and with his style of play, he is similar to that of Darren Sproles. With Swift now out of the picture, I could certainly see Gibbs stepping into the number two RB on the depth chart behind Montgomery. He could certainly emerge as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate.
Green Bay Packers – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa (13th overall, stay put)
Another whiff from my mock, but this was a good pick. At 6-5 and 272 pounds, Van Ness has a very impressive frame with size and length, but he also has above-average power and speed for the defensive end position. He predominantly likes to play on passing-down snaps but is willing to work on stopping the run.
NFC North: Van Ness’ Benefit to Packers
I do like the fit of Van Ness in Green Bay. He should work well on the edge or in the interior of the Pack’s D-line, and he will be a solid complement to Rashan Gary (recovering from torn ACL) and veteran Preston Smith (turning 31 this season).
Detroit Lions – Jack Campbell, Inside Linebacker, Iowa (18th overall, stay put)
At 6-foot-5, Campbell is one of the taller linebackers in this year’s class. Similar to that of Leighton Vander Esch, he can tackle well and provides solid pursuit and strength.
NFC North: Campbell’s Benefit to Lions
With his unique 6-5, 249-pound frame, Campbell will certainly have the capability to be the quarterback of the defense at the mike linebacker for Detroit. Working alongside Alex Anzalone, Campbell will be a very intriguing prospect to watch for the Motor City Kitties from the get-go.
Minnesota Vikings – Jordan Addison, Wide Receiver, Southern California (23rd overall, stay put)
I know some are wondering why the Vikes didn’t address the secondary need off the bat, but Jordan Addison is a solid pick at 23. He’s a top-flight route runner with plus speed (he posted a 4.49 40 at the combine), and despite a below-average wideout frame (5-foot-11, 173 pounds), he does have a nice catch radius to work with, similar to that of a Keenan Allen.
NFC North: Addison’s Benefit to Vikings
With Adam Thielen walking away to join the Carolina Panthers in free agency, the Vikings only had two noteworthy receivers in Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn. Now with Addison entering the fold, his style of play will instantly impact the Gjallarhorn’s offensive front. If he can live up to his hype and work well alongside Jefferson and Kirk Cousins, the Vikes’ wide receiving corps will create major problems for opposing secondaries all season long.
Final Thoughts on the NFC North’s First-Round Draft Choices and the Benefits
Overall, I think all four teams of the NFC North did a solid job with their selections, not just in the first round but in all rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. Most of the needs were addressed, and there is undoubtedly some excitement to look forward to in September. Now the teams have their players suited up, and the NFL season is slowly approaching. Only time will tell the value and success of the picks.
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