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NFC North 2020 Draft Recap

With a lack of live sports available, more than 55 million viewers tuned in to watch an NFL draft unlike any other in the past. Thursday’s first-round alone drew 15.6 million viewers across ESPN, ABC, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, and digital channels, shattering the previous record of 12.4 million in 2014. Probably most of those 15.6 million viewers were scratching their heads on the Green Bay Packers first pick, but nonetheless, the 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, and there are plenty of new rookie faces to get to know in the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers

Draft picks (9): Rd 1 – QB Jordan Love (Utah State), Rd 2 – RB AJ Dillon (Boston College), Rd 3 – TE Josiah Deguara (Cincinnati), Rd 5 – ILB Kamal Martin (Minnesota), Rd 6 – G Jon Runyan (Michigan), Rd 6 – C Jake Hanson (Oregon), Rd 6 – T Simon Stepaniak (Indiana), Rd 7 – S Vernon Scott (TCU), Rd 7 – DE Jonathan Garvin (Miami).

The biggest talk of the draft had to be the Packers not only drafting Jordan Love but moving up to get him. The pick keeps alive a streak of 10 years in which the Packers have not selected a skill position player in the first round for Aaron Rodgers.

This was how the Packers explained this pick: “We haven’t been able to (draft quarterbacks) the last few years, it just hasn’t fallen for us the right way,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “And it’s not like we haven’t wanted to, it’s just the value of the player and where we thought they were and where we could take them at the time, it just didn’t happen. I think it’s always kind of been in my DNA that anywhere in the draft if you have an opportunity to take a quarterback you really think can play, you need to consider it.”

Then in the second round, the Packers selected AJ Dillon, the bruising running back from Boston College, joining Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams in the backfield.  Dillion should add some balance to the Packers’ backfield, though he doesn’t offer up much in the passing game. To recap, the Packers spent their second-round pick on a hulking power back and their third-rounder on an H-back, while failing to pick a single receiver in a draft class that’s purportedly historically deep at the position. Are the Packers going to transition to a run-heavy team?

The redeemed themselves a bit by taking three solid offensive linemen with their three third-round picks. They also nabbed a sleeper when they selected Garvin in the seventh round. The Miami product was productive (10.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss) over the last two seasons.

Draft Grade: a very generous C-


Chicago Bears

Draft picks (7): Rd 2 – TE Cole Kmet (Notre Dame), Rd 2 – CB Jaylon Johnson (Utah), Rd 5 – OLB Trevis Gipson (Tulsa), Rd 5 – CB Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern), Rd 5 – WR Darnell Mooney (Tulane), Rd 7 – T Arlington Hambright (Colorado), Rd 7 – T Lachavious Simmons (Tennessee State).

Kmet is a huge target (6-5, 250) for a team desperate to find production from the position, which is why they have so many tight ends on their roster. He certainly has the potential to turn into a weapon in the passing game but historically, the odds of that happening in 2020 are not very good.

With a nice mix of physical traits, ball skills, and head’s up play,  Utah corner Caylon Johnson might be a steal at No. 50 overall. However, Johnson was only available there because he’s fresh off his third shoulder surgery. This caused him to go through the frustrating experience of slipping in the draft. This draft experience will be the Bears’ gain, for more reasons than just the pick itself, as Johnson has recently stated that he is on a mission to prove that the teams who passed on him in the 2020 draft made a huge mistake.

The Bears moved up in the fifth round to get Gipson. The 6-foot-4, 268-pound linebacker adds depth to the Bears’ pass-rush and is coming off a career senior season with Tulsa where he recorded 49 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and eight sacks.

Draft Grade: C+


Detroit Lions

Draft picks (9): Rd 1 – CB Jeff Okudah (Ohio State), Rd 2 – RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia), Rd 3 – DE Julian Okwara (Notre Dame), Rd 3 – G Jonah Jackson (Ohio State), Rd 4 – G Logan Stenberg (Kentucky), Rd 5 – WR Quintez Cephus (Wisconsin), Rd 5 – RB Jason Huntley (New Mexico State), Rd 6 – DT John Penisini (Utah), Rd 7 – DL Jashon Cornell (Ohio State).

Okudah and Swift were very nice selections for their first two picks. Okudah has terrific size, length, speed, quickness, and toughness to fit right in on the outside of Detroit’s defense. As a starting cornerback on the outside, he’s a player who will likely see the field on every defensive snap. Swift was considered by many to be the best back in the draft. He does well in both the run and pass games. Okwara may also be the best EDGE rusher in the draft. He is quick off the edge and could play a couple of different roles as a high-ceiling player.

Cephus has a chance to make an impact, as does Huntley as a third-down back or return man. Even despite running one of the slowest 40 yard dash times at the combine, fellow draft pick Okudah called Cephus the best receiver he has faced. The Lions are committed to rebuilding the offensive line and they did that by selecting a pair of mid-round guards with one who specializes in pass blocking (Jackson) and one who seems to enjoy mauling opponents in the ground game (Stenberg). The seventh-round pick is a very nice sleeper, as Jashon Cornell was the top-ranked recruit coming out of Minnesota a few years back. He got lost in the shuffle at Ohio State but finally decided to take football seriously. With a new diet and improved film study, Cornell made a great deal of progress throughout his senior season.

Draft Grade: A-


Minnesota Vikings

Draft picks (15): Rd 1 – WR Justin Jefferson (LSU), Rd 1 – CB Jeff Gladney (TCU), Rd 2 – Ezra Cleveland (Boise State), Rd 3 – CB Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State), Rd 4 – DE D.J. Wonnum (South Carolina), Rd 4 – DT James Lynch (Baylor), Rd 4 – ILB Troy Dye (Oregon), Rd 5 – CB Harrison Hand (Temple), Rd 5 – WR K.J. Osborn (Miami), Rd 6 – T Blake Brandel (Oregon State), Rd 6 – S Josh Metellus (Michigan), Rd 7 – DE Kenny Willekes (Michigan State), Rd 7 – QB Nate Stanley (Iowa), Rd 7 – S Brian Cole II (Mississippi State), Rd 7 – G Kyle Hinton (Washburn University).

The Minnesota Vikings did a lot of moving around the board in the 2020 draft. They gained a lot of extra selections, even parlaying a couple of them into picks for the 2021 NFL Draft. The Vikings certainly added depth to their roster with 15 picks and many of these players could find themselves on the final roster. Jefferson has a chance to be a great complement to Adam Thielen, being an instant weapon out of the slot. The tackle Ezra Cleveland was considered by many to be a first-round talent.

The three CB’s, Dantzler, Gladly, and Hand should get an opportunity to earn a role on defense. The fourth-round pick Troy Dye is a long, athletic linebacker with good coverage skills. The 6-foot-3 231-pounder led Oregon in tackles during each of the past four seasons and could eventually find his way into the starting LB corps by year-end. Lynch was decent at stopping the run at Baylor, but he’s more of a quick defensive tackle who can shoot the gap and bring pressure in the backfield. Stanley, the young QB from Iowa was a nice pick in the seventh round as he has the raw talent to develop into an NFL quarterback even if it just as a career back-up.

GM Rick Spielman is in the last year of his contract and needed to have a good draft to help get a contract extension and he did just that.

Draft Grade: A

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