[This is the second in an eight-part series detailing one question for every team before the 2019 NFL Draft. Broken down by division, this article will look at the NFC North.]
As we examine the NFC North, let’s take a look at some of the NFL Draft questions facing teams this year.
Chicago Bears: How will they find value this year?
How does a team with no picks in the first two rounds knock the draft out of the park? The most likely answer — where you can find immense value in the third and fourth rounds — is at running back.
There was speculation going back to last season that the Bears were considering a trade of Jordan Howard, which turned out to be more than just speculation. They were reportedly kicking the tires on Adrian Peterson, and those tires don’t have much tread left.
Coach Matt Nagy loves backs who can serve as dual-threat weapons. Maybe the Bears should use their third-round pick to find that guy, something Howard never was. Chicago did sign Mike Davis and still has Tarik Cohen, but is the organization done for now at the position? Memphis’s Darrell Henderson, Iowa State’s David Montgomery, and Alabama’s Damien Harris all fit the bill, and could be available when the Bears are on the clock.
Detroit Lions: With defensive free agents signed, will a high pick be used on offense?
Tim Twentyman at the Lions’ team website lists guard and tight end as the team’s top two needs before the NFL Draft. Holding the eighth pick, that selection is probably too rich for either of those positions. However, Iowa tight end T.J. Hockensen may not be drafted much later.
The Lions still have needs at edge rusher and corner, the former of which will likely be their first-round selection. With high picks in the second and third rounds, will attention turn to Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom, Kansas State’s Dalton Risner, or tight ends Irv Smith Jr. of Alabama, Jace Sternberger of Texas A&M, or Dawson Knox of Mississippi?
There’s a balance that needs to be struck here, and much work must be done on the non-Matthew Stafford side of the ball.
Green Bay Packers: Is it time to start thinking about a potential quarterback of the future?
I’m not suggesting using a high pick on the position, but at some point, Green Bay must weigh the need to find Rodgers’ eventual replacement. He is 35 years old, the same age as Brett Favre when the team selected Rodgers in the first round.
Favre wasn’t exactly welcoming to the young quarterback (not helping to push Rodgers’ development), and Rodgers would likely act the same way if a quarterback was selected this year. However, Rodgers has been hurt the past two years, and the Packers have missed the playoffs each season.
Tom Brady and Drew Brees have defied age at the position, but neither of them has been beaten up the way Rodgers has.
The Packers are not as troubled as many people would lead you to believe, despite their second straight losing season — those records came largely due to Rodgers’ injuries. The team could use help at tight end, receiver, and perhaps in the secondary, but it could also afford to use a pick on a developmental, mid-round quarterback as well.
Minnesota Vikings: Can the team afford not to spend two high picks on the offensive line?
Despite a disappointing end to last season, the Vikings are ready to win now. They have a quarterback, running back, two star receivers, and a talented defense. The pieces are in place. General manager Rick Spielman may want to go with the best player available in the first round and select a defensive tackle — that is fine.
However, running the football was enjoyed sparingly last season for the Vikings, and having Kirk Cousins throw the ball 40 times was not what this team needs. Finding a tackle or guard who can pave the way for Dalvin Cook needs to be a top priority for this team. The acquisition of Josh Kline helps, but the O-line still needs an extra influx of talent.
The Vikings hold the 18th selection in the first round. Alabama’s Jonah Williams, a left tackle in college who has the versatility to move inside, makes too much sense.