The Detroit Lions had a great opening day to their 2019 NFL Draft, selecting tight end T.J. Hockenson eighth overall, but they were not the only team that improved on Thursday night. Here is how the rest of the NFC North did on night one of the draft:
The Chicago Bears did not have a first-round pick this season, as they sent it to the Oakland Raiders last summer in a trade that landed them Khalil Mack. That trade gave them the most important piece in their NFC North crown and landing one of the greatest pass rushers in the history of football is always a good move so I’ll still give them an A for the first round.
Selections: Rashan Gary (EDGE - Michigan), Darnell Savage (S - Maryland)
The Packers added to their already impressive group of pass rushers at pick 12 by selecting Rashan Gary of the Michigan Wolverines. The edge defender may not have produced much in college, but he does have high upside. The additions of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency mean that Gary will not be expected to be a day one starter, allowing him to grow as a player before being truly thrown into the fire. It is a risky pick, but if Gary busts, they will still be fine at edge.
Drafting a player who did not do anything in college and is carrying the weight of a recent shoulder injury at No. 12 is a reach, though, so they get a D for this pick.
Green Bay went defense again later in the draft, when they traded with the Seattle Seahawks to get back into the first round at No. 21. They selected safety Darnell Savage out of Maryland, and he gives this defense exactly what they need.
The Packers needed help at safety entering the offseason, and while Adrian Amos was a great pick up, he leaves a lot to be desired in coverage. Savage is an amazing coverage safety with great range and instincts on the back end. Trading up for him this high for him feels like a bit of a reach, but he was a fast rising player who will provide a Day 1 boost to their defensive backfield. They get an A- for picking Savage.
Selection: Garrett Bradbury (IOL - NC State)
The Vikings’ lack of interior pass protection caused a team with Super Bowl level talent to miss the playoffs all together in 2018. They made sure that the 18th overall pick helped fix their greatest issue and selected center Garrett Bradbury. Bradbury can play anywhere on the interior of the offensive line, and was regarded by many as one of the top prospects in this class.
Landing a great player with great value at your teams biggest position of need will always earn an A in my book.