It’s been nearly one month since the 2022 NFL draft took place, and now that the dust has settled, it is time for fans of all 32 teams to speculate what their teams will look like with these fresh faces in the lineup, and wonder how their rookies will compare to the rest of the league’s. We’ve taken the liberty of looking into just how every team’s draft class looks to fit into their new homes’, and comparing draft classes by division, and today we’ll be looking at the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
At first glance, it seems like the Packers draft was once again underwhelming, as they failed to secure a top receiver talent in the first round, or use one or even both of their first round picks to bring in a talented wide receiver into the fold, However people forget that the Packers have failed miserably to replicate the defense that was able to secure the Packers most recent Super Bowl victory in 2010, allowing over 30 points in the playoffs on six different occasions, and losing on the final play of the game on five different occasions. The Packers defense has not been able to rise to the occasion in the playoffs despite Rodgers putting together some magical runs. Spending both of their first round picks to bring in defenders who were parts of Georgia’s national championship defense was just what the Packers needed. Linebacker Quay Walker was selected 22nd overall and viewed by many as a bit of a reach, and it’s understandable why. Walker had less total tackles, passes defended, sacks, forced fumbles, and interceptions than fellow Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean in 2021 (Dean also had better or equal stats in those categories in each of the last three seasons except for sacks in 2019), and Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd was viewed by many as the best inside linebacker in the draft. Dean would eventually fall to the third round and Lloyd would fall to 27th overall as the Packers selected the taller and lengthier Walker, and looked to add a presence in the middle of the field that cheeseheads haven’t seen since AJ Hawk. With their next pick at 28th overall, the Packers got an absolute stud in another Georgia defender, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt. Wyatt may have been overshadowed by fellow Georgia tackle Jordan Davis, but Wyatt is still an absolute beast in the middle of the defensive line. At the combine, Wyatt clocked a 4.77 forty yard dash, a 29” vertical jump, and a 111” broad jump while weighing 304 pounds and standing a 6’3”. The two Georgia studs were perfect fits for the Packers’ defense that was ranked 26th in passing touchdowns allowed and 30th in yards per rush allowed (via pro football reference). In the second round the Packers were able to secure a stud for Rodgers at wideout, with the player who may have been the most underrated in the entire draft. Christian Watson was electric during his time at North Dakota State, as the 6’5” receiver was also a kick returner. If that isn’t enough to sell you on his talent, Watson also ran a 4.36 40, and logged 800 yards and seven touchdowns on 43 receptions over 12 games in 2021. Green Bay also added premier talent later in the draft, stealing UCLA offensive lineman Sean Rhyan in the third round, and Wake Forest offensive lineman Zach Tom in round 4, who both were great value for the picks and could potentially be week one starters on the subpar right side of Green Bay’s offensive line. The other draft picks from this class to watch as they have potential to develop into starters in Green Bay are receiver Romeo Dubs, edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare, Safety Tariq Carpenter and offensive tackle Rasheed Walker, however they are all raw talents who will need to catch some breaks to get a shot in the NFL. Overall, despite missing out on top rated receivers such as Garret Wilson or Drake London, the Packers did plenty to improve a roster that seems to be a few plays away from a Super Bowl appearance every year, and had the best draft in this division
Going into the draft process, it seemed nearly certain the Lions would select an edge rusher with the number two overall pick. The Lions had the third fewest sacks as a team in 2021 and were dead last in quarterback knockdowns, and were only able to hurry the quarterback on 10.7 percent of plays (16th most), while blitzing on 27.3 percent of plays (9th most). The Lions and their fans were ecstatic when the Jaguars selected Travon Walker with the first overall pick, meaning the Lions would land the player most people saw as the best player in the draft and hometown hero Aidan Hutchinson at second overall. Hutchinson played high school football in Dearborn, Michigan, college football in Ann Arbor for the Wolverines, and now will be playing for the Lions. Hutchinson is a blue chip prospect with the typical high football IQ that we see from Big Ten schools, but with SEC level talent. There isn’t anything to say about this pick that hasn’t already been said. The Lions did a good job to not get cold feet with Hutchinson, and Hutchinson is the perfect fit for Dan Campbell’s blue collar and physical brand of football. The Lions also made a huge splash by trading up to draft the speedy receiver from Alabama, Jameson Williams. Williams may have transferred due to playing behind Chris Olave and Garret Wilson and he may be recovering from an ACL injury but if there’s one thing that cannot be taught it’s pure speed and general managers are proving it every year by continuing to draft speedy receivers even if other top picks based on pure speed in the last five years have not exactly panned out the way teams have hoped. Detroit will be hoping that Williams can surpass the low ceiling set by other top 15 speedy receiver picks, as the Lions will be looking to stretch the field more in 2022. In 2021 the Lions had the third lowest average yards per catch across the entire team, despite Goff being tied for a league best one interception on passes of 21 yards or more. Days two and three of the Lions draft was headlined by Kentucky edge rusher Josh Pascal. Pascal was able to record 15 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in his senior year in 2021, and may surpass the Okwara brothers on the depth chart by the end of the season, but the second round pick faces an uphill battle as he is currently listed as a third stringer. The Lions may have made a splash one day one but in order to do so they gave up plenty of mid and late round picks and only made five other selections who will all be spending their summers fighting for roster spots on a Lions team that is in desperate need for a diamond in the rough to emerge. Look for third round pick Kerby Joseph to develop into a starter as the Illinois safety went from zero to hero recording 57 tackles and five interceptions in his final season at Illinois after only recording a combined 59 tackles and zero interceptions in his first three seasons. Overall the Lions had a really solid draft, securing a cornerstone piece on each side of the ball on the first day, but a lackluster day two and three keep them behind the Packers as far as the draft classes in the NFC north go.
Many people were puzzled when the Vikings traded down 20 spots with a division rival, exchanging picks 12 and 46 for picks 32, 34, and 66, but it wasn’t a terrible move given the depth of talent in the draft class. Lewis Cine may not have been what Vikings fans were hoping for, considering if they had taken the pick at 12 they could have come away with Kyle Hamilton, however the trade allowed Minnesota to also select Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. The Vikings were in desperate need of help at both positions in the secondary and they were able to add two first round talents at both positions thanks to the trade with Detroit. Cine has not only incredible agility and quickness, clocking a 4.37 40 yard dash time, but he is able to play at that incredibly high speed due to his awareness and football IQ. Cine can fly to the football, as he had over 100 tackles during his time at Georgia and help Cine can help eliminate runs and short passes going for huge gains. Booth may not have had the high interception count that many ball-hawk defensive backs have but Booth has exceptional strength for a corner and is not afraid to get involved with making tackles in the run game. Booth is also able to remain calm and track and play the ball in the air very well and his physicality can wear down on smaller receivers over the course of the game. The Vikings spent their own second rounder on LSU guard Ed Ingram, who will be starting his career off as a second stringer, but has great potential to be a long term starter in Minnesota as the Vikings will most likely not include the 30-year-old Jesse Davis as a part of their long term future. The Vikings were able to use the final pick they received from Detroit to draft Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah. Asamoah will also be coming off the bench for the Vikings but given his ability to fly around the field and deliver big hits, he could play a vital role in Minnesota’s third down pass defense and come on the field as fresh legs in other pass defense sets. Overall the Vikings had a defense heavy draft for a team that needed it. They allowed the fifth most passing yards and the seventh most rushing yards in 2021 and have put themselves in a position to be able to sneak into the playoffs in 2022 after missing out on the playoffs in 2021 by one game, with seven of their losses being one possession games. The Vikings draft is very close to the Lions in overall talent and chance to make an immediate impact, but the Lions top heavy draft and chance to haunt Minnesota with the trade for Jameson Williams gives the Lions the edge over the Vikings looking into this year’s draft a month later.
The Bears had one mission coming into the draft: Surround Justin Fields with as many pieces as possible, despite not having a first round pick. We’ve seen teams make trades for a quarterback and seen then see the quarterback make a leap in their sophomore season. Carson Wentz, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson were all able to make incredible leaps in their second years in the past five years because their teams made a point to surround them with talent. Not only did the Bears not give Fields any help in free agency, they also failed to give him any real help in the draft. The Bears went defense heavy, selecting corner back Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker with their two second round picks. Gordon was solid at Washington, recording two interceptions and seven passes defended in 2021, and Brisker also had two interceptions with five passes defended in 2021. They are both versatile pieces for Chicago’s secondary, and will be joining a defense already featuring Eddie Jackson, Roman Quinn, and Roquan Smith. Despite the reworked defense Bears fans will still be looking at 2022 thinking their sophomore quarterback will be fighting an uphill battle to prove he belongs in the NFL and was worth the Bears future. Chicago may have selected Tennessee receiver Velus Jones Jr in round three, however if you look outside of his speed (4.31 40 yard dash), it is hard to find many traits that show he can be a quality NFL receiver, and the Bears continued the trend of questionable and unremarkable picks on day three, mostly drafting future second and third string offensive linemen. Unfortunately for the Bears and their fanbase, there is not much to be excited about on the offensive side of the ball when it comes to rookies, and Justin Fields may have to find weapons in unexpected places if is going to take the next step as a starter in 2022.