Loading scores...
Draft Decisions

Draft Decisions: NFC North

by Josh Norris
Updated On: December 3, 2018, 6:08 pm ET

How does a draft writer spend the first weeks after the big event? I’m not sure, but I have decided to watch every press conference for every team after each day of the draft, so you don’t have to. The goal is to pick up tendencies, tells and specific reasoning for selections. Sometimes the coaches and general managers have a role in mind, and as I’ve learned, too often they do not.

 

NFL franchises are honest in two ways: with their wallets and with their draft picks.

 

As you can see, the notes are very rough. This is not transcribing, more so noting the important points involved in an entire thought.

 

Chicago Bears


Speaking: Ryan Pace Day 1 & Day 2, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy Day 3


1 (8). LB Roquan Smith, Georgia - We’re fired up. We loved this guy from the get go… A position that needs to quarterback the defense. His intangibles are a great quality. His makeup is huge for us… Play speed, instincts and physicality stand out… Felt we could stay at 8 and get a good football player… Scouts have been pounding the table for him for a long time. A scout talked about him during one Bears game in the box midseason… We might have 10-15 grades on the same player, and it makes it easy when we are unified in grades on the same prospect… Has great burst. Sudden and twitchy… Thick, muscular build allows him to play strong. We are good with his size… Comfortable in coverage. Mirror routes, sticks with backs, awareness to feel stuff around him in zones… Actually didn’t answer his phone the first time around when waiting to be drafted while in Dallas… Explored getting back into round one. Interest wasn’t super strong in terms of offers at 8… You can see him directing people on the field. Hand signals. Slam dunk as a person… Will play all three downs. Base and sub. Typically those guys struggle in the running game. He doesn’t, so that makes him a top 10 pick… He can force offenses to look at different areas of the field


Editor's Note: Fantasy football season has begun. Compete in a live best ball draft! It's like season long but without in-season management. Just set it and forget it! Once you're done drafting, that’s it - no trades or waivers - you don’t even have to set your lineup. Your best players get automatically selected and you'll get the best score, every week. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link

 

2 (39). iOL James Daniels, Iowa - Acquired the best players on our board at need positions… We value his position versatility. Start him out at guard, cross train him at center… Excellent technique in pass protection. Great balance… Daniels will play left guard, Whitehair will play center. Position versatility is important for all of them… OL coach was very passionate about him. Flexibility and athleticism allows him to recover from awkward positions. Potential is there thanks to age… Has a high floor and a high ceiling… We think he is big enough for guard thanks to his lower body… We’d be crazy to not take Harry’s advice (OL coach)... Competition creates motivation


Received:

2018 second round pick (51)


Traded:

2018 fourth round pick (105)

2019 second round pick


2 (51). WR Anthony Miller, Memphis - Route quickness, hands, mentality, all are infectious qualities… Walked on. We like that confidence. That swag and energy. He’s 100 miles an hour every single snap.  That effort is fun to watch… We were surprised he was there. We felt he was worthy of the compensation… Miller said he didn’t have a lot of direct contact with the Bears. He was an easy evaluation… We believe he can play inside and outside. Has 10 inch hands that are strong… A position we attacked this offseason… Run after catch ability stood out… Matt Nagy has a sign in the building that says “Be You” and we want our players to be themselves. We like his confidence. It is important at that position. He wants the ball in a critical moment… You want to see route running at pro days and at the Combine, you look for routes that we use in our system that you can tag. Miller likes to set the angle for the quarterback at the top of his route. He’s sharp. There's a violent move for him to set angles. He’s aggressive with it… Will start out in the slot… "The circles on my coaches' board are now turning into names"


4 (115). LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Western Kentucky - “Iggy.” Physical, fast, highly intelligent player. Jumps off the tape… A number of times where Nagy called Pace into his office to show him plays of this player. Many in the backfield.


5 (145). DL Bilal Nichols, Delaware - Good fit for our scheme as a defensive end. Has upside as a pass rusher… Put through a private workout. A lot of upside as an inside rusher.


6 (181). EDGE Kylie Fitts, Utah - Great size-speed combo at outside linebacker. Love his get off. High character… There are certain numbers we care about at certain positions. His get off, three-cone and short area. You notice when a guy has a little bit more twitch than the other guys… No injuries are significant. A couple nicks and bruises… His magnet was sticking out high up there when he was on the board. Can’t exactly explain why he was still available. Sometimes this happens.


7 (224). WR Javon Wims, Georgia - Nagy and Pace have talked about him for a long time. Great body control and catch radius… Played in a lot of big games. Big moments in big games. We were staring at that magnet and were hoping he would be there. We feel fortunate.



Detroit Lions


Speaking: Bob Quinn for all 3 days


1 (20). iOL Frank Ragnow, Arkansas - Three year starter, played multiple positions. Everything we are about is what he is. We’ve had our eyes on him for a while… Had not contacted Ragnow since the Combine. First time I watched him on tape “he’s a really good player.”.. Had a good feeling he would be on the board. Word from a few teams after they were also interested in him… Clean process, other than the injury we didn’t feel the need to do extra work on him… It all starts in the trenches. We want to build the middle of our team. Offensive line, defensive line and the middle spots… Offensive line is difficult in general for a rookie… If he’s ready to play, we’ll put him in there. If not, we won’t put him in there… Equally good at run blocking and pass protecting. He plays his best games against the best defenses… Had numerous trade conversations. Both up and back. Multiple offers on the table for our pick… We have a lot of experience in the 16-21 range… Went all the way back to watch him as a sophomore against players currently on the Lions roster. Started watching him in October… Nothing really surprised us in terms of positions and number of players at each spot came off the board ahead of us. The 19 players ahead of us, we saw that coming… Baker Mayfield pick was “interesting.” Good football player, but wouldn’t have expected it a week ago… Because only seven OL are available on gameday, positional versatility is vital.


Received:

2018 second round pick (43)


Traded:

2018 second round pick (51)

2018 fourth round pick (117)


2 (43). RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn - Targeted this player at the start of day two. Couldn’t say for sure he would fall to us, so we had to move up a few spots…  Shoulder, ankle and hamstring injuries. He’s an SEC running back. Our medicals came back good for him… Johnson visited Detroit… He will hold up at our level. They ran him between the guards. Primarily will run inside, but we think he can run outside too. No issues with his durability for us… Unique running style Patient runner initially. Great acceleration and finishes runs… Having balance on offense is important. We haven’t done that over the last few years… We knew there was going to be a run on running backs in round two. He was the one we wanted, so it was worth moving up… This isn’t a one back league.. Very few backs in this league that you are going to turn around and hand the ball to 30 times. We will have 4 or 5 backs on this team. They will all have a role… Different impact for medicals. Some we take off our board completely. Some we move down a round or two based on risk of injury, tough to take those off the board… Has made four trades with the Patriots during Quinn’s tenure. It’s really easy to work with teams you know. Some teams you don’t know it takes 30 minutes, they can’t make up their mind. Others it takes 30 seconds. Atlanta, Tennessee, New England, those trades happen really fast. Was on the phone for a minute… Some teams are worried about stuff in Guice’s history. Won’t get into specifics. He’s a good kid, just a few things we are worried about.

3 (82). S Tracy Walker, Louisiana-Lafayette - GM was on the phone more than he has ever been between rounds two and three, looking for trades. Things just didn’t work out in moving up, need two teams to make trades. A busy couple of hours. Walker was another target player… A number of defensive backs were the highest rated players when we were on the board in round three… Good size, very athletic, playmaking. Toughness, tackling, speed… Go watch the Texas A&M game. Was one of the best players during Shrine week… Not going to comment on if Maurice Hurst is on the board… Can come down and play man to man or work in space… Cousins with Darius Slay. They have a really good relationship… We were a little nervous teams ahead of them would select Walker. We research which teams visit players, and a few visited with Walker on a 30 visit…


Received:

2018 fourth round pick (114)


Traded:

2019 third round pick


4 (114). DL Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama - Really good value pick. Position versatility. Inside and outside. Good knowledge of our DL coach and scheme… We won’t run a base 3-4 or a base 4-3… Rare combination of size, length and athleticism… Might not have lived up to high recruit expectations, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good player… If you have a coach who has spent time with a player it helps the evaluation… SEC football is the closest thing to NFL schemes… Will be much more focused on keeping our gap this year rather than fire up the field.


5 (153). T Tyrell Crosby, Oregon - Good value pick. Stood out on the board well above everyone else. Had him graded much higher… Likely will play a swing tackle role. Has never played guard. Had him in for a visit… Not sure off the top of his head how many concussions Crosby has had. Passed medical at Combine. Passed medical during visit… Much more depth along the offensive line and running back than pass rusher in this class… If you asked me last night if Crosby would be available in round 5, I would’ve said no chance. Thought he would be one of the first five or 10 guys in round four… Phone was buzzing a lot after we selected him saying good pick…


7 (237). FB Nick Bawden, San Diego State - Wanted to add to the mix to give the offense a physical presence. Wanted to add a fullback this offseason… Coincidence all three day three selections were Senior Bowlers. Event greatly improved over the last three years… Number of draftable players was very similar to 2017. Draft mechanics were very similar. Matt Patricia keeps it a little more lively… We submit a request list to the league of the teams we want to play in the preseason… NFL games come down to about 5 plays per week. Short yardage, goal line, red area, special teams. The fact we couldn’t run the ball for a half yard, that bothered me.



Green Bay Packers


Speaking: Dir of College Scouting Jon-Eric Sullivan Day One, Brian Gutekunst Day One & Day Two & Day Three, Scout Alonzo Dotson on Josh Jackson, Director of pro personnel John Wojciechowski on Oren Burks, Dir of College Scouting Jon-Eric Sullivan on J’Mon Moore, Scout Sam Seale on Cole Madison, scout Matt Malaspina on J.K. Scott and Valdez-Scantling, Mike McCarthy recapping the entire draft


Received:

2018 first round pick (27)

2018 fifth round pick (147)

2019 first round pick


Traded:

2018 first round pick (14)


Received:

2018 first round pick (18)

2018 seventh round pick (248)


Traded:

2018 first round pick (27)

2018 third round pick (76)

2018 sixth round pick (186)


1 (18). CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville - A guy we have targeted all along. Team captain. Competitor. Twitchy. Ball skills. Can play inside and outside… When asked about height threshold “we felt good about the player.”... Playmaker when he gets his hands on the ball, value as a returner… He talks a little bit, but most corners do… Very few corners can close space when the ball is in the air, both forward and backward. He can… Has a confident air about him. Good thing for any player. Great thing for corner… Shows up in the big games… We didn’t take raw measurements into account here. We wanted to get a good football player… Had an idea of the trade partners. Once we moved back to 27, we knew Seattle would be one of our first calls to move up. Would only move up for a certain group of players… We didn’t set out to acquire a first-round pick next year, but it was a great result. Felt confident would could move up after trading back… “We had a lot of things going on” in terms of leverage when the Saints wanted to move up… Right on the Mendoza line for height…


2 (45). CB Josh Jackson, Iowa - Can play both man and zone. Will produce out of each… Board dictated taking two corners… Uncanny ability to get out of his breaks and make plays down the field. Uses his length well… Iowa way forced him to wait his time, then he made the most of it… Ball skills are similar to Micah Hyde. So smart and instinctive… We got lucky and were able to take a player we didn’t expect to be there… It’s not about filling holes. It’s about taking really good football players…. We are really high on both of the corners upsides… Loose and fluid athlete… We really liked Pettis from Washington, but Jackson was the “A” for us…  


Received:

2018 third round pick (88)


Traded:

2018 fourth round pick (101)

2018 fifth round pick (147)


3 (88). LB Oren Burks, Vanderbilt - Will play inside linebacker. Is an athlete. Well rounded individual, high character. Family is made up of achievers… Can help with middle of field coverage… His arrow is going up… He is going to be studying football full time now. We feel he can gain some weight… Quickness, burst, acceleration to the ball. Still a bit of a novice at the position… Visited HQ. Was a yes sir, no sir guy. Everything you expect a Vanderbilt player to be… Was the No. 1 tester among inside linebackers on our board. We think his best football is ahead of him. Just two years of experience at the position… Athletic linebackers who can do so much are difficult to find. That’s why we traded up… Trading up into the 70s would’ve been tough, but we knew we would have a lot of opportunities to get into the 80s.


4 (133). WR J’Mon Moore, Missouri - Plays fast. 4.49 at his pro day. Closes cushion, has a pretty gait… Pretty good after the catch. Sometimes gets antsy and wants to make someone miss before he catches the football. Has hands, more of a concentration thing when he drops the ball… Had a really good knack for making the first man miss… I was surprised he only ran a 4.49… Liked him all along, even ahead of the 2017 season. We are getting him at the right time… Bigger targets just make sense. Bigger catch radius. Any quarterback would like to throw to a bigger target.  


5 (138). OL Cole Madison, Washington State - We see him playing guard. Good feet… If you can play out on the edge, from an athletic standpoint, it’s like letting a player fail at corner and then moving them to safety. It’s what we do with converting tackles to guards… “I don’t know what the coach is going to do with him. What I did was I went into the school and wrote the report. I just liked his versatility. He played all along the line of scrimmage.” Area scout… I look for length and strength. He is competitive. For guard, you need a mean guy. For a big man he can bend… “I haven’t talked to him. What I do is I got to the school, do my job, then get in my car and go to the next school”... Every year we don’t make the playoffs it hurts. I like playing golf, but I’d rather be watching a playoff game… If you can find quality role players on day three, that’s where you can create an edge.


5 (172). P J.K. Scott, Alabama - Over a 45 yard average for his career. Punts, kicks and holds… Has really good hang time. Gives us competition… One of the best, if not the best, in college… Played under a spotlight and performed well… We saw a rare player


5 (174). WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF - Smooth, elite speed, fine athlete. Good kid. Over 15-yard average, 12 touchdowns… His position coach was an NFL position coach. He’s been taught well… Loose, athletic, long guy with speed, which is what this league is all about… Our quarterback situation helps anybody… I don’t know if you guys saw the UConn game, 92 yards and outran everyone… Someone we want to develop…


6 (207). WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame - Some of the players we liked lasted longer than we thought. Adding size and speed to our group is something we wanted to do… Had no reservations about his family. Excited about his size and speed.


7 (232). DL James Looney, Cal - On not selecting a pass rusher, if a player isn't there, it isn’t there. We liked the players we took over the pass rusher on the board.


7 (239). LS Hunter Bradley - We saw a lot of value. Both played at a high level. Add competition… Went through some issues last year at long snapper


7 (248). LB Kendall Donnerson, Southeast Missouri



Minnesota Vikings


Speaking: Rick Spielman on Day One, Mike Zimmer on Day One, Director of College Scouting Jamaal Stephenson on Hughes and O’Neill, Spielman on Day Two, Spielman on Day Three


1 (30). CB Mike Hughes, UCF - He was our highest rated player on the board. Philosophy we will always stick to is to follow that board… Corners are always at a premium. Zimmer has specific traits he wants at the position, plus returner upside… Top 30 visit. Talked to him at the Combine. Pro Day workout… Can play outside and inside… Zimmer preaches quickness out of transitions for corners. Out of his backpedal. When we watched the tape together, he was one of the best in that area… Didn’t get any calls when on the clock. Doubt we would’ve trade out with a player of that caliber on the clock… We did a lot of homework on him. Spent a lot of time with people who had him in their football program. A lot of time outside the football program. We go through that information with the ownership. No question in my mind he fits what we want in a Minnesota Viking… Scouts also give prospects a special teams grade… Tremendous upside… We weren’t as explosive in special teams last year as we wanted. We want him to mature into a full time player. Not sure how soon that will be, but he has the traits we want… We didn’t do this to push Mackensie Alexander. Whoever plays the best will play… I could see four corners in the game at one time. Gives us flexibility. I’ve always tinkered with the idea of one safety and four corners… His press technique is different than what we teach. But part of the deal with coaching is tinkering with what a player already does. If it works, why mess with it?... Our prototype starts at 5’10.5”... Have to teach them man to zone pass off concepts… If you aren’t aggressive, you can’t play for me anyways.  


2 (62). T Brian O’Neill, Pitt - Very good value. Would’ve been a higher draft pick in 2019… Very athletic. Played basketball in high school, unbelievable. Mom and dad were athletes… I’ve never seen that many interior linemen go that early in the draft… We already have versatility on our line, so taking the best offensive lineman there makes sense… Probably the best athlete along the OL in this draft. Watch him pull out in space. Caught passes… We are trying to get to the second level of the defense, and this guy fits it… He’s gotta get stronger. Better in pass pro right now… Went through a bunch of scenarios with OL coach Sporano ahead of Day 2…”I know if I give coaches this type of athlete, they can develop this guy”... Danielle Hunter had a lot of work to do. That’s what we do, we develop… Adding strength is just part of maturing. Weight is fine. Had a talk with out strength coach… Coach Zimmer has brought up 20 yard short shuttle as something he looks for at a lot of positions. Our analytics team introduces three athletic comparisons for each… No chance we would’ve been able to draft an OL at the bottom of the third round


Received:

2018 fourth round pick (102)

2018 sixth round pick (180)


Traded:

2018 third round pick (94)


4 (102). DL Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State - Had two names at 94 we liked. Hoped one would drop to 102. Theme was sticking with the athletic traits we look for and relying on coaching staff to coach… We put four names on the board and all four came off the board quickly… Watched him live twice. You can’t teach his length and athleticism. Ran 4.77 at his size with arms that hang down to the floor… We want to continue to develop our inside pass rush. He played base end but we will try him at under tackle…


Received:

2018 fifth round pick (157)


Traded:

2018 fifth round pick (167)

2018 seventh round pick (225)


5 (157). TE Tyler Conklin, CMU - Tremendous athlete. Flip always wanted a tight end who can be a possible mismatch guy. Made a great catch at the Senior Bowl.


Received:

2018 fifth round pick (167)

2018 seventh round pick (225)


Traded:

2018 sixth round pick (180)

2018 sixth round pick (204)


5 (167). K Daniel Carlson, Auburn - Adds to competition at kicker. Tremendous leg on kickoffs. ST coach went down to work him out.... Knowing hotspots allow us to move ahead of other teams who might be interested in the same player.


6 (213). OL Colby Gossett, Appalachian State


6 (218). EDGE Ade Aruna, Tulane - Great athlete. “With our coaching staff and philosophy, when you can bring in athletes like that, it gives you a chance to hit on some guys that can be pretty special. We talk about this all the time in draft meetings, this other guy might be a better player right now, but the other guy has a much higher ceiling… Our coaches like to work with athletes and ceilings.” I still think they are good football players. If we wanted just athletes we would go to the Olympics… Had a great 2016 season when allowed to split out wider. Length + 4.58 on our watch.


7 (225). LB Devante Downs, California

Josh Norris

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for NBC Sports Edge and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .