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2023 NFC North Team Needs and Draft Prospect Fits

Jordan Addison

Jordan Addison

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Dvorchak breaks down the positional needs of every NFC North team and some of the best prospects they could look to target in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Chicago Bears

Needs: Cornerback, Defensive End, and Offensive Tackle

Top Picks: 9, 53, and 61

The Bears have some flexibility on the offensive line with multiple options in the mix at guard. Teven Jenkins could even return to tackle, though Chicago looks poised to add a tackle at pick No. 9. Last year, no defense generated fewer sacks than the Bears. To make things worse, no defense allowed more yards per pass thrown. The corners and pass-rush work in tandem, so the two stats are intertwined, but both units need to be overhauled through this draft and the next.

The Bears are consistently mocked to take a tackle at No. 9. Paris Johnson and Broderick Jones are likely bets to come off the board here. At EDGE, Connor Rodgers ranks USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu as a top-40 player, but he could make it deep into Day Two. Tuipulotu confirmed his status as a big defensive end at the combine by weighing in at 266 pounds, perfect for Matt Eberflus‘s defense that ranked top-10 in 3-4 looks shown last year. The Bears should be looking for an NFL-ready corner on the second day of the draft because their current starters are underwhelming, to say the least. Injury concerns will be brought up for Alabama corner Eli Ricks, but the Bears would be wise to look past them and see a technically sound corner with a strong career at the highest level of college football.

Minnesota Vikings

Needs: Cornerback, Wide Receiver, and Linebacker

Top Picks: 23, 87, and 119

The Vikings subbed out Patrick Peterson for Byron Murphy in free agency in addition to losing Duke Shelley. They also cut Adam Thielen, leaving the No. 2 receiver role up to K.J. Osborn. He is best fit to be their third receiver, putting that position at the top of their list of needs as well. Linebacker is less pressing but Jordan Hicks is about to turn 31 and presumed starter Brian Asamoah played primarily on special teams as a rookie.

A receiver in the first or second round feels like a forgone conclusion for Minnesota. If they take a wideout at 23, Jordan Addison would be a phenomenal pick for Minnesota. The 2021 Belitnikof winner doesn’t have the size to be a true No. 1 receiver but would thrive with Justin Jefferson commanding the attention of opposing defenses. Brian Flores, Minnesota’s new offensive coordinator, leans on man coverage more than any other coach. Because of this, the Vikings may be looking for a more specialized cornerback than most teams. Syracuse’s Garrett Williams is elite at squaring up on the outside and going toe-to-toe with WR1s. His ACL recovery may knock him down draft boards, but he fits what Minnesota needs extremely well. Flores’s history as a linebacker guru also makes him a great coach for an athletic prospect in need of refinement like Auburn’s Owen Pappoe.

Green Bay Packers

Needs: Safety, Defensive End, and Wide Receiver

Top Picks: 15, 45, 78

The Packers’ defensive line took some hits in free agency and they ranked 17th in sack rate last year. Green Bay also struggled against the run, so an end who can bottle up opposing running backs would be ideal. With Darnell Savage struggling in 2022, his replacement could come via the draft as well. At receiver, Green Bay has an elite play-maker in Christian Watson but could use someone who creates separation over the middle of the field.

Watson’s breakout could allow the Packers to push that position off until Day Two. If they do wait, SMU’s Rashee Rice profiles as a strong possession receiver, making him a great compliment to Watson. In the first round, Lukas Van Ness’s Grinding the Mocks ADP sits right where the Packers pick. He has a freakish combination of size and speed and also plays well against the run. Green Bay could use a new starter at both safety spots, giving them some freedom to go best player available when they look at this position. Alabama’s Jordan Battle and Florida State’s Jammie Robinson are strong coverage safeties that could start early in their careers.

Detroit Lions

Needs: Defensive End, Linebacker, and Tight End

Top Picks: 6, 18, and 48

The Lions were horrific against the run and pass last year, putting both defensive tackle and defensive end at the top of their list of needs. The NFL has placed a greater emphasis on elite pass-rushers, so end makes the top three while tackle would likely come in at fourth. Alex Anzalone is a serviceable starter at inside linebacker but not a long-term answer. He will eventually need to be replaced. At tight end, the Lions are mostly bereft of starting-level talent.

The Lions’ needs don’t necessarily line up with the picks they hold in the draft. They would love to see Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson make it to them, but Seattle could call his name at pick No. 5. There aren’t tight ends or linebackers who are expected to come off the board before 20 either. They could make a slight reach for Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, who most see as the TE1 of this class. Or they could trade back to a pick late in the first round and select Clemson’s Trenton Simpson, who is typically mocked on the 1-2 turn. The top of the linebacker class isn’t a settled debate, but Iowa’s Jack Campbell crushed the combine and should be on Detroit’s radar with their No. 48 pick, even if they need to move up a few spots to nab him.