Instant Impact: NFC North

With most NFL teams currently in Organized Team Activities, it is the first time coaches and staffs can get a glimpse of their new roster. With free agent acquisitions, rookies, and veterans all together for the first time, teams start to formulate their concepts, playbooks, and depth charts as they prepare for the coming season. With Mini-camps coming next month, before we know it, training camps will begin to open up. Before we move on, let’s take a look back at the recent 2015 NFL Draft and, specifically, the NFC North Division. The Green Bay Packers have dominated this division in recent years and not just because they have the best quarterback in the division in Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay does a terrific job in the draft. They always seem to find a replacements for aging veterans and departing free agents. Of the current 89 players on their roster, 41 were originally drafted by the team. That number does not include the UDFA that were signed and have also contributed. So every team in the NFC North is trying to emulate Ted Thompson's success and try to build their teams through the draft. We went ahead and reviewed the entire 2015 draft class of every team in the NFC North and determined which class will produce immediate results on the field this upcoming season. The teams and their class are listed in order of biggest impact to least expected impact. Spoiler alert: The Packers do not top this list Minnesota Vikings I thought Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer put together a terrific draft class, as they were able to fill in needs along with sticking to their draft board and taking the best available players. They were able to secure three players who I had first round grades on entering the draft in Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, and TJ Clemmings in the first, second and fourth rounds. Now that is just terrific value. I project both Waynes and Kendricks to start next year at cornerback and linebacker respectively. Clemmings will challenge Brandon Fusco for the right guard position assuming his foot checks out medically. I definitely see Clemmings as the future for the Vikings at right tackle. Speedy Wide out Stefon Diggs (5th round) could contribute on Special teams in the return game. Undrafted Free agents Justin Coleman and Anthony Harris will provide depth in the secondary while also playing some special teams. While another UDFA wide receiver DeVaris Daniels, I feel, has a chance to contribute on offense as possibly a slot receiver this coming season. I was very high on Daniels while he was at Notre Dame. Academic issues kept him off the field last season, but I definitely feel like Daniels has the ability to play in the NFL. RD 1. Trae Waynes CB Michgan State RD 2. Eric Kendricks LB UCLA RD 3. Danielle Hunter DE LSU RD 4. T.J. Clemmings OT Pittsburgh RD 5. MyCole Pruitt TE Southern Illinois RD 5. Stefon Diggs WR Maryland RD 6. Tyrus Thompson OT Oklahoma RD 6. B.J. Dubose DT Louisville RD 7. Austin Shephard OL Alabama RD 7. Edmond Robinson LB Newberry UDFA DaVaris Daniels WR Notre Dame UDFA Justin Coleman CB Tennessee UDFA Anthony Harris S Virginia   Detroit Lions The Lions started off the draft by trading down with Denver and securing extra picks. At first, I did not like the move down as both Byron Jones and D.J. Humphries were both available at their pick. Never the less, the Lions recovered nicely picking plug-and-play guard Laken Tomlinson ( Attended Lane Tech H.S. in Chicago like yours truly) from Duke. Tomlinson had a second round grade from me entering the draft, but that was because guards are really never seen as first rounders. Tomlinson has good size, strength, and technique. He has no off-the -field issues, and his football character is off the charts. He will be battling veteran guard Manny Ramirez, acquired as part of the trade with Denver, for the starting left guard position. Then, the Lions came back in the second round and selected Ameer Abdullah who will fill the void left by Reggie Bush. Abdullah has the look and feel of a third down back, but he has the ability to run in between the tackles. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and possesses the speed to take a screen pass and go the distance. Plus, he also gives you the added dimension on special teams as he is a dangerous kickoff returner. In the third round, they grabbed Alex Carter, a defensive back out of Stanford. Carter is a physical corner who will hit you. I liked Carter at safety more so than corner, but the Lions will start him off at cornerback, knowing that safety could be a fallback option for him in the future. Rounds four through six also produced players who I feel will contribute next season: Defensive tackle Gabe Wright from Auburn will go into the tackle rotation up front, Fullback Michael Burton from Rutgers, who currently is the only fullback on the roster, and cornerback Quandre Diggs, who makes up for what he lacks in size with his heart and toughness. In the undrafted market, they snatched up running back Zack Zenner from South Dakota State. RD 1. Laken Tomlinson OG Duke RD 2. Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska RD 3. Alex Carter CB Stanford RD 4. Gabe Wright DT Auburn RD 5. Michael Burton FB Rutgers RD 6. Quandre Diggs CB Texas RD 7. Corey Robinson OT Sout Carolina UDFA Zack Zenner RB South Dakota State   Chicago Bears The Bears entered the draft with a new GM and entirely new coaching staff so how they faired would be highly analyzed, as both the fans and media wanted to get a feel for how general manager Ryan Pace runs a draft. The teams needs were mostly filled prior to the draft with unrestricted free agency. So Pace had the luxury of using his board and drafting best player available without reaching for a need. In the first round Pace took wide receiver Kevin White, out of West Virgina, which was a slam dunk pick in my opinion. Not only was White the best player available, he also filled a need at wide receiver, which popped up after the team traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Jets. With White, Pace gives offensive coordinator Adam Gase his new Demaryius Thomas: a tall, fast, athletic wide receiver with a wide catch radius and the ability to go up and get the jump balls. White also has the ability, just like Thomas, to score from anywhere on the field. In the second round Pace went best player available again with defensive tackle Eddie Goldman from Florida State. Goldman will start off as the nose tackle in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense. They drafted their center of the future in the third round in former Oregon Duck Hroniss Grasu. Grasu will spend this season as the backup to veteran Will Montgomery, but I expect him to fully take the reigns in 2016. Running Back Jeremy Langford in the fourth round gives the team someone to complement Matt Forte. Langford has good speed and vision with the ability to cut it to the outside if needed. Langford is also very good catching the ball out of the backfield and can be utilized in the passing game. As a former defensive back, he has special teams experience where he can contribute right away. Not to mention Forte is in the last year of his contract. Langford gives the Bears some protection there as well. Adrian Amos, the safety out of Penn State, I feel, will also see action this coming season. Safety, it seems, is always a position in flux on the Bears defense ever since Mike Brown left the team. I feel Amos, who offers size, speed, and coverage skills, will find a way, at the very least, to be part of a rotation at free safety. Overall, I believe Pace and the Bears came away with three starers (White, Goldman, Grasu) and possibly a fourth (Amos) out of this draft, which is not a bad way to start your regime. RD 1. Kevin White WR West Virginia RD 2. Eddie Goldman DT Florida State RD 3. Hroniss Grasu C Oregon RD 4. Jeremy Langford RB Michigan State RD 5. Adrian Amos S Penn State RD 6. Tayo Fabuluje OT TCU    Green Bay Packers The defending division champions did not have as many glaring holes as some of the other teams in the North, but their draft had me scratching my head a bit. In round one, they went with Damarious Randall, a corner who had been converted to safety at ASU. Randall saw his stock soar during the pre-draft process partially due to his coverage skills but also contributing was the fact there just was a lack of talent at the safety position overall. The Packers plan on using Randall as a nickel corner to start the year and see how he develops from there. In the second round, they took Quinten Rollins, a former point guard who played one year of football. Rollins was impressive in that one year winning MAC defensive player of the year with seven interceptions. Rollins will still need to go through a steep learning curve in order to play in the NFL. How Rollins handles that adjustment will determine the  contribution he can make next season to the packers defense. With such a big jump in talent and limited football playing experience, I had a third to fourth round grade on Rollins. Fourth round pick Jake Ryan, linebacker out of Michigan, is tough hard nosed football player who will fit nicely at linebacker in Dom Capers defense. Ryan is a student of the game, he loves football and it shows on the field. Whether its displaying good hand technique to disengage and shed blockers, or securing an open field tackle, Ryan plays with heart and passion. He also seems like a natural born leader who teammates flock to. The downsides are his athletic limitations and past injuries. Ryan tore his ACL back in a 2013 spring practice. Besides those three players, I see very little contributions from the rest of the class, with an outside chance Ty Montgomery contributes as a kickoff returner on special teams. RD 1. Damarious Randall S Arizona State RD 2. Quinten Rollins CB Miami (OH) RD 3. Ty Montgomery WR Stanford RD 4. Jake Ryan LB Michigan RD 5. Brett Hundley QB UCLA RD 6. Aaron Ripkowski FB Oklahoma RD 6. Christian Ringo DE Louisiana-Lafayette RD 6. Kennard Backman TE UAB Follow Danny Shimon on Twitter @dshimon56
Danny Shimon
NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate. Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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