2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North
Field Level Media
1 (8). Roquan Smith, LB: 6-1, 236, Georgia
2 (39). James Daniels, C: 6-4, 306, Iowa
2 (51). Anthony Miller, WR: 5-11, 201, Kentucky
4 (115). Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB: 6-1, 229, Western Kentucky
5 (145). Bilal Nichols, DT: 6-4, 306, Delaware
6 (181). Kylie Fitts, DE: 6-4, 263, Utah
7 (224). Javon Wims, WR: 6-3, 215, Georgia
Smith joins Georgia LB Leonard Floyd, another first-rounder, as one of the new foundation stones in the Chicago defense. Smith's size was knocked in the pre-draft process but his production and rare instincts are unquestioned. Daniels moves to guard - replacing Josh Sitton - to upgrade the front wall protecting Mitchell Trubisky before his troublesome QB sack rate becomes a chronic concern. The shaky decision? Trading a 2019 second-rounder to New England to move up to acquire Miller. Of course, new head coach Matt Nagy made that call knowing Miller's role in the scheme.
Best Pick: Smith. The next great Bears linebacker just walked into Halas Hall. With defensive coordinator Vic Fangio employing his inside linebackers in dynamic ways, Smith definitely has rookie of the year potential.
Upside Pick: Nichols. GM Ryan Pace dips into the small-school well once more and Nichols' agility and first step will help him win one-on-ones next to Akiem Hicks.
1 (20). Frank Ragnow, C: 6-5, 312, Arkansas
2 (43). Kerryon Johnson, RB: 5-11, 213, Auburn
3 (82). Tracy Walker, S: 6-1, 206, Louisiana
4 (114). Da'Shawn Hand, DE: 6-4, 297, Alabama
5 (153). Tyrell Crosby, OL: 6-4, 309, Oregon
7 (237). Nick Bawden, FB: 6-2, 245, San Diego State
Arguably the greatest need, help for Ziggy Ansah pressuring the quarterback, was not a priority and Hand is a down lineman. Ragnow, or a similar pivot, could have been had 20 picks later. But the reunited tag team of Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn backed up their intention to bring a throwback running back to Motown with three of their first five picks focused on that pronounced weakness. Johnson has power and enough speed, plus 29 touchdowns the past two seasons on a resume written vs. SEC competition. Ragnow never allowed a sack in college and Crosby, a tackle in the Pac-12, didn't give one up last season.
Best Pick: Crosby. Failing to adequately address blocking contributed to the undoing of the previous regime. Crosby can start at guard immediately.
Upside Pick: Walker. A costly investment Quinn defended because of plus size, athleticism and ball skills but most of all - speed. Walker, the cousin of CB Darius Slay, will be placed in a playmaking role.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
1 (18). Jaire Alexander, CB: 5-10, 196, Louisville
2 (45). Josh Jackson, CB: 6-1, 196, Iowa
3 (88). Oren Burks, OLB: 6-3, 233, Wake Forest
4 (133). J'Mon Moore, WR: 6-2, 207, Missouri
5 (138). Cole Madison, OL: 6-5, 313, Washington State
5 (172). JK Scott, P: 6-5, 207, Alabama
5 (174). Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR: 6-4, 206, South Florida
6 (207). Equanimeous St. Brown, WR: 6-4, 214, Notre Dame
7 (232). James Looney, DE: 6-3, 287, California
7 (239). Hunter Bradley, LS: 6-2, 280, Mississippi State
7 (248). Kendall Donnerson, LB: 6-3, 247, Southeast Missouri State
After safety Minkah Fitzpatrick went to the Dolphins at No. 12, first-time GM Brian Gutekunst didn't blink when offered a 2019 first-round pick to move out of the No. 14 spot to 27 in a deal with the Saints. He had plenty of capital to jump back to No. 18 and came away with two top-25 cornerbacks. Green Bay allowed an NFL-worst 21 TD passes in 2017. Will the pass rush be there? Signing Muhammad Wilkerson is a plus, but if Clay Matthews doesn't thrive in Mike Pettine's defense, this pick sequence will bite back.
Best Pick: Jackson. Alexander is feisty and fast. But Jackson has the shutdown corner body type and ball skills to emerge as a top playmaker.
Upside Pick: St. Brown. The tried and true Packers draft philosophy of going big at a position of need played out at receiver. St. Brown left school early but at almost 6-5 and with a 4.48 in the 40, the tool box is full.
1 (30). Mike Hughes, CB: 5-10, 189, South Florida
2 (62). Brian O'Neill, OT: 6-7, 297, Pittsburgh
4 (102). Jalyn Holmes, DE: 6-5, 280, Ohio State
5 (157). Tyler Conklin, TE: 6-3, 254, Central Michigan
5 (167). Daniel Carlson, K: 6-5, 213, Auburn
6 (213). Colby Gossett, OG: 6-5, 311, Appalachian State
6 (218). Ade Aruna, DE: 6-5, 262, Tulane
7 (225). Devante Downs, LB: 6-3, 245, California
The Vikings drafted like a team expecting to be knocking on the doorstep of the Super Bowl again this season. And after signing Kirk Cousins in free agency, they found more pieces to plug into a juggernaut defense. Hughes' quickness is exceptional and his path to become a top NFL corner might be a shortcut based on his coverage skills. Both offensive linemen - a No. 1 need - are likely immediate assets. Holmes' skill set and background say defensive end, but the Vikings view him as a havoc-causing, three-technique tackle.
Best Pick: Hughes. A special athlete with gamebreaking return skills, he can develop under the wing of former first-rounder Xavier Rhodes in the Mike Zimmer Pro Bowl CB pipeline.
Upside Pick: O'Neill. GM Rick Spielman repeated "tremendous upside" after the O'Neill card was turned in, praising his physical and athletic movement skills, especially on the move.