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NFC North draft grades: Business as usual for Vikings, Packers

Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is performing a division-by-division assessment of the 2016 NFL Draft, spotlighting notable picks and handing out grades for each team. Below is his review of the NFC North. (NOTE: Click on the tabs to see other divisional breakdowns.)


BEST PICK: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
Minnesota Vikings, Round 1, No. 23 overall.

The Vikings desperately needed a WR1 to help Teddy Bridgewater maximize his potential as a franchise quarterback. Treadwell is a big-bodied pass catcher with strong hands and exceptional ball skills. He will not only thrive in his role as a "chain mover," but he will help the Vikings score more points as the team's designated red-zone weapon.

MOST SURPRISING PICK: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Detroit Lions, Round 2, No. 46 overall.

Hailed as a possible top-20 pick for most of the pre-draft process, the mammoth Alabama standout slid out of Round 1 and into the Lions' laps on Day 2. Robinson is a dynamic run-stuffer with outstanding strength and power. He will occupy multiple blockers at the point of attack and allow the Lions' linebackers to flow freely to the ball between the tackles. Considering his potential value and impact, it is quite a surprise that he was available in the middle of Round 2.

BIGGEST SLEEPER: Trevor Davis, WR, Cal
Green Bay Packers, Round 5, No. 163 overall.

Jordy Nelson's absence in 2015 exposed the Packers' lack of speed and explosiveness on the perimeter; the receiving corps couldn't produce big plays when opponents utilized press coverage. Davis' addition could be a game-changer. The Cal product is a speedster with the burst and acceleration to blow past defenders on vertical routes. With Aaron Rodgers looking to add the deep ball back into the mix in 2016, Davis' emergence as a big-play threat could help get this squad back on track after Green Bay finished out of first in the division for the first time since 2010.


NOTE: Draft classes are ranked from best to worst within the division.

» Round 1: (No. 23 overall) Laquon Treadwell, WR.
» Round 2: (54) Mackensie Alexander, CB.
» Round 4: (121) Willie Beavers, OT.
» Round 5: (160) Kentrell Brothers, OLB.
» Round 6: (180) Moritz Boehringer, WR; (188) David Morgan, TE.
» Round 7: (227) Stephen Weatherly, OLB; (244) Jayron Kearse, S.

The Vikings have crushed it on draft weekend the past few seasons, which is why the "Purple People Eaters" are considered legitimate heavyweight contenders in the NFC. Mike Zimmer's defense, in particular, has carried the team to title contention behind a young, athletic crew that is as fast as any unit in football. The defense will continue to pose problems for opponents with cornerback Mackensie Alexander joining former first-rounders Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes to create a formidable trio on the perimeter. He will need to master the nuances of the position (footwork, transitions and ball skills) to make a contribution as a rookie, but the Vikings can patiently wait for him to develop on the practice field. Kentrell Brothers and Stephen Weatherly will vie for playing time as backup/special teams players. On offense, the addition of Laquon Treadwell gives the Vikings a legitimate WR1 to target in critical situations. International sensation Moritz Boehringer is a height-weight-speed athlete with the potential to grow into a role as a WR4. He will need some time to develop, but the upside and potential certainly make it worth the wait. GRADE: B+

» Round 1: (No. 27 overall) Kenny Clark, DT.
» Round 2: (48) Jason Spriggs, T.
» Round 3: (88) Kyler Fackrell, LB.
» Round 4: (131) Blake Martinez, LB; (137) Dean Lowry, DE.
» Round 5: (163) Trevor Davis, WR.
» Round 6: (200) Kyle Murphy, T.

General manager Ted Thompson's conservative draft approach rarely generates splashy headlines, but the Packers' consistent presence as playoff contenders is the result of the team's "draft and develop" philosophy. Their 2016 class includes a few picks who should grow into core players in time. Kenny Clark is a versatile interior defender with the athleticism, agility and movement skills to create penetration at the point of attack. In addition, he displays the strength and power to hold his ground against double-teams, which creates run-through lanes for the Packers' linebackers. Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are intriguing talents capable of cracking the starting lineup by the end of the season. Martinez, in particular, is a tackling machine with a strong nose for the ball. On offense, the Packers added a pair of tackles (Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy) who will fortify the depth along the front line. Spriggs could be groomed to take over for Bryan Bulaga on the right side. Trevor Davis could be the sleeper to watch as a big-play threat with speed to burn. GRADE: B

» Round 1: (No. 16 overall) Taylor Decker, OT.
» Round 2: (46) A'Shawn Robinson, DT.
» Round 3: (95) Graham Glasgow, C.
» Round 4: (111) Miles Killebrew, SS.
» Round 5: (151) Joe Dahl, OG; (169) Antwione Williams, LB.
» Round 6: (191) Jake Rudock, QB; (202) Anthony Zettel, DT; (210) Jimmy Landes, LS.
» Round 7: (236) Dwayne Washington, RB.

The Lions wanted to reinforce the depth on both front lines, and they expended top draft choices to do so. On the offensive side of the ball, the approach is designed to protect the franchise's biggest investment (quarterback Matthew Stafford) and give the team the flexibility to morph into a rugged group down the stretch. Taylor Decker certainly adds athleticism, toughness and versatility to the front line. He can line up at left or right tackle as a rookie, solidifying the edges in a division that features a number of dynamic pass rushers. Graham Glasgow and Joe Dahl give the team a pair of interior blockers with the size and strength to move bodies off the ball. The duo should help the Lions find better running lanes between the tackles. On defense, the addition of A'Shawn Robinson fills a void created by the departures of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley a few years ago. The big-bodied run-stuffer not only occupies space at the point of attack, but his disruptive presence should allow the Lions' linebackers to flow freely to the ball. Keep an eye on Miles Killebrew as the designated enforcer in the middle. The Southern Utah standout is a big hitter with a knack for separating receivers from the ball with bang-bang hits. GRADE: B

» Round 1: (No. 9 overall) Leonard Floyd, OLB.
» Round 2: (56) Cody Whitehair, OG.
» Round 3: (72) Jonathan Bullard, DT.
» Round 4: (113) Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB; (124) Deon Bush, S; (127) Deiondre' Hall, CB.
» Round 5: (150) Jordan Howard, RB.
» Round 6: (185) DeAndre Houston-Carson, FS.
» Round 7: (230) Daniel Braverman, WR.

John Fox is intent on building a physical team that dominates the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Thus, Chicago invested heavily on the front line, with Leonard Floyd and Jonathan Bullard adding athleticism and playmaking ability to the front seven. Floyd doesn't offer great size, but his pass-rush skills could help the Bears slow down the high-flying aerial attacks that dominate the NFC. To bolster the secondary, the Bears added three playmakers (Deon Bush, Deiondre' Hall and DeAndre Houston) with the size and athleticism to make plays on the ball. If the pass-rush addition can quicken the clock in the quarterback's head, the trio could help the secondary feast on tips and overthrows down the field. On offense, Cody Whitehair fills a huge hole along the offensive line at guard. The Kansas State standout should be a Day 1 starter, with rock-solid technique and a nasty demeanor helping him thrive at the point of attack. Daniel Braverman could carve out a role as a slippery slot receiver in spread sets. GRADE: B-

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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