Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is performing a division-by-division assessment of the 2015 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.)
The most important part of drafting is identifying players who are ideal scheme fits. The Vikings' utilization of aggressive bump-and-run tactics on the perimeter could help Waynes blossom into a Pro Bowl-caliber cover corner early in his career. The former Michigan State standout excelled at suffocating receivers with various press-man techniques. Thus, he shouldn't have any problem transitioning to the pro game in a system that will allow him to play to his strengths.
It's rare that a team is able to land a quarterback with blue-chip traits on Day 3, but the Packers might've grabbed a future NFL starter when they plucked Hundley off the board in Round 5. The 6-foot-3, 226-pounder is an extraordinary athlete with impressive arm talent. Although his deep-ball accuracy and pocket awareness leave something to be desired, Hundley is an ideal developmental prospect to groom behind Aaron Rodgers. If the UCLA product diligently works on his craft behind the scenes, he could be a valuable trade chip down the road.
Since coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson joined forces in 2006, the Packers have nabbed a bunch of productive receivers after Round 1. From Jordy Nelson to Randall Cobb to Davante Adams, Green Bay has consistently identified pass catchers with the necessary ingredients to develop into key contributors. Montgomery certainly fits the mold as an athletic playmaker with explosive return skills and a physical running style. He could shine on the perimeter in the Packers' catch-and-run scheme.
NOTE: Draft hauls are ranked from best to worst within the division.
1) CHICAGO BEARS: GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox, both in their first year with Chicago, are intent on rebuilding the Bears with a bunch of intelligent, hard-nosed football players with non-stop motors. Fox, in particular, covets explosive big-bodied athletes at every position, which is why the Bears' draft features some of the top testers in pre-draft workouts. Kevin White is a dynamic pass catcher with exceptional speed, quickness and burst. He is a natural vertical stretch receiver who could blossom as a WR1 in the Windy City opposite Alshon Jeffery. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman is a behemoth on the interior, but he plays light on his feet and provides the Bears with a run-stuffer/pocket-pusher at the point of attack. Offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu and running back Jeremy Langford didn't command a lot of attention during the pre-draft process, but each is a rock-solid prospect with the potential to contribute immediately as a role player. GRADE: A-
2) MINNESOTA VIKINGS:Mike Zimmer is quietly building a defensive juggernaut in Minnesota by collecting young, athletic defenders with speed, quickness and instincts. He added a couple of intriguing pieces to the unit with the selections of corner Trae Waynes and linebacker Eric Kendricks. Waynes, in particular, is a dynamic cover corner capable of snuffing out top receivers with his sticky playing style. He will team with Xavier Rhodes to give the Vikings a formidable cornerback tandem on the perimeter. T.J. Clemmings is an exceptional value pick for the Vikings. The 6-5, 309-pounder was viewed as a Round 1 talent for most of the process, yet found his way to the Vikings as a fourth-round selection. (There were concerns about a reported foot injury.) He is a perfect right tackle prospect and could work his way into the starting lineup in 2016 after a redshirt season. Keep an eye on receiver Stefon Diggs throughout the preseason. He was a fantastic playmaker at Maryland and could thrive in a multi-faceted role for the Vikings. GRADE: B+
3) GREEN BAY PACKERS: Every executive discusses taking the "best player available" at every pick, but few do it better than Packers GM Ted Thompson. He will bypass a more pressing need to snag the top player on the board regardless of position. Thompson took Damarious Randall to provide the Packers with a hybrid safety/nickel defender. He brings cornerback-level cover skills to the position and gives coordinator Dom Capers a versatile weapon to use on passing downs. Quinten Rollins also adds versatility and ball skills to the secondary; the former basketball player possesses exceptional awareness and instincts on the gridiron. Brett Hundley is an outstanding value selection as a developmental quarterback prospect. He could pay big dividends down the road if he hones his craft and flashes potential in preseason games or spot duty over the next few years. Ty Montgomery is an intriguing selection with big-time potential. He could eventually earn Pro Bowl recognition as a returner or blossom into a solid WR2 in the Packers' system. GRADE: B
4) DETROIT LIONS: The Lions' draft lacked sizzle, but GM Martin Mayhew deserves credit for adding productive players to the roster throughout the draft. Guard Laken Tomlinson gives the Lions a "people mover" on the inside. He excels at driving big bodies off the line of scrimmage, creating huge lanes for runners on power runs. Ameer Abdullah is an explosive change-of-pace back with the hands and receiving skills to shine as a third-down specialist. Defensively, the Lions might have gone a long way in addressing secondary woes with the selections of cornerbacks Alex Carter and Quandre Diggs. Each defender logged significant snaps in college and brings much-needed versatility to the back end. GRADE: B