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Know your enemy: Recapping draft picks from Bears’ NFC North rivals

With the draft having officially wrapped up, let’s take a look at how each of the Bears’ divisional rivals did.

NFL Draft
New Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson was the first player selected by an NFC North team in this year’s draft.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With the Bears having won the NFC North last season, this year’s NFL Draft served as a chance for their divisional rivals to potentially unseat them from the throne.

Chicago didn’t have any picks in the first two rounds, which gave their foes the chance to try to close the gap in the division by adding young, high-ceiling talent. While some picks were more confusing than others, all three teams found a couple of players who could be immediate contributors.

To get to know some of the players the Bears will play twice a year for the foreseeable future, let’s break down what all of the other NFC North teams did in the draft this year.

Detroit Lions

Round 1: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Round 2: Jahlani Tavai, LB, Hawaii

Round 3: Will Harris, S, Boston College

Round 4: Austin Bryant, EDGE, Clemson

Round 5: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State

Round 6: Travis Fulgham, WR, Old Dominion

Round 6: Tyron Johnson, RB, Oklahoma State

Round 7: Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia

Round 7: P.J. Johnson, DT, Arizona

The Lions had a handful of Day 3 steals, but I’m ultimately not very impressed with their haul in the first three rounds of the draft. Hockenson has potential to be a top-five tight end in the NFL, but I question how much he’ll be utilized in Detroit’s offense. Tavai is a two-down thumper who can tackle reliably, but he doesn’t offer too much in the way of athleticism or coverage reliability. Harris is a lengthy and athletic safety with some room to grow into a starter, so even though he’s much more reactive than instinctive as this point, I can understand why the Lions liked him. I really like the Oruwariye selection for them, though, as I feel he can be a starting press cornerback at the professional level.

Green Bay Packers

Round 1: Rashan Gary, DE/EDGE, Michigan

Round 1: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland

Round 2: Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State

Round 3: Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M

Round 5: Kingsley Keke, DT, Texas A&M

Round 6: Ka’Dar Hollman, CB, Toledo

Round 6: Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame

Round 7: Ty Summers, LB, TCU

When it comes to hauls in the first two days of the draft, the Packers may have had the best in the division. Granted, having two first-round picks does help them out a bit, but they added a lot of good players early on. Gary is an athletic freak who, though raw, offers Pro Bowl upside. Joining the likes of Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in the front-seven, Green Bay’s pass rush is looking very intimidating. The rangy and athletic Savage is a very good complement to Adrian Amos, who will benefit yet again from having a safety with that skill set next to him. Jenkins fits a need and is a reliable force in both pass protection and run blocking, and Sternberger was also a great pick, as he can develop into a deadly U tight end at the next level. I’m not too keen on their Day 3 picks, though Williams should be able to carve out a role for himself as a solid short-yardage back.

Minnesota Vikings

Round 1: Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State

Round 2: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama

Round 3: Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State

Round 4: Dru Samia, OG, Oklahoma

Round 5: Cameron Smith, LB, USC

Round 6: Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas

Round 6: Marcus Epps, S, Wyoming

Round 6: Oli Udoh, OT, Elon

Round 7: Kris Boyd, CB, Texas

Round 7: Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon

Round 7: Olabisi Johnson, WR, Colorado State

Round 7: Austin Cutting, LS, Air Force

Minnesota had a boatload of picks to work with, and they did a good job of adding quality talent. Bradbury has all of the tools of a Pro Bowl center, and with some bulking up, I don’t know if there will be a glaring weakness in his game. The middle of the second round is a fit for Smith than the late first, so the value here in a well-rounded pass catcher was good here. The third round was way too high for Mattison, who doesn’t appear to have the speed or the contact balance to be a back who consistently gets touches. The Vikings had a whopping nine picks on Day 3, and they managed to find a lot of great value. Samia and Smith have the potential to step in as starters, while the likes of Watts, Udoh and Mitchell are intriguing late-round picks who could be solid depth.