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2021 NFL Draft: Breaking down NFC North rivals’ drafts

The Bears received plenty of praise for their draft hauls this year, but what did their divisional rivals come away with this year?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl - Oregon v Wisconsin Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the Bears coming away with Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, Chicago has been buzzing with positivity.

After years upon years of quarterback uncertainty, many are hopeful that the Ohio State signal-caller will be the catalyst for a turnaround on the offensive side of the ball. Bringing in the nasty Jenkins for their offensive line and coming away with a strong haul on Day 3 of the draft only added to the excitement that started to build Thursday night.

Given how much excitement surrounded the Bears’ draft, it can be tough to keep in mind that the rest of the NFC North had the chance to upgrade at other positions, too.

While maybe not as praised nationally as Chicago’s class, all three of the remaining NFC North teams put together fairly solid classes in the 2021 draft. Some questionable choices were made, but they were also complemented by some solid value picks that addressed positions of need for each respective team.

To take a look at what the rest of the division did this year, let’s break down every other non-Bears team in the NFC North and what they did in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Green Bay Packers

Round 1: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

Round 2: Josh Myers, C, Ohio State

Round 3: Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

Round 4: Royce Newman, OG, Ole Miss

Round 5: Tedarrell Slaton, DL, Florida

Round 5: Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State

Round 6: Cole Van Lanen, OT, Wisconsin

Round 6: Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College

Round 7: Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State

The Packers didn’t have as questionable of a draft upon initial inspection as they did with their 2020 draft this time last year, which is a step in the right direction for them.

Stokes should give them an athletic and toolsy cornerback to play alongside Jaire Alexander. Myers is a technically-sound interior blocker, though one could make the argument Creed Humphrey would’ve been the better pick in Round 2. Rodgers gives them an explosive weapon out of the slot to complement Davante Adams and marks an actual improvement at the wide receiver position.

Their Day 3 haul was solid, if unspectacular. Slaton is a big-bodied run-stuffer with some athletic tools, while McDuffie could step into a starting role in due time if he complements his athleticism with improved instincts. The Packers did fill some needs with solid players in the draft, but one could argue they didn’t make too many improvements on their roster from what they had in 2020.

Detroit Lions

Round 1: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Round 2: Levi Onwuzurike, DL, Washington

Round 3: Alim McNeill, DL, NC State

Round 3: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

Round 4: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC

Round 4: Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue

Round 7: Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State

New head coach Dan Campbell surely played a role in a Lions draft haul that truly fits the “bite your knee-caps” mentality.

Sewell being available at No. 7 was a steal, and he should give them a dominant force at either tackle spot for years to come. His acquisition should help Detroit combat the likes of Khalil Mack, Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith in divisional play. The Lions double-dipped with two athletic interior defenders in Onwuzurike and McNeill, shoring up a major need on their roster. Melifonwu was also a great value pick near the back-end of the third round who should develop into a starter alongside Jeff Okudah.

St. Brown is a great value in the fourth round for a team desperately lacking at the wide receiver position, while Barnes is a versatile linebacker who could compete for a starting spot. Jefferson is also a solid rotational back, especially for a seventh-rounder. This draft class might not make the Lions play flashy in 2021 — or all that well, for that matter — but it’s a step in a certain direction. They prioritized grit in their draft, and they acquired a group of players that has exactly that.

Minnesota Vikings

Round 1: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Round 3: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

Round 3: Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

Round 3: Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State

Round 3: Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh

Round 4: Kene Nwangnu, RB, Iowa State

Round 4: Camryn Bynum, CB, California

Round 5: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa

Round 5: Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri

Round 6: Jaylen Twyman, DL, Pittsburgh

The Vikings have shown a tendency to stock up on draft picks in recent years, and with eight picks between Rounds 3 and 5, they did a pretty good job of maximizing them.

Securing Darrisaw with the No. 23 pick was an absolute steal, giving them a potential stalwart at left tackle going forward. His athletic upside and raw power gives him a very high ceiling at the next level. Whether Mond can usurp Kirk Cousins over time is unknown, but the Vikings wanted to take a shot on a quarterback, and the Texas A&M product has some tools to work with. Surratt and Jones are both athletic front-seven defenders, while Davis is a powerful and technically-sound interior blocker.

Minnesota’s Day 3 haul is full of high-upside prospects, too. Nwangnu and Smith-Marsette are both explosive and talented skill players, and Davidson is a toolsy, yet raw tight end with plenty of red-zone potential. The Vikings got deeper at several positions in the 2021 draft, and their offensive line upgrades in particular should be helpful to them this year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them come away with multiple starters from this class a few years from now.