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NFL Draft Round 1: Grading The NFC North Picks

The NFC North got an infusion of young talent. How did the Bears selection compare to the rest of the NFC North?

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Night one is in the books, and it’s fair to say that it went about how nobody expected. Remember when random Twitter bro had the world convinced that Will Levis was going second overall? He didn’t get selected in the first round. Swing and a miss.

There were trades that nobody projected, picks that were surprising, and there are several players remaining on the board as the second round begins Friday night that were expected to be long gone.

So, Bears fans, let’s take a look at how the NFC North fared on night one, starting with our pick.

Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright (10th overall) - Grade: A-

After months of debating what Ryan Poles would do in the first round, his selection of Darnell Wright came as a bit of a surprise. The Cardinals traded back up to the sixth overall pick to take Paris Johnson, leaving Peter Skoronski, along with Jalen Carter, on the board for Chicago.

The Bears traded back one spot with the Philadelphia Eagles, who took Carter, and passed on Skoronski in favor of Wright. Maybe we shouldn’t be that surprised.

Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy was a part of the American Team coaching staff at the Senior Bowl. On that team was Wright. Getsy and the Bears had an up-close and personal look at Wright through a week of practices, brought him in for meetings, and Poles values his traits – when Wright’s athletic testing landed him a 9.68 RAS score, Bears fans should have been paying closer attention. Athleticism, character, and tenacity on the field are all things that Poles covets.

Poles made it clear that Wright was the top-ranked offensive tackle on their board. They addressed a direct position of need, and are on their way to setting Justin Fields up for success in his third season.

Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs (12th overall), LB Jack Campbell (18th overall) - Grade: C-

I love Jahmyr Gibbs as a prospect, but quite frankly, I have no idea what the Lions were doing here. They had the opportunity to take impact players at cornerstone positions – like cornerback Christian Gonzalez, or Edge Nolan Smith – and instead decided to draft a running back after paying former Bears back David Montgomery $18M for three years in free agency this year. They also still have D’Andre Swift on the roster.

I poured over mock drafts this draft cycle, and I never saw Gibbs get anywhere close to the 12th overall pick that the Lions just used on him. It’s not a position of need, it’s a high-value pick that they burned, and it makes no sense whatsoever.

Then they doubled-down on the confusion by selecting linebacker Jack Campbell. Campbell is an athletic linebacker with great instincts, but he was widely projected to be a mid-to-late second-round draft pick. The Lions have the 34th overall pick, and if they wanted Campbell, they almost assuredly would have been able to land him with that pick. Passing on one of the premier defensive backs to reach on a linebacker is quite the choice.

Green Bay Packers: EDGE Lukas Van Ness (13th overall) - Grade: B-

It’s been essentially a running joke that the Packers have been almost adamantly opposed to taking wide receivers in the first round, despite having plenty of opportunities to do so. It was a major point of contention with former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (that’s right, Bears fans – he’s really gone). This year, the Packers had the opportunity to select the consensus WR1 in this class in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and they passed on him.

Lukas Van Ness isn’t a horrible pick, though. He generated 18.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in 27 games at Iowa, and his athletic testing clocked in at a 9.39 RAS. He’s a high-motor, athletic edge rusher, and it’s entirely possible that he and Wright will square off against each other on a regular basis.

Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison (23rd overall) - Grade: A

I hate giving love to the Minnesota Vikings, but my goodness did they get themselves a player in wide receiver Jordan Addison. The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner, given to the best wide receiver in the country, is a dynamic playmaker that runs ridiculous routes. Pairing him up with Justin Jefferson is a lethal combination at the receiver position, unfortunately for Bears fans.

After parting with Adam Theilen, adding a second playmaker to their offense was a direct position of need. You could argue that the Vikings have bigger needs in their secondary – they ranked 30th last season in yards per pass allowed – and cornerback Deonte Banks went with the very next pick to the New York Giants, but it’s hard to deny the talent and fit of Addison.