In The Huddle With Hinkle: NFL Draft 2020 Grades: NFC North

There it is, the first fully virtual draft is in the books. You can almost always find a “first ever” moment in every draft, this year is no different. We saw a record breaking 15 picks from the Minnesota Vikings, and the Carolina Panthers were the first ever team to draft entirely defensive players! This virtual draft opened the eyes of many owners, GM’s, and coaches to the possibilities/capabilities of the NFL online. 

It is no secret that football coaches have a propensity to be… old fashioned. For example, Nick Saban (former NFL coach, current Alabama prophet) JUST GOT AN EMAIL ACCOUNT FOR THE FIRST TIME! Formerly, he had an assistant run an email account on his behalf. The assistant would print out the emails and hand them to coach Saban. With the presumed uptick in emails because of the quarantine, the assistant politely refused to continue printing them. 

For the fan, it’s a double -edged sword. On one side, we should be happy to see such innovation being implemented into our sport. On the other, it’s much tougher to report or make media from virtual NFL, off-season work. That’s where we are though. Teams are heading into the next phase of the season doing virtual OTA’s (organized team activities.) The Vikings have sent each player an Ipad, on which they have to attend meetings. Reporters are “breaking” the “news” that players who were suspected of holding out, have logged in to their Ipads! We are truly in dark times. 

Luckily, there’s plenty of draft content to still unpack! I am going to start a series of grading each teams draft. It will broken down into division, ranking them accordingly. I am going to start with the division that is most near and dear to my heart, the NFC North.

Starting at bottom. The way bottom. Spoiler, not just the bottom of the division, but the bottom of the entire league. As rock bottom as you can possibly dig yourself into…. 

The Green Bay Packers.

If you talked to any Packers fans before the draft, they had a Christmas wish list of wide receivers they were giddy for, and rightfully so. This was/is supposed to be the deepest WR draft class in NFL history! Your teams biggest need matching up with the richest position was a sure recipe for success… NOPE! 15 percent of the players drafted were WR’s, a record breaking 37 WR’s drafted, and at least 5 taken in every round… the Packers drafted a staggering 0 of them. This is mere speculation, but Aaron Rodgers must have hooked up with Matt LaFleur’s sister at the company picnic, because this draft seemed personal! Trading up (wasting draft capital) to get a quarterback, all while Aaron still has 4 years left on contract. Brutal. The first 3 rounds were all similar, drafting players who are seemingly backups. There wasn’t a need addressed until the 5thround with ILB Kamal Martin. All-in-all the best thing the packers could’ve done, was to set their computer on autodraft and head to bed. 

Draft grade: F. 

The Chicago Bears.

Moving up in draft grades from the division, DAAAAAAA BEARS. The Bears had just 2 picks in the top 150 picks. Finally coming out of the Khalil Mack trade, though now feeling consequences of the David Montgomery deal. There was an episode of Parks and Rec where Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt are asked to help run the city’s model UN for the year. Various other characters from the show are asked to help with the event by running a random country. Andy (played by Chris Pratt) went around trading all of his nonrenewable resources like gold, oil, some of the land, etc. for every other country’s lions. When asked why he do that, he responded “I traded all of Finland’s boring stuff for lions. I definitely have more lions than any other country in the whole world right now. I have no idea what’s going on, but if that ends up meaning something in this game… I’d say I’m set!” That is exactly how the bears approached this draft. Their first pick was the consensus number one tight end, Cole Kmet. Getting a player who is number one at their position should help any teams draft grade… except that he’s the bear’s 10th tight end on their roster… the Bears have 10 tight ends on their roster. They had one pick made sense in this draft, CB Jaylon Johnson. A great player who attacks the ball and jumps routes. He is great at man to man and loves to play physical. He will make an immediate impact on the roster, but for a team with this many holes, one impact player isn’t enough from this draft. But if tight ends end up meaning something in this game, I’d say they’re set!

Draft grade: D. 

The Detroit Lions.

I am from Detroit, so this team holds a special place in my heart. My dad played tuba in high school and my mom played clarinet. Sports were definitely a love I had to develop on my own, so I never drank the Honolulu blue and silver Kool-Aid. I have a pretty rational view of the Lions’ organization which is heart-breaking because of how inept the ownership and coaching staff is. That being said, they had a great draft! It’s hard to not do well with the number 3 overall pick, but I was lowkey worried that they would find a way to “same old Lions” the pick! Jeff Okudah is a player who will make a difference for, presumably, the next decade. They followed that up with my favorite running back in the draft, D’Andre Swift. They got 2 steals in the 3rd and 4th with Jonah Jackson and Logan Sternberg respectively, and they capped the draft off with a gift to the fantasy community, John Penisini. While Penisini won’t directly affect your fantasy team points, he damn well could help name it! I’m hopeful to see what the future holds for this draft class, just hoping Matt Patricia can learn how to coach a football team in the meantime. 

Draft grade: B+

The Minnesota Vikings

Alexa, play Trophies by Young Money and Drake. There is a graphic, that I will put at the bottom of this article, that shows how all the various NFL media outlets graded each team. It then takes the average of all grades and ranks them. The Vikings were standing tall among league. Inside look behind the screen, I am a huge Vikings fan. I sat on the edge of my seat as they made every pick. The draft could not have unfolded better for the Vikings. In my final mock draft, I had the Vikings taking Jeff Gladney and Ezra Cleveland with their 2 first rounders. I never expected Justin Jefferson to fall to pick 22, much less Cleveland to tumble all the way down to pick 58! The Vikings addressed every conceivable need in this draft. They worked the draft board like a surfer, dipping and riding. Trading down this year, just to take the assets acquired from the trade and flip them from 5th rounders this year, to 4th’s next year. Though I would have liked to had a few more of my guys (Tyler Johnson, Netane Muti, or Antoine Winfield Jr) they surely elevated their team for the future. 

Draft grade: A

This division is certainly going to be one to watch! The Packers fall from grace should be as epic as the Lions rise. It is truly anyone’s to take and I am excited to see the battles fought in the upcoming season. Readddddddyyyyyy, break!

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