Minnesota Vikings’ Division Rivals Have Multiple Needs

The Minnesota Vikings will not be drafting in a vacuum next week when the NFL conducts its selection meeting Thursday. While general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has to be concerned with the 31 other teams in the league, he must pay particular attention to his three competitors in the NFC North.

The Green Bay Packers have been the dominant team in the division for multiple seasons, but the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions must be taken seriously – at least until the losses start piling up at midseason.

The Vikings need to address the cornerback spot as their top priority, a position that has been a significant weakness for the last two seasons. They also need depth at wide receiver, and they have to pay attention to the tight end position as well.

In this piece, we take a look at the competition, and the needs of the Bears, Lions and Packers when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the podium for the three-day event. The Vikings have the No. 12 pick in the first round, the Packers have the Nos. 22 and 28 pick in the opening round, while the Lions pick 2nd and 32nd in the opening round. The Bears don’t have a first-round pick, but they have two in the second, including the 39th and 48th picks overall.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have new leadership heading into the 2022 season, and general manager Ryan Poles will attempt to restock the cupboard for first-year head coach Matt Eberflus.

After finishing with a 6-11 record last season, the Bears have a multitude of needs, and their biggest are at the wide receiver and cornerback positions.

The Bears are hoping they have a quarterback in Justin Fields who can lead the team successfully for the next 5-10 years, but they have to get him some support at the wide receiver position. Darnell Mooney should be a solid contributor at the position, and the Bears also brought in Equanimeous St. Brown from the Packers in free agency. While taking a player away from Green Bay is always considered a positive move within the division, there are no guarantees that he will fulfill a regular role.

The Bears need a star at the position, and they could have a chance to select one early in the second round with Jalen Tolbert of South Alabama. Tolbert is a 6-1, 194-pound wideout who caught 82 passes for 1,474 yards and 8 touchdowns last year.

Tolbert is a burner and that’s something the Bears have needed for years. He can also go up and get the ball at its highest point and then come down balanced and able to make big yards after the catch. While he hasn’t played against big-name schools, his athleticism should help him overcome that issue.

Detroit Lions

It’s shocking to believe that the Lions were one of the powerhouse teams in the NFL during the 1950s when they won three league championships and also appeared in one other title games. However, since their last title in 1957, they have been one of the saddest franchises in professional sports.

They have won one playoff game since and have never come close to playing in the Super Bowl. That’s not something they are on track for in 2022 after finishing with a 3-13-1 record last year, as their weaknesses are myriad.

Detroit’s biggest needs are at the edge rusher and quarterback positions. While they have Jared Goff at quarterback, there’s little reason to believe that he can be the leader who turns things around for the Lions. Goff was traded by the Los Angeles Rams after the 2020 season for former Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, and Los Angeles won the Super Bowl while the Lions finished in last place.

Goff completed 67.2 percent of his passes with a 19-8 TD-interception ratio, but he has demonstrated that he is not a big-game quarterback.

Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh looks like a solid quarterback prospect, but perhaps not worthy of the No. 2 slot in the draft. The Lions would be well-served by selecting edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan. Hutchinson is a 6-7, 260-pound athlete who had 14 sacks and 10 tackles for loss with the Wolverines in 2021.

He has remarkable explosiveness and strength, and he combines those characteristics with shocking agility that allows him to disengage from opposing blockers. Hutchinson also has a remarkable motor, as he transitions from one move to the next, and he never stops working on any play.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers have dominated the NFC North, winning the division title in three consecutive years. However, the Packers have significant needs at the wide receiver and edge rusher positions, and if they don’t fill those needs, their run could end.

The holes at the wide receiver position are particularly egregious, considering that they have lost Davante Adams, Marquez Valdez-Scantling and St. Brown during the offseason. The loss of Adams means they have to replace the best receiver in the league.

As a result, they should be very interested in Treylon Burks of Arkansas, Drake London of USC
or Chris Olave of Ohio State. London and Olave could go before the Packers select, but Burks is likely to remain on the board.

Burks has size and speed at 6-2 and 225 pounds, and he caught 65 passes for 1,110 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Burks has the ability to make the catch and shrug off the tackler with ease. He is a powerful physical presence, and that should make him a favorite for quarterback Aaron Rodgers if he ends up in green and gold.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevesilverman/2022/04/22/2022-nfl-draft-minnesota-vikings-division-rivals-have-multiple-needs/