It is exactly one month now from the 2023 NFL Draft. The league is flush with excitement and anticipation. Every draft feels like a weekend-long Super Bowl, and it is hugely significant for all 32 teams. Championship teams are built through the draft. A good one can set a club up for success. A bad one can set a franchise back. Therefore, now is the perfect time to reflect on the 2022 NFC North draft classes.
Draft Class: Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, Velus Jones Jr., Braxton Jones, Dominique Robinson, Zachary Thomas, Trestan Ebner, Doug Kramer, Ja’Tyre Carter, Elijah Hicks, and Trenton Gill.
First-year general manager Ryan Poles was hamstrung with a lack of premium picks thanks to his predecessor’s trade for Justin Fields in 2021. Poles opted to load up on picks and build the roster out. The Bears selected a pair of defensive backs with high upside. Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker played a large percentage of snaps and got a ton of experience under their belts. Brisker, in particular, was excellent. Named team Rookie of The Year, Brisker led the team in sacks and was second in total tackles. A consistent performer, Brisker added athleticism and versatility to Matt Eberflus’ defense.
Wideout Velus Jones felt like a reach in round three, and the special teamer/wideout struggled for consistency and committed errors at various stages of the season. Jones may carve out a role on special teams as we advance, but he will unlikely become a passing game stalwart.
The Bears made a mammoth eight picks on day three, many of which were punts, to pad the roster out. One pick was offensive lineman Braxton Jones. The rookie played every single snap on offense, and per TruMedia, Jones had a better pass-block win rate than Orlando Brown Jr. The Bears may have unearthed a hidden gem.
Overall, the Bears found some solid young pieces despite not having a first-round pick. Ryan Poles added depth and improved the roster.
Draft Class: Aidan Hutchinson, Jameson Williams, Josh Paschal, Kerby Joseph, James Mitchell, Malcolm Rodriguez, James Houston, and Chase Lucas.
The Detroit Lions did not hit a home run in the 2022 NFL Draft. But a bases-clearing triple was not a bad alternative. Hometown hero Aidan Hutchinson was a rookie sensation. The Michigan man recorded sacks, interceptions, pressures, and tackles. An ever-present on the Lions’ defense, Hutchinson lived up to the hype. Add his performances to day three surprises Malcolm Rodriguez and James Houston, and the Lions unearthed three defensive cornerstones. With more development from Jameson Williams, Kerby Joseph, Josh Paschal, and James Mitchell, the Lions have a class good enough for the present and future.
General manager Brad Holmes nailed this draft. His top pick was an immediate star. And his late-round choices in Houston, Rodriguez, and Joseph also made starring contributions. Pair that with other players set to flourish, and the Lions had an excellent 2022 draft.
Green Bay Packers
Draft Class: Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt, Christian Watson, Sean Rhyan, Romeo Doubs, Zach Tom, Kingsley Enagbare, Tariq Carpenter, Jonathan Ford, Rasheed Walker, and Samori Toure.
The Green Bay Packers draft class did not yield immediate dividends in 2022, but may provide long-term gains. Quay Walker started all but one game. However, he did take his rookie lumps. Walker displayed plenty of athleticism but looked raw. The 13 missed tackles are a testament to that, and he underlined his season with a moment of madness against the Lions. Devonte Wyatt owns all the physical tools, although he did not start a single game in 2022. One can say the same about rookie wideouts Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Both struggled due to a lack of chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, although Watson did develop rapidly in the final few weeks of the season. Watson demonstrated blistering speed and a game-changing ability to blow away opposing defenses. One emerging story was Zach Tom. Tom played across four positions on the offensive line and showed potential to be a long-term depth piece of the offensive line. Players like Sean Rhyan, Rasheed Walker, Kingsley Enagbare, and Tariq Carpenter were drip-fed into the team but did not show much promise.
The Packers added potential, but several players failed to make an immediate impact. Green Bay will hope that the long-term future is better. Walker and Wyatt are National Champions, and they must deliver on that pedigree in year two. At the same time, Watson and Doubs could flourish with Jordan Love.
Draft Class: Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, Ed Ingram, Brian Asamoah, Akayleb Evans, Esezi Otomewo, Ty Chandler, Vederian Lowe, Jalen Nailor, and Nick Muse.
The Minnesota Vikings got one start from their first two selections. Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth both suffered season-ending injuries early in 2022 that no doubt hurt a Vikings defense that bottomed out. Guard Ed Ingram started every game and flashed promise as a road-grading run blocker. However, his pass-blocking left a lot to be desired. The rest of the Vikings’ draftees started two games between them. Minnesota got little impact from their rookie class, and questions will surround the top picks as they return from injury.