Detroit used its first-round pick to give Mathew Stafford a new target in tight end T.J. Hockenson
After every NFL draft, sports journalists tend to give draft grades, dive into the analytics of each draft pick, and sometimes make season predictions based on draft selections alone. But at the end of the day, each team goes into the draft with an objective in mind. These objectives range from team improvement to adding depth or perhaps replacing a star player.
When all is said and done each team has achieved some type of goal or objective once the seven rounds have concluded. Here is what each NFC North team accomplished with their selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Objective Achieved: Running backs that fit Matt Nagy’s system
Trading Jordan Howard was just a small piece of the puzzle, as the Bears added Mike Davis in free agency, but the big haul came in the draft. Chicago had to wait a bit before making their first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft because of trades last year that resulted in them acquiring Khalil Mack and being in a position to take Anthony Miller in the second round and then when an opportunity presented itself, general manager Ryan Pace didn't hesitate to make another trade to move up so he could get his guy.
So the Bears swapped places with Patriots in the third round, moving up 14 spots to select Iowa State running back David Montgomery with the 73rd pick. Montgomery is viewed as an ideal fit for Matt Nagy's offense after posting 2,295 rushing yards (4.7 ypc) and 26 touchdowns along with 582 receiving yards in his three seasons with the Cyclones.
And while Florida Atlantic's Devin Singletary was linked to the Bears leading into the draft, he ended up going the pick after Montgomery to the Bills. Chicago did take Singletary's teammate, Kerrith Whyte Jr., in the seventh round (222nd overall). Though not as accomplished as Singletary, Whyte was effective (1,358 rushing yards, 227 receiving yards, 13 total touchdowns) with the touches he got in college.
With Montgomery and Whyte joining Davis in a backfield expected to be led by Pro Bowler Tarik Cohen, Nagy has all sorts of weapons at his disposal.
Objective Achieved: More targets for Matthew Stafford
Detroit also had some needs on defense and added a few intriguing pieces, but after signing defensive end Trey Flowers in free agency, the top priority for the draft was giving Stafford some more weapons. Remember, some Lions fans weren't too happy when he signed his contract extension that guaranteed him $92 million. So it makes sense that Detroit's front office will do what they can to help him succeed.
That's why no one was surprised the Lions snagged Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the eighth overall pick. After using their next four picks on defensive players, the team went back to the other side of the ball, selecting Old Dominion wide receiver Travis Fulgham, Maryland running back Ty Johnson, and Georgia (Stafford’s alma mater) tight end Issac Nauta. Chances are none of these guys will have the same impact as Hockenson, especially as a rookie, but at least head coach Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell now have more options at the skill positions.
Green Bay Packers
Objective Achieved: Help on both sides of the ball
While it was well documented that Aaron Rodgers needed some more talent on his side of the ball, the Packers also needed to bolster their defense. Mission accomplished. The defense has reinforcements coming in Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary and Maryland safety Darnell Savage Jr., among others, while Rodgers is happy to have Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger in the fold. Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins will add depth along the offensive line and don't discount Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams' chances of making an early impact either.
The Packers will have a microscope on them this season, especially with Matt LaFleur replacing Mike McCarthy, so expect all of these rookies to get their opportunities to impress during training camp.
Objective Achieved: Protection for Kirk Cousins
In the first year of his fully guaranteed, three-year, $84 million deal, Cousins was sacked 40 times, the second-highest total of his career. So adding some boys up front were in order and the Vikings did that and then some by drafting NC State center Garrett Bradbury (1st round, 18th overall), Oklahoma guard Dru Samla (3rd, 114th), and Elon tackle Olisaemeka Udoh (6th, 193rd). The last thing that the Vikings want is for their top guy to get injured from taking too many hits.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of @Lions)