Now that we have shed some light on the NFC North team needs prior to the draft it is time to focus on the prospects. The draft is around the corner on April 23-25. Let’s take a look at some prospects that could be good fits for each North team in this six-part series. Part I focuses on Quarterback and Running Back positions.
The Packers and Vikings could use a backup QB to upgrade over Tim Boyle and Sean Mannion. The Lions are set with Stafford and Chase Daniel but could always take a developmental QB very late. The Bears have a two headed solution or problem in Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky with decisions to make on them for 2021.The Bears lack a 1st, 3rd or 4th round pick to mess around with the QB position. The NFC North will be light on taking QBs but the Lions at pick 3 are in a great position to trade down due to the QBs in this draft.
Joe Burrow (LSU) should go number 1 overall to the Bengals after an incredible year leading LSU to the National Championship. Burrow has great football IQ and reads the field well. His accuracy is good and his arm strength is strong enough but not great. Burrow was highly productive in 2019 and is the best QB prospect on the board by far. He is an Ohio native and a perfect fit for the Bengals with young coach Zac Taylor to develop him.
The Redskins just drafted Dwayne Haskins last year but could take Tua Tagovailoa with a surprise pick over DE Chase Young.
The Dolphins and Chargers both need QBs and they might be willing to jump up to 3 to get Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama. Tua is healthy despite a nasty hip injury which ended his 2019 season. The Bama QB is an accurate passer and has enough arm (but not a cannon). He was highly successful at Alabama but he was surrounded by plenty of talent including two first round WRs, good defense, good running game and good offensive line with another first round tackle.
If a team falls in love with Tua, they could trade up with the Lions to nab him at pick 3 and Detroit could get an extra first round pick or two early day 2 picks. Miami has three first round picks (5,18,26) which gives them the ammo if they feel they need to move up to protect them from the Chargers moving up for Tua.
However, Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Jordan Love (Utah State) also have first round grades. We will see if the other teams are happy settling for them as their franchise QB and not giving up draft picks to do so. Herbert is 6’6 with a great arm but isn’t consistent. Love has the talent but makes too many mistakes with turnovers on a bad Utah State team. Both can be franchise QBs but need some work to be elite.
Jalen Hurts(former Bama then Oklahoma), Anthony Gordon(Wash State) James Morgan (FIU) and Jake Fromm could be there on day 3 to be backup QBs for teams in the North. Fromm is a good decision maker with some accuracy but lacks the arm strength. Hurt is 6’1 with solid accuracy and arm strength. He makes some bad decisions but has great mobility. Jalen should have the highest upside of all the day 3 QBS and could sneak into late day 2.
Anthony Gordon has inflated numbers from the pass-happy Mike Leach at Washington State. His accuracy and decision making are fine but he needs a little more arm strength. Morgan is 6’4 with great production at FIU. He faced lesser competition but is accurate with arm strength but he is a sleeper with upside.
QB is always an interesting position to watch in the draft even though the NFC North teams rarely draft one early.
Running Back Prospects
Running Back is not a big immediate need for any of the NFC North teams. However, a work horse back could be a future need for the Packers, Detroit and the Bears. Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook, Jamaal Williams and Tarik Cohen are all free agents next year. The Lions could maybe use power back but they like Kerryon Johnson (though has durability issues) and Bo Scarborough (shined in 2019 when given the chance) and third back Ty Johnson (great speed).
Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift and JK Dobbins are the top running backs in this class. One or two of them could be drafted in Round 1 but early day 2 is likely too.
Taylor is a big super productive back from Wisconsin. JT is powerful with good vision but has some ball security concerns. Taylor wasn’t asked to be much of a receiving back has decent hands. Round 2 is the perfect spot for him for a team needing a starting RB.
Swift is shorter but with good speed and plenty of power from Georgia. Swift has a little less power but offers more in pass pro and receiving. He is a littler shiftier with good vision. Georgia produces some good backs and Swift is next in line.
JK Dobbins is a short powerful back from Ohio State at 5’10 217 pounds. He is durable with great vision and feet. Super productive for Ohio State and reliable receiver. He needs work on pass pro but is capable.
Cam Akers, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, AJ Dillon and Zach Moss is the next tier of running backs that could be day 2 picks as well.
Akers is a big powerful back from Florida State. Was a solid receiver but needs work in pass protection. He is durable and can be workhorse back.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a strong season in 2019 for LSU. Is 5’8 but still has some power and punch to his game. Round 3 a good bet for him.
AJ Dillon is 6’0 250 lb bowling ball. He faced tons of stacked boxes and just produced for Boston College. He gets extra yards after getting hit, ran a good 40 for his size and is the power back teams will want.
Zach Moss is durable, physical back from Utah. He was worked often and has pass pro skills as well. Round 3 or 4 is when Moss should come into play.
Anthony McFarland (Maryland), Eno Benjamin(Arizona State), Lamichael Perine(Florida), Ke’Shawn Vaughn(Vanderbilt) are more likely day 3 picks but one could sneak into day 2.
There are many good QB and RB prospects in this draft that could help the NFC North in the future. QB won’t be taken early but RBs could be added to North teams on day 2 or day 3 of the draft.