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Notes from the North: 2018 NFL Draft

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The Bears made seven draft choices in the recently completed NFL Draft, adding talent and youth to multiple positions on the team's depth chart. Their rivals in the NFC North did the same. Let's take a look at some of the key players that will be facing Chicago twice a season.

Detroit Lions

Top three picks: Arkansas center Frank Ragnow (Round 1, Pick 20), Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson (2-43), Louisiana-Lafayette defensive back Tracy Walker (3-82).

Summary: In 2017, the Lions ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (76.3) and tied for seventh in sacks allowed (47). With that in mind, improving the offensive line and running game were the clear top priorities for Detroit. The team selected two offensive linemen and two running backs among their six overall picks. Ragnow, a versatile blocker who can line up at either center or guard, should provide ample protection for quarterback Matthew Stafford, while Johnson has a chance to become a Day 1 starter in the backfield.

Future Assets: The Lions traded their 2019 third-round pick to New England, in exchange for the Patriots' fourth-rounder (which Detroit used on Alabama defensive end Da'Shawn Hand). Detroit has extra fifth- and sixth-round picks next year through trades made prior to the 2017 regular season.

Quotable: "I think it starts in the trenches. I think it starts up front. I think we want to build through the middle of our team – through the offensive line, through the defensive line. That's what we believe in." – general manager Bob Quinn

Green Bay Packers

Top three picks: Louisville defensive back Jaire Alexander (1-18), Iowa defensive back Joshua Jackson (2-45), Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks (3-88).

Summary: The Packers tried to address their secondary in free agency, inking Kyle Fuller to an offer sheet. The Bears matched, however, leaving Green Bay in need of more talent against the pass. Alexander and Jackson were both among the top cornerbacks in the class, meaning the Packers may have picked up two future starters at the position with their first two picks. Green Bay also looked to address the receiver spot after losing Jordy Nelson to Oakland in free agency. Three receivers were selected for Aaron Rodgers to throw to, including former Notre Dame star Equanimeous St. Brown.

Future Assets: As of now, the Packers are the only team with a pair of first-round picks in the 2019 Draft. Green Bay moved down 13 spots in the first round this past weekend, allowing the Saints to move up and select defensive end Marcus Davenport. For their troubles, Green Bay added New Orleans' fifth-round selection and next year's first-rounder.

Quotable: "The wiring of football players we bring into this building is really important. These (draft picks) we've had a chance to take is what we're looking for, how they approach the game and their mental makeup." – general manager Brian Gutekunst

Minnesota Vikings

Top three picks: Central Florida defensive back Mike Hughes (1-30), Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O'Neill (2-62), Ohio State defensive end Jayln Holmes (4-102).

Summary: After reaching the NFC Championship game last season and signing quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency, the Vikings added complementary parts in the draft. Hughes is very athletic and could be the team's slot corner, while Holmes could line up in a third-down rush package. The one major need Minnesota had to address was kicker. Kai Forbath missed five extra points last season, so the team added some competition in fifth-rounder Daniel Carlson, one of only two placekickers selected in the entire draft.

Future Assets: The Vikings didn't make any trades over the weekend that affected their 2019 picks. In March, the team traded a 2019 fifth-round pick to Denver in exchange for quarterback Trevor Siemian.

Quotable: "We're just trying to get good football players in here and shake it out, and whoever ends up playing plays. I'm not married to anybody, so we just go out and try to get the best players on the field. Quite honestly, in today's NFL, with as much throwing as is going on, I could see four corners in the game at one time." – head coach Mike Zimmer

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