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PEMBROKE, NC 28372

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Contact the Pine Needle Office:

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Email: pineneedle@uncp.edu 

NFL Draft Talk Volume LXXI

The 2019 NFL draft is officially in the books and there were some teams that knocked it out of the park and made the most of nearly every pick and there were others that did a decent job or hardly moved the needle after the three-day event was concluded. Here are the draft grades for each team by division: NFC North
•    Chicago Bears: C
     While they only had five picks to work with and none in the first two rounds, they were still able to pick up a pair of offensive skill position players in the middle rounds. Since their ferocious defense was among the best in the league last year and was the stingiest scoring unit, they are pretty much set on that side of the ball with only one notable departure in free agency which was strong safety, Adrian Amos.
     Their first selection came in the third round when they selected Iowa State running back David Montgomery at No.73 overall. Since they traded Jordan Howard to the Eagles this offseason, they were in need of a tough power back to pair with the electric Tarik Cohen and run in between the tackles and Montgomery will slide right into that role.
     With their fourth-round selection, they picked up Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley at No.126 overall. The younger brother of the Atlanta Falcons first-round pick from last year Calvin Ridley is going to provide their offense with a reliable chain mover who uses excellent body control and refined route running to stay in bounds and gain separation. A near to watch of their undrafted free agent class in Buffalo outside linebacker Charles Harris who could push 2017 first round pick Leonard Floyd for snaps come fall.
•    Detroit Lions: A-
     They addressed every one of their top needs with quality players that will come in day one and start out of the gate. With their first-round pick, they selected Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson at No.8 overall. Experts believe that he’s the best and most complete player at the position in the entire draft with the way he can be dynamic as a pass catcher as well as be an excellent inline blocker. He’ll form a dangerous two tight end set with their free agent signing Jesses James.
     They used both of their day two picks on the defensive side of the ball in the second and third rounds. In the second, they selected Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai at No.43 overall and in the third they took Boston College safety Will Harris at No.81 overall.
     With their first two picks on day three they selected another pair of defenders in the fourth and the fifth rounds. In the fourth, they picked Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant who his teammates and coaches call the “ultimate grinder” at No.117 overall. He’ll fill the spot in the starting lineup that was left when they decided not to bring back 2013 first-round pick Ziggy Ansah on the opposite side of their top free agent signee Tre Flowers.
     In the fifth round, they drafted big-bodied Penn State Corner Amani Oruwariye at No.146 overall. They got him at a great value considering many experts had a second or third round grade on him. They selected a pair of pass catchers in the last two round that could contribute and complement the starters at their respective positions. 
     In the sixth round, they selected Old Dominion wide receiver Travis Fulgham who became the second Monarch in program history to get drafted at No.184 overall. They used the first of their two seventh rounders to select Georgia Tight end Isaac Nauta No.224 overall who will provide quality depth at the position behind James and their first-round pick.
•    Green Bay Packers: A
     They had a great draft haul over the weekend in which they were aggressive in the first round and exhibited patience the rest of the way as the board fell favorably for them on day two and three. Even though they signed a pair of high-priced pass rushers in free agency, they still elected to use the first of their two first round picks on Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary who fell just outside of top 10 at No.12 overall.
     They traded up in from the bottom of the first to select Maryland playmaking safety Darnell Savage at No.21 overall. He’ll pair with their high-profile free agent signee Adrian Amos in the backend and complement his hard-hitting playing style with his ball-hawking prowess.
     On day two they had a pair of highly regarded prospects on the offensive side of the ball fall to them in the second and third rounds. By staying put they were able to land their starting center in Elgton Jenkins of Mississippi State at No.44 overall in the second round. In the third they selected Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger at No.75 overall who many pundits thought would come off the board in the second. He’s a dynamic pass-catching threat who can stretch the seams and form a deadly two tight end set with five-time Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham. In the sixth round they picked up Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams who has the potential to stop the revolving door they have in their backfield or at least be heavy involved in their rotation with Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams.
•    Minnesota Vikings: A
     They improved greatly on the offensive side of the ball in this draft, using five of their nine picks on offensive linemen and skill positions. With their first-round pick, they selected N.C. State center Garrett Bradberry at No.18 overall. He won the Rimington award last season which is given to the top center on college football and was the top-rated prospect at the position coming into the draft. He’ll now be the anchor in the middle of their offensive line which has been their Achilles heel for years.
     In the second round, they landed arguably the greatest value pick of the draft when selected Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. at No.50 overall. He is an elite talent that somehow managed to fall out of the first round and right into their laps in the middle of the second. They selected game-breaking running back Alex Mattison with the last pick of the third round at No.102 overall to form a great one-two combo with Dalvin Cook who is still recovering from his torn ACL that he suffered in his rookie season.
     They picked up another stud for their offensive line in the fourth round when they selected Oklahoma guard Dru Samia at No.114 overall. They selected their first defensive player in the fifth round when they took Cameron Smith at No.162 overall and followed that up with two more defenders in the sixth. Their first pick in that round was Arkansas defensive tackle Armon Watts at No.190 overall and their second on Wyoming safety Marcus Epps at No.191 overall.
     Each of their four seventh-round picks have to potential to come in and become key role players and make significant contributions right away. The first selection was used on Texas corner Kris Boyd who many believed would come off the board much earlier than No.217 overall. With their last pick of the draft, they took Air Force long snapper Austin Cutting at No.250 overall.
     Sandwiched in between those two picks were a pair of pass catchers that could see the field given Stefon Diggs’ inability to play a full 16-game slate because of injuries that he sustains during the season. At No.239 overall, they selected Oregon receiver Dillon Mitchell who broke out in his last season with the Ducks and broke single-season records for the position. At No.247 overall, the took Colorado State wideout Olabisi Johnson who flashed at times in college and can contribute on special teams.

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