Ah, the NFL Draft. The annual tradition where teams make every incoming prospect strip down to their underwear and run around before picking them for dodgeball. Teams will jockey for position to snag a guy they will, on average, drum out of the league after just a few years. Those that survive this gauntlet will become the future free agency classes, in which teams will give massive contracts that eventually get whittled down to much smaller, and shorter contracts. NFL league vagaries aside, let’s take a look at each team’s fantasy football-relevant needs headed into the 2022 NFL Draft. We already took a look at the NFC West, and we continue our look around the league with the NFC North.
Additions: Byron Pringle (WR – Chiefs), Equanimeous St. Brown (WR – Packers)
Losses: Allen Robinson (WR – L.A. Rams), Damien Williams (RB – Falcons)
Impact Picks: Round 2, Pick 39; Round 2, Pick 48; Round 3, Pick 71
Fantasy Needs: Wide Receiver
The Chicago Bears have their newest quarterback of the future with their 2021 first-round pick, Justin Fields. Unfortunately, repositioning themselves to snag Fields left the cabinet a bit bare when it comes to putting weapons and help around Fields. Chicago has David Montgomery in the backfield, and Darnell Mooney downfield, but other than that, they don’t have a whole lot on offense to help him out.
Luckily, this is exactly the draft you want if you want to restock your wide receiver room in a hurry. All respect to Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown but they are not viable WR2 and WR3 options for a functional franchise. They need to spend, likely, two of these three picks on wide receivers to just make this room functional. Luckily, there will be plenty of guys available in that range. Skyy Moore, George Pickens, David Bell, and Alec Pierce could all help them with second or third-round picks.
Additions: D.J. Chark (WR – Jaguars)
Impact Picks: Round 1, Picks 2 & 32; Round 2, Pick 34, Round 3, Picks 66 & 97 (compensatory)
Fantasy Needs: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Gun to my head, if you look at the franchise direction, and the weapons available to the teams, as well as their draft picks… I would bet that Detroit finishes above Chicago in the division next year. They have five picks in the top-100, a stud offensive line, and plenty of viable offensive weaponry in T.J. Hockenson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and D’Andre Swift. But, here’s the rub: Jared Goff isn’t good. Here’s the other rub: Malik Willis just might be. But, ultimately, they aren’t going to go in that direction. They’re building up everything around the quarterback before dropping a stud in there, likely in the 2023 draft.
As for the wide receivers, I think the room could use a bit of an upgrade, but I also believe in the offensive weaponry trio that I outlined earlier. It’s likely they get a player to go alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown, given that their movement around the wide receiver room this offseason seems built around adding a centerpiece through the draft. Or… letting Amon-Ra St. Brown be the centerpiece.
Green Bay Packers
Losses: Davante Adams (WR – Raiders), Equanimeous St. Brown (WR – Bears)
Impact Picks: Round 1, Picks 22 & 28; Round 2, Picks 53 & 59; Round 3, Pick 92
Fantasy Needs: Wide Receiver, Tight End
The Green Bay Packers were the #1 seed last season, and Aaron Rodgers immunized himself from retirement by signing a massive contract. Now, after a Davante Adams trade, he’s throwing to Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard. With two picks in the top-28, the Packers might finally do something that Rodgers has begged them to do for years: draft a first-round wide receiver.
There are plenty of guys in this draft that could make sweet music with Rodgers, unfortunately, most of them will likely be gone when the Packers pick. They likely need to package their two first-round picks and add a little seasoning on top if they want to get an impact guy like Garrett Wilson or Treylon Burks.
Though the funniest option is the Packers taking a guard and a cornerback with those picks. Just to see what Aaron Rodgers does.
Losses: Tyler Conklin (TE – N.Y. Jets), Mason Cole (OC – Steelers)
Impact Picks: Round 1, Pick 12; Round 2, Pick 46; Round 3, Pick 77
Fantasy Needs: Offensive Line
The Vikings have a competent quarterback (who is incredibly good at bag securing), one of the best young running backs, and possibly the best young wide receiver in the league. They also have competence at tight end with Irv Smith Jr. They don’t need for much on offense, except for the line. They ranked twenty-fifth in pass block win rate last season, and thirteenth in run block win rate. It’s more-than-likely they spend their impact picks on the defense, however. I predict another draft like 2021 where they took offensive line, depth, and defense with their top-100 picks.