NFC North: 2016 NFL Draft grades
The Packers surprised some with the selection of UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark at No. 27 overall, but he ranks as one of my favorite (and I thought underrated) defenders in this class, standing out as a true freshman on a defense full of NFL prospects and simply improving each year. He is a plug-and-play replacement for B.J. Raji inside. Ted Thompson showed rare aggression in trading up to nab highly athletic tackle Jason Spriggs and found a silky smooth edge rusher in Kyler Fackrell in the third round, both of whom are future starters with immediate impact potential if called upon. Day three selections Blake Martinez, Kyle Murphy and Dean Lowry do not possess the same caliber of athleticism as Spriggs or Fackrell but also are clean schematic fits.
Full disclosure: Laquon Treadwell was my top-rated wideout entering the draft (and all year long) and the insertion into an offense that will feed him the ball surrounded by exciting talent only reinforces my appreciation of his game. Strong, competitive and a better athlete than most give him credit for (perhaps due to his 4.65 time in the 40-yard dash), Treadwell will prove a star at split end in Norv Turner's offense. Mackensie Alexander needs some polish, but who better to do it than Mike Zimmer? Alexander will prove a steal at No. 54 overall. Fourth-round pick Willie Beavers played left tackle at Western Michigan but projects best inside and, while athletic and possessing legitimate size for this role at 6-5, 321, is understandably a bit of a project. Gambling on athletic upside was a theme for Minnesota throughout day three with gambles on former German league standout Moritz Boehringer, Vanderbilt edge rusher Stephen Weatherly and Clemson safety Jayron Kearse, the nephew of "The Freak," Jevon Kearse.
No team did more with less during the first two days of the draft than the Bears, who aggressively moved up to acquire the most explosive edge rusher in the draft in Leonard Floyd, nabbed one of the toughest and most versatile offensive lineman in the country in four-year starter Cody Whitehair in the second and scooped up run-stuffing base end Jonathan Bullard -- who will prove a steal -- in the third. Safeties Deon Bush and Deiondre' Hall will compete for early playing time for a squad that has struggled to fill the position for years, but it might be a former safety turned linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski who proves the better player. Powerful runner Jordan Howard could prove a steal in the fifth round if he can stay healthy. Daniel Braverman is one of the better slot receiver prospects in the draft and could prove an immediate favorite target underneath for Jay Cutler.
Given the auto industry of Motor City, there is something appropriate about Detroit focusing on the framework of the team in the first two drafts, nabbing blue collar linemen Taylor Decker (offensive tackle), A'Shawn Robinson (defensive tackle), Graham Glasgow (guard/center) and Joe Dahl (guard). All are quality players with the consistency and reliability of a Ford F-150, but none possess the sizzle or gleam of a team lacking hot rods with the retirement of the great Calvin Johnson. Safety Miles Killebrew has the speed and explosiveness, on the other hand, to wow but lacks ideal fluidity, projecting better as a special teams assassin than in coverage against quick NFL receivers. Some, in fact, view the 6-2, 217-pound Killebrew as a potential linebacker conversion. Relatively local product Jake Rudock (Michigan) will get the attention, but he lacks the top arm strength. Running back Dwayne Washington, on the other hand, is a long-striding runner with the acceleration to generate big gains behind Detroit's reinforced offensive line.