NFC North 2024 Draft Grades: Round One

The NFL draft is complete, and it was historic. Teams drafted six quarterbacks in the top 12 for the first time, and 23 offensive players drafted broke another record. All NFC North teams have drafted a quarterback in the last two years, but only the Bears and Vikings used a first-round pick. The division is evolving, and the margin of talent is narrowing. Each team could be in play to win the division if they draft well, and these are my NFC North draft grades for round one. 

Chicago Bears A- 

The Bears had two picks in the first round, and they stayed pat at one and nine to bring in Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze. With Shane Waldron hired to the Bears as offensive coordinator, the Bears focused on bolstering their offense in round one. Williams and Odunze shared a flight to Detroit and will share many flights in the future. Drafting a quarterback and wide receiver with their first two picks is reminiscent of the 2011 Bengals. The Bengals went to the playoffs that year, and the Bears may be in line to do the same.

Williams has found success at every level. He won Gatorade District of Columbia Football Player of the Year in high school and then the Heisman in college. Bears fans hope he adds to his accolades and wins Rookie of the Year and, eventually, an MVP. Williams has never had a passing efficiency rating below 168 in college, and he threw for 30-plus touchdowns in each of his two seasons at USC. He was my top quarterback prospect and deserved to go first overall

Odunze is a talented wide receiver and excels in contested catch situations. My only objection is that the wide receiver talent runs deeper than the defensive line talent, and the Bears need help there, too. Liatu Latu, Dallas Turner, and Byron Murphy were all available, but the Bears opted to go with wide receiver. As far as talent goes, Odunze has plenty, and as my fourth-best receiver prospect, I expect him to make an immediate impact. The Bears still have work to do, but they started the draft well.

Detroit Lions B+

The Detroit Lions needed a defensive back, and they needed one early. The Lions decided not to wait any longer and traded up from 29 to 24 to select Terrion Arnold. Detroit made it to the second half of the conference Championship game, but a monumental collapse ended their season. The San Francisco 49ers overcame a 17-point deficit, and Detroit never recovered. The Lions aim to get back into contention in 2024, and Arnold will be a part of their plan for redemption.

Arnold was my second-best corner in the draft, and after the Eagles drafted Quinyon Mitchell, the Lions needed to ensure they got their guy. Arnold is phenomenal in man coverage, and he mirrors like they’re conjoined twins, but the Lions may have spent a bit too much to get their guy. Using, the Lions moved up to 24 (740 points) and gave 865 points of value. However, I don’t hate the entire 125-point difference, because the division rival Packers could use defensive back help, and they had the following pick. It’s a significant value discrepancy, but they got a great player and blocked a rival from drafting him. In addition to being my second-ranked corner, Arnold was my 21st-ranked prospect, and there’s no shame in drafting those rankings at pick 24.

Green Bay Packers C

The Packers had one pick on Thursday, and I’m happy to say I think they got it wrong. The Packers took their first-year starter, Jordan Love, and found immediate success with a playoff berth and even a playoff win. The team needs to address a few positions if it wants to return to the playoffs, and the offensive line is among them. Green Bay allowed only 30 sacks in 2023, but according to, just one lineman graded better than 67. General manager Brian Gutekunst addressing the offensive line makes sense, but I had so many better tackles left on the board.

Morgan, a tackle out of Arizona, has phenomenal feet, and he recovers well when losing early, but his reach is limiting. Regarding tackles, Morgan was my ninth-ranked tackle prospect, but he was the sixth to come off the board. I consider Troy Fautanu a guard prospect and didn’t include him in my tackle rankings, but he too ranks better. Blake Fisher and Kiren Amegadjie were higher-ranked tackles than Morgan, and they were both still available. If the Packers decide to move Morgan to guard, that may be a better fit for him, but better prospects were available at guard too. The next pick was Graham Barton, who I ranked as my second-best center, and he can play at all five positions. If the Packers want the most out of this pick, they’ll move Morgan inside, and hopefully, his length is less of a hindrance there.

Minnesota Vikings C+

The Minnesota Vikings lost Kirk Cousins to injury last season, and then Cousins departed in free agency afterward. Cousins’ absence last year continued a drought of consecutive playoff bids and made it clear that the team needs the right quarterback to win. The Vikings had few options in free agency, and arguably, the best free-agent quarterback was Cousins. They inevitably landed on Sam Darnold, but after struggles in New York and Carolina, it’s unlikely he’s the quarterback solution.

To avoid starting Darnold, Minnesota needed to add a quarterback in the draft, but JJ McCarthy is not going to replace Cousins’ production either. McCarthy is my 60th-ranked prospect, and I understand quarterbacks come at a premium, but did the NFL learn nothing from the 2021 draft class? Then you factor in the trade-up, and their first pick looks worse. The value of the trade was acceptable, but Minnesota gave up two picks earlier than the one they added to move up only one spot. I have Bo Nix (58) ranked higher than McCarthy, and the talent gap isn’t enough to give up picks for either when you’re guaranteed one.

The Vikings did redeem themselves with their second pick, though, and they drafted Dallas Turner, my second-ranked edge. Minnesota came out on top of their trade with 10 points of value, and they secured my 11th-best prospect in the draft. They gave up picks next year and a fifth-round pick this year to move from 23 to 17, and they added the fastest edge rusher in the draft. Turner fits a need and will help fill a void left by Danielle Hunter. The Vikings had 43 sacks in 2023, but 16.5 belonged to the departed Hunter. Bringing in an edge with Turner’s production and athleticism is a big win and much better than McCarthy’s addition. If it wasn’t for McCarthy, I may have given the Vikings an A-grade, because Turner is that good.

Our very own Michael Canter has your complete NFC North draft analysis highlighting Ryan Poles’ continued success with limited picks. Poles aims to assemble the best 90-man roster and now pivots his attention to the UDFAs and remaining veteran free agents. In March 2023, owners approved a new rule and changed roster cuts to a single date. Poles will look to build a roster that he can cut down to 53 (and 16 practice squad players) by then, and I’m excited to see the final roster come into view in the coming months. The Bears are poised to improve significantly in 2024, and a great draft class will help usher in a new era.

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