NFC North 2022 NFL Draft Preview: Team needs, top draft targets, prospects to watch, and more

    Our NFC North NFL Draft preview covers team needs and potential prospect solutions for the Packers, Vikings, Lions, and Bears.

    The NFC North is proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Green Bay Packers have held the throne for eight of the last 11 seasons. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are still without a playoff win since 1992. While things can change quickly in the NFL, it’s probably a two-horse race — at best — for the top of the division. Ahead of the NFL Draft, we explore team needs and draft prospects that make sense in our NFC North draft preview.

    NFC North 2022 NFL Draft Preview

    The Packers traded away Davante Adams after it was clear they’d get no long-term deal secured with him. Minnesota has a new look at general manager and head coach. The Bears roster is a mess, while the Lions have a ton of positive momentum after introducing Dan Campbell last season.

    Green Bay Packers: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

    Cap Space (as of April 18)
    $15.1 million

    2022 NFL Draft Picks
    1-22, 1-28, 2-53, 2-59, 3-92, 4-132, 3-140, 5-171, 7-228, 7-249, 7-258

    The Packers aren’t quite the formidable unit we’ve become accustomed to as they head into the season. However, they’re still tied for the second-best odds to win the conference championship, according to DraftKings Sportsbook (+450).

    Green Bay desperately needs help at wide receiver. With two picks in the first round, they should attack that need in a class with a lot of talent in the late first-round range. Additionally, they could use either an interior lineman or tackle, depending on what they want to do with Elgton Jenkins. A starting-caliber slot cornerback and another pass rusher could also be on the docket.

    In Round 1, names like Chris Olave and Treylon Burks make sense at receiver. The Packers could look at Kenyon Green or Zion Johnson on the interior, and Daxton Hill could be a slot/safety option.

    In Round 2, they could target some of their secondary needs, such as the interior defensive line, with names like Travis Jones and DeMarvin Leal.

    Minnesota Vikings: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

    Cap Space (as of April 18)
    $12.2 million

    2022 NFL Draft Picks
    1-12, 2-46, 3-77, 5-156, 6-184, 6-191, 6-192, 7-250

    The Vikings’ roster construction is confounding. They wanted to run the ball early and often, but they built their offensive line around pure athleticism instead of functional strength. The rushing attack, in turn, suffered greatly. On the plus side, Minnesota has two talented receivers, two solid edge rushers, and one of the best linebackers in the league.

    They added DT Harrison Phillips and retained CB Patrick Peterson during the offseason. Still, the Vikings will be looking for more help at both positions and safety during the NFL Draft.

    Their perceived options at 12 are interesting. They don’t need a tackle, but the rest of the offensive line is arguably replaceable. The top three tackles will likely all be off the board, along with the top two cornerbacks. Kyle Hamilton isn’t necessarily the free safety the Vikings are looking for, and no interior blocker is worth that capital. Unless they want to load up on receiving weapons, their pickings seem slim.

    Jordan Davis may be the best player available, but would Minnesota spend the 12th pick on a tertiary need at a position most don’t covet? Their best hope is for a team to trade up for a quarterback, allowing the Vikings to add picks and value.

    Chicago Bears: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

    Cap Space (as of April 18)
    $13.8 million

    2022 NFL Draft Picks
    2-39, 2-48, 3-71, 5-148, 5-150, 6-186

    The Bears have a ton of work to do on their roster. Unfortunately, they’re without their first-round pick and only have six total. The Bears rank 22nd in overall capital but have holes to fill at offensive tackle, wide receiver, center, and guard on offense. They also have a ton of needs on the defensive side of the ball, including premium positions like EDGE and CB2.

    However, their rebuild must center around cultivating an environment conducive to the success of Justin Fields. That means attacking their offensive needs. Luckily, they have the freedom to add either a left or a right tackle. Teven Jenkins played left tackle as a rookie coming off an injury, but he played on the right side at Oklahoma State.

    Bernhard Raimann, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Daniel Faalele, and Rasheed Walker could all be options at any point on Day 2. Chicago’s options at receiver could be even more vast.

    Christian Watson, Jahan Dotson, Alec Pierce, George Pickens, John Metchie III, Jalen Tolbert, Skyy Moore, Romeo Doubs, Calvin Austin III, and Khalil Shakir could all be wide receivers to watch for Chicago on Day 2.

    Detroit Lions: Team needs, draft targets, salary cap, and prospects to watch

    Cap Space (as of April 18)
    $18.4 million

    2022 NFL Draft Picks
    1-2, 1-32, 2-34, 3-66, 3-97, 5-177, 6-181, 6-217, 7-234

    After posting what somehow turned out to be an impressive three-win season, the Lions have a lot of positive momentum. They competed in many games they had no business competing in. Only late in a few games did they falter.

    Now, it appears their culture is incredible, and they have the ammunition to have a second solid draft in a row as they build the foundation of a winner.

    Finding a quarterback will always be the biggest priority. However, there is no guarantee Detroit will take Malik Willis with the second pick in the draft. In fact, they probably shouldn’t. But if they believe he will be a franchise quarterback, no price is too high.

    The Lions could also take the best player available. Travon Walker is a hot name in Detroit, while Penei Sewell could try to sneak in the card for his former Ducks teammate, Kayvon Thibodeaux.

    Their options are endless at 32 and 34. The Lions need another safety and athleticism at linebacker. Offensively, wide receiver remains the most significant need aside from QB. They could grab one in the late-first, early-second range.

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