Now that the NFL Draft is behind us I looked at each team’s IDP drafts and how it will affect the players already on the team. I’m not going to spend time discussing picks who likely won’t make the team or whose ceilings are to be a Special Team contributor. That usually means any EDGE drafted after R3 and any LB or Safety drafted after R4…
1.08 Roquan Smith 3-4 ILB Georgia
4.15 Joel Iyiegbuniwe 3-4 ILB Western Kentucky
5.08 Bilal Nichols 3-4 DE Delaware
6.07 Kylie Fitts 3-4 OLB Utah
The big name here is Roquan. He’ll start and play every snap next to Danny Trevathan (when Trevathan is healthy). Chicago’s stat crew will limit Roquan to a certain extent, he’ll likely never be the overall LB1, but he should still be productive from the start.
I’ll mention this from the start and repeat it a few times over the course of these recaps. I’m likely not going to expend the draft capital necessary to get anyone from either of the top two tiers of rookie LBs. Instead, I’m thinking about taking a Zero LB approach. I’ll grab some LBs were drafted in the mid rounds who have shallow depth charts above them. Going forward, I’ll just call guys out as 0-LB targets.
Drafting several of these guys late or picking them up in post-draft waivers, I should be able to piece together enough production to get by. Iyiegbuniwe is one such target; physically, he compares favorably to Roquan. It’ll be interesting to see how the backup situation develops between Iyiegbuniwe and Nick Kwiatkowski. They were both R4s. Kwiat is more similar to Trevathan. Possibly Iyiegbuniwe backs up Roquan while Kwiat backs up Trevathan, making Kwiat the more valuable backup since Trevathan gets injured quite a bit.
The lack of an EDGE before R6 shows some confidence in Aaron Lynch. DC Vic Fangio was still in San Francisco for Lynch’s rookie season when he hit 6.0 sacks. Lynch has had 9.0 sacks combined in the three years since. Leonard Floyd has been dynamic but has yet to play 16 in a season. That leaves Sam Acho. I’m not rostering R6 EDGEs, but I do have to mention, Fitts had a sub-7.0 3-cone time at the combine, which is the most important physical test for successful EDGEs.
3.18 Tracy Walker FS Louisiana-Lafayette
4.14 Da’Shawn Hand 4-3 DT Alabama
Not much to say here. If everything goes according to plan, Walker will learn under 32-year-old Glover Quin until Quin retires and Walker will take over at FS. This doesn’t help us parse out the three-man competition for the starting SS spot between Tavon Wilson, Quandre Diggs, and Miles Killebrew. New HC Matt Patricia used a ton of Big Nickel packages as DC in New England last year. If he elects to repeat that package, it could create some additional production here.
Hand will start at DT for the Lions next to fellow Alabama alum A’Shawn Robinson after Detroit shipped off Akeem Spence to South Beach in the days following the draft. Pencil Hand in for 600-700 snaps as a rookie.
The lack of an EDGE either means the Lions consider Anthony Zettel as a competent starter, or they think he’s a stopgap to get them to next year when there should be a deeper EDGE class. Ziggy Ansah is only franchise tagged at the moment, so EDGE could become a serious issue next season.
Green Bay Packers
1.18 Jaire Alexander CB Louisville
2.13 Joshua Jackson CB Iowa
3.24 Oren Burks 3-4 ILB Vanderbilt
7.14 James Looney 3-4 DE California
7.30 Kendall Donnerson 3-4 OLB Southeast Missouri
The Packers have spent so much draft capital on CB lately. A R1 pick followed by a R2 pick after having spent a R2 pick last year. This secondary needs to become fearsome… From an IDP standpoint, it makes both Alexander and Jackson tough to trust this season. It’s impossible to know at this point who will get the most snaps. I don’t want to stash a rookie CB who doesn’t play enough snaps to be productive this season. Green Bay still has R2 Sophomore Kevin King and veterans Davon House and Tramon Williams. For now, this situation is hands-off for me.
Burks is interesting. He’s a converted Safety with only a year at LB. As a rookie, he’ll likely split time at ILB with Jake Ryan next to 3-down LB Blake Martinez. Last year, Ryan was on the field for 507 snaps compared to Martinez’s 982 snaps, with safeties replacing Ryan in sub-packages. Losing Morgan Burnett limits the Safety depth chart so Burks will likely take their place. The question becomes, does Green Bay see him as a potential 3-down LB or will they always consider him a subpackage player. Ryan will be a UFA in 2019. 3.24 is the highest Green Bay has drafted an off-ball LB since AJ Hawk back in 2006.
The lack of an EDGE is interesting. Green Bay seems to want to consistently throw mid- to late-round picks at the problem and hope they win the lottery. But late round EDGE success stories are about as common as late round QB success stories. They’ll ride Clay Matthews and Nick Perry for another year. Matthews is in the last year of his current contract.
1.30 Mike Hughes CB Central Florida
4.02 Jalyn Holmes 4-3 DE Ohio State
6.44 Ade Aruna 4-3 DE Tulane
7.07 Devante Downs 4-3 LB California
There’s been some buzz for 1st Rounder Hughes. The plan is for Hughes to replace Trae Waynes next season when Waynes’ contract is up. It’ll be interesting to see how many defensive snaps Hughes sees as a rookie. Former R2 Mackenzie Alexander only saw 64 defensive snaps as a rookie. The Vikings ultimate goal this season is to be playing in February, and they’ve got a serious chance to do it. HC Mike Zimmer doesn’t like playing rookies, to begin with. I think Hughes will be more productive from an IDP standpoint in 2019 than 2018. If you’re in a league that has punt return/kick return yards scoring and that scoring can carry a CB, Hughes may still have value. But he’s this year’s Teez Tabor on my board.
It’s kind of amazing that in the NFC North, where you’re going to face Aaron Rodgers twice, Matthew Stafford twice, Kirk Cousins twice, and/or Mitchell Trubisky twice, teams wouldn’t focus more attention on their pass rushers. The pre-draft #2 pass rusher on each team were Danielle Hunter, Nick Perry, Anthony Zettel, and Aaron Lynch.
That’s a disappointing 1st Rounder, a 5th Rounder, a 6th Rounder, and Danielle Hunter. Minnesota’s DE3 Brian Robinson would beat out all but maybe Perry if they were on the same depth chart and Robinson is planning on retiring after this season. The first NFC North team to add a pass rusher was the Vikings. 4th Round EDGES are on my draft board unless they fell for a specific reason. I don’t have much hope for Holmes. I think Minnesota, knowing Robinson is playing his last season, was looking for some depth. Holmes could end up getting more snaps rushing the passer from the interior on 3rd Downs than actually lining up on the edge.