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2023 NFL Draft: What does each team in the NFC North division need? Projected picks

Few divisions will see such a seismic shift as the NFC North, as Aaron Rodgers’ departure for the Jets blows the doors off of the division.

Few divisions will see such a seismic shift as the NFC North, as Aaron Rodgers’ departure for the Jets blows the doors off of the division.
Scott TaetschAFP

Around the NFL, teams prepare for draft week with a full shopping list of needs. But few divisions are left as wide open as the NFC North, as the departure of Aaron Rodgers for the Jets leaves the Packers in a strong draft position, and other divisional rivals seeing a crack of daylight.

Here are a list of draft priorities for each of the division’s teams.

Minnesota Vikings

  • 2023 draft picks: Round 1 (23), Round 3 (87), Round 4 (119), Round 5 (158), Round 6 (211)

Last season’s divisional champs, the Vikings are in a strong position to make a run deep into the playoffs in 2023. Always strong in the passing game, their main focus last season was beefing up their offensive line.

They will shift their view to their defensive squadron as they try to add first and second level to their attack. While an defensive tackle and a linebacker are high on their wish list, look for the Vikings to take a corner back in the first round.

The top prospects will likely have been gone by the time the draft works its way to Minnesota, but any one of the cornerbacks in the draft could be a target. If Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Maryland’s Deonte Banks, or Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. are still on the board, then the Vikings will grab them with both hands. Otherwise, expect them to take either Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes, South Carolina’s Cam Smith, or Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson.

Detroit Lions

  • 2023 draft picks: Round 1 (6), Round 1 (18), Round 2 (48), Round 2 (55), Round 3 (81), Round 5 (152), Round 5 (159), Round 6 (183), Round 6 (194)

After a number of years out in the wilderness, the Detroit Lions are finally seeing offensive production that could see them as contenders for the division. If only their defense could catch up to that level, that is.

As such, expect Detroit to focus squarely on that side of the ball, with defensive tackle, edge rusher, and corner back high on their list.

Last year, they walked away with the top edge rusher in the draft class in Aidan Hutchinson, and he made a mark on the league with 52 tackles and 9.5 sacks. This year, Detroit has the sixth overall pick. With the top five teams focusing on their quarterback needs, it is entirely conceivable that they will pull off the same trick, going for Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. with their first pick. Should they manage that, the Lions could end up with the NFL’s most fearsome pass rush since Reggie White and Clyde Simmons.

Green Bay Packers

  • 2023 draft picks: Round 1 (15), Round 2 (45), Round 3 (78), Round 4 (116), Round 5 (149), Round 5 (170), Round 7 (232), Round 7 (235), Round 7 (242), Round 7 (256)

Green Bay are in full rebuild mode, after missing the playoffs for the first time in four years last season convinced them to let go of Aaron Rodgers and jump in with both feet on Jordan Love. Now the focus for the Pack will be to surround him with weapons and protection.

Green Bay are in the market for a tight end and offensive linemen, and they have ten picks in this draft to make good on that. Dalton Kincaid out of Utah, Michael Mayer from Notre Dame, and Darnell Washington out of Georgia are all good choices for the Packers in the early rounds.

Add to Green Bay’s wish list deep protection on the defensive side and they will be on the hunt for a safety and possibly a cornerback, with Alabama’s Brian Branch and Texas A&M’s Antonio Johnson outside early choices.

Chicago Bears

  • 2023 draft picks: Round 1 (9), Round 2 (53), Round 2 (61), Round 3 (64), Round 4 (103), Round 4 (133), Round 5 (136), Round 5 (148), Round 7 (218), Round 7 (258)

Nobody in the NFL is happier to see the back of Aaron Rodgers than the Chicago Bears. He has been the thorn in their side for many seasons now, and they have beefed up their lineup in free agency. Now for the draft, Chicago will be on the hunt for linemen on both sides of the ball plus some second-level defense.

With the ninth overall pick, the Bears will kick off with their O-line, and look to be in a strong position to nab one of the three best tackles in the draft in Peter Skoronski out of Northwestern, Paris Johnson Jr. from Ohio State, or Darnell Wright out of Tennessee.

Edge rusher is another high priority for Chicago and they will be in pole position to grab either Nothre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey or Auburn’s Derick Hall in the early going.


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