The 2018 NFL Draft is complete, which means all 32 teams can start putting their plans in place for the new season. The Packers used their first-round pick to acquire cornerback Jaire Alexander to help improve their secondary, an area that was weak in 2017, while linebacker Oren Burks was a notable selection in the third round.
Here is a look at what the Packers’ NFC North rivals did during the Draft in order to assess who will be their biggest rivals in 2018.
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In the bet365 NFL odds, the Minnesota Vikings are the +138.00 joint-favorites with the Packers to win the division this season, which suggests they will be the biggest threats once again. The Vikings went close last season to becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium, but they were beaten in the NFC Championship game by the Philadelphia Eagles. Minnesota had the 30th overall selection in the draft this year and, like the Packers, they went for a cornerback as they chose Mike Hughes from UCF. Although the draft is important to all 32 teams in the NFL, the Vikings’ biggest bit of business since February was the signing of Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who they will be hoping can take them to another level as his numbers since joining the league as a starter have been very impressive.
After a 9-7 season in 2017, the Detroit Lions will be confident that they can challenge for the division this year. In the opening round, they selected centre Frank Ragnow of Arkansas. The 21-year-old was the first center to be chosen and could be an immediate starter for the Lions. Arguably Detroit’s most interesting pick was that of Kerryon Johnson in the second round. The running back is explosive and looks to have a big future in the game. In 2016, he started just six games for Auburn but recorded 11 touchdowns and 895 rushing yards from his 182 carries.
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The Chicago Bears finished at the bottom of the NFC North in 2017 as they ended the season with a 5-11 record. At the back end of the season, they made rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky their starter. Their future plans now seem to revolve around the North Carolina man and that was evident during the Draft. Their second pick was Iowa center James Daniels, who could start in front of the quarterback in 2018. In the latter rounds, meanwhile, wide receiver Javon Wims was taken from Georgia.
On top of these offensive players, the Bears also knew they had to work on their defense as it was one of the worst in the NFL in 2017. Accordingly, one of their best selections from the Draft this year looks to be linebacker Roquan Smith. The 21-year-old won a whole host of accolades in 2017, including the Butkus Award for his impressive year.
The 2018 season begins on September 10 when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in a divisional matchup at Soldier Field.