Mel Kiper Names Vikings Rivals as Big Winners from Day 2 of the Draft
Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft was a very eventful one, and the teams within the NFC North were just as active as anybody. In the aftermath of the 71 selections that took place on Friday evening, ESPN‘s Mel Kiper released a list of his big winners from Day 2 of the draft. Two of the Vikings rivals within the division made the list for their selections on Friday: the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
The Lions made three selections on Friday, grabbing TE Sam LaPorta (No. 34 overall), S Brian Branch (No. 45 overall), and QB Hendon Hooker (No. 68 overall). This came after a first round where they made a few very interesting picks in RB Jahmyr Gibbs and LB Jack Campbell with Nos. 12 and 18.
The Lions certainly needed a more complete receiving option at tight end after trading T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings last season. With Michael Mayer still on the board this was an interesting selection, but it’s hard to criticize this selection too much considering LaPorta’s upside.
However, it’s really these final two picks from Detroit that won them the draft. Branch was a consensus first-round selection by many folks, and his fall is solely due to the NFL not prioritizing safety/nickel CB this year. This cost Branch his status as a first-rounder, but he still finds an excellent landing spot in the Lions secondary.
Finally, regardless of your view of Hooker, a selection of him in the third round and allowing him a chance to sit behind Jared Goff for a year and develop before potentially taking over the offense in 2024 cannot be viewed as a bad pick. The Lions have prioritized getting their guys over positional value in this draft, and they’ve landed a few very nice prospects as a result.
For Green Bay, they also stuck with the tight end theme, but instead of just one, they landed a pair of prospects at the position by selecting Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft with Nos. 42 and 78. Sandwiched between these selections, they also landed WR Jayden Reed with the 50th overall pick.
It’s clear that Aaron Rodgers is no longer in Green Bay because instead of forcing Jordan Love to ‘make it work’ with some middling receivers and some developmental players, they’ve gone out and gotten some real blue-chippers.
Musgrave will not offer much in terms of blocking, but his receiving ability tops some of the actual wideouts in this class. Meanwhile, Kraft also has soft hands as a pass-catcher, but he is much more adept as a blocker. There is a real chance that the Packers could throw both their new tight ends on the field at the same time, and with the loss of Robert Tonyan in free agency, they needed to replenish the depth chart in this area.
As for their WR selection of Jayden Reed at No. 50, it may have been a bit high for the Michigan State receiver (Tank Dell or Josh Downs would have been excellent choices here as well), but with Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson being able to hold their own on the boundary, Reed will be allowed to be a burner out of the slot.
However, it’s not all sunshine and roses for the NFC North according to Kiper. The draft analyst also listed the Chicago Bears under his ‘Questionable Picks and Reaches’ section for their pair of defensive tackles, Gervon Dexter (No. 53) and Zacch Pickens (No. 64).
These two are decent selections for Chicago in the sense that, as Kiper mentions, the Bears certainly need to fix the interior of their defensive line for 2023. Dexter can be a run-stuffer right away while Pickens has upside as an interior pass-rusher, but both prospects have a lot of work to do in order to balance their games out.
And, as Kiper mentions, if the Bears were committed enough to fixing their defensive line that they used two top-100 picks on that spot, then why not just stick at No. 9 and take a bonafide star in Jalen Carter? Obviously, their trade down allowed them to add a pick and another tackle to protect Justin Fields, but especially the Pickens selection feels like a reach.
In all reality, there is no way of knowing for sure how these prospects will turn out at the NFL level. However, if Kiper’s projections are correct, the Lions and Packers seem to be getting much better this weekend.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.