NFC North roundup: Bears trade up for Floyd
The Chicago Bears’ defensive makeover continues.
The Bears selected Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with the ninth overall pick of the NFL draft Thursday night, trading the 11th pick and their fourth-rounder (106th overall) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Floyd is just the latest addition at linebacker for the Bears, who signed veterans Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan in March. Georgia linebackers have struggled at times to transition to the NFL, but Chicago could expect the 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd to be an impact edge rusher in Vic Fangio's 3-4 defense.
Related: Complete Packers draft coverage
Floyd had 74 combined tackles as a junior last season, including 4½ sacks, and it appears he has enough versatility to play inside or outside thanks to a rare combination of size and athleticism. The Butkus Award finalist ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the combine.
“I don’t think you can have enough pass rushers in today’s game,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace told reporters in Chicago. “You have to load up on pass rushers, and that’s what we are doing.
“We spent a lot of time with this guy. He’s definitely fast and athletic. He’s got such a great length. Guys don’t get into his body.”
The Bears also had the option of drafting one of the top cornerbacks with their first pick. Ohio State’s Eli Apple was selected by the New York Giants at No. 10, while Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III was taken by the Buccaneers at No. 11.
Chicago improved from the 30th-ranked defense in 2014 to the 14th-ranked one last season. They were fourth in the league in passing defense, but they also were tied with the Dallas Cowboys for 22nd in rushing yards allowed.
Lions bolster offensive line
The Detroit Lions satisfied one of their biggest weaknesses by drafting Ohio State offensive lineman Taylor Decker with the 16th pick.
The question is, where will they put him?
The three-year starter for the Buckeyes could play left tackle, where the Lions have Riley Reiff. He also could move to right tackle and compete with Michael Ola.
Either way, the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Taylor should help a team that allowed 44 sacks last season and had a woeful rushing attack that ranked last in the NFL.
The Lions rushed for just 83.4 yards per game in 2015 and recently signed running back Steven Ridley to add to a young group that includes Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner.
Decker was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year last season, becoming the fourth player from Ohio State to win the award. He had a vertical of 25½ inches at the combine and benched 225 pounds 22 times.
The Lions decided to go offense over defense with their top pick. An upgrade on the defensive line was a possibility, and they did have the opportunity to take Shaq Lawson. The Clemson standout went to the Buffalo Bills at No. 19, but he would have provided a dynamic 1-2 punch with Ezekiel Ansah for the Lions.
Vikings get receiver
The Vikings need more weapons in the passing game for young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
They got one after drafting Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell with the 23rd overall pick. There was a time when Treadwell was considered the top wideout prospect in this draft, but a lack of deep speed appeared to drop him down boards.
The 6-2, 221-pound Treadwell ran a 4.65 at the combine, which means he might be more of a possession receiver in the NFL.
He still has a chance to be Bridgewater’s go-to guy among a group that is highlighted by second-year pro Stefon Diggs and not much else.
Treadwell caught 82 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and has the kind of size and toughness to be an inviting red zone target for the Vikings, who still will run the ball a lot with Adrian Peterson coming off a year in which he rushed for 1,485 yards on 327 carries.
“Very humble, yet very driven,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told media in Minnesota while also saying Treadwell reminds him a little of former Buffalo wideout Eric Moulds. “We thought very highly of him. Not only what he does on the field, but what he represents off the field.”
Treadwell ended up being the fourth receiver selected. The Cleveland Browns took Baylor’s Corey Coleman at No. 15, the Houston Texas selected Notre Dame’s Will Fuller at No. 21 and the Washington Redskins landed TCU’s Josh Doctson at No. 22.