NFC Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers


Bears WR coach Tyke Tolbert gave an injury update on WR Darnell Mooney, who has been spotted running routes and working out. 

“He’s great with his rehab,” Tolbert said, via Courtney Cronin. “He’s running right now. He’s doing well…His attitude has been great. He’s in here every single day.”


The Lions marched to the beat of their own drum during the draft this year, and not just in the first round. They took Iowa TE Sam LaPorta ahead of Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer despite the latter having been viewed as the top player at his position for multiple years in college. 

“That’s the beauty of evaluation; that’s the beauty of scouting,” GM Brad Holmes said via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “When you look at the totality of the draft, there are 31 other draft boards, there are 31 other rosters, there are 31 other teams looking for different things. Laporta felt best for us. He fit us, in terms of the total player. I think Mayer is going to be a really good player. He’s going to be a productive guy for Las Vegas and I have no doubt about that.

“Laporta, what intrigued us about him is just his versatility, his intangibles, his effort. Yeah, he can do some stuff in the run game, and block, but he really aligns in multiple different spots, whether the slot or outside or as a wing. He was playing wildcat quarterback for them, I think in the bowl game vs. Kentucky. He’s a guy who can do a lot of different things. I really like his ball skills and his run after the catch is really intriguing for us, so we’re excited to get him.”

It’s clear the Lions put a huge premium on players who would fit what they were looking for, not just from a talent perspective, but from a character and effort perspective as well. An example of that is third-round DT Brodric Martin, another reach if judge by consensus. 

“He was just a favorite for me and (coach) Dan (Campbell) — not in terms of what Brodric is right now, we were so excited about what Brodric can become,” Holmes said. “When you identify a guy at that size, that’s that powerful, is that athletic, and has that kind of rare length that he has — and look, there are a lot of defensive linemen that are big and have length and are powerful — but he plays hard, he plays like how we want to play. He’s relentless, he chases the ball, he’s instinctive, he can find the football. It’s all those things (that) really kept moving Brodric kind of up the charts for us as the process moved along.”

The Lions did get a player who fell further than expected, plucking Alabama S Brian Branch in the second round after a lot of people expected him to go in the first, including Holmes. 

“I thought he may have been picked a little bit earlier, maybe later in the first, top of the second, somewhere around that range,” Holmes said. “But, once he made himself available, the grade that we had on him made us very encouraged to go up there and grab him. We were jacked to get him. We’ll just see how far Brian goes. He’s a great football player. He can do a lot of different things. Fortunately, we’re at a spot with our roster, from a roster standpoint, that you might take guys as high as the second round who might not play an immediate impact. But, it all goes back to, dude, we don’t acquire these players just for right now.”


Green Bay did a lot in this past draft to add help for young QB Jordan Love, starting in the second round with the selection of former Michigan State WR Jayden Reed. Though he’s smaller than Green Bay has typically preferred for its wideouts, Packers HC Matt LaFleur praised his competitiveness. He should be the favorite to start in three-receiver sets. 

“I think he’s a super talented receiver,” LaFleur said via the Athletic’s Matt Schneidman. “Certainly has a lot of the characteristics we look for. First of all, he’s fast. He can make contested catches. He’s got the return ability, which is huge. I think he’s got a lot of versatility in terms of being able to go outside or inside and, more than anything else, I love how he competes. I think he’s got a dog mentality.”

They weren’t done adding weapons. Green Bay used its other second-round pick on Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave, then circled back again in the third round and double-dipped with South Dakota State TE Tucker Kraft.

“They are similar. They’re both all-around tight ends that can kind of do everything,” Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said. “They’re not pigeonholed into only being able to be a receiving tight end or a blocking tight end. They can do it all. They both have very good size, very good speed, so I’m excited. I do think most of their best football is ahead of them for different reasons, but I think they will complement each other and they’ll be a good fit for our room that we already have.”

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