The Minnesota Vikings had the loudest Thursday night at the NFL Draft despite having no picks in the top 20. They ended the fall of highly-touted prospect Sharrif Floyd, earning themselves a supposed steal. They fit a team need by grabbing a top corner, Xavier Rhodes. And to top it all off, they got a guy who might be the best playmaker in the draft -- but they had to give up some serious picks to get him, raising questions about whether it was the right move.
Elsewhere in the division, people seem to think a Ezekiel Ansah can be a monster for the Lions if he develops right, making that predictable pick well-received, while the Bears earned some criticism for taking an unproven player in Kyle Long and the Packers quietly nabbed a perfect fit for their system.
So how did various experts - and the fanbases of the teams selecting - feel about the NFC West's selections. We looked at four graders -- Dan Kadar of SB Nation's Mocking the Draft, Rob Rang at CBS, Pete Prisco at CBS, Chris Burke at SI.
Detroit Lions, No. 5: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah was the expected pick for the Lions: Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril left, which made defensive end the team's biggest need. With Ansah, they got a guy who has barely even played football -- the Ghanaian national only picked up the sport after being cut from BYU's basketball team -- but showed unreal burst and athleticism in 2012, the only season in which he played consistently for the Cougars.
There aren't many prospects with the raw physical tools like Ansah, and if he puts everything together, he could be one of the best pass-rushers the league has to offer. His rawness raises some eyebrows -- notably at Pride of Detroit -- but its tough not to view Ansah as an incredibly exciting prospect who fills a team need.
Chicago Bears, No. 20: Kyle Long, OG, Oregon
Windy City Gridiron fan poll: B
The Bears needed an offensive lineman to protect Jay Cutler after allowing 44 sacks last season. But Long still seems like a strange pick: the son of Howie and brother of Chris, Long washed out of baseball and dropped out of Florida State for academic reasons, then played defensive end in junior college. He ended up at Oregon, where he would only start four games in his one season.
There are questions about him, considering his checkered past and lack of experience. It's not even clear whether he projects as an offensive tackle or a guard -- only four starts makes it hard to judge. The athleticism checks out, but the inherent risk in taking Long and the fact that Long wasn't expected to go as high as No. 20 definitely raise some questions about the Bears' decision-making here.
No. 23: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
No. 25: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
No. 29: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings had arguably the best draft of any team in the league Thursday night. They completely lucked into Floyd, a player who many had talked about as going in the top 5 picks of the draft. Thrilled with their luck, the Vikings seized on Floyd with the No. 23 pick, a selection universally seen as a steal.
Rhodes was a well-received pick as well: after losing Antoine Winfield, corner was a position of need for the Vikings, and Rhodes was one of the best in the draft. Dee Milliner was clearly the tops, and the Raiders were sold on D.J. Hayden, so it seemed as if Rhodes was the best available when the Vikings stepped up, and once again, they took him.
The third pick was originally the Patriots', but the Vikings made one of the bigger moves of the evening to trade up to select Patterson. Some criticized the team for giving up a whopping four picks to get one player -- and a relatively raw one, Cordarrelle Patterson, who only spent a few years at a top-flight school after transferring from a junior college -- but in a draft devoid of top quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers, Patterson has the sheer athleticism to be the best offensive playmaker in the draft. It might have been costly, but Patterson could end up having the best career of any of the Vikings' three picks. A bold evening by the Vikings, but all told, a very successful one. The Daily Norseman had several posts about the Vikings' evening: noting the team's go-big-or-go-home mentality, the unique nature of the Vikings' draft, and breaking down the Patterson trade in depth.
Green Bay Packers, No. 26: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The general consensus is that Jones seems to be exactly the type of player the Packers need to shore up the inside of their defensive line. Jones is a bulkier end, less of a pass rusher, more of a run-stopper, who can play either defensive end and occasionally defensive tackle for the Packers' 3-4 defense. The Packers are good at finding players who fit their system, and with a lot of more elite defensive ends already off the board, they got good value for Jones and feel he can fit in their system.