The NFL Draft has come and gone, and teams are left with a new group of players that will come in and compete for a place on the team. So how did the NFC North do in their drafts? Here’s a review of the players taken by the Lions, Bears, Vikings and Packers.
Detroit Lions: Going into the draft, the Lions wanted to improve one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They were successful in adding three possible starters on the defense. In round one, the Lions selected defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah has rough football skills but is also an athletic freak. He has great pass rush ability and should cause some havoc on a defensive line that already consists of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. In the second round, the Lions grabbed Darius Slay. Slay was projected as a third-round talent but is an athletic cornerback that should start in a weak Lions secondary. Detroit also had issues on the offensive line. They waited until the third round but got a good value in guard Larry Warford. Warford is a big run blocking offensive lineman. He doesn’t fit the mold of the Lions’ offense because his strength isn’t as a pass blocker. The Lions added another starter in the fourth when they selected defensive end Devin Taylor. Taylor will start based on the fact that the Lions’ defensive end corps is very thin at the moment. The rest of the draft was used to bring in players to add depth and competition. The Lions added a punter, Sam Martin, who will be their starter. Running back Theo Riddick and wide receiver Corey Fuller were added in the sixth round. They should both get a roster spot. In the seventh round, Detroit added Michael Williams, a big blocking tight end, and inside linebacker Brandon Hepburn as a special team’s player. Overall, the Lions filled some holes on their roster. This draft’s success down the line will rest on how productive Ansah’s career will be.
Chicago Bears: The Bears went into the draft with one major goal: filling the void left by Brian Urlacher. As always, Chicago was also looking to add depth and competition to the roster. The Bears’ first selection was Kyle Long, an offensive guard. I like Long, but I do not think he should have been taken in the first round. Long possesses ideal size and athleticism, but when you watch him, he just doesn’t jump out at you. In the second round, Chicago added linebacker Jon Bostic. Bostic was a leader on Florida’s defense. He is not outstanding at any specific element of football, but he is a good all-around player. In the fourth round the Bears once again added to their linebacking group by selecting outside linebacker Khaseem Greene. While he might not have ideal size or speed, all Greene did during his senior year at Rutgers was produce great numbers. He is a good tackler and could make a push for some starting time this year. The Bears added offensive line depth in the fifth round with Jordan Mills. Mills is a project right now for the Bears. I’m a huge fan of the Bears’ last two picks. In the sixth they took defensive end Cornelius Washington. Washington is very athletic and will be in the Bears’ defensive line rotation this season. In the seventh, the Bears selected wide receiver Marquess Wilson. Wilson left school early this year due to friction with his head coach. Wilson has the talent level of a second-round pick, and could be the third passing option the Bears have been waiting for. Besides the Long pick, I really like how the Bears drafted this year. They added some talent in the early and late rounds that should contribute this season.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings had holes to fill for a team that just finished a playoff campaign in 2012. The Vikings’ 2013 draft will be defined
by the performance of their first- round picks: defensive tackle Shariff Floyd; cornerback Xavier Rhodes; and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Floyd was predicted to go in the top five. He fell to the Vikings at the 23rd pick and should be a strong presence anchoring the defensive line for years to come. Rhodes is a perfect fit for the Vikings’ cover two defense as he is a great in man coverage. In Patterson, the Vikings believe they have a bigger version of Percy Harvin. Patterson had the potential to be a top-20 pick in the draft but fell to 29, where the Vikings traded a second, third, fourth and seventh round pick to the Patriots to trade up. He will be the team’s return man, and the Vikings will try to get him the ball in space. The Vikings’ next four picks consisted of doubling up on players from some schools known for talent. In the fourth the Vikings took Gerald Hodges and then in the seventh they took Michael Mauti: both linebackers from Penn State, known historically for producing NFL linebackers. Both players will compete for playing time on a weak linebacking group. In the fifth, the Vikings selected punter Jeff Locke, and in the sixth they took guard Jeff Baca, both from UCLA. Locke is an upgrade over Chris Kluwe and should be the Vikings week-one punter. Baca is simply a depth move. The Vikings’ other seventh round picks were offensive guard Travis Bond and defensive tackle Everett Dawkins. You have to love the talent the Vikings got in the draft. Now they just have to prove themselves.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers had some holes to fill going into the draft. They wanted a player that can rush the passer on the defensive line, a running back and some offensive line help, and they wanted to continue to pick players they think would develop in their system. They hit on all of these goals. In the first round they got Datone Jones, a defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defense. He has the ideal size and athleticism to stop the run and get to the quarterback. In the second round the Packers got one of the best running backs in the draft, Eddie Lacy. They then doubled up on offensive linemen in the fourth, taking David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter. Bakhtiari profiles as a tackle while Tretter is a guard in the NFL. Both could compete for a spot this season, but more importantly they add some talented depth to the Packers’ offensive line. The Pack added more talent to their running back stable with their last fourth- round pick, Johnathan Franklin. Franklin, like Lacy, could start right now for Green Bay. The rest of the draft added general young depth to the roster. Cornerback Micah Hyde and defensive tackle Josh Boyd were taken in the fifth round. Green Bay selected outside linebacker Nathan Palmer in the sixth. In the seventh the Packers took Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, both wide receivers. With their last pick, the Packers took outside linebacker Samuel Barrington. It’s hard not to like what the Packers did in their draft. They answered most of the major questions on their roster. Of the NFC North teams, they had the best draft in my book.