Thursday, April 21, 2011

NFC North Draft Preview

As the clock ticks closer to the NFL Draft on April 28-30, we'll be doing our best to preview the team needs of all 32 teams to give you all an outlook on what to expect come draft day. Of course, there are no guarantees with things like mock drafts (even though they are fun to do) so we did our best to get some insight from bloggers/fans of other teams. Today we take a look at the NFC North. Our friends from the Packers Therapy podcasts were cool enough to help us out with some inside perspective on their team needs.

For reference, we compiled the draft picks each team currently has. Compensatory picks are listed in parentheses.

2010 Record: 11-5
NFC North Champions, Lost to Packers in NFC Championship Game

Draft Picks: 29, 62, 93, 127, 160, 195

For the first time since the Jay Cutler trade, the Bears finally have some early-round picks to work with in the draft. They have some holes that need addressed along the offensive and defensive lines. Their secondary still needs some help after finishing 20th in the league in pass defense last year. Cutler could use an elite receiver as a reliable target as well as some blockers in front of him to keep him on the field and off the bench.

2010 Record: 10-6
Super Bowl XLV Champions

Draft Picks: 32, 64, 96, 129, (131), 163, 197, 204, 233

The Packers have a ton of elite talent and have the luxury of a franchise quarterback, a slew of receivers, an elite pass rusher, and a talented secondary. What few holes they do have are on their offensive line, an inside linebacker, and a 5-technique defensive end. 

The guys from the Packers Therapy podcasts requested a big check (because them having bragging rights over us for winning the Super Bowl apparently isn't enough) to help out with this, but we were able to barter a few answers out of them. You can find them on Twitter @PackersTherapy

1. What are the biggest needs your team has entering the draft?

DE (GB will likely lose Cullen Jenkins if/when free agency starts and Mike Neal is a question mark), OLB (who can complement Matthews), OT (Chad Clifton is, literally, on his last legs) and WR (GB will likely lose James Jones to free agency and Donald Driver is 35+).

2. Do you think your team will address those needs in the draft or wait for free agency?

Ted Thompson rarely does free agency. So if he addresses those situations directly, I expected to come via the draft. However, Ted is a "best player available" sort of guy, so I don't expect them to reach for a position if they feel a better player at a lower need area is available.

3. What players would you like to see your team target in the draft?

As Steelers' fans know all too well, it is hard to say what will be available at pick #32. So it is very difficult to have an opinion here. However, I have seen a couple of reports that suggest that Akeem Ayers (OLB from UCLA) might be around late in the first round. It's thought he could be a nice fit opposite Matthews.

2010 Record: 6-10

Draft Picks: 13, 44, 75, 107, 154, 205

It's weird to think of a 6-10 season as a "rousing success" but for Detroit Lions fans, that's just what last season was. For a year that saw franchise quarterback Matt Stafford go down with an early season injury, three different Lions quarterbacks won games last season. It looked like "more of the same" for most of the season before Detroit reeled off 4 straight wins to end the season. Ndamukong Suh is a monster that has solidified the Lions defensive front. Detroit still needs help in the secondary and a cornerback and defensive end headline their needs heading into this draft. The Lions could still use a power running back to complement Jahvid Best. 

2010 Record: 6-10

Draft Picks: 12, 43, 106, 139, 150, 172, (200), 215, (236)

The Vikings are in a world of hurt after putting all their eggs in the Brett Favre basket. Unless they want to bank their hopes on Tavaris Jackson, they will need to add a quarterback to the roster who can be a long-term solution. Luckily for whoever that is, they will be able to spend most of their snaps handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson. The Vikings defense is decent, but Jared Allen had a horrendous year last year and they could use some help at linebacker. Playing in a division with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, you can never have enough defensive backs. 

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