Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 Draft Preview: NFC North

With Free Agency pretty much wrapped up, the NFL Draft is quickly approaching once again. As we have done in the past, we're going to take a quick look at the other teams in the league and preview their team needs and how they will likely approach the Draft. Today we take a look at the NFC North.

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

NFC North Champion, Lost to NY Giants in Divisional Round
2011 Record: 8-8

Draft Picks: 28, 59, 90, 123, (132), (133), 163, 197, 224, 235, (241), (243)

Recommended Blogs/Twitter:

For much of the season, the Packers were the team to beat in the NFL and it looked like the Lombardi Trophy would once again find its way to the hallowed halls of...Lombardi Field. But coming off a bye week the Packers once-formidable defense, which had been porous all year but covered up by a stellar offense, fell flat against the New York Giants. The Packers defense, which looked airtight at times in their run to Super Bowl XLV, finished the year dead last against the pass and 30th in sacks. Clay Mathews had only 6 sacks last season after posting 13.5 in 2010. The lack of pressure on the quarterback directly contributed to the Packers secondary getting torched, and it's likely Green Bay will be looking for help on the defensive side of the ball early and often in the draft.

Wild Card, Lost to New Orleans in Wild Card Round
2011 Record: 10-6

Draft Picks: 23, 54, 85, 117, 158, 219, 230

Recommended Blogs/Twitter
The Lions in Winter
Side Lion Report
Pride of Detroit

The Lions took the biggest step forward of any team in the league last year, ending their perennial losing streak and sneaking into the playoffs as the #6 seed in the NFC. While far from a finished product, this is a formidable team that has all the makings of being a competitor for years to come. The offense has a stellar QB-WR tandem with a solid supporting cast. The defensive front 4 is probably the best 4-3 front in the game. This team needs depth along the O-line to help protect Matt Stafford and depth on the back end of the defense. A shutdown corner would be ideal, but given their position at 1.23 in the first round, South Carolina CB Stephen Gilmore or Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick (both works in progress) seem more likely.

2011 Record: 8-8

Draft Picks: 19, 50, 79, 111, 150, 184, 220

Recommended Blogs/Twitter:
The 4th Phase Blog

After winning the division two years ago, the Bears mounted a surprisingly solid campaign through the first half of 2011 before losing QB Jay Cutler to injury. After that, the wheels came off and the Bears spiraled down from being the front-runner in the Wild Card race to missing the playoffs. As usual, the Bears attacked free agency and went out and landed a #1 receiver in Brandon Marshall, who had a fantastic connection in Denver with Jay Cutler. The Bears also landed a backup QB (Jason Campbell) and RB (Michael Bush), making Matt Forte's potential hold-out a limited factor. The Bears reportedly love Kendall Wright (WR-Baylor) but it's a toss-up whether he will fall down to them at 1.19. Despite Julius Peppers posting 11 sacks, the Bears finished 20th in the league in sacks and could look to add a bookend pass-rusher or defensive back to help their 28th-ranked pass defense.

2011 Record: 3-13

Draft Picks: 3, 35, 66, 98, (128), (134), 138, 175, 210, 223

Recommended Blogs/Twitter:
The Viking Age
The Daily Norseman
Viking Kittens

The Vikings invested their first round pick last year in QB Christian Ponder, who took the reigns of the offense after the Donovan McNabb experiment fell flat on its face. Ponder went 2-8 in 10 games as a starter, throwing for 13 TDs and 13 picks. It's hard to blame Ponder for struggling. He was sacked 30 times behind a porous offensive line and didn't have the greatest targets in the world to throw the ball to (the Vikings had only one players with over 500 receiving yards). When All Day Adrian Peterson tore his ACL in Week 12, the Vikings lost pretty much their entire offense and it was struggle city from thereon out. O-Line is a huge need for Minnesota, which is why most mocks have them taking Matt Kalil (OT-USC) who is hands down the best lineman in the draft. However, Ponder also needs reliable targets to throw to, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them target a WR as well. On the other side of the ball, their front four was formidable as always, finishing the year 2nd in the league in sacks (led by Jared Allen's 22). However, their secondary was downright atrocious finishing 26th in pass defense and 31st in interceptions with only 8 on the season. This could make Mo Claiborne (CB-LSU) a target with the #3 pick as he would be the shutdown corner the Vikings desperately need.

No comments: