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Draft offers North foes a chance to close on Super Bowl champs

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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Pat Kirwan examines the draft needs for all 32 teams, by division, this week. The biggest need for each team is listed first and followed in descending order.


NFC North

Chicago Bears

Needs: OT, WR, DT, OLB, S, C

The Bears were a pleasant surprise last season, winning the NFC North at 11-5. However, that now means they will draft late in each round. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz brought balance to the game plan after losses in Weeks 6 and 7. Still, Chicago needs a big-time receiver to help Jay Cutler and the passing game. The most productive draft pick from last year was seventh-round choice J'Marcus Webb, an offensive tackle that started 12 games, but the group is need of more help. The Bears gave up a league-leading 56 sacks. It could also be time to replace linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and find a better nickel back.

Projection game: Two-round mock
The game is often won in the trenches, so it comes as no surprise that Pat Kirwan has three of the four teams in the NFC North addressing their offensive or defense line in Round 1. More ...

Tim Ruskell, who spent several years as the Seahawks' personnel man, joins general manager Jerry Angelo to run this draft. The Bears are a classic Tampa 2 defense and have very clear ideas of what they need, and it starts up front with a three-technique defensive tackle. Chicago's first pick is 29th overall, and it might be a case of having to settle for the best available player. Don't expect the Bears to move around a lot in the draft, even though they only have six picks.

*Draft choices: 29, 62, 93, 126, 157, 190

Detroit Lions

Needs: CB, LB, S, LT, RB, Slot WR

The Lions have been pointed in the right direction since GM Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz took over. DT Ndamukong Suh was a brilliant selection, and now the Lions don't have to blitz to apply pressure. Now, the job is to build up the back seven. At least one linebacker and two secondary players have to come out of this draft.

QB Matthew Stafford has missed several games due to injury in his young career, and an elite left tackle will be hard to pass up in the first round. Jeff Backus played well there, but at 33, it might be time to draft his replacement. While RB Jahvid Best had a very good rookie campaign despite playing through injuries, adding another running back could be in the mix. The problem for the Lions is they only have five picks. They might have to move down once or twice to create more picks to satisfy their needs.

*Draft choices: 13, 44, 75, 106, 151

Green Bay Packers

Needs: DE, OLB, LT, G, CB, RB

Green Bay won the Super Bowl with 15 players on injured reserve and multiple injuries in the big game. General manager Ted Thompson has done a brilliant job of building through the draft, and he will be at it once again. The challenge starts with deciding to pay some of his free agents, specifically Cullen Jenkins.

Aaron Rodgers covers up a few deficiencies with his quick release and ability to escape pressure, but he also suffered a few concussions. It might be time to draft a solid pass blocker. Charles Woodson has been on a two-year run where he probably was the best defensive player in the game. However, he broke his collar bone in the Super Bowl and will turn 35 this year. Everyone seems to want a bookend outside linebacker opposite Clay Mathews, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers' creative scheme gets a lot of mileage out of guys like Erik Walden, Frank Zombo and Brady Poppinga.

*Draft choices: 32, 64, 96, 128, 160, 192, 193, 224

Minnesota Vikings

Needs: QB, DE, S, OT, DT, WR, C

The Brett Favre era is over, and there is a glaring need at quarterback. If the draft happens before free agency, the Vikings might have to take a signal-caller in the first round with no assurance they could secure a veteran in a trade or free agency. There could be a case made for at least one new starting offensive tackle and a center.

The defensive line, once a major strength, will have to replace Pat Williams and Ray Edwards. The safeties need an upgrade because Madieu Williams hasn't been the same since he was injured and Tyrell Johnson hasn't developed into a top-flight player.

This team looks like a group that just past its peak and might be in some form of a rebuild. No third-round pick hurts the Vikings' chances to satisfy all their issues.

*Draft choices: 12, 43, 105, 136, 147, 167, 205

*The draft picks are unofficial at this point. The league is expected to release the complete draft order by the end of March.

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