As we close in on the 2013 NFL Draft (April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City), our analysts examine each team's biggest needs. Elliot Harrison previews the NFC North below, but click here for other divisions.
2013 draft picks: 20 (1st round), 50 (2nd), 117 (4th), 153 (5th), 188 (6th).
Biggest area of need: Linebacker.
Other spots to address: Offensive guard, defensive line, cornerback.
Prospects who fit: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama; Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame; Kawann Short, DT, Purdue; Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama; Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse.
I'm going to go all Dr. Phil-iot here: It's time you get real. The Bears have all sorts of needs and not enough picks. With just five selections (and no third-rounder), general manager Phil Emery isn't going to get everything done. Not to worry, though, as the Bears did exactly what they needed to do in free agency, getting a left tackle (Jermon Bushrod) and a tight end (Martellus Bennett), while franchising the guy they had to keep (Henry Melton).
Most Bears fans probably don't want Manti Te'o, considering the bad press he's received from the catfishing saga and his lackluster performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, but from a pure football standpoint, it's obvious the Notre Dame standout can make plays in the middle. Don't you wish everyone paid more attention to that than they did to his dating habits or to how fast he can run a sprint he'll hardly ever replicate in an NFL stadium? Given the Brian Urlacher situation, the Bears' need for someone in the middle is obvious, unless you're in love -- in like -- with D.J. Williams. This club really is counting on both Williams and former Carolina Panther James Anderson to bring it in the 4-3. Good luck.
2013 draft picks: 5 (1st round), 36 (2nd), 65 (3rd), 132 (4th), 137 (5th), 171 (6th), 211 (7th), 245 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Pass rusher.
Other spots to address: Offensive tackle, cornerback, wide receiver.
Prospects who fit: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon; Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU; Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama; Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan; Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State.
Jeff Backus' unexpected retirement leaves a void at left tackle. Let's just say right tackle Gosder Cherilus -- er, make that former right tackle Gosder Cherilus -- joining the Indianapolis Colts didn't exactly make things warm and fuzzy for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Every QB needs his wubby, but now Stafford is without both of them.
That said, the guess here is that general manager Martin Mayhew looks to get a player on the edge. Kyle Vanden Bosch is gone. Cliff Avril is listening to Alice Unplugged at a coffee shop in Seattle. Meanwhile, the Lions are preparing to roll into 2013 with Jason Jones and Ronnell Lewis at defensive end. Ndamukong Suh is certainly a good player, but at this point, he's not the unmitigated force he's sometimes purported to be. Tank Johnson 2.0 has a long way to go yet. (At this point, that's basically who Nick Fairley is as a player. OK, slightly better. But he needs to play more snaps.) The Lions also have holes to fill in the secondary and at wide receiver. While tackle definitely will be addressed at some point, a player like Ziggy Ansah just might be donning the Honolulu blue this fall.
Green Bay Packers
2013 draft picks: 26 (1st round), 55 (2nd), 88 (3rd), 122 (4th), 159 (5th), 167 (5th), 193 (6th), 232 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Safety.
Other spots to address: Running back, defensive line, offensive line, outside linebacker.
Prospects who fit: Eric Reid, S, LSU; Matt Elam, S, Florida; Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama; Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin; Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State.
Watching "Star Trek III: the Search for Spock" before writing this piece gave me some clear perspective on the Packers. While the Star Trek name ensured that film a certain amount of success, the plot and execution had so many holes (like the awful special effects on the Genesis planet) that it never could have hit the sweet spot that, say, "The Empire Strikes Back" did. As long as Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers, a certain amount of success is guaranteed for the Packers, but the ancillary parts are lacking in several areas.
The running game was a major sticking point last season, especially after Cedric Benson went down against the Indianapolis Colts in a Week 5 loss the Packers had no business losing. The defensive line boasts a lot of solid draft picks, but no real production. The clearly overrated B.J. Raji has been on the field for too many snaps during portions of his young career. He's decent, but he needs help and just isn't the force that, say, a Kyle Williams is. Landing a player like Brandon Williams in the second round would be helpful. Regarding the linebacker position, the club is relying on the unproven Nick Perry at this point. It's possible the Packers might target a position besides OLB, but there's no question Clay Matthews could use some help.
2013 draft picks: 23 (1st round), 25 (1st), 52 (2nd), 83 (3rd), 102 (4th), 120 (4th), 155 (5th), 189 (6th), 213 (7th), 229 (7th).
Biggest area of need: Wide receiver.
Other spots to address: Linebacker, cornerback.
Prospects who fit: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal; Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee; Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia; Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State; Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State.
The Vikings have more firepower than the Oakland Raiders' backfield in Tecmo Super Bowl. Well, at least in terms of draft picks. First off, Minnesota is carrying a second first-round choice, thanks to the Percy Harvin deal. Second, the club has two picks in both a middle round (the fourth) and a later round (the seventh). Those extra picks might come in handy when it comes to either trading up to get someone the scouting department covets or finding an incentive for another team that wants to make a move. Either way, the Vikes are in good shape.
All along, I've felt the club had to get a corner in this draft. However, the Vikings probably will sit back and pick the best player available at wideout, linebacker, corner, defensive tackle, etc. Or, again, they could move up, if the situation warrants. For example, what if Dee Milliner slips past the first six teams? The Arizona Cardinals (seventh pick) and Buffalo Bills (eighth) aren't likely to take him. At that point, would Minnesota make a move? A faaaaar more likely scenario would involve a strategic play suggested by my colleague Daniel Jeremiah: The Vikings could leapfrog the St. Louis Rams to get the wideout they want. The question is, does GM Rick Spielman want to part with one of the aces in his hand it'll take to move that far in Draft Hold 'Em? Don't get me wrong: He won't actively be shopping his picks, but he will take a phone call.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.