Spy Games: Division Offenses, Pre-Draft Edition

CHICAGO IL - JANUARY 23: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter of the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23 2011 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I've got to be honest: even thinking about the lockout makes me queasy. It screws up just about all aspects of football as we know it in the offseason: free agency, cuts - well, all roster moves in general - and possibly even the draft. But it never hurts to see where our team, as well as the other teams in the division, have room to improve themselves this offseason, so play whatever James Bond spy-theme music you have and join us as we start scouting the offensive divisional needs.

Green Bay Packers

Key Departures: WR James Jones

Needs: WR, OL, RB

We know the Packers are set at QB with Aaron Rodgers and a serviceable backup in Matt Flynn, and at HB they'll get back a healthy RB Ryan Grant to pair with supposed playoff hero and more likely second running back James Starks. At receiver, they return Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, and have a decent third option in Jordy Nelson. And we all know about the physical monster that is Jermichael Finley at tight end. I wouldn't be too surprised if they look at receiver in the draft - who knows how much longer Driver can keep going? I could also see a high offensive line pick, with possibly another late round pick at running back.

 

Chicago Bears

Key Additions: WR Andy Fantuz, Subtraction of QB Todd Collins

Key Departures: TE Dez Clark, RB Garrett Wolfe, WR Rashied Davis, OT Kevin Schaffer

Needs: OL, WR, QB

For as many needs as the Bears have, it's about prioritizing those needs. Jay Cutler's long term deal has him set as the Bears' QB for now and the future, so unless the Bears are looking for a quarterback of the future and in the course of that pushing Jay out the door, there shouldn't be a high QB pick this year. Likewise for running back: dual-threat Matt Forte improved last year and looks like he could be set to be the feature back for years. And tight end has its starter in first-rounder Greg Olsen. That leaves receiver and offensive line. We know the quarterback torture-fest that our offensive line sponsors every game week, so there's no question the Bears need to spend a high round pick on offensive line (at minimum a second rounder), and possibly a second pick on the second or third day. But for the receiving corps, as high as we are on Earl Bennett, all we need to know about the receiving corps is that in Rotoworld's depth chart for the Bears, the number two receiver is... unproven CFL-leading receiver Andy Fantuz. I could see a high-to-mid round pick spent to add to the receiving corps, but the Bears likely won't be adding a game-changing WR at that position. If a third offensive pick were made, I'd almost guess it'd be a late round QB to add an emergency guy if the team isn't sold on Gutierrez as that guy, or even if the organization felt they can do better than Hanie as a backup.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Key Departures: QBs Tarvaris Jackson and Brett Favre, WR Sidney Rice (pending FA)

Needs: QB, TE, OL

The Vikings are in a bad situation right now. The one spot on offense they are solid on is running back, with All-Pro Adrian Peterson (in a contract year, nonetheless) and Toby Gerhart. Receiver is a minor concern with Sidney Rice hitting the free agent market (although the intent is to re-sign once a CBA is hammered out, finally), but it's a corps that still retains Percy Harvin (and Bernard Berrian's escalating contract) and hey, ex-Bear Juaquin Iglesias is on the team! Then there's the question of how much longer TE Visanthe Shiancoe can play (turning 31 in June). That being said, it's an offense that could use help on the line, at the tight end, and at the helm if they remain convinced Joe Webb isn't the guy. I'd expect a quarterback taken high behind a free agent stopgap, however that shakes out. If Rice returns, WR falls down the need list, though a late pick wouldn't be a bad idea. Then, there's always offensive line help (36 sacks allowed).

 

Detroit Lions

Key Departures: QB Shaun Hill, QB Drew Stanton, RB Kevin Smith

Needs: WR, OL, QB

The Lions took a big step forward last year, charging for six wins, tripling their 2009 total. The troubling part is that first overall pick in 2009, Matthew Stafford, had little to do with it - he had four touchdowns against the Redskins in week 8 and two more the following week against the Jets... and didn't see any game action since due to injury. In fact, Stafford has seemed made of china in his brief career. The pressure may be on the young quarterback next season, but I don't see his position as being in danger. Shaun Hill is getting old and Drew Stanton is set as a free agent, making Zac Robinson the backup, so the team will likely add a quarterback, whether it be Hill or Stanton, or another via draft or free agency. The team may bring back Kevin Smith to go with Jahvid Best and Maurice Morris, Calvin Johnson makes any receiving corps dangerous, and the team has two sharp receiving tight ends in Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew. Any problems with the Lions are mostly on the defensive side of the ball. As far as expected actions on the offensive side, a mid-to-late round pick at quarterback is certainly possible, and I'd also expect another late receiver.

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