Of course we're going to discuss the Bears and their draft picks, what moves they should continue to make, and all that fun stuff. However, we'd be remiss if we didn't touch on what the guys we play twice a year did this season. Follow me across the jump and we'll look at what the other NFC North clubs did in the draft. I'll say this right now: I'm more scared of the Lions than I've been in the last four years put together.
The NFC North breakdown as provided by ESPN's Kevin Seifert can be found right here. But I don't like relying on the work of others, so... Onwards.
Detroit Lions (5 Picks)
Wow. I don't know how much better of a defensive line a team can have. Ndomakung Suh had an excellent rookie campaign, and Fairley was projected by some to even be in the running for #1 overall pick. Add to that Kyle Vanden Bosch, last year's big free agent signing, and you've got three pieces to a line-shredding defense. They added LB Douglas Hogue with their fifth round pick, which'll be a special teamer for the most part; it'll be about the same back seven. It's clear how the Lions want to build their defense - build the line and not have to depend on defensive backs.
On offense, maybe the Kevin Smith or Maurice Morris wagon has begun to roll out of town. Between the addition of Jahvid Best with a first round pick last year and Illinois product Mikel Leshoure in the second, there's a lot of money and investment in the running back position. I'm very surprised Megatron hasn't appeared on the injury report the last two years with a back injury suffered through carrying the team, but now he shouldn't have to. Fellow second round pick Titus Young is an explosive receiver and a dynamic kick returner. Then apparently Jerry Angelo, bored with having no 7th round pick, snuck into the Detroit front office and picked an offensive tackle, Johnny Culbreath.
The Lions accentuated a lot of their team strengths, but didn't really improve on their weaknesses. We'll have to see if this changes in free agency.
Green Bay Packers (10 Picks)
The Packers had a solid draft across the board. Defensively, they added Davon House with their fourth-round compensatory pick, fitting in with their bump-and-run coverage unit. In the sixth they added Ricky Elmore, a high-motor guy on the defensive line, and DJ Smith, a linebacker whose immediate role looks to be special teams. In the seventh, they grabbed a defensive tackle in Lawrence Guy.
Offensively, we know about Derek Sherrod, who was left over when the Bears drafted Carimi. In the second they added Randall Cobb, a receiver with very good run-after-catch skills, and needs to be, being 5'10" and 191 pounds. He looks to fit in as their third or fourth wideout, since James Jones will likely hit free agency. In the third, they grabbed Alex Green, a hard-hitting, tough running back who moonlights as a very good pass catcher. In the fifth, DJ Williams, a tight end from Arkansas, is a guy that fills the H-back role well - he's a hard worker that will participate in the running game, and he will make tough catches. Fellow tight end Ryan Taylor was picked up out of North Carolina in the 7th, and to go with Sherrod, the sixth yielded Caleb Schlauderaff, an offensive lineman out of Utah.
With all the players the Packers placed on injured reserve last year (Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, I'm looking in your general direction), it's interesting to note the quality of pick spent on backups. Green will find himself in all sorts of situations for what he brings to the field, particularly short-yardage, third-down and red-zone.
Minnesota Vikings (10 picks)
The Vikings, after their first round reach, quietly put together a decent back-end of the draft with six picks in the final two rounds. On the defensive side, they added lineman Christian Ballard, following up in the fifth with defensive back Brandon Burton and in the sixth with Mistral Raymond, a pair of cover-two style backs that will both see time in substitution. Also in the sixth linebacker Ross Homan was added from Ohio State, an instinctive and very intelligent player that could play right away; and D'Aundre Reed in the seventh, another lineman that provides depth.
Offensively, sure, they reached for Ponder, who it's doubtful would have even been drafted in the first otherwise. But they followed up with tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second; this adds another receiving threat to pair with Visanthe Shiancoe. The sixth and seventh saw a pair of linemen, Demarcus Love from Arkansas and Brandon Fusco from Slippery Rock (which until yesterday, I never knew existed). Love has the size to play guard but needs grooming, and Fusco is mostly a tough guy whom the Vikings will try to groom into a position. With their last pick, they added a receiver from West Texas A&M, Stephen Burton, another project that needs grooming.
Even though we consider it a reach, the Vikings have who they believe is their guy going forward, and a running back like Adrian Peterson is instantly any young quarterback's best friend. Free agency will be interesting for them too: they could look for an immediate contribution at linebacker and offensive line; and will they look for another defensive tackle or will they ride it out with Ballard, Letroy Guion and Jimmy Kennedy until Kevin Williams returns from his suspension?
How do you think our division brethren fared in the draft? Sound off!