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NFC North Watch: The Challenge of Our Rivals

Kalil is the new left tackle for the Vikings.
Kalil is the new left tackle for the Vikings.

The Bears weren't the only team selecting players over the last three days. The rest of the NFL participated too, but no three teams that we're concerned about more than the teams within our division. Let's take a look at how our division rivals drafted and let's see how they did.

Detroit: Detroit had a pretty odd draft in my opinion. They started out with Riley Reiff, the offensive tackle from Iowa. While I have my doubts about Reiff's ability to hang at left tackle, he's in a solid situation in Detroit - he'll come in on the right side and transition to the left when Jeff Backus is ready to hang it up. They came back with Ryan Broyles in the second from Oklahoma, who tore his ACL late in the college season and might not be available immediately. He was rated as a second round prospect prior to the injury.

The third round gave them Dwight Bentley, a quick-reaction cornerback with some decent speed, and they paired him up with another cornerback and defensive back in the fifth and sixth rounds, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green. They also picked up three linebackers, Ronnell Lewis in the fourth, Tahir Whitehead in the fifth and Travis Lewis in the seventh. Ronnell Lewis might contribute sparingly on defense, and Whitehead and Travis Lewis look to be more special teams players. But after picking a tackle and another receiver, they focused everything on trying to fix up a bad secondary and filling in a somewhat weak yet linebacking corps.

Detroit didn't spend a draft pick on a running back, which given the concussion troubles of Jahvid Best and the marijuana troubles of Mikel Leshoure leaves the team yet wanting at running back, but Best and Leshoure will still be back and in camp, so maybe they didn't feel it was necessary. I was surprised they wanted to continue adding to their receiving corps, but it's just another part added in, it'll just be rough to find him snaps.

Green Bay: Only two picks were spent on offense - tackle Andrew Datko and QB BJ Coleman, both seventh round compensatory selections. They led off their draft with defensive end Nick Perry and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, then added Mike Daniels, an Iowa defensive tackle in the fourth round. The second round also saw defensive back Casey Hayward, and the fourth round gave them safety Jerron McMillian, and the draft was rounded out in the fifth round with linebacker Terrell Manning.

Defense was a priority to improve the Packers, and especially their pass rush and secondary, depleted through age (Woodson getting old) and through injury (Nick Collins). Adding Perry and Worthy will improve that rush, especially if Perry plays more consistently than he has. Hayward was touted as having the best ball skills in the draft outside of Morris Claiborne, and looks to take immediate playing time. McMillan will be in the mix at safety as a role player, and will be thrust into special teams. Manning has talent, and according to Bucky Brooks, "could quickly outperform his draft status." Datko and Coleman are clearly developmental prospects, but Datko might develop into a decent lineman.

I was surprised they didn't add another running back, but with the quarterback they have and the amount of passing they do, I'm supposing they didn't feel it necessary to go beyond James Starks, Alexander Green and John Kuhn.

Minnesota: I thought this was the most solid draft of the division., maybe more so than the Bears. The Vikings have holes all over the team, so they had to take the approach of filling as many needs as possible. They started out well, with Matt Kalil, then trading back up into the first for safety Harrison Smith and spending a third round pick on Josh Robinson, a corner that'll probably end up starting before all is said and done.

Their three fourth-round picks added two receiving weapons in Jarius Wright and Greg Childs along with lead blocking fullback Rhett Ellison. Wright is a slot receiver that gets good separation and Childs has solid downfield speed but an injury concern, a knee that ended his season. Ellison is a decent blocker, but needs to be more consistent.

The remainder of the draft included cornerback Robert Blanton, another cornerback body that'll fight for playing time; kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth to compete with Ryan Longwell getting older; linebacker Audie Cole, who looks like a decent backup 'backer; and Trevor Guyton, a defensive end that's a high effort guy with little else, and might settle for spelling duty for Jared Allen and Brian Robison.

The Vikings filled three glaring needs with three starter-caliber players, threw two pieces at the receiver issue, and found several augmentation pieces that aren't purely backups. Wright and Childs will compete for immediate playing time, and will have roles to fill alongside Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins as they develop. Smith and Robinson will go a long way to solidifying a fairly horrid secondary, and even Guyton in bursts could be enough to keep Allen and Robison fresher. They could have looked for additional rushing talent through the draft behind Adrian Peterson's knee injury, but Gerhart was always going to be the primary backup.

How do you feel about the NFC North drafts? Sound off!