NFC North

This the sixth part of our series breaking down each team’s needs (by division)  headed into the draft tomorrow evening. In case you missed our previous posts, feel free to take a look here.

As always, we want to hear what you think, so don’t hesitate to leave us your thoughts in the comment thread.

Chicago Bears (7-9)

Analysis: Last year was a major disappointment, for both Jay Cutler and the Bears as a whole, as both struggled immensely right from the start and only seemed to right the ship with the season coming to a close. In response, Chicago sent most of their coaching staff packing, and then proceeded to strike out on just about every candidate they brought in to fill those roles, before hiring Mike Martz to be their offensive coordinator. Changing coaches isn’t always the solution for a team that is having difficulties on the field, but in this case, it was definitely warranted. The Bears still have several key holes to fill but are lacking the ammunition to do so, with just five picks to work with, and none before round three.

  • Players added: TE Brandon Manumaleuna, DE Julius Peppers, RB Chester Taylor, CB Tim Jennings
  • Players lost: OT Orlando Pace, RB Kevin Jones, FB Jason McKie, CB Nathan Vasher, DE Alex Brown, DE Adewale Ogunleye

Major Needs:

  • Safety – This position has been a thorn in the side of the Bears defense for some time now, with injuries taking a toll on their starters, forcing unproven players on the field at inopportune moments. Finding a quality player to step in and lock down this spot will be critical in a draft this deep.
  • Offensive Guard -  The Bears struggled immensely at the guard spot last year and it showed in the production of both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Finding someone capable of solidifying things in a hurry will be a major priority this weekend.
  • Linebacker – This group is still pretty solid for the time being, with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs roaming the field, but Chicago would be wise to build for the future here, as Urlacher has had difficulty staying healthy for an entire season in recent years.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 3rd (75)
  • 4th (109)
  • 5th (141)
  • 6th (181)
  • 7th (218)

Detroit Lions (2-14)

Analysis: Even though things didn’t work out exactly as the Lions would have hoped last season, winning two games has to be considered a success, given the fact that they didn’t win any the year before. In many of their games, Detroit showed the promise of becoming a solid football club once again, which is exactly what they needed to do to win back their fan base. Head coach Jim Schwartz clearly has his team headed in the right direction and the front office has seemingly exorcised the ghosts of Matt Millen in their talent evaluation and player acquisition, making the Lions a dangerous team to face this fall.

  • Players added: WR Nate Burleson, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DT Corey Williams, TE Tony Scheffler, WR Brian Clark, CB Chris Houston, CB Jonathan Wade, QB Shaun Hill, OG Rob Sims, OG Trevor Canfield
  • Players lost: DE Jared DeVries, CB Philip Buchanon, DT Grady Jackson, LB Ernie Sims, DE Dewayne White, LB Larry Foote, DE Robert Henderson, TE Casey Fitzsimmons, OG Daniel Loper, S Kalvin Pearson, CB Brian Witherspoon, CB Kevin Hobbs

Major Needs:

  • Linebacker – Sending their best linebacker in Ernie Sims to Philadelphia is going to hurt the Lions on defense next year, especially if they don’t address the position early on in the draft. They should be able to find a capable player in round two or three.
  • Offensive Line – There’s no way Detroit can afford to go through another season with the same crew they had last year up front, unless they want Matt Stafford to end up in a nursing home before he turns 30 that is. If the Lions don’t use the #2 overall pick here, expect it to come in round two at the latest.
  • Running Back – With their starter, Kevin Smith, still on the mend from his season ending knee injury, the Lions need to look at finding a potential replacement relatively early on in this draft. There should be a solid player to fill that role available in the middle rounds.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (2)
  • 2nd (34)
  • 3rd (66)
  • 4th (100)
  • 7th (213, 214, 220, 255)

Green Bay Packers

Analysis: The Packers overachieved in a big way down the stretch last season, pushing hard against their division rivals in Minnesota for the division crown, and taking the Cardinals to overtime on the road in the playoffs in a losing effort. Winning seven of their last eight games last year definitely puts big expectations on this team, but with the defense they have in place, Green Bay should be poised to make another run this season.

  • Players added: None
  • Players lost: DE Michael Montgomery

Major Needs:

  • Linebacker – Switching to the 3-4 turned into a solid move as the season wore on last year, but the Packers are going to need to find a quality pass rusher to play on the outside of the linebacker corps across from Clay Matthews to keep their defense playing at a high level. They should be able to find a player capable of filling that role in round two or three.
  • Offensive Tackle – Pass protection was the biggest problem early on last season, and even though things settled down a bit towards the end of the year, it reared its ugly head once again in the playoffs when Aaron Rodgers was sacked and stripped of the ball, leading to a touchdown and victory for the Cardinals. Expect the Packers to address this hole in round one.
  • Cornerback – Green Bay has had a great run with Al Harris and Charles Woodson locking down the field every Sunday, but they’re not getting any younger, and as such the Packers would be wise to find a solid player to provide depth headed into the future.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (23)
  • 2nd (56)
  • 3rd (86)
  • 4th (122)
  • 5th (154, 169)
  • 6th (193)
  • 7th (230)

Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

Analysis: Last year was a dream season for the Vikings, right up to the point where Brett Favre ended the dream by throwing a horrible interception late in the NFC title game. That said, this team is still loaded and if they can lure Favre back north from Mississippi, they should be primed for another run through the division, deep into the playoffs. They do have a few minor holes to fill, especially in their defensive backfield, but they should be able to find players to fill that role with the picks they have in this draft.

  • Players added: K Rhys Lloyd, DE Michael Montgomery
  • Players lost: RB Chester Taylor, CB Karl Paymah, OT Artis Hicks

Major Needs:

  • Cornerback – The Vikings had difficulty containing opposing wide receivers last season when their defensive line was unable to generate consistent pressure, and a large part of that comes down to a lack of talent outside of Antoine Winfield, who’s had significant health concerns. They should be able to fill this need relatively easily in round one.
  • Linebacker – Once the Vikings lost E.J. Henderson to a season ending injury late in the year, their defense struggled a bit with the run defense, as they no longer had a top notch defender in the middle to clean up the play. Finding someone capable of competing against Jasper Brinkley early on for the starting role while Henderson recovers will be a priority this weekend.
  • Defensive Tackle – The Williams Wall has been outstanding for the past few seasons, but it won’t last forever, and as such the Vikings would be wise to bring in a talented player to learn from Pat Williams before he retires.

2010 Draft Picks:

  • 1st (30)
  • 2nd (62)
  • 3rd (93)
  • 4th (128)
  • 5th (161, 167)
  • 6th (199)
  • 7th (237)

Back to Team Needs: NFC East | Forward to Team Needs: NFC South


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