NFC North Tour: Draft Highs, Lows

Teams are built through the draft, as the Packers have shown. Here's how the Packers and their NFC North rivals have fared over the last three drafts. The best of the bunch might be the Packers' Clay Matthews.

Green Bay Packers

How the Packers have done in the draft since 2008:

Total picks: 24

2010 Starters: 5

2010 Backups: 10

Other teams: 3

Out of NFL: 1

Injured reserve/PUP: 5

The first two draft picks in Ted Thompson's reign as general manager in 2005 were quarterback Aaron Rodgers and safety Nick Collins, and the impact those two made in the Packers' ascension to Super Bowl champions last season is obvious. Suffice it to say, however, the meticulous Thompson's handiwork the last three drafts may be his best yet.

Even after trading out of the team's first-round spot in 2008, Thompson landed a star-in-the-making in Round 3 with tight end Jermichael Finley. Thompson then pulled off a defensive coup in the opening round of '09 with nose tackle B.J. Raji and trading up for linebacker Clay Matthews.

The 2010 draft class may yield four starters at the outset of next season: tackle Bryan Bulaga, defensive end Mike Neal, safety Morgan Burnett and running back James Starks.

Best pick: Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, 2009 (first round, 26th overall): The former USC walk-on is on the verge of being the league's most feared defensive player, if he isn't already. His resume includes two Pro Bowl nods, 27 sacks and a critical forced fumble late in Super Bowl XLV.

Worst pick: Quarterback Brian Brohm, 2008 (second round, 56th overall): The Louisville product flopped from the start, as he was beat out by seventh-round pick Matt Flynn for the No. 2 job and out of Green Bay the next year.

Chicago Bears

How the Bears have done in the draft since 2008:

Total picks: 26

2010 Starters: 5

2010 Backups: 11

Other teams: 3

Out of NFL: 7

Injured reserve/PUP: 0

Considering they did not have first- or second-round picks in either of the last two drafts, the Bears haven't done badly.

Matt Forte is arguably the centerpiece of their offense. The second-round pick in 2008 has been the featured ball carrier since Day One, and he also is a key contributor in the passing game. Wide receivers Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett were Nos. 1 and 2, respectively in catches and yards last season.

Two of the Bears' starting linemen have come from recent drafts, left guard Chris Williams in '08 and right tackle J'Marcus Webb last year. The defense, however, hasn't gotten much from the draft.

Best pick: Wide receiver Johnny Knox, 2009 (fifth round, 140th overall): Despite coming from little Abilene Christian, Knox contributed as a rookie with 45 catches for 527 yards and five touchdowns. He took another big step last year, leading the Bears by a wide margin with 960 yards and tying Forte for the team lead with 51 receptions and five more scores. Knox is slight in stature and isn't very physical, but he is a legitimate deep threat and has soft hands and good run-after-the-catch ability.

Worst pick: Defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, 2009 (third round, 68th overall): Wasn't quick enough at end or stout enough inside to be a factor and lasted just one season.

Detroit Lions

How the Lions have done in the draft since 2008:

Total picks: 25

2010 Starters: 10

2010 Backups: 9

Other teams: 3

Out of NFL: 2

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

Look at it like this: The Lions have 10 players left on the roster from the eight drafts supervised by former general manager Matt Millen (2001-2008). There are no players on the roster from any draft from 2002-2006, an incredible drought.

But the two drafts supervised by general manager Martin Mayhew have yielded eight starters, one All-Pro (Ndamukong Suh), one franchise quarterback (Matthew Stafford) and of the 16 players drafted in those two years, 13 are contributing members of the team.

"The only way to be consistent over a long period of time is to be successful in the draft," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Our goal wasn't to turn this around, short-term. We want a team that can stand the test of time and the only way to do that is to draft well."

Best pick: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, 2010 (first round, second overall): Suh made an immediate impact with 10 sacks. He was named AP Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie tackle named to the All-Pro team since 1951.

Worst pick: Linebacker Jordon Dizon, 2008 (second round, 45th overall): This was a typical Millen pick. He fell in love with Dizon's intangibles (tough, relentless) and ignored his obvious physical limitations. He was too small to play in the middle and too slow to play on the outside.

Minnesota Vikings

How the Vikings have done in the draft since 2008:

Totals Picks: 18

2010 Starters: 3

2010 Backups: 10

Other teams: 1

Out of NFL: 3

Injured reserve/PUP: 1

The Vikings have been without a first-round pick in two of the past three drafts, trading away the selection in 2008 in the Jared Allen deal with Kansas City and again in 2010 in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Both times the Vikings then took a defensive back in the second round. In 2008, they selected safety Tyrell Johnson, who started in 2009 but was a backup last season. Last year, cornerback Chris Cook was the choice. He battled knee injuries throughout his rookie season.

The Vikings' first- and second-round selections in 2009, wide receiver Percy Harvin and right tackle Phil Loadholt, are both key contributors.

Best pick: Wide receiver Percy Harvin, 2009 (first round, 22nd overall): Several teams passed on Harvin because of concerns about his character, but so far he has proven to be an elite player both as a wide receiver and kickoff return man. The issue is that Harvin continues to battle migraine headaches and has missed countless practices and three games because of the issue.

Worst pick: Linebacker Nate Triplett, 2010 (fifth round, 167th overall): Taken with a compensatory pick out of the University of Minnesota, Triplett was cut before last season and wasn't even brought back to the practice squad. The Vikings had thought he could contribute on special teams.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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