North Drafts: Worst to First

After digesting the big picture for the last week,'s team publishers and NFL Scouting's Michael DiJulio provide their insight on the NFC North drafts. Which team came in third in our rankings, and what picks got us talking? publishers Nate Caminata (Detroit), Bill Huber (Green Bay), Jeremy Stoltz (Chicago) and Tim Yotter (Minnesota), along with NFL Scouting's Michael DiJulio, break down the drafts of the four teams in the NFC North.

We ranked the teams, from worst to first, with each publisher not allowed to vote for his own team. Chicago, with two last-place votes, finished just ahead of the last-place Vikings in our rankings. Here is our reasoning.

Michael DiJulio, NFL Scouting

1 (29) Gabe Carimi, ot, Wisconsin.

2 (53) Stephen Paea, dt, Oregon State.

3 (93) Chris Conte, db, California.

5 (160) Nathan Enderle, qb, Idaho.

6 (195) J.T. Thomas, lb, West Virginia.

Chicago needed to solidify the left tackle position to protect Jay Cutler, but instead grabbed Gabe Carimi, who fits better at right tackle or inside at guard. He's a very good prospect, but Derek Sherrod, taken by Green Bay a few picks later, might've been the better option.

The Bears addressed some needs on the defensive side of the ball on day two with Stephen Paea and Chris Conte. Paea could be the replacement for Tommie Harris because he has underrated quickness, but he's as stout as they come and fits better as a nose guard. History has shown that Mike Martz can't help but add a quarterback nearly every year, and did so again with Nathan Enderle. J.T. Thomas has the speed to contribute in Chicago's Tampa-2 defense.

Tim Yotter, Viking Update

Jay Cutler can rest a little easier this offseason after the addition of Carimi to the offensive line, but, judging from Senior Bowl week, I think Carimi will need to have his pass-protecting skills refined if the Bears are looking for him to be a left tackle.

Fortunately for them, they have one of the best position coaches in the business with Mike Tice. Carimi, the Bears' first-round pick, has big potential, but it might take him a year or two to settle in. However, his tough attitude should help upgrade the running game immediately.

While I wasn't as high on Carimi as some others, I do like the selection of Paea as a replacement for Tommie Harris. I think Paea can be an effective starter as a rookie, which is what the Bears need.

Clearly, their first two picks were based on need and they appear to have filled those admirably, but their fifth-round pick Enderle is interesting. Obviously, Enderle isn't coming in to replace Cutler anytime soon and there isn't much risk in the fifth round, but Enderle has had mixed reviews. Some believe he has very solid pro potential; others think he was too erratic at Idaho. Either way, the Bears are wise to start looking for a developmental quarterback and they won't be asking him to become a starter anytime soon.

Bill Huber, Packer Report

The key to it all is whether Carimi can play left tackle at a high level. For the Bears' offense to click with all of those five- and seven-step drops, the offensive tackles have to be exceptional. Obviously, the Bears' tackles were not exceptional last season as Cutler was clobbered for a league-high 52 sacks — including six in Week 17 at Lambeau when the Packers won to clinch a playoff berth.

One beef I have is taking Enderle. Maybe he turns out to be a good quarterback, though his career totals of 74 touchdowns, 60 interceptions and 54.6 percent accuracy signal otherwise. Sure, some of those ugly numbers can be pinned on a subpar supporting cast but isn't it a quarterback's job to lift those around him? Either way, the Bears had only five draft picks. Are they so good that they can take a flier on a quarterback but ignore receiver, cornerback and backup running back?

Nate Caminata, Roar Report

The Carimi selection is intriguing and interesting. He needs to improve his pass protection, which Chicago evidently feels he can accomplish at the tackle position. Perhaps selecting Green Bay's eventual pick, Sherrod, would have made more logistical sense — especially given Chicago's pass-happy/QB-on-a-limb style? Regardless of how immediate Carimi can make his transition, the addition of a Big Ten offensive lineman appears wise.

Paea could become the team's long-term anchor in the middle of the defensive line, while Conte might have been a reach. Given Chicago's inability to address the safety position (seven safeties drafted in as many years), this appears to be par for the course.

Selecting Enderle screams Mike Martz. An unpolished, raw quarterback with obvious skill that needs to be developed? It's the one toy that Martz was given during the draft.

One that he needed and didn't get? A receiver.

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