NFC North Tour: Draft Dodging

Leading off with the Green Bay Packers, we examine the draft picks with a chance to be on their NFC North teams' final rosters on Saturday evening.

Green Bay Packers

Rd. 1/32, OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi St. — For the third straight year, the team's first-round pick will open the season on the bench. Sherrod, a natural left tackle, struggled in his conversion to left guard during camp and lost the starting battle to third-year T.J. Lang. That gives Sherrod more time to develop as veteran LT Chad Clifton's heir apparent.

Rd. 2/64, WR/KR Randall Cobb, Kentucky — Bruises to both knees sustained in the second preseason game robbed Cobb of most of the last half of camp. He is a dynamic keeper for what he can add as a slot receiver and potential Wildcat ball handler, not to mention the juice he provides on punt returns.

Rd. 3/96, RB/KR Alex Green, Hawaii — The rugged and slippery back missed some time early in camp with a thigh injury, which stunted his development as the team's potential third-down back. Returning kickoffs could be his forte early on.

Rd. 4/131, CB Davon House, New Mexico St. — A clone of ex-Packers cornerback Al Harris, right down to the dreadlocks. House missed a big chunk of on-field work early in camp because of a hamstring injury, but he's healthy and too good of a prospect to not keep.

Rd. 5/141, TE D.J. Williams, Arkansas — The sure-handed Williams had a strong start to the preseason before tailing off. Would be a surprise if he's not one of four, possibly five tight ends the team keeps since he can be productive in the passing game.

Rd. 6/179, G Caleb Schlauderaff, Utah — Primarily the top backup to Josh Sitton at right guard in the preseason. Not a sure thing he will survive the roster cut, but the depth is thin across the line.

Rd. 6/186, LB D.J. Smith, Appalachian St. — More than makes up for his undersized frame of 5 feet, 11 inches as an instinctive playmaker. Roster spot looked to be secured as a backup on the inside and special-teams contributor.

Rd. 7/218, TE Ryan Taylor, North Carolina — Special-teams ace who flourished at times in the preseason with his receiving skills suffered an untimely hip injury with two days left in camp. Seemingly safe to stick with the team if he's deemed healthy for the start of the season.

Rd. 7/233, DE Lawrence Guy, Arizona St. — Promising player still had a shot, if not a good one, to make the team despite missing most of camp with a concussion.

Chicago Bears

Rd. 1/29, OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin — Was installed as the starting ORT almost immediately and is a physical force in the run game, and coaches are happy with his work ethic and attitude, but his pass protection needs refinement and improvement.

Rd. 2/53, DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State — Has struggled some to learn both the NT and 3-technique positions but seems more at home at the 3, where he has good strength and decent quickness.

Rd. 3/93, S Chris Conte, California — Strictly a backup at this point who will have to make stronger contributions than he has so far on special teams if he wants to see the field.

Round 5/160, QB Nathan Enderle, Idaho — A project who is a Mike Martz favorite but will be brought along slowly, although he could challenge inconsistent No. 2 Caleb Hanie by the end of the season.

Round 6/195, LB J.T. Thomas, West Virginia — Got significant playing time with the ones and twos in training camp because of the Bears' lack of depth and injuries to others. Will be asked to play a big role on special teams.

Detroit Lions

Rd. 1/13, DT Nick Fairley — Missed all of camp with a broken foot. Won't start the season but could be ready to play in two or three weeks.

Rd. 2/44, WR Titus Young — Missed the first three weeks with a hamstring injury and his playing time is still being monitored and limited. He is expected to start in Week 1 as the team's third receiver.

Rd. 2/57, RB Mikel Leshoure — Out for the season after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

Rd. 5/157, LB Doug Hogue — Expected to make the roster, though he won't see much action at linebacker. He is expected to contribute on special teams.

Rd. 7/209, OT Johnny Culbreath — A physical specimen, but too raw to contribute this season. He's a good candidate for the practice squad.

Minnesota Vikings

Rd. 1/12 QB Christian Ponder, Florida State — Still learning on the fly after not getting any offseason work at the Vikings facility because of the lockout, Ponder is expected to spend this season learning and then potentially take over in 2012.

Rd. 2/43 TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame — Could make an immediate impact, especially if Visanthe Shiancoe continues to be bothered by a hamstring injury. Rudolph needs work on his blocking but has very good hands.

Rd. 4/106 DT Christian Ballard, Iowa — Has made an immediate impression in the preseason and very well could see regular duty playing inside in nickel situations. Has the ability to provide a pass rush.

Rd. 5/139 CB Brandon Burton, Utah — Has shown flashes in the preseason but is still raw. Nonetheless, the Vikings might hesitate to cut him given that he could be claimed off waivers and never make it to their practice squad.

Rd. 6/168 OT DeMarcus Love, Arkansas — Has shown enough in the preseason that the Vikings also might hesitate to try to sneak him through to the practice squad. Love appears to have a real upside and with Bryant McKinnie now gone the Vikings might feel as if they can't afford to cut any potential left tackles.

Rd. 6/170 S Mistral Raymond, South Florida — The Vikings aren't exactly deep at safety and Raymond appears to have plenty of confidence and some skill. Wouldn't be a shock if he saw playing time this season.

Rd. 6/172 C Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock — A project who likely will end up on the practice squad but eventually could be this team's starting center.

Rd. 6/200 LB Ross Homan, Ohio State — The Vikings will weigh whether to keep him so he can contribute on special teams.

Rd. 7/215 DE D'Aundre Reed, Arizona — Has shown some skill in training camp and is a candidate to spend the season on the practice squad.


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