NFC North Tour: Reviewing the Drafts

You know who the Packers selected in last weekend's draft. Here's a look at the players that were picked by Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota.

Chicago Bears

The Bears did nothing to improve the offensive line that has failed the past two seasons to protect quarterback Jay Cutler. However, new general manager Phil Emery, in his first time running a draft, addressed the lack of pass-rush pressure by taking Shea McClellin in the first round. While the 6-3 1/2, 260-pound McClellin may be a bit of a tweener, he has a track record for getting after the quarterback.

Round 2 brought another weapon for Cutler in big receiver Alshon Jeffery, who could be special; and in Round 4 Emery gambled on character concern tight end Evan Rodriguez, who is undersized but a talented pass catcher. For the eighth straight year the Bears drafted a safety, but 6-3, 220-pound Brandon Hardin must be converted from cornerback.

BEST PICK:

Wider receiver Alshon Jeffery. The big knock on the big pass catcher was that Jeffery couldn't run a lick. But the Bears clocked him at 4.47 at his Pro Day, and they believe he possesses almost every other trait needed to become an impact player, especially in the red zone.

COULD SURPRISE:

Safety Brandon Hardin. At 6-3 and 220 pounds, he had the athleticism to play cornerback at Oregon State, but he projects to strong safety and has the toughness, size and tackling ability to thrive there. Had he not missed the entire 2011 season with a fractured shoulder, Hardin would have been a much hotter prospect, and the Bears are assured that he is 100 percent healthy.

A closer look at the Bears' picks:

Round 1/19 - Shea McClellin, DE, 6-3, 260, Boise State

Bears believe he provides the best chance to immediately upgrade a pass rush that was 29th last season. Played defensive end and linebacker past two seasons, when he had 16.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss. Ran a 4.63 40, second fastest among defensive ends at the Combine. Hard-working, football smart, technically sound, quickly finds the football.

Round 2/45 - Alshon Jeffery, WR, 6-3, 216, South Carolina

Bears traded up five spots to make sure they got the highest rated player on their board at 45. Had huge sophomore season in 2010 (88 catches, 1,517 yards, 17.2-yard average, nine touchdowns), but production plummeted last season (49-762-15.6-8). Great red-zone production (23 career touchdowns). Excels at competing for jump balls and adjusting to the ball.

Round 3/79 - Brandon Hardin, S, 6-3, 220, Oregon State

Missed the 2011 season with a fractured shoulder that required season-ending surgery, although he returned to play in the East-West Shrine Game. Has been cleared medically by the Bears. Started 12 games at cornerback as a junior in 2010, but the Bears will play him at strong safety. High marks for physical, aggressive tackling.

Round 4/111 - Evan Rodriguez, TE, 6-2, 244, Temple

Undersized, athletic pass-catching tight end had 35 receptions last season for 479 yards, averaging 13.7 yards per catch with two touchdowns. Started 28 games at Temple after transferring from West Virginia. Off-the-field issues. Arrested for assault in '07 and disorderly conduct in April '09. Good speed (4.56) and a natural pass catcher with good body control and smooth movement skills to adjust to the ball in the air.

Round 6/184 - Isaiah Frey, CB, 5-11, 188, Nevada

Had five interceptions and a national-best 21 pass breakups as a senior. Three-year starter. Does not play a physical game and has unrefined footwork. Has good closing speed but gives too much cushion in coverage. Solid 40-yard dash time (4.46) at pro day.

Round 7/220 - Greg McCoy, CB/KR, 5-10, 181, Texas Christian

Led the Mountain West and was sixth in the nation with a 30.6-yard kickoff-return average in 2011, when he had 94- and 99-yard returns for touchdowns. Started all 13 games at cornerback each of the last two seasons. Ran a 4.44 40 at his pro day.


Detroit Lions

Say this for general manager Martin Mayhew, he's unconventional.

Riley Reiff, considered by most the second best offensive line prospect in the draft, fell into his lap at 23. But that was the last pick that didn't cause some head-scratching.

In Round Two, he bypassed a much-needed cornerback to take a receiver - Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, who had ACL surgery on Nov. 21 and may not be ready for training camp.

He finally took a corner in the third round - Louisiana-Lafayette's Dwight Bentley - and wound up with three in all. He took Chris Greenwood from Division III Albion (Mich.) in the fifth round and Jonte Green from New Mexico State in the sixth.

Picks four through six were spent essentially on restocking the special teams.

BEST PICK:

Tackle Riley Reiff: Reiff is as close to a sure thing as this draft class offers. It may take a year, but once he settles in, he will start for 10 years.

COULD SURPRISE:

Cornerback Chris Greenwood: Greenwood is a physical marvel; a potential diamond in the rough. He's 6-2 and runs a sub-4.40. He also displayed a 43-inch vertical jump during his visit to the Lions.

A closer look at the Lions' picks:

Round 1/23 - Riley Reiff, OT, 6-5, 313, Iowa

He replaced Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga at Iowa and started 37 of 39 games over the next three years. He will be the 12th player Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has sent to the NFL.

Round 2/54 - Ryan Broyles, WR, 5-10, 192, Oklahoma

The Lions are convinced his surgically-repaired knee is sound and they were overwhelmed by his production. They see him as a faster version Wes Welker.

Round 3/85 - Dwight (Bill) Bentley, CB, 5-10, 182, Louisiana-Lafayette

On the field, he's an aggressive, smooth-moving cover corner. He reminds them of Aaron Berry, who will probably be the starting right cornerback next season.

Round 4/125 - Ronnell Lewis, DE, 6-2, 253, Oklahoma

He may be too small to play defensive end and too slow to play outside linebacker, but the Lions believe he will wreak havoc on special teams. He's a fierce hitter who earned the nickname "Hammer" at Oklahoma.

Round 5/138 - Tahir Whitehead, OLB, 6-1, 233, Temple

Whitehead played outside in a 3-4 system at Temple, but they see him as a 4-3 outside backer. He plays with a lot of speed and he's good in coverage.

Round 5/148 - Chris Greenwood, CB, 6-1, 193, Albion

His measurables were off the charts. He is the first player from the Michigan Independent Athletic Association to be drafted since 1967.

Round 6/196 - Jonte Green, CB, 5-11, 191, New Mexico State

The Lions like his speed (4.4) and his aggression. They see a guy who plays back, reads the play in front of him and reacts quickly and assertively.

Round 7/223 - Travis Lewis, OLB, 6-2, 246, Oklahoma

The Lions couldn't ignore his production at Oklahoma. He led the team in tackles four straight years. He also showed toughness.


Minnesota Vikings

Basically, Rick Spielman couldn't have had a better start to his first draft as Vikings general manager.

Moments before the draft, he got three picks for nothing when he moved down one spot, allowing the Browns to take running back Trent Richardson, a player the Vikings didn't want or need. Spielman then selected Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil, the player he coveted all along at a position of gigantic need.

Then, with a league-high 13 picks, Spielman turned around and upgraded another massive need by trading back into the first round to take the second-best safety, Notre Dame's Harrison Smith, with the 29th overall pick.

Within a span of 25 picks, the Vikings had significantly strengthened their two weakest areas - offensive line and secondary - with two first-round picks.

In the third round, the Vikings then grabbed some quality cornerback depth and the heir apparent to Antoine Winfield when they selected Central Florida's Josh Robinson, who ran a Combine-best 4.29 40-yard dash.

A somewhat puzzling pick came in the sixth round when Spielman took Georgia kicker Blair Walsh. There was no indication that veteran Ryan Longwell was in trouble, but he does turn 38 soon and is coming off a season in which he missed six field-goal attempts (22 of 28).

BEST PICK:

Left tackle Matt Kalil: He was the best and safest pick at a position of great need and importance to second-year quarterback Christian Ponder's development. Nothing else the team does matters if Ponder isn't well protected.

COULD SURPRISE:

Cornerback Josh Robinson: A 199-pound corner with a Combine-best 4.29 40-yard dash, Robinson, the third-round pick, provides depth and an heir apparent to Antoine Winfield. If he puts that speed to good use, he could end up starting and/or returning kicks as a rookie.

A closer look at the Vikings' picks:

Round 1/4 - Matt Kalil, LT, 6-6, 308, Southern California

Kalil has the prototypical left tackle build, a passion for the game and the quickest feet that Vikings scouts have seen in years.

Round 1/29 - Harrison Smith, S, 6-2, 213, Notre Dame

Smith, a former college linebacker, has the size and strength to play in the box and the speed and instincts to cover the athletic tight ends that are spreading throughout the league.

Round 3/66 - Josh Robinson, CB, 5-10, 199, Central Florida.

Robinson can play man or zone, has the desire to come up in run support and also ran a Combine-best 4.29 40-yard dash.

Round 4/118 - Jarius Wright, WR, 5-10, 182, Arkansas.

A slot receiver who set school records for catches (168) and receptions (2,934).

Round 4/128 - Rhett Ellison, TE/FB, 6-5, 250, Southern California.

A fullback-tight end hybrid in the mold of a Jim Kleinsasser, who retired after 13 seasons.

Round 4/134 - Greg Childs, WR, 6-3, 219, Arkansas

Caught only 21 passes last year after tearing his patella tendon the year before. But is now healthy.

Round 5/139 - Robert Blanton, CB, 6-1, 208, Notre Dame

A tall corner who's the kind of hybrid type the Vikings covet.

Round 6/175 - Blair Walsh, K, 5-9, 187, Georgia

Will be groomed to eventually replace 37-year-old Ryan Longwell.

Round 7/210 - Audie Cole, ILB, 6-4, 246, North Carolina State

A big middle linebacker who runs a 4.8, he'll help on special teams and provide backup behind middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley.

Round 7/219 - Trevor Guyton, DT, 6-3, 285, California

The Vikings are loaded at the position, but have a history of not passing on promising young pass rushers.


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