NFC North tour: Talking rookies

Is Bears cornerback D.J. Moore too short? Is Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford overrated? How will the conservative Vikings use Percy Harvin? We have the answers, straight from the insiders.

Bears: Moore is short, not small

Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo doesn't mind if Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore, a fourth-round pick (119th overall), is referred to as "short," since he is a fraction under 5-foot-9. Just don't call the 192-pound Moore "little."

"I see him more as short, not small," Angelo said. "But he plays tall. The guy's got incredible leaping ability, and he made an interception against Georgia ... there aren't three guys in the league that can make that interception going up for the ball. He's got some special ball skills, some athleticism.

"You see a lot of tall corners who play small. He's a short corner who can play tall. We've had success with those types of corners when we were down in Tampa. Ronde Barber was like that. We feel he's going to come in and compete."

Moore spent just three years at Vanderbilt, starting nine games as a true freshman, and he picked off 12 passes over the past two seasons. Moore also lined up on offense for 10 to 20 snaps per game, according to Bears scout Rex Hogan, and he returned punts and kickoffs.

"He's just a special athlete with great ball skills," Angelo said. "I haven't seen a corner with this kind of ball skills since (Nate) Vasher."

Vasher intercepted 13 passes for the Bears in his first two seasons and returned them for 322 yards and two touchdowns. But he has just four picks in the past two seasons for 45 yards.

Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel was also impressed with Moore, especially his versatility.

"He's a corner, he's a returner, he's even played some offense," Gabriel said. "He's a rare athlete. He's got great quickness. He's got great ball skills. He was a value pick for us at this pick."

Given the Bears' unsettled situation at right cornerback across from Charles Tillman, Moore could play a bigger role than any of his rookie classmates this season. Vasher has fallen out of favor, and he has missed 20 games due to injuries in the past two seasons. Corey Graham replaced Vasher last season, when he was injured, but neither of them has a lock on the job.

Moore sounds like he's ready for the challenge. He said he came out a year early because he was more than ready to move to the next level.

"I didn't believe I was going to get too much better than what I was," he said. "I felt I was the best cornerback in the draft."

He'll get a chance to prove it with the Bears.

Lions: Is Stafford worth the money?

Now that the Lions have made Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft — and a very, very rich man, with $41.7 million guaranteed — all Stafford has to do is live up to it.

That's not going to be easy.

Besides of the usual pressures that face the No. 1 pick, Stafford faces some unique circumstances.

He will be linked to Bobby Layne, the Lions' last great quarterback, because they went to the same Texas high school. He will join a team that just endured through the NFL's first 0-16 season. And he will play for fans who wanted Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, stung by the failures of quarterbacks the Lions have taken high in the draft — Chuck Long, Andre Ware, Joey Harrington.

When the Lions unveiled their new logo and uniform five days before the draft, fans chanted "Cur-ry!" and "Don't draft Staf-ford!"

When Stafford was picked, fans booed from the draft party at Ford Field in Detroit to the actual draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Just before Stafford came on stage to shake the hand of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, fans at Radio City chanted "Over-rated!"

"You can't try to please everybody," Stafford said. "The No. 1 thing I have to do is go in there and try to work hard for my teammates, my coaches, the owners, the team, and get wins, because winning cures a lot of stuff. Hopefully that's what I can do."

Four days before the draft, general manager Martin Mayhew didn't flinch when asked about the fans' pro-Curry and anti-Stafford chants and how the negative environment might affect the No. 1 pick.

"That's something you try to figure out about these guys before you select them," Mayhew said. "Can they deal with it if things aren't going well? Whether it's Stafford or Curry or whoever it is, we've gone through that process with them. So, if things aren't going well, we have a feel for how those players might react."

  Stafford is prepared for the challenge, according to his father, John. In high school, Stafford played in front of 30,000 fans. At 17, he went to Georgia as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation, according to several scouting services. He started as a freshman in the SEC. For three years, he dealt with the scrutiny of media and fans.

"Matthew has always been very mature," Stafford's father said. "He understands the pressures that are associated with it. He genuinely likes people, and I think he'll build relationships with media and fans and everyone else.

"He just understands what the process is. You're not always going to have a whole bunch of supporters. Every one single one of these guys, you're going to have some people who like the pick, some people who don't. He gets it, and he'll move forward from it."

Vikings: Harvin adds another weapon

The Vikings' offense appears to have acquired a Ferrari in the first round of the NFL draft. Now, they are going to have to figure out how to utilize that acquisition.


WR Percy Harvin
AP Images
Percy Harvin, taken with the 22nd pick, proved to be one of the most explosive players in college football during his three seasons at Florida. Harvin was listed as a wide receiver but could line up in the backfield and proved to be a nightmare matchup for opponents.

Now, he's going to be added to an offense that includes Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson, big-play receiver Bernard Berrian and emerging tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

The big question for coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will be what they do with all of these weapons. Childress and Bevell have been viewed as conservative play-callers since their arrival in Minnesota in 2006.

But given the potential weapons the two have to work with, it would be a major mistake to not open it up more in 2009.

"I tell you what, our game plan sessions would be a lot of fun with two players (Harvin and Peterson) like that," said Harvin's college coach, Urban Meyer. "If you can put an offensive line together and be functional at receiver with those two cats carrying the ball like that ... Those guys are going to be having a lot of fun in those staff meetings."

arvin, who amassed 1,929 receiving yards and 1,852 rushing yards at Florida, won't only be counted on to contribute on offense.

He did not return kickoffs and punts at Florida, but the Vikings plan to give him a shot at both jobs. The hope is he can have a similar impact to the one Devin Hester had in Chicago when he came out of Miami.

Harvin, meanwhile, was released from an Atlanta hospital on Saturday. While en route to Minnesota, he began throwing up during a layover at an Atlanta airport. Doctors called it dehydration and ruled out the swing flu.

According to Childress, Harvin had taken at least 14 trips between Minneapolis and his home in Gainesville, Fla., over the past two weeks.

"I just think the grind had caught up with him." Childress said.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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