NFL Draft Review: The NFC North

As the post-Combine focus on the 2006 NFL Draft intensifies, takes a look back at the 2005 drafts of all 32 NFL teams. In a division-by-division review, we discuss all the 2005 selections and pick the best and worst of the last three years for each team. We continue our review with the NFC North.


DRAFT BREAKDOWN -- Three-year breakdown:

How the Bears have done in the draft since 2003:
Total picks: 26
2005 Starters: 8
2005 Backups: 7
Other teams: 2
Out of NFL: 4
Injured Reserve/PUP: 5


As yet, general manager Jerry Angelo's first-round picks haven't paid expected dividends, partially because of quarterback Rex Grossman's (No. 22 overall on 2003) history of injuries, but also because defensive end Michael Haynes (No. 14 overall in 2003) has so far been a huge bust. But some of the later-round picks have helped make up for the early misses. Third-round linebacker Lance Briggs (2003) made his first Pro Bowl last season, as did fourth-rounder Nate Vasher (2004).

Still, 11 of the 26 picks ended the season out of the league, on another team or injured, although 2005 second-round wide receiver Mark Bradley had cracked the starting lineup before he was hurt. Bradley is one of three second-rounders who could be key players in '06, along with cornerback Charles Tillman (2003) and defensive tackle Tank Johnson ('04).

CB Nate Vasher, 2004 (fourth round, 110th overall): Not particularly big, strong or fast, Vasher has nevertheless continued to show the same incredible knack for making plays on the ball that he demonstrated at Texas. In two seasons, he has 13 interceptions and 322 return yards with three touchdowns and appears to be the ideal Cover-2 corner. Although just 5-feet-10 and 180 pounds, Vasher has not shied away from contact and his tackling has been better than anticipated.

WORST PICK: DE Michael Haynes, 2003 (first round, 14th overall): Haynes has gotten progressively worse, reaching a low point last season when he was inactive for five games and barely noticeable in the other 11. An easy excuse is that he doesn't fit the current scheme that places an emphasis on speed and quickness, but he didn't do much to impress under the old scheme as a rookie. Haynes doesn't seem to have much of a sense of urgency and wound up playing behind street free agent Israel Idonije last season.


1 (4) Cedric Benson, RB:
A lengthy holdout left Benson miles behind incumbent Thomas Jones in the competition for playing time, and Jones' career year kept the rookie on the sidelines through the first half of the season. But, when Jones suffered a minor toe injury, Benson responded with 129 yards on 26 carries in two weeks. However, a sprained knee forced him to miss six games in the second half.

2 (39) Mark Bradley, WR: In his breakout game in Week Eight, Bradley caught five passes for 88 yards in the first half but suffered a torn ACL just before halftime, ending his season. He has size, speed and big-play ability and so should be a key weapon as soon as he gets back to 100 percent, which might not be until the second month of the season.

4 (106) Kyle Orton, QB: Came to camp as No. 4 on the depth chart and wasn't expected to play at all, but injuries to and ineffectiveness of others forced him onto the field for 15 starts. Orton's stats were barely mediocre, but he managed the offense in eight straight victories and was 10-5 as a starter.

5 (140) Airese Currie, WR:
Speed receiver started the season on the non-football injury list because of off-season foot surgery, came back to practice for about a week and suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on I.R. He was on the active roster for one week but never played.

6 (181) Chris Harris, FS: Thrust into the starting lineup in Week Two and wound up starting 13 games. Made some big hits but also committed rookie mistakes and was often late to the ball.

7 (222) Rod Wilson, LB:
Spent the season on I.R. with a knee injury.


DRAFT BREAKDOWN -- Three-year breakdown:

How the Lions have done in the draft since 2003:
Total picks: 23
2005 Starters: 5
2005 Backups: 8
Other teams: 3
Out of NFL: 3
Injured Reserve/PUP: 4


Even without the injuries that landed three defensive starters and one of their best nickel linebackers on injured reserve, the Lions' success in the past three drafts has been modest at best.

Wide receiver Roy Williams comes as close to providing high impact as any of the 23 players they have drafted since 2003, but even he is not yet arrived at the level of production and consistency the team needs to become a contender.

The big question is whether the Lions have drafted that poorly or whether former coach Steve Mariucci's failure to develop the young players is at the base of the problem. Much of the potential the Lions saw in Williams, linebacker Boss Bailey, wide receiver Charles Rogers, running back Kevin Jones and linebacker Teddy Lehman is still there. It's now up to new coach Rod Marinelli to determine if it can be developed.

WR Roy Williams, 2004 (first round, 7th overall): His two-year numbers - 99 catches for 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns - are not mind-boggling, and his toughness is still being questioned by some, but he has flashed brilliance at time with spectacular catches and yards after the catch.

WR Charles Rogers, 2003 (first round, 2nd overall): Two broken collarbones cost him 11 games as a rookie and 15 games his second season; he sat out four games with a drug suspension in his third season. The Lions believe the collarbone injuries were flukes but the drug suspension - and Rogers' lackadaisical approach after his return - were unacceptable. He'll get one more chance with a new coaching staff.


1 (10) Mike Williams, WR:
Caught 29 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown, but his overall rookie-year performance was not satisfactory. Needs better work habits and has to do a better job of conditioning; was probably hurt by a year out of football after an ill-fated attempt to follow Maurice Clarett into the NFL a year earlier.

2 (37) Shaun Cody, DT: Started only two games as a rookie playing behind DTs Shaun Rogers, a Pro Bowler and Dan Wilkinson, who also had a good season. Worked his way into the defensive line rotation and made solid progress during the season.

3 (72) Stanley Wilson, CB:
Active for just nine games as a rookie, playing primarily on special teams despite numerous injuries that depleted the Lions defensive secondary. Probably the speediest of the Lions DBs and that will keep him in the picture for nickel and dime duty in 2006.

5 (145) Dan Orlovsky, QB:
Finished the season as the No. 2 QB behind Joey Harrington after the demotion of Jeff Garcia, played in just two games, completing seven of 17 passes for 63 yards but has good size, arm strength and the attitude to possibly develop into an NFL-caliber backup.

6 (184) Bill Swancutt, DE: Unable to crack the defensive line rotation but made a niche for himself on special teams and impressed coaches and management with his work ethic.

6 (206) Johnathan Goddard, LB: A tweener who played DE and rushed the passer at Marshall. Was released in the final pre-season cut by the Lions.


DRAFT BREAKDOWN -- Three-year breakdown:

How the Packers have done in the draft since 2003:
Total picks: 22
'05 starters 6
'05 backups 8
Other teams: 3
Out of NFL: 2
Injured reserve/PUP 3


Ted Thompson was hired as general manager at the outset of last off-season with a strong track record of building the bulk of the Seattle Seahawks' roster through the draft.

True to form, he wheeled and dealed on draft weekend and came away with 11 picks. Unlike predecessor Mike Sherman, whose draft blunders played a significant part in his losing his other title as head coach this off-season, Thompson did well in hitting on a few potential keepers.

All but one member of the 2005 draft class remain with the team. Free safety Nick Collins and right guard Will Whitticker, a seventh-round surprise, were full-time starters. Linebacker Brady Poppinga and cornerback Mike Hawkins received cameo appearances in the starting lineup. Wide receiver Terrence Murphy was on track to have a prominent role by midseason but sustained a season-ending injury.

Meanwhile, if quarterback Brett Favre decides to retire, the heir already is in place with Aaron Rodgers, who fell fortuitously to the Packers late in Round 1. Sherman, meanwhile, starts anew as an assistant coach in Houston only able to hang his cowboy hat on middle linebacker Nick Barnett from the 2003 and '04 drafts. Cornerback Ahmad Carroll, the top pick in 2004, has been a two-year starter but hasn't come close to living up to the first-round billing.

BEST PICK: MLB Nick Barnett, 2003 (first round, 29th overall): A starter since Day 1 in the league. The athletic and quick Barnett is on the cusp of Pro Bowl accolades after flourishing in the defensive system implemented by then-coordinator Jim Bates last season, racking up a franchise-record 194 tackles. The system will stay in place with Bob Sanders, a Bates disciple, running the defense, though consideration will be given to moving Barnett to the outside where he could be more destructive.

P B.J. Sander, 2004 (third round, 87th overall): By the end of his "redshirt" debut season, Sander was spent and landed on injured reserve because of an injury to his kicking knee. Ranked near the bottom of the league charts for both gross average (39.2 yards) and net average (33.9). He exacerbated matters by flubbing a handful of holds for kicker Ryan Longwell in the first half of the season. As such, Sander, whom Sherman insisted he had to have by trading up in the draft, will have to beat out two eager competitors in the off-season just to stay around for the preseason, never mind next season.


1 (24) Aaron Rodgers, QB:
In a holding pattern until Brett Favre finally makes up his mind about next season. Jury still out whether Rodgers, who appeared briefly in three games as a rookie, can be an adequate replacement if the post-Favre era commences in earnest this year. With new coach/quarterbacks guru Mike McCarthy on board, Rodgers is sure to get an abundance of training in the coming months.

2 (51) Nick Collins, S: Unheralded pick out of Division I-AA Bethune-Cookman nailed down starting job as All-Pro free safety Darren Sharper's replacement from the outset. Collins didn't produce Sharper-like interception numbers but was a tenacious menace and totaled 96 tackles. Needs to work on wrapping up in order to solidify himself as a cornerstone for the team's defense.

2 (58) Terrence Murphy, WR: Playing future is cloudy, at best, because of a bruised spinal cord that Murphy sustained while returning a kick in Week 4 at Carolina. Indications are he won't be cleared to return to the field this year because the risk is too great. Until the injury, Murphy was positioning himself as a capable No. 3 receiver.

4 (115) Marviel Underwood, S: A regular in the dime defense for most of the season. Underwood, though, didn't distinguish himself. Lauded as a hard hitter in college, he played soft and made only 10 solo tackles with no pass breakups. Made his mark on special teams, though, with a team-high 23 tackles.

4 (125) Brady Poppinga, LB: High-energy player out of Brigham Young was a catalyst for most of the season on special teams, ranking second with 22 tackles. Gradually worked his way into playing rotation on defense and earned first pro start in the final month against Detroit. In the same game, though, Poppinga suffered a torn anterior-cruciate ligament, casting doubt on whether he'll be ready by the start of next season.

5 (143) Junius Coston, G/T: Though he was activated for only one game as a rookie, the versatile lineman out of tiny North Carolina A&T potentially could be the finest player of the Packers' 2005 draft class. Coston is dripping with talent and will contend for a starting job at one of the guard spots this off-season.

5 (167) Mike Hawkins, CB: Raw prospect predictably endured an up-and-down rookie campaign, though getting extensive playing time when he was healthy (five games missed) will be beneficial as he makes a run at Ahmad Carroll's starting spot on the left side. Exceptionally fast but needs work on his technique in bump-and-run coverage.

6 (180) Michael Montgomery, DE: A pleasant surprise who earned the coaches' trust to replace Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on early downs as a run stopper the last five games of the season. Montgomery has ideal size at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds but has yet to develop as a pass rusher.

6 (195) Craig Bragg, WR: UCLA product didn't make the cut at the end of the preseason and spent two months on the practice squad before being released again. Bragg latched on with Chicago's practice squad to end the season.

7 (245) Kurt Campbell, LB: Converted safety out of Division I-AA Albany will have to start all over to try to win a job as an outside 'backer. Campbell sustained a torn ACL not a week into training camp.

7 (246) Will Whitticker, G:
The imposing, lumbering Whitticker quickly shot up the depth chart in the preseason and emerged as the unlikely successor to departed Pro Bowler Marco Rivera at right guard. Although he held down the starting spot for all but two games, Whitticker fizzled as a run blocker and a pass protector. He's not a good match for the new zone-blocking scheme, unless he's able to shed about 20 pounds from his 340-pound frame.


DRAFT BREAKDOWN - Three-year breakdown:

How the Vikings have done in the draft since 2003:
Total picks: 22
2005 Starters: 6
2005 Backups: 9
Other teams: 1
Out of NFL: 5
Suspended for '05: 1


The stock of some of the Vikings' picks from the past three drafts fell in 2005 as defensive tackle Kevin Williams struggled after an All-Pro season in 2004, defensive end Kenechi Udeze missed most of the season because of a knee injury and receiver Nate Burleson also struggled with injuries.

The Vikings had two first-round picks in 2005 and ended up getting far more production from defensive end Erasmus James (18th overall) than receiver Troy Williamson (seventh overall).

Five of the six players who are starting from the past three drafts are on defense. The lone exception is running back Mewelde Moore, who made eight starts in 2005 but isn't guaranteed to remain in that role under new coach Brad Childress.

BEST PICK: DT Kevin Williams 2003 (first round, ninth overall): Williams, who saw his sack total dip from 11.5 in 2004 to only four last season, still has the ability to be a dominating player with his size and speed. An inability to work out last offseason after knee surgery left Williams out of shape when he reported to camp. That should not be the case this summer.

WORST PICK: OT Nat Dorsey 2004 (fourth round, 115th overall): Former Vikings coach Mike Tice was highly regarded for his work with offensive linemen, but didn't have much success with Dorsey. Dorsey, who started at right tackle for part of the 2004 season, had trouble staying in shape and was shipped to Cleveland before last season in exchange for center Melvin Fowler.


1 (7) Troy Williamson, WR:
The Vikings fell in love with Williamson after he ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. However, it quickly became clear that he was as raw as he was fast. Williamson finished with 24 receptions for 372 yards and two touchdowns. He has spent the offseason training and will be expected to put up far better figures in 2006.

1 (18) Erasmus James, DE:
Struggled early in the season after reporting to training camp late, but moved into a starting role at right end for the final eight games of the season. Tied for second on team with four sacks. The return of Kenechi Udeze from season-ending knee surgery will create competition for the starting end spots among James, Udeze and Darrion Scott.

2 (49) Marcus Johnson, RT:
Started four games after veteran Mike Rosenthal was pulled from his starting role. Athletically gifted but raw, some former Vikings coaches compared him to former standout Randall McDaniel.

3 (80) Dustin Fox, S: Broken arm landed him on injured reserve during training camp.

4 (112) Ciatrick Fason, RB:
Replaced Moe Williams as the Vikings' short-yardage back after the veteran was lost for the season because of injury. Fason showed bursts of potential but also got some valuable on-the-job training. Led the team's running backs with four touchdowns.

6 (191) C.J. Mosley, DT: Started twice while Kevin Williams was sidelined because of injury and more than held his own. Finished with three sacks and four quarterback hurries. Could prove to be a steal.

7 (219) Adrian Ward, CB:
Taken with a pick obtained in the Randy Moss trade, he was the only one of the team's seven selections not to make it out of training camp. Top Stories