NFC North teams needs

The Vikings aren't the only team in the NFC North with multiple needs. Even the Super Bowl champions have several questions marks and holes to fill. What are the top three for each team? We explain.


Chicago Bears

TEAM NEEDS

1. Offensive line: Center Olin Kreutz will be 34 in June and right guard Roberto Garza will be 32 later this month. Left guard Chris Williams was supposed to be the left tackle of the future. J'Marcus Webb started 12 games as a rookie at right tackle. Left tackle Frank Omiyale showed improvement over the course of the season, but he may not be the long-term answer.

2. Defensive tackle: Nose tackle Anthony Adams is unrestricted, and 3-technique Tommie Harris was terminated after failing to live up to his $40 million extension in 2008. Marcus Harrison has been a career underachiever. Solid, blue-collar worker Matt Toeaina can play nose or 3-technique, where he started 10 games last season, but he might be just a placeholder.

3. Wide receiver: There is some big-play ability here, especially with Johnny Knox and Devin Hester, and Earl Bennett is a solid and reliable possession guy. But there is a need for a big, physical player who can win jump balls.


Detroit Lions

TEAM NEEDS

1. Outside linebacker: Mayhew said he viewed both Bobby Carpenter and Ashlee Palmer as candidates to start at outside linebacker next season. But if camp opened today, they would be competing against themselves. The Lions need to restock the position. There is an outside chance that the Lions could seek a starting middle linebacker either in the draft or through free agency and move starting middle linebacker DeAndre Levy to the outside, which is his natural position.

2. Cornerback: The Lions tendered free-agent cornerback Chris Houston, but he still wants to pursue free agency. The Lions have several promising young cornerbacks on the roster – Alphonso Smith, Aaron Berry, Brandon McDonald, Tye Hill and Prince Miller – but as Mayhew said, "All those guys have talent, all have upside and potential, but not many have performed at a high level in games."

3. Wide receiver/running back: The Lions will be looking to add depth in the fourth or fifth rounds at these two spots. The third receiver spot was a major disappointment last season and the health of backup running back Kevin Smith is a lingering concern. He had two more surgeries (knee and shoulder) this offseason.


Green Bay Packers

TEAM NEEDS

1. Defensive end: Versatile, productive, but injury-prone veteran Cullen Jenkins is on his way out as a free agent. Coupled with having aging Ryan Pickett at the other starting spot, the Packers will look to the draft for reinforcements as they hold out hope that talented Mike Neal, a second-round pick last year, and even Justin Harrell, their 2007 first-round bust, can return from season-ending injuries.

2. Offensive tackle: This could be the position general manager Ted Thompson targets in the first round for the second straight year. Iowa's Bryan Bulaga, who was pegged as the eventual successor to left tackle Chad Clifton, wound up replacing an injured Mark Tauscher at right tackle. Having two starting tackles of the future, if not the present, in hand is a must.

3. Running back: Ryan Grant and James Starks give Green Bay potentially a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield. However, there's no telling what kind of player Grant will be after he missed all but one game last season because of an ankle injury and whether Starks is the real deal following his breakout performance in the playoffs as a rookie. Plus, Brandon Jackson could leave as a free agent.


Minnesota Vikings

TEAM NEEDS

Quarterback: Favre and Jackson are expected to be gone and while Webb showed flashes during his two starts at the end of the season, this is a position at which the Vikings need a long-term solution. There is a chance the Vikings could look to draft a quarterback and then sign a veteran free agent.

Defensive end: Starting left end Ray Edwards could hit free agency, depending on what happens with the new CBA. That would leave the Vikings with Brian Robison and second-year player Everson Griffen, who has had some off-the-field troubles this winter. A first-round pick could step in as a starter.

Safety: Madieu Williams hasn't lived up to expectations since signing a big free-agent contract in 2008. Husain Abdullah beat out 2008 second-round pick Tyrell Johnson and 2009 seventh-round pick Jamarca Sanford for the other starting job last season. There could be a move to upgrade here.


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