For those who follow the NFL draft, it's amazing how team-centric they are. The arguments over whether Christian Ponder was the right choice for the Vikings in the first round of the draft is the major topic of discussion among Vikings fans. However, in Chicago, Green Bay and Detroit, that topic is only a running joke that takes a back seat to their own slew of draft picks.
At Winter Park over the weekend, the Viking Update team and the other media crews were in much the same position. With interviews with Vikings personnel and the players, there wasn't a real feel for the picks other teams were making after Ponder came off the board. Names like Da'Quan Bowers to Tampa Bay stood out in the second round – a far cry from the first overall pick projection made back in February. But, for the most part, there was a relative ambivalence to who went elsewhere once the popcorn started popping.
So, how did they do?
The Lions only had five picks, but, for my money, they did the best of anyone in the division. Nick Fairley was a gift with the 13th pick. The potential of him and Ndamukong Suh lining up next to each other for years to come is a frightening prospect. Adding wide receiver Titus Young to take some heat off Calvin Johnson and a between-the-tackles banger in RB Mikel Leshoure gives the Lions offense a much-needed infusion of talent. There is a lot of reason for optimism in Detroit.
Chicago only had five picks, but accomplished what it was looking to do. Gabe Carimi helps bolster the offensive line and defensive tackle Stephen Paea will upgrade the defensive line. Getting a developmental QB in Nathan Enderle is a nice insurance policy for Jay Cutler. Bears fans have reason for optimism.
As defending champs, the Packers picked last and, while their fans always drink the green Kool-Aid, Ted Thompson appears to have had another solid draft. Derek Sherrod completes the plan to draft replacements for offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher (they used their first-round pick last year on OT Bryan Bulaga). They bolstered their offense by building depth at wide receiver and running back by taking Randall Cobb and Alex Green in the second and third rounds. They made 10 picks and drafted for depth at each position. While not a standout draft, for a defending champion that is already the youngest team in the NFL returning several injured starters from 2010, there isn't any complaining going on in Packers Country.
Of the four teams, it would seem the fan base of the Vikings is the most negative about their team's draft choices. A lot of that is tied into to the debate over whether Ponder was worth the risk with the No. 12 pick, but one thing seems certain: The other three teams in the NFC North all look markedly better after the draft than they did before. The division was tough to begin with. Last weekend, it got tougher.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.